Harlequin Editors Recap Some Writing Advice Discussions

Every year or so we pick a book or two about writing, publishing, story, craft, screenplays or such, and the three offices will all read and discuss it. We’ve had some wonderful and lively discussions over the years, and here are some notes on some of the best options!

WRITE AWAY by Elizabeth George

Felt that it is a book to recommend to authors. More personal and anecdotal in some ways. Gave sense of personality. Felt like it was taken from course notes perhaps. She’s a teacher and it comes through. Filled with procedures and meticulous data, but is useful for those reasons.

Particularly liked the THAD—Talking Head Avoidance Device—and would recommend for authors. Also recommend the lists of character questions and such. Another favorite was that of talent, passion and discipline, the only essential quality for publication was discipline.

Side discussion on world-building vs. characterization/setting and the difficult in balancing it for need of story. (Characters are key, not the clothes or meals)

Four Screenplays by Syd Field

  • Establish story and characters
  • Start with either action or character
  • Have a great first line
  • Develop the character
  • Get rid of the sagging middle
  • Move into and out of transitions—tighten things up
  •  Don’t be too clever
  • “The screenwriter sets up the first page/first words to establish an image that sums up the character in context of the story”
  •  Keep the level of tension high filled with the unexpected, yet authentic

4 replies on “Harlequin Editors Recap Some Writing Advice Discussions”

I’m reading “Write Your Novel from the Middle Out,” by James Scott Bell. Solves that whole pesky sagging middle problem!

Sometimes an author can think of a really cool concept–but then has to write pages of exposition and dialogue and change things to make that idea work out. The story becomes forced and the author’s overall control shows.

Readers–and watchers!–can deal with twists and turns but they need to feel organic and part of the story, not coming in from left field. Otherwise the story can get contrived and confusing, and the readers attention will wander or try to puzzle out why something isn’t working.

Make sense?

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