Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Character vs Plot

Hello readers

What came first –the chicken or the egg? The same can be asked of writing –the plot or the characters?

The answer to the second question can be as contradictory as the answer to the first.  Can you have a story without characters? I don’t see how.  Can you have characters without a plot? I suppose, but who would want to read a story that . . . well, basically has no story?

So which should come first?  Well, that would depend on what type of writer you are.  If you are a character driven writer, one or more of the characters come or ‘speak’ to you and through them the story comes to life.  If, however, you are a plot driven writer, the plot grows like a seed in your mind and the characters come into play as needed.

A few months ago, I attended a workshop where New York Times bestselling author Sabrina Jeffries discussed this topic. She labeled herself a plot driven writer and talked about her process.  Her first draft of a manuscript was dedicated to getting the plot mapped out. She described her characters in her rough draft as ‘cardboard cutouts’.  Once she completed the main story, she would then go back and add life to her characters.

Some writers use outlines, charts, and even character bios before setting fingers to keyboard. I, myself, am a character driven writer, so I cannot imagine this way of writing. Oh, I don’t usually sit down with absolutely no idea of where I want the story to go, but I let the characters bring life to my ideas. I sit down to start a new chapter and say, I want this to happen in this section, the hero/heroine/secondary character need to accomplish A, B, or C, and let the character(s) weave the story.

What did I take home from the workshop? That there is no set way to write.  Both types have their good points and drawbacks.  Don’t try to fit yourself into one style of writing or another. There are no set rules for creativity. Be open to new ideas –you never know what may help you out of that rut we writers sometimes find ourselves in– and what works best for you.

Keep those keyboards a tappin’.


Thursday, November 18, 2010


Hello fellow writers, readers, and the just plain curious,

My first novella, A Duke’s Desire, will be released March 10, 2011 from Breathless Press, and I couldn’t be more excited!

First, I have to say that working with Breathless Press and my editor Denise Lewis has been a dream.  They not only welcome new writers like myself, but take the time to answer questions patiently as they walk them through the process. And believe me, I had a lot of questions!

Breathless Press is a relatively new publishing house started in 2009 (see press release from Newswire Today www.newswiretoday.com/news/56192/ ) who publish both romance and erotica in a number of themes such as historical, contemporary, western, and more.

Being a first time writer and new to the world of publishing, I was surprised to learn how difficult it can be to get a manuscript in front of an acquiring editor.  I liken it to attempting to become a rock star—the market is flooded with hopefuls and talent. But if you apply yourself to your work and avail yourself of all the resources available, it can be accomplished.

I have received a lot of advice over the last two years I have been working on my manuscripts, but the one piece I can pass along that helped me improve the most would be to read, read, read!  Read in the genre you are most interested in and (this is important) write in that genre. Writing in the genre you love and know is the best way to create the best story possible, in my opinion.

What advice would I give from all that I have experienced thus far? I would first recommend that aspiring writers join the Romance Writers Association (RWA) and attend the monthly meetings at your local chapter.  I cannot stress enough how much this not only benefits your work, but educates and opens a new writer to the many kinds of valuable resources available.

The second thing I would suggest is to find an excellent critique group. Having people you know critique your work is all well and good, but the key to completing a manuscript that editors, agents, and readers will want to read is letting people in the profession give you the benefit of their experience and knowledge. It may be difficult opening up and accepting even positive criticism (I for one have had a difficult time accepting criticism in any aspect of my life <sheepish grin> but when it comes to my writing I soak it up like a sponge), but by doing this, you look at your writing from a different perspective and see how readers may view your work. You don’t have to take every bit of advice given, but you may find a large portion of it helpful.

I welcome your ideas and opinions.

Embrace your inner voice and keep writing!