Sunday, April 17, 2016

Susan Stephens: Writing Tips

I’ve had a considerable amount of mail over the past few weeks, asking me to share my writing tips. I hope you enjoy them!

Why do I write?
Because I have to, or my head would burst! But even with ideas pouring in on top of each other, I have to sit down at some point and work out the best way to tell each new story efficiently, because writing professionally is a business, not an indulgence; readers have expectations, and editors have deadlines too.

Discipline is always numero uno. And yes, I really do get up at five o’ clock in the morning, because that’s when I work best. If you’re a writer, your method may be different. There is no right or wrong way to write, there is only your way.

Take care of your health, and be sure stay hydrated. I take breaks, to walk/think, and/or eat. And I’m finished by 4pm. (unless I’m on deadline, when there are no hours in a day—or night)
I write every day, seven days a week, otherwise I lose my train of thought. (but not all day every day)
And I write at least 4 drafts of every book. There’s always a better way of saying something, or enriching a character.
There also comes a point when you have to stop doing that—if one of you knows how, please let me know!

I start with character. Unless I know my main protagonists inside out, I won’t know how they’re going to react to the situations they encounter—and sometimes they still surprise me.
I need to know what makes them tick, what makes them hurt, what they’re hunting for, and what the reader wants to see change and grow in my H and h as they move through the story.

When I write romance I want to feel the emotion, rather than ride a complicated plot. I want to cry and laugh and fret as I write, and above all, I want to care about what happens next.

Is there an easy way? No. Every idea comes with a whole host of problems once you start setting it down on paper, most of which you haven’t seen coming, but which hit you in the face at some point. That’s when forward planning really comes into its own, but it you’re a committed pantser and you hit that hole, sit back and take a deep breath. Driving on will only make you more tense than before. Thinking time now will save you a whole lot of angst further into the book, when you have to start unpicking an improbable storyline.
And yes, of course there are days when I read what I wrote the day before, and think WTH?

Think of your story as a road map. Know roughly where you’re going, and then allow the protagonists to find their own unique way of getting there.

And a tip that works best for me. If a scene isn’t working, have you tried changing point of view? I can’t tell you the number of times a flat scene has come to life for me when I’ve done that.

Did I mention that you don’t have to be a little crazy to write, but it helps?
Above all, love your writing and, respect and love your readers. Write with passion and sincerity, but be sure to have a life in the real world too, because that’s what informs and enriches your fiction.

Go to it! And all my very best to you!

Here’s my next story, available in July this year. Yes. I know. You either love or hate a sheikh story! Personally, I love the high fantasy of a desert adventure, and a powerful man who can be brought to his knees for love of a strong and determined woman.

Your friend and author, Susan—who loves hearing from her readers across the world, because, quite simply, you’re the best! 

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