First thing you should notice: I'm not Grant. This is an author take over, to shamelessly convince you to buy A Symphony Of Heartstrings.
Right, so, what is A Symphony Of Heartstrings? It's one of Roane Publishing's line of Novella Niblets, which means it is a short novella perfect for a lunch break or commute. For those unfamiliar with the publisher, they have a knack for vibrant, colourful, stories with a rich, emotional core. It is the story of Bob, the guy behind the scenes of every Romance, and every Happy Ever After you may have read. He can see the we of relationships and emotions that binds the world together, and sneaks around London arranging all the little coincidences that make a story.
Historically, Romance is a great genre for short, self contained, stories. The imprint most associated with the genre, Mills & Boon was created to be a short read, bought on a Friday, for payday, to keep somebody company over a weekend. (For more on that, check out a recent episode of the Allusionist podcast). I've always liked writing these chocolate box stories. Making a story fit the page count keeps the plot tight, and demands efficiency with characters and exposition. It is always fun, to write like that, (although, and I can not stress this enough, the editors at Roane work really hard making sure every cog of the story is in the right place, and freshly oiled, so the story rattles along without a grinding of gears).
1. Read a lot. Read other stories, for enjoyment. Read magazines and the internet for ideas. Ideas for romance stories rarely come from reading romance, so read magazines about history, technology, cookery, or anything that interests you. Ideas will be found in the strangest places, and hit you when you least expect it.
2. Plot, plan, and know where you are going. Some people may write by the seats of their pants. I find that only works if you have a beginning a middle and an ending in mind. You can let your plot evolve, and change, you can let it follow a path that feels more natural and flows better, but if you begin without direction, it may not fit together in the limited page count.
3. Have characters ready ahead of time. In a romance the way the characters resonate with us, and react to each other, is the most important factor. It will make or break any situation you place them in. Spend time to get your characters ready before you start typing the story.
4. Characters are flawed, but need to bend, not break. In a shorter novel you may need to use broad strokes, but you can only go so far. You may want the hero to be a bad boy with a dark past and blood on his hands. But at the same time, a broad stroke can take you from "dangerous guy my reader wants to know", to "irredeemable psycho I want a restraining order against". Twenty or thirty thousand words sounds a lot, but there is only so far somebody can travel in that time. To go from blood drenched vampire, to sympathetic figure, to desirable is not going to convince if you rush it. However, a reclusive vampire who steals from blood banks, and lets nobody close to him out of fear, learning to open himself to trust, is a more manageable journey. Set the journey to suit the word count. A shorter journey, told well, will always be more beautiful than a longer journey that feels crammed and rushed.
5. Never mistake drama for misery. There is nothing wrong with a sense of danger, or fear. There is nothing wrong with making us worry about your characters. But, always keep a thread of hope there. Just one candlelight in the darkness is enough, as long as it is burning bright by the end. Somebody has to fall, before they can pick themselves up again, but you don't need to flatten them with a steam roller.
So, pop on over to Amazon and check out Tom's awesome new release. It looks and sounds amazing
EMBRACE THE OPPORTUNITIES LIFE PRESENTS TO YOU AND ALWAYS, ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!
HAVE A GREAT LIFE AND SPREAD THE LOVE!
CHANGING THE WORLD – ONE READER AT A TIME