Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What Every Romance Writer Needs

“The grand essentials of happiness are: something to do, something to love, and something to hope for.” Allan K. Chalmers

What Every Romance Writer Needs

A pin up board. Pictures of gorgeous guys tacked up on your wall or tucked in a binder, or stashed in a computer file. I’d be lost without visual aids. They’re so very …inspiring. You might want to take a couple of seconds to dig up one or two likenesses of your heroine, too.

A favorite pen. Or maybe that’s just me. Anyhow, check out the BIC Z4+ Stick Roller Ball Pen a try. I love my pen!

At least one reference book. Perhaps a great thesaurus like The Synonym Finder – J.I. Rodale because my brain cannot possibly house one thousand, three hundred and sixty-one pages worth of synonyms.

Mood music. Must. Have. Music. To. Write. (Must also have my Deserving Thyme soy candle but that’s another story!) Who could survive without Loreena McKennitt’s The Lady of Shalott or Cold Play’s Viva la Vida, or Meat Loaf’s Cry Over Me, or Duffy’s Stepping Stone, or …well, you get the idea.

At least one favorite web article. I have two: Randy Ingermanson’s Writing the Perfect Scene and Mike Klaassen’s Achieving Sense Perception in Fiction Writing. Please, please, please, check them out if you haven’t already.

Writing friends. You need at least one person who can appreciate the concept of needing to put words to paper. One person who understands the insatiable need to write and supports your efforts to do it properly. A whole group of them is even better, so go ahead my friends – take a bow!

One unused copy of The Elements of Style – Strunk/White/Kalman. That’s unfair, I’ve used it. Once. I know, I know, you can tell.

An idea. Or a stack of ideas. Or a truckload of ideas. To be found everywhere.

A favorite author. You have to have at least one, if not several. To be a writer, you need to be a reader. I’m pretty sure someone famous already said that but I’m too tired and lazy to look it up.

A thick skin. I’ll let you know when I acquire mine.

Mostly importantly, a deep and abiding reverence for HEA. I love happily ever afters and have loved them since I was a teenager. I can think of no better genre to write then romance.

What’s your opinion of what every romance writer needs?


Yunaleska said...

This is more for every writer...

* Favourite snack for when it takes over 15 minutes to edit a sentence.

* A hobby - relaxation encourages a muse into cooperation.

Captain Hook said...











Not really, but then I don't write romance :)

Janet C. said...

A wonderful post, Karyn! Isn't it amazing how every writer 'needs' something in order to write. And every writer's needs are different (for example, I don't need music to write).

I love Yuna's additions - I'll add my own:

* Sticky notes - I can't write without my brain thinking of relevant things, so I get that niggling thought on a sticky note and continue on.

Karyn Good said...

Hi Yunaleska. Favorite snack! Excellent addition as I was busy eating a Skor blizzard treat (an ice cream/candy frozen thingy) as I wrote this post last night! And also a hobby, another excellent suggestion.

Karyn Good said...

Hey Captain. I know you have a truckload of ideas and massive amounts of determination. What more do you need but a pen and paper or a laptop :)

Yunaleska said...

Writing's hard work - brain needs energy!

Hobby: I have many. However, watching anime shows me how far and imagination can go. I often get ideas from it. Plus video gaming - if I'm stuck on a scene, I find getting into fights and leveling up in rpgs give me time to work out the story.

Karyn Good said...

Hey Janet. How could I forget sticky notes!?! I do the same thing and have a handy supply. In fact, I may have to start color coding my sticky notes. Blue for dialogue add-ins, pink for emotive add-ins, etc.

Karyn Good said...

Yunaleska, I think watching movies does for me what watching anime and playing video games does for you. They give me a chance to step away but not too far.

Christine Rimmer said...

Karyn, wonderful post. I need everything you listed, plus calendars. I have this thing for calendars. I plan where I'm going, I set up my page goals, I make notes about appointments that will mess up my page goals. I love a calendar. Several, as a matter of fact.

And mementos. From writing trips, conferences, readers, writer pals. They inspire me.

My character board--two large corkboards hooked together where I put up images from magazines and online of my current h/H, maps, calendar for the book. meaning what happens when(as opposed to the ones for my real life). File cabinets. Too many of those...

Silver James said...

My Live Journal is titled Ever After...The ramblings of an unrepentant romantic. MySpace bio? "I'm all about the HEA." When asked what I do for a living? "I write romance novels and I'm damn proud of it!"

The one thing I must have that you have mentioned...well...two things: My FLIP DICTIONARY by Barbara Ann Kipfer, and my writer's board - a small contraption hanging next to my computer. Half is write on/wipe off white, the other is cork board currently covered with sticky notes to myself.

OH! THREE things. Coffee. Must. Have. Coffee!!!!!

I'm off to do some yard work and then back inside to cool off and start Chapter 5 edits. Happy Hump Day, Chicks!

Silver James said...

See? I need more coffee. The things you have NOT mentioned. And I think I'm going to edit and make sense today? *HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHA*

Helena said...

Just reading your post started putting me into a writing mood, Karyn. I can relate to most of what you have on your list, modified to my taste and needs, of course.

I'm on the same page as Janet, tho. I do not want music while I'm writing. However, I find music very evocative when I am daydreaming plot or character development. Certain types of music just get me in the right frame of mind: everything from light classics, e.g romantic Strauss waltzes, to sweeping epic movie themes, Dr. Zhivago, of course, and pop music from the fifties ...

Which reminds me that I write in other genres as well as romance. I need the same things in my space, no matter whether I am writing a poem or a short story, etc.

I DO need a place, a specified place. I think this idea was important to me before I even began writing seriously. It started with reading Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own." When we bought this house, it was a thrill to discover that it had a gable. I live by myself now, so in theory I should be able to write anywhere in the house I please. But it is the gable where I now do all my most creative work. I have wireless and I lug my laptop to various corners of the house for other activities (email, reading blogs, research, games, etc.), but it's back up to the gable if I want to get any significant writing done. Of course, that is also where my indispensable reference materials are located plus my printer, etc. The tools of the trade.

I also have a fleecy "writing jacket" that I like to wear to put me in the mood -- tho not on these hot days!

Karyn Good said...

Hi Christine. I've just started thinking about the calendar idea and will be using one for my next project which I hope will make me a little more organized.

The picture on the blog is a little wooden doll my sister bought me and represents my muse. She sits by my computer and I couldn't be without her!

And now I need an organized character board.

Thanks for the great additions!

Christine Rimmer said...

Yes! on the coffee. And I really like the idea of a fleecy writer's jacket.

karyn, re the character board. It's kind of my version of a collage. Only easier. When the book's done, I put all the pics and calendar and maps and such in a file for that book--and start all over again with the next one.

Anita Mae Draper said...

Hey Karyn, I need my comfy clothes and a good chair that I can sit in for hours.

I also need a natural silence - that is to say birds singing and leaves rustling are okay but no TV's, radios, humans, etc.

I also use one calendar for each story or series to keep the continuity. I know exactly when the events happened and can refer to them at a glance. Even if it's just 'Charley and Henry Trail Ride' or 'Abby's Music Lesson'. Not only do I need it because of my poor memory, but I believe the details add to the ms.

Karyn Good said...

Hi Silver. I have a confession to make - I don't drink coffee. I would substitute diet pepsi and black or green tea for the coffee.

A FLIP Dictionary? I'll have to check it out. Come to think of it, I have one of those boards hanging in my office. I now have a better use for it.

Karyn Good said...

Hi Helena. I'm with you on the having a place idea. A gable sounds like such a romantic spot to write and be creative. I'm fortunate enough to have an office and have it be my space. Like you I haul my laptop around to work on other things, but when it comes to writing - to my office I go.

Listening to music is a great way to boast your creative juices.

I don't have a warm fuzzy something to hug me as I write but it sounds like a wonderful idea!

Karyn Good said...

Christine, my next project (which is swirling around in my head at the moment) will include the creation of a character board. Such a great idea!

Silver James said...

Karyn, the Flip Dictionary is good for when you don't know the right word to use. You know what you want to say but can't think of the word. Or you have a generic word and know there's something more specific to what you're writing. Check it out. I just got mine this spring and it's already dog-eared, coffee-stained and well-loved!

Theasaurus and reference book all wrapped into one. Oh, and my Baby Name Book. I have a thing about names "matching" the personality of the character.

I finished chapter 5 and am about half-way into chapter 6 now, but hit a POV roadblock. This first meeting is almost as intimate mentally as a love scene and I REALLY need both H/H point of view. *sigh* Back to the drawing board...

Karyn Good said...

Hi Anita. You mentioned one important thing I'm lacking and that's a good chair to sit in. Right now I have an ancient office chair that requires the use of pillows to give better support. A proper chair is probably up there as one of the more important things a writer can give herself/himself.

Comfy clothes to write in, another must have!

These days I'm all about the calendar idea!

Karyn Good said...

Hey Silver, why not post both POV's over on Beta Bloggers and let us help you!

Oh my word, I need the FLIP Dictionary. I run into that problem all the time.

Jana Richards said...

Hi Karyn,
What a great post! There's lots of things here that I relate to: must have coffee, must have a good chair, must have comfy clothes (my dog-chewed pink fuzzy slippers). I also like some of the other suggestions like the Flip Dictionary. Sounds great. But what I really need is uninterrupted time. That's why retreat is so great. Nobody is asking you what's for dinner (my standard answer: whatever you're making), the dog's not begging to be walked, the dryer's not going off, etc. Just time to write, to think, to really be in the plot.

Time. That's all I need.


Karyn Good said...

Hi Jana. I hear ya! Time and maybe energy.

I could go for a pair of pink fuzzy slippers.

Silver James said...

Karyn, I might do that even though I think I've figured out how to do a POV handoff for the scene. Speaking of, I still need to check out Hayley's last post! *headdesk* I'm so behind.

Oooh! Love my spam word: mavis. I need to use that for a character's name one of these days!

Karyn Good said...

Glad you've got things figured out, Silver. I've often struggle with which POV suits which scene best. Sometimes when I'm deep, deep in POV it's hard to make the shift even when it needs to be done.