Warning, this post contains scenes of shameless name dropping…
So, how was the RWNZ Conference? Pretty damn good actually. Romance writers are such a lovely bunch of people – I can’t get over how friendly and supportive and just plain old nice they all are. Which makes a conference full of ’em a great place to be.
Anyway, my highlights? Firstly there was a workshop where Melissa Jeglinski of the Knight Agency did a one page critique of people’s WIPs. I was pleased to get some nice feedback about mine which kind of set me up for the rest of the conference. 🙂
Secondly was a talk from Harlequin editor Mary Therese Hussey about writing for category. She had this to say about what an editor looks for in a first chapter (in general):
Are the opening and closing lines strong?
Do characters make decisions?
Are the conflicts strong and interesting?
Are the characters compelling?
Does the story start in the right place?
Do you want to read on?
Interesting eh? Made me want to hurry back home to check out my first chapters!
She also mentioned the importance of making the conflict clear and understandable and of making sure your story begins where it should. The opening of the story should be at a point of change in a character’s life, not before it.
There were some other great craft sessions where I got some more insights about a great fault of mine which is thinking up quirky openings and then struggling to find the motivation for the characters to do the things I want them to. It all comes down – naturally! – to having strong and meaningful conflicts. Asking the ‘why’ questions. All this made much more sense this year than last year, probably because of what I’ve learned since then via my rejections and advice from other authors.
Anyway – name drop moment – the main highlight was meeting the lovely Natalie Anderson and having a great old chat about writing and law libraries (she was a librarian as well)! It was great meeting one of the authors for the line I’m trying to write for – especially one whose books are my faves. And also to get a bit of reassurance about the difficulties of balancing strong emotional conflict with the fun, flirty Modern Heat vibe. It’s not easy and it’s nice to know I’m not alone with that! Cheers, Natalie!
So that’s conference this year. Next year promises to be even better and I’m even thinking about hopping across the ditch and going to the RWA one in Sydney too.
All in all a great weekend. Hope everyone else had a good one as well!