I’m not sure how many people are interested in this, but hey, I’m going to write about it anyway!
Basically, this post is all about writing and what books have inspired me/helped me with my own scripts, novels, and stories.
As I’ve mentioned before (I think) I’ve been a writer ever since I was a kid, scribbling stories in my school notebooks. I still get a rush of excitement when I hold a blank notebook in my hands, whether it’s a fancy moleskin or one from the dollar store. I never leave the house without a notebook, although these days I do a lot of writing on my iPhone. My handwriting has gotten atrocious, but I’ve written several scripts and the beginnings to several books on these basic notebooks from MUJI. My BF and I have a whole shelf devoted to writing notebooks… because that’s how we roll.
Yes, that is a rotary phone. No, I don’t use it!
Whenever I sit down to start a new novel, I start with CHARACTER WORK. I think that my character building is a really strong talent I have (dialogue, eh, I’m working on it ha) and these books really help. One of the reasons I decided to self-pub a romance novel is because, as a lover of the genre, I was SO tired of the lack of good characters! I started my first novel Kiss of Ice around 2011, when self-pub was really taking off. And boy, what a revelation! I was VERY over the typical virginal, spineless, Pollyanna (and yes, lily white) heroines that traditional publishers were pushing. Nowadays there’s a lot more variety in plots AND characters. Thank Jeebus for the Self-Pub revolution!
Anyway, here are my go-to writer’s guides:
45 MASTER CHARACTERS by Victoria Schmidt
This book is amazing. It basically breaks down the traditional male and female journeys and archetypes. This is the first book I grab when I’m starting a new story. BTW, Annata is a ‘father’s daughter’ and Christophe is a ‘fool’ (in the best possible way of course), if you’re wondering 🙂
SAVE THE CAT by Blake Snyder
When in doubt, beat it out! Blake Snyder (RIP) created a great beat sheet that’s downloadable. Making a beat sheet is helpful for novels or scripts. Also, beating out your plot really helps to uncover any plot holes and problems that will kill your second act. There’s been a bit of a ‘Save the Cat’ backlash, because some people feel that beats don’t always feel organic, and I think that argument has some validity. However, if you need help with a slow second act, beats are a great way to get over the hump. This is the book I usually crack when I’m plotting out a new story.
THE ANATOMY OF STORY by John Truby and STORY by Robert McKee
Not for the faint of heart. These books are really in-depth and hardcore, but very helpful! John Truby also has a great interview on Youtube about screenwriting. I crack these books when I run into an inevitable plot problem.
ON WRITING by Stephen King
Love this book. Full of anecdotes and also musings on the writer’s journey.
I have more books on my writer’s self-help shelf but those are the ones that have had the most impact. Those are the ones I go back to, time and time again.
Now, on to the books that have inspired me. Not only do I lurve them, but these books have a lot to do with the way I approach my romance stories. All of them have an aspect of storytelling that I’ve incorporated in my own novels.
WUTHERING HEIGHTS by Emily Bronte
Can you tell I was an honors English student? I think every nerdy teenage girl has a spot in her heart for this book, but the thing that really excites me about WH is that it was the first book that told a story out of sync, using flash forwards and flashbacks. I am a sucker for an epic story that spans over many years. Also, I love that Cathy and Heathcliff are two complex, difficult, unlikeable characters. No Pollyannas here! Lastly, this book uses setting as motif in a really great way. The wildness of the moors seeps into all aspects of the novel. Ugh, so good!
THE VELVET SAGA by Jude Deveraux
I loved Jude Deveraux when I was growing up. I think I read my first romance of hers (Sweet Liar) when I was 10 or 11, and I was hooked. The Velvet Saga (Velvet Promise, Highland Velvet, Velvet Song, and Velvet Angel) was one of the first series in the romance genre to feature siblings. Each book is a self-contained story, with an overarching plot that connects all four books. It’s a little dated, but still masterful, let me tell ya.
A HEART SO WILD by Johanna Lindsay
This book was the second romance novel I ever read. Crazy right? (Especially that I still remember that…) This book has it all – a strong heroine, a complicated hero, and a great plot. I’m not a huge Johanna Lindsay fan, but this book still sticks with me, years later. And it’s a MC/IR romance – Chandos, the hero, is Native American. I miss these old Western historicals. I wonder if they’ll ever come back into fashion? My sister still has our tattered copy of this book.
BLACK GIRL LOST by Donald Goines
This ‘forbidden’ paperback was passed around by my friends in middle school, and wow, what a book. Violence, street life, and romance combined. Gritty and unforgettable.
Here are some more recent (self-published and traditional) books that have inspired me by being awesome and expanding the bounds of what ‘Romance’ can be:
UNDENIABLE series by Madeline Sheehan
HARD ROCK HARLOTS series by Kendall Grey
MAIDEN LANE series by Elizabeth Hoyt
LEAVE ME BREATHLESS by Cherrie Lynn
50 SHADES OF JUNGLE FEVER by L.V. Lewis
So there you have it. A little glimpse inside my working mind… I hope it was helpful to anyone who’s interested in writing, or just wanted to know what my writing process is.
My keep-shelf. I used to love me some historical romance.
Okay, enough procrastinating. Back to writing Stone Cold Knockout (coming late May/early June 2014!).