Category Archive: Education

  1. 5 Writing Craft Resources for Romance Writers


    When you’re learning the craft of writing (and really, who ever finishes?) the subject of craft writing books often comes up. There are the usual suspects which seem to crop up on many a recommendation list, such as Stephen King’s On Writing. Debra Dixon’s GMC and Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat. I actually do recommend Save The Cat, I’m a wannabe plotter and I found the explanations in this book really helped me to clarify and hone in on my ideas before I write Chapter One.

    However, it’s easy to fall into the trap of buying a ton of craft books and burying yourself whilst trying to learn. I wanted to share my recommendations for practical craft books that have helped me and that I have actually used. The common theme in these books is that they’re easy to use, they have practical application to your writing NOW (i.e. you don’t need to read 300 hundred pages before you can start using the information).

    1. The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

    This is a fantastic book to help you better show your characters emotions rather than tell. Each emotion has a page dedicated to it (e.g. Anger, Fear, Gratitude, Insecurity etc) with a description, the physical signs, internal sensations, mental reactions as well as tips for writing emotion. This is not a book you need to read back to front, rather you have it on hand to help you flesh out your scenes with life-like emotion.

    I love this book so much I purchased the physical copy and then the Kindle version.

    The Emotion Thesaurus

    2. & 3. The Positive Trait Thesaurus & The Negative Trait Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi

    Similar to The Emotion Thesaurus, these two books help you to create life-like 3D characters by deepening your characterisation. Set out in a similar fashion, these two books have a double page for each character trait (e.g. Funny, Creative, Bold, Hostile, Apathetic) with a definition, possible causes, associated attitudes and behaviours, thoughts, emotions and examples from film. The examples from film are fantastic and they include a lot of films that people of any age would know (Die Hard, Harry potter and The Wizard of Oz all get mentions).

    Again this is a permanent on my desk when I am planning a story and I have both the paper and ebook version.


    4. Write Your Damn Book by BJ Daniels

    I imagine this is a much lesser known book, but the author name will be familiar to many romance writers. BJ Daniels is a best selling romantic suspense writer with MANY books to her name since she first got published in 1995. This book is short, sweet and peppered with a mixture of writing tips, things to think about, motivation, examples to explain techniques and snippets of her own writing journey. Many of the examples are from romance books too, which is great. I love the no nonsense tone and I particularly like the writing assignments at the end of each chapter. It’s the kind of book you could challenge yourself to read a chapter a week and complete the assignments as you go.

    Write Your Damn Book


    5. Grammar Girl (Quick and dirty tips 

    OK, so this isn’t a craft book but it IS one of my most used writing resources. I have my illustrated version of Strunk and White’s Elements of Style but this site is so quick and easy to use. Want to know the difference between further and farther? Or whether or not you should capitalise the F in French Fries? Grammar Girl will tell you quickly, sharply and without fuss. Plus she has a short snappy podcast in case you prefer to listen to your grammar lessons.

    There you have it, my 5 writing craft recommendations for romance writers or writers of any genre! Have you used any of the above? Any that you would add to this list?

  2. The End of NaNo

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    It’s been 12 days since NaNoWriMo finished, and for the first 5 days or so I couldn’t even look at my manuscript. In the end I didn’t “win” at NaNo, since I didn’t quite make the 50k goal. I did however, finish with a respectable 35k piece of work that I can continue to progress, and I proved to myself that I could write without planning to the nth degree beforehand.

    So often I’ve suffered from analysis paralysis, in that I spend so much time and energy on trying to plan out my writing that I don’t actually ever write the story. I believe this is the reason it’s taken me so many years to actually get stuck into writing regularly. No longer!

    My current plan is to finish the story, take a break from it and work on something smaller, then complete a round of editing before sending it out to a few friends and family members who’ve offered to be beta readers. I know where the story is heading, and I’m only about 20-25k away from my goal word count. For the first time ever, finishing a story seems achievable and if that’s the biggest thing I take away from my NaNo experience then I am 100% happy!

  3. Literature Text Books & Small Rebellions

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    I would hardly label myself a rebellious person, strong-willed perhaps but ultimately I’m a goody-two-shoes. Even as a teenager I always chose to try to argue my way to permission, rather than simply go against my parent’s wishes. Even when I went through the phase where I wanted a belly button ring (it was the early 2000’s and low rider jeans were big – no judgement) which my father was vehemently against, I waited until I was 18 and then took my mother along with me when I got it done.

    My very small acts of passive rebellion have largely been concentrated into two areas: my clothing and my passion for books. In high school (and really, continuing on into my working life) I have hated the idea of being forced to dress like everyone else. From a young age I wanted to choose what I wore (which drove my mother crazy, since my tastes ran to party dresses and tutus for quite some time) and I would find small ways to rebel against my strict catholic school uniform in high-school – an easy thing to do since our uniform code was unnecessarily strict. Now, I work in a large corporate environment and I refuse to wear a black suit or go a day without colour. It’s a small thing, but it’s something that defines me and a way that I feel like I can be true to my identity in an environment which favours, above all else, compliance.

    In university I took a business degree, because I didn’t make it into Law. Truthfully, I never really wanted to get into Law…I never really wanted to get into Business either. I wanted to do an Arts degree and major in Literature. Being young and wanting to please my parents who worked hard to afford my sister and I a good education, I did the “right thing” and chose a sensible degree which I hated for the 4 years it took me to complete.

    The one thing which got me through university was the fact that I used a large portion of my electives to do the arts subjects I was interested in: Introduction to literature, creative writing, writing your life…much more interesting than Macroeconomic Theory.

    I still have the anthology from my Introduction to Literature class which introduced me to so many wonderful authors including Angela Carter, Margaret Atwood and Edgar Allen Poe. I keep this book close as a reminder of what I want to do in life, to keep me on track with my writing when I feel like I should be doing the sensible thing and focusing on my corporate career and to remind me that my rebellion (not matter how small or passive) is my way of sticking up for what I believe in.