Friday, January 10, 2014

Lessons in Love

Today we welcome author, Sally Quilford, who explains how she teaches the subject of romance to new writers.

I’ve always been a ‘pay it forward’ sort of author. I had a lot of help and support when I first started out, and I’ve tried to repay that by giving advice to new authors. With this in mind, as soon as I had a few romance novels under my belt, I decided to start running workshops, at a reasonable rate, to pass on what I have learned.

The biggest obstacle to teaching romance writing is that the information is pretty much the same, and so can get a bit repetitive. So I try to look at different and (hopefully) interesting ways to get the points across. At the last workshop I did for the Write Place Writing School in Dartford, called The Recipe for Making Love Stories, I presented the information in the form of flash cards. Everyone had the chance to pick out the name of a hero and heroine (or two heroes or two heroines if they wanted to write same sex relationships), a conflict, and professions for their characters. I added ‘recipe’ sheets so they could fill in more information about their characters as they went along.

But first I encouraged everyone to work with the same information, giving them the characters Esther and Rand, two conflicts and two professions. This proved that you could have a hero and heroine with the same names, the same conflicts and same professions, but still come out with 13 or 14 very distinct stories. Even if the elements of writing romance may seem formulaic, the fact is that everyone can bring their own voice and ideas to the genre.

This not only made the lesson interesting for my students (and I’m assured a great time was had by all), but made it great fun for me too.  I wanted to read every one of those novels and look forward to doing so one day. Several of my students have gone on to be published, and I’m as thrilled for them as I am for myself when my work is accepted.

My online workshops can’t be arranged in the same way as the face to face classes, but I have now created a text book, and set six tutor marked assignments for the course. This is done by email and covers the basics of romance writing, including the hero and heroine, the conflict, the ‘getting to know you’ moment, the pivotal moment, the black moment, with critiques from me on all those elements, and then ends with the students able to send me the first 2000 words of their romance novel to me for critique.

I continue to look for new ways to teach romance writing, but have not yet persuaded Sean Bean to come along to my workshops as an example of the ultimate hero!  One day…

Sally’s next course begins on 1st February 2014.
Contact Sally:

Thank you, Sally!

Compiled by Elaine and brought to you by the blogging team of Elaine Everest, Natalie Kleinman and Liv Thomas.
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Natalie Kleinman said...

As one who attended your workshop at The Write Place, Sally, I found your flash cards and recipe sheets both stimulating and productive. I look forward to seeing what you have up your sleeve the next time.

Christina Courtenay said...

If you get Sean Bean to come along, let me know - I'll be there! :-)

Chris Stovell said...

I've no doubt that all your students have an entertaining and informative time, but I think I could really benefit from a class with Sean Bean :)

Beth Elliott said...

Your courses sound very inspiring and enjoyable. And if Sean Bean does come along, you'll be swamped with students.