Story Mastery with Michael Hauge #michaelhauge #rwaus16 #amwriting

Love stories offer most powerful tool for creating character arc and taking reader on journey

What a thrill to attend Michael Hauge’s story writing workshop at the recent RWA conference. Apparently, we were the biggest audience he’s ever had for a presentation on writing – and we loved it!

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For those of you who don’t know much about Michael – he’s a screen-writer and writing/screen coach who works in Hollywood and has consulted on many of the major HW films in the past decades.

Michael covered a lot in our all-day session. Starting with some clips from some movies he used to illustrate his messages. So what were some of his messages?

Some of those that resonated with me were:

You need to create an emotional experience for your reader or watcher

You need to transport the reader/watcher into the world you’ve created

Your goal as a writer is to elicit emotion in the reader

So how do we do that?

Michael went into a lot of detail about main characters, their outer motivations and their inner journey. I will cover more about that in my next few blog posts as there’s a lot to take in. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with another of my favourite quotes from the workshop

Stories are a participatory experience. People read novels not because it is interesting to see what happens, but as an emotional journey to experience for themselves.

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Coming out – Empowered and inspired by my first @RWAus conference #RWAus16 #amwriting #writers #emerging

Look out world – here I come!

Ain’t Love Grand was the best conference I’ve ever been to.

“Why?” I hear you ask.

I’ve been to conferences before – quite a few of them – I’ve even presented at some. History, Heritage, Architecture, Sustainability, Management – even Fossils. And there have been many with outstanding speakers, good networking, lots to learn and lots to think about. But for me, the recent RWAus conference was far more than just enlightening. It was transformational.

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I felt I changed on so many levels. Of course I learnt plenty of new info about writing and publishing. I also met lots of great people – and I think that’s where the transformation really set in. Because I’ve been a ‘closet novelist’ for years – have sat at home writing away, crafting stories, finishing books, self-publishing a few of them, building networks online and learning about the writing craft and the fraught world of publishing and marketing books, finding readers, etc, etc…. And have felt overwhelmed and alone, at times. Started to lose momentum and wonder whether I could continue existing as a writer in a parallel world that wasn’t really a reality… And then – BAM! – I meet dozens of other writers who are just like me, and suddenly it all becomes real.

So, some of the key things I learnt from attending the conference: –

  1. I am not alone. (That’s very reassuring.)
  2. Other writers are generous and inspiring – I already knew that, mostly, but now I really believe it
  3. Anything is possible, and you won’t know if you don’t try
  4. Writing is hard work and you need to treat it like a job. Take yourself seriously and give yourself permission to write.
  5. Don’t be ashamed of writing love stories – Love makes the world go round.
  6. And so much more that I’m going to need a few more blog posts to express it.

So now I am officially ‘OUT’ as a romance writer. I will tell any of my colleagues at work who are interested, and any of my friends and family. I will set myself writing goals and work towards them with gusto. I have made myself an electronic Calendar dedicated to all the work I need to do as ‘Emily Arden’. I am making this real, and I will succeed.

Stay tuned for some more posts on what I learnt from the conference, and may you achieve your dreams, or at least, always feel empowered to chase them.

 

Can a romantic heroine be too old? #helenmirren #sexy #olderwomen #age #romance #amwriting #writing #book #inspiration #breakthemold

November 21, 2005: The press room at the 33rd Annual International Emmy Awards Gala held at the Hilton Hotel in New York City. Among those attending, Dame Helen Mirren. Credit: Dara Kushner/INFGoff.com     Ref: infusny-05

I say ‘no’! I don’t think a woman is ever too old to be attractive or worthy of love – it just depends on who’s looking and what they’re looking for. Couples who’ve been married for 40 plus years love the whole person, not some superficial picture of an ideal physical appearance. They love the way their beloved grows and changes, because they are changing with them. They can feel comfortable in their skin, fulfilled.

I want to help debunk the myth that only young women are sexy and worthy of romance. It is rubbish! A lot of this crap is peddled by the beauty industry, but the reality is that many women and men become more attractive as they get older (eg, Sean Connery – he might be a lot older than me, but the older Sean makes my toes curl in a way the younger actor never did).

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And of course being interested in people is about so much more than just outward appearance, and what often attracts us goes well beyond smooth skin, a full head of hair and nubile bodies.

What do you find attractive? I like wisdom, humour, strength and kindness. I love to see people who feel sure of who they are and are interested in more than just themselves. Which means I often gravitate towards older people and find them interesting and attractive.

Cerebral matters aside, then there are the people who are just hot, no matter what their age. Take Helen Mirren – WOW! Nearly seventy in the picture below, and just gorgeous.

Helen Mirren has inspired my latest book ‘The Tangled Web’, which is about a 59 year old woman (yes, 59!) who is a romantic heroine with a difference. She’s not young and naive, youthful and nubile. But she is attractive, especially to Marcus Webster. So why shouldn’t she star in her own romance?

I have never read a romance before with a heroine older than 45, so I’ll be putting ‘The Tangled Web’ out there soon (probably for free). Hope you enjoy it! I’ll be fascinated to see the reaction. (And yes, older women can also enjoy sex – sometimes more than when they’re younger. Why the hell not?)

November 21, 2005: The press room at the 33rd Annual International Emmy Awards Gala held at the Hilton Hotel in New York City. Among those attending, Dame Helen Mirren. Credit: Dara Kushner/INFGoff.com     Ref: infusny-05

November 21, 2005: The press room at the 33rd Annual International Emmy Awards Gala held at the Hilton Hotel in New York City. Among those attending, Dame Helen Mirren.
Credit: Dara Kushner/INFGoff.com Ref: infusny-05

50145483 02-25-07 Hollywood, CA Helen Mirren at the 79th Annual Academy Awards Red Carpet, Kodak Theatre, Hollywood, CA... Non-Exclusive Pix by Flynet Pictures ©2007 818-307-4813  Nicolas 323-833-7042  Nicolas 323-974-6007  Jay 310-466-8617  Scott FameFlynet, Inc - Beverly Hills, CA, USA - +1 (818) 307-4813

50145483 02-25-07 Hollywood, CA
Helen Mirren at the 79th Annual Academy Awards Red Carpet, Kodak Theatre, Hollywood, CA…
Non-Exclusive Pix by Flynet Pictures ©2007
818-307-4813 Nicolas
323-833-7042 Nicolas
323-974-6007 Jay
310-466-8617 Scott FameFlynet, Inc – Beverly Hills, CA, USA – +1 (818) 307-4813

Avoiding distractions when writing

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

And speaking of romantic distractions, do you have problems with distractions when writing? It is very hard in the busy modern world to avoid them. I have some personal tricks which help me… (but you may have to be strict with yourself!)

  1. Find something stimulating to distract the children (I know screen-time is always enticing, but you might feel less guilty if its something more productive. My kids love lego, puzzles and board games too. Or perhaps quality time with some of their family and friends.
  2. Give yourself permission to have time off ‘busy-jobs’, Preferably, find a quiet room where there are no demanding creatures or gadgets (that includes cats, dogs, mobile phones, clocks, washing machines, irons, etc…)
  3. If you are writing into your computer, shut down your email, social media, everything that is not related to your writing. And even if you have author pages etc, shut them too. Set aside a separate time for promotion and social media – now is writing time!
  4. NO computer games. Not even as light relief. You know they will take over your attention. Just don’t even go there. Spend your ‘down time’ doing some research/background instead. Think about your characters, look for pictures on the internet that help to illustrate the people and places you are writing about. If you are feeling stuck in your story, think about another part of the book. Or write some notes and develop the plot on a separate document. Sometimes I do a timeline if I’m trying to keep track of who does what when, especially when I have books that are interrelated/part of a series. That sort of job is good when you are not feeling very inspired.
  5. If you are really stuck on the book you wanted to work on, start another book. Think about other ideas. I usually have at least 5 books I am working on at any one time. Some are set in the French revolution, another in contemporary Greece, another in Australia. Go where your mood takes you!
  6. Once you do have some ideas that you want to write down, nurture the flow and do all you can to avoid stalling. I have a special trick that has always worked well for me that I will share with you soon…

I hope some of these ideas for avoiding distractions resonate with you. Not everything will be relevant perhaps… I would love to know what works for you!