February 4, 2019– A lot of aspiring authors get confused when asked by publishers who their novel is for. It can be tricky to differentiate between middle-grade novels and novels for young adults, so I thought that we would explore that topic today and clear things up.
- For ages 8-12
- Length is 30,000 to 50,000 words
- No profanity, graphic violence, or sexuality. Romance in middle-grade novels is limited to first kiss or crush.
- Age of protagonist is 10-13 (ten for the younger MG and 13 for the older readers)
- Focus on friends, family, and the immediate world of the main character and their relationship to it. The characters react to what happens to them with zero to minimal self-reflection.
- Voice is usually third person.
- For ages 13-18
- Length is 50,000 to 70,000 words
- Profanity, graphic violence, romance, and sexuality (except for eroticism) are all allowed thought NOT required/necessary.
- Age of protagonist is 14-18 BUT NOT yet in college/university. Young adult protagonists can be 14-15 years old for the younger reader, with safer content aimed at the middle school crowd. For older and edgier young adult protagonists, the can be up to 18.
- Focus on how they fit into the world and what their place is beyond their friends and family. They spend more time discovering who they are and reflecting on the choices they make. They are analytical with the meaning of things.
- Voice is usually first person.
This is a quick and easy way to know which group your novel fits into. Happy writing! X LLB
September 7, 2018– Congratulations! You’ve decided to write a romance. Romance novels have a long and interesting past. Romantic fiction is a genre that explores some of the most powerful emotions ever known to humans. Lust, love, and greed are just a few of the motivators in romance novels, and we all know that we would do just about anything for love (to quote Meatloaf). Myself, I admire people who can write romance because I’m sure as hell not one of them!
What is a Romance Novel? Here’s how most A romance novel consists of two people who meet, have a problem with building their relationship, but in the end, they live happily ever after while gazing into each other’s eyes while riding off into the sunset. Umm…not exactly! See? This is why I can’t write romance.
Here’s what a romance novel, IS NOT:
- Always a happy ending. Yes, they must have an optimistic ending, but the characters should deal with trauma and problematic events. Here’s a sample: She stared out the window and watched the rain slip down the cold pane of glass. She knew she’d never see him again, but she knew that she could never forget him.
- Always conflict-free. Come on, seriously? A good romance novel is first and foremost about the characters, and we have all experienced problems in our relationships, life, and work. Why should your characters be any different than real people with real problems? Everyone has had at least one bad romantic encounter!
- Soft porn for lonely women. No. This isn’t the case at all. Not all romance novels have sex scenes and not all sex scenes border on pornography. Romance novels encourage women to go after what they desire, want, and need. They’re not for lonely women, they’re for women who enjoy this genre. That’s all.
Now that you know what Romance Writing isn’t you can start writing about what it is.
September 5, 2018- We’ve all heard of brainstorming and I’m confident that as writer’s, we tend to do this to a fault. I say to a fault because of how much time we spend brainstorming instead of writing, which is really what we should be doing instead.
Brainstorming, as we know, is where you start with a blank piece of paper in front of you and you’re supposed to come up with new ideas. There’s a problem with the rigidity of this. We think that we’re just supposed to write down ideas, single words, and we are encouraged to think laterally.
What if I told you there was a better way? Enter Stormwriting! Here’s how to do it:
- Gather writing materials
- Find a cozy place
- Write down your idea at the top of the page
- Write down EVERYTHING that has to do with your idea.
- Use Yes and What if as your guiding questions.
- Keep writing, don’t edit! Just get it on paper.
Let’s do an example from one of my own novels set to launch next year:
My Name is Jessica Westlake (is the title so I put this at the top of the page)
- Her name is Jessica Westlake, why is her name Jessica Westlake? Has this always been her name?
- She is blonde with blue eyes, tall, trim, married, no children, having an affair with her neighbour
- Her husband is a high profile lawyer, he cheats on Jessica with the mistress that works for him
- They are rich in money but poor in morals
- They have a big house, a maid, and nice cars
- Jessica grew up poor, her parents were horrible and they did things to her that are inexplicable
- They live in Boston in a very expensive neighbourhood
- Her husband is abusive and treats her like garbage
- What if the husband catches Jessica and the neighbour? What if he seeks vengeance for what they’ve done?
- What if things were more complicated? What if the neighbour was also cheating with the husband?
See what I mean? It’s pretty easy to go down the rabbit hole on this exercise, isn’t it?
Also, this contains ZERO spoilers for my next novel:) I wouldn’t ruin it for you! Now get stormwriting!
May 4, 2017- I’m excited to announce some upcoming courses that I will be teaching at the Grimsby Public Library. I sincerely hope that you’ll join me because the courses are packed full of relevant, important information that can help you get started in your writing career. Check out the dates and events below and be sure to register as there is limited space. Looking forward to seeing you in class!