Monday, January 19, 2009

Writing Advice from Jo Beverley

Jo Beverley is a New York Times bestselling author and the five-time winner of Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA award. She visited our chapter last fall and had the following advice for aspiring and newly published writers.

She classifies herself as a "fly into the mist" kind of writer, not a pre-plotter.

Publishers want to pull in younger readers.

Historicals aren't modern people in period dress. However, some readers prefer these to having historical people doing things appropriate to their historical period. Bear in mind though, the same plot set in different periods rarely works.

Know the Obscure...
-Legal systems
-Where the sun sets
-Daily dress, not just what the fashion magazines tell you
-Cultural norms

The Hardwick Act of 1754 made it illegal to kidnap and marry a person (man or woman). Gretna Green marriage were before 1754. Then, you could marry in Scotland in front of four witnesses and the marriage was legal.

A possible but implausible plot: Hero cop's grandmother was killed by heroine hairdresser with a bad perm. :)

Final words of advice...

Is there a character imperative behind every element of the story? Embrace and challenge the "why" at every point. Romance is about real people, not merely character-driven or plot-driven fiction.