Thursday, January 22, 2015

Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing: Romance Author Helena Fairfax on Character and Structure, Giveaway

Romance and Mystery Authors series on writing tips
Hello and welcome to the series, Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing.

I am thrilled to present writing tips from award-winning author Helena Fairfax. Helena came all the way from the UK to share her advice on writing. She will give a $5. Amazon Gift Card to a lucky commenter. The winner will be drawn after 9 pm EST on Sunday evening. (That's 2 am Monday in the UK, I believe.)


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Welcome Helen. Congratulations on your just released romance, A Way from Heart to Heart!  

I believe it's a bit warmer here in Florida than in your hometown in England. So get comfy in your chaise lounge as we enjoy the warm beach and soak up the sun in the Sunshine State. Now let's talk about writing.

Thank you, Janet.

Please share a “light bulb moment” about your writing experience.
In my early days of writing I would often get an idea from somewhere in the ether and start writing away, but these days I’m far more structured, and I work out my characters and central conflict in a deliberate way, as though I’m doing a puzzle. Having said that, I often get ideas when watching films or television. My mind is quite relaxed in that state, and something in the programme I’m watching might set off a chain of thought. For example, we have a TV programme in the UK called “The Hotel Inspector”. It’s about an expert in hotel management who goes round ailing hotels trying to rescue them. This sparked off an idea in my head, and my present WIP is about an ailing hotel in the Lake District, in the north of England.
                             
 What is the best advice for writers that you have received?
The best advice for budding writers is to sit down and write. A lot of people say they’d write a novel, if only they had time. Writers make time, and they get the words on the page, even if it’s only a couple of hundred a day.

My Writing Tip by Helena Fairfax

CHARACTER and STRUCTURE go hand in hand when writing a romance novel. I wrote my first novel, The Silk Romance, as part of a scheme for new writers run by the UK’s Romantic Novelists’ Association. One of the best tips I learned from my reader in this scheme is that a romance novel is character-driven, and not plot-driven.
What does this mean, you might ask. Well, all successful stories revolve around some sort of conflict. The conflict could be James Bond versus the bad guys, or Snow White versus the evil stepmother, or Sandra Bullock versus the laws of physics in outer space. Think of any book or movie you’ve enjoyed, and the story will be strong on some sort of conflict.
In a romance novel, the conflict lies in the nature of the characters themselves, and not in the plot or any outside forces. To give the classic example, take Pride and Prejudice. The title says it all: Mr Darcy is too prejudiced to offer for Lizzie Bennett, and Lizzie is too proud to accept him when he finally does propose. There is nothing else to keep this couple apart, apart from their own character flaws.
When I start writing a romance novel, what I do first of all is decide on the nature of the conflict between my hero and heroine. For example, in The Antique Love, my heroine is the owner of an antique shop in London. She’s romantic, passionate and a strong believer in love. My hero, Kurt, is strong, steady…and totally logical. He believes only a marriage based on rational decisions will last, and that passionate love is bound to burn out. As the story progresses, despite their overwhelming attraction, the conflict between these two characters deepens, keeping the reader turning the pages, trying to work out how on earth the hero and heroine are going to reach a happy ending with such diametrically opposed views of love.
In my latest novel, A Way from Heart to Heart, Kate Hemingway has suffered loss after tragic loss in her life. She is determined to protect her young son George from further tragedy, and believes falling in love will only risk more heartache for both of them. The hero believes Kate should teach her son to embrace life and all its dangers, and that only by accepting risk can we find happiness.
How will the hero overcome the heroine’s fight to protect her son at all costs, and enable her to love again?
A great conflict is what makes a great romance story…and the greater the conflict, the greater the joy of the reader when all ends happily!
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Romance, A Way from Heart to Heart

Back of the Book:
After the death of her husband in Afghanistan, Kate Hemingway’s world collapses around her. Her free time is spent with a charity for teenage girls, helping them mend their broken lives - which is ironic, since her own life is fractured beyond repair.
Reserved, upper-class journalist Paul Farrell is everything Kate and her teenage charges aren’t.  But when Paul agrees to help Kate with her charity, he makes a stunning revelation that changes everything, and leaves Kate torn.
Can she risk her son’s happiness as well as her own?


(Available from other distributors from February 2015)

About Author Helena Fairfax:
Romance author, Helena Fairfax
Helena Fairfax writes engaging contemporary romances with sympathetic heroines and heroes she’s secretly in love with. Happy endings are her favourite, and when one of her novels won a reader competition for "The Most Romantic Love Scene Ever" it made her day. Helena was born in Uganda and came to England as a child. She's grown used to the cold now, and these days she lives in an old Victorian mill town in Yorkshire, in the north of England. After many years working in factories and dark, satanic mills, Helena has turned to writing full-time. She walks the Yorkshire moors every day with her rescue dog, finding this romantic landscape the perfect place to dream up her heroes and her happy endings.


You can find out more about Helena and her books on her Amazon author page
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Take a minute to leave a comment. We' d like to say hi and thanks for coming. And your comment enters you in the drawing to win the Amazon gift card. Thank you.





34 comments:

Susan Bernhardt said...

Wonderful advice, Helena about character and structure.

I agree totally with the importance of stories being character driven even with mysteries.

Best wishes. You have many wonderful novels to be proud of. I am getting ready to submit my third Kay Driscoll mystery.

Susan Royal said...

Great interview, Janet. I totally agree with what you said about character driven books, Helena. I love my characters and I think the way they handle what I throw at them makes makes story.

J Q Rose said...

Helena, thanks so much for being my guest and for the tips on character and structure. Let's sip more tea because it's a bit cloudy and cool for the beach this morning. But the Sunshine State will deliver sun later today!

J Q Rose said...

Hi Susan, Isn't being a writer fun? Making up characters and watching them develop is great entertainment! Congrats on your third book in the Kay Driscoll series. Is it easier to write the series because you know Kay better after two books?

J Q Rose said...

Hi Susan, AND oh, but don't we throw a LOT at our characters. Sometimes I feel sorry for my main character in my WIP. She has soooooo many problems. But I'm readers seem to like the conflict. Thanks for stopping by.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Great advice, Helena. For me, the characters make the story more so than the plot. The more trouble they have the better.
Best of luck with your novels. Thanks.

helenafairfax.com said...

Hi Susan B, and congrats on finishing your third Kay Driscoll mystery. You've created a wonderful character in Kay, and I admire you for carrying her arc over three stories. It's not something I've attempted. I'd really love to try my hand at a series at some stage.
Best wishes and congrats on your mysteries

helenafairfax.com said...

Hi Susan R, I like how you describe "throwing things" at your characters! Sometimes I feel bad about giving mine so much trouble - but then that makes the happy ending so much more satisfying! Thanks for your great comment!

J Q Rose said...

Hi Beverly, and you do get your characters in a lot of trouble. That's fun!

helenafairfax.com said...

Hi Beverly, yes, for me, too. The characters in a book or film stay with me far longer than the story. Thanks for dropping in, and for your lovely comment.

helenafairfax.com said...

We're in a snowy state here where I live today, JQ! Lovely to stay indoors in the warm and talk writing. Thanks for having me!

Loni Townsend said...

Excellent advice! It really comes down to priorities with how we use our time. If we want to write, then we better well darn do it.

lionmother said...

Helena I agree with you that strong characters create your plot. What your character really wants helps you to figure out where the story will go. I think that works for all fiction writing, but especially it works for romance. I am definitely going to try to get to read your work. I love romance books. Thank you J Q for introducing us to Helena.

helenafairfax.com said...

Loni, I so agree with you that it comes down to priorities regarding writing. I am a terrible procrastinator, though. I wish I could be more self-disciplined. I've made a resolution this year to up my word count, which has worked so far to a certain extent, but we're only in January. Time will tell!

helenafairfax.com said...

Lionmother, thinking about what your character really wants is a great piece of advice. It helps you to focus on the conflict and the direction of the story. Thanks for your great comment, and for looking out for my novels.

Heather Brainerd said...

Excellent tip, Helena! Although I write more mystery than romance, my books tend to be very character-driven, as well. Looking forward to your newest book!

helenafairfax.com said...

Thanks, Heather! I have very fond memories of Josie Picada. Your characters are clearly drawn with clear goals and motives. They're definitely memorable! Thanks very much for dropping in!

Marsha said...

Hey, JQ and Helena. Really great advice here. I wish I'd known the conflict think when I first began to write, but it' something I've had to pick up along the way. I write romantic suspense, but I usually start with a problem and then go from there. Kind of like you mentioned, Helena, with the hotel fixers. (We have a TV show over here similar to that, too.) Love your latest book, so much. I'll FB and Tweet this, JQ.

helenafairfax.com said...

Hi Marsha, like you I wish I'd known about the importance of the central conflict when I began to write. I've had to realise the hard way that a sequence of lovely scenes doesn't make a story! I'm still learning now about the writing process, but I'll never tire of learning new things about the craft of writing. That's why I've really enjoyed JQ's series of posts. Thanks so much for your comment about my latest release, and thanks for your support.

J Q Rose said...

Hi Heather B., Love your characters!Thanks for stopping in.

J Q Rose said...

Hey Loni, your comment is a great writing tip. Just do it. Thanks.

J Q Rose said...

You're so welcome, Barbara. Helena's first book won an award too! What is the name of that award, Helena. Truly an honor to receive it.

J Q Rose said...

Helena, I'm so happy to hear the writing tips series has been helpful. So happy you are participating too.

Judy Winn said...

Loved this visit.
Judy Joyce Winn, The Silver Seahorse

J Q Rose said...

Thank you, Judy.

J Q Rose said...

Helena, if you have time, please explain to our readers how you decided on the title, A Way from Heart to Heart. I love this.

helenafairfax.com said...

Thanks for your comment, Judy. Lovely to hear from you.
JQ, my title comes from an Afghan saying "There is a way from heart to heart." I came across the saying while I was doing my research, and I thought it was perfect fro the theme of my book. My story deals with differences in culture of all kinds - between East and West, old and young, rich and poor - but the message I wanted to leave is that humans have the same emotions the world over, and the same capacity for love.
I thought this saying summed up that message perfectly.
Thanks so much for having me today, JQ. I'm privileged to be part of your series on writing.

J Q Rose said...

Thank you, Helena. Your book's message-"the message I wanted to leave is that humans have the same emotions the world over, and the same capacity for love." is important for all of us to realize and remember in this world of turmoil and strife. Beautiful.

Kenneth Hicks and Anne Rothman-Hicks said...

Another great blog post. It's is interesting how we learn, isn't it. And interesting what we don't learn also, I guess. But the process is a lot of fun. Thanks for the tips!

helenafairfax.com said...

Thanks for that great comment, Ken and Anne. You're right, the process of learning is a lot of fun - and I'm learning all the time. Thanks for coming by

Patsy said...

'Sit down and write' is indeed excellent advice.

J Q Rose said...

Ken and Anne, I guess we never get too old to learn. Thanks for stopping in.

J Q Rose said...

Hi Patsy, Indeed! Excellent advice from an excellent author. Thanks for stopping.

J Q Rose said...

Congratulations lionmother Barbara! You won the drawing for Helena's prize--an Amazon gift card!