By Caroline Clemmons
Once upon a time, I attended a Story Magic workshop given by Robin Perini and Laura Baker. And that’s the real start of my romance writing career.
Although it’s been years now, I will never forget that day of the all-important workshop. I sat beside Sandra Crowley in the second row. A lot of my current besties were there: Geri Foster, Carra Copelin, Lyn Horner, Sylvia McDaniels, Kathy Shaw, yada, yada.
Why do I remember it so clearly?
I'd written news stories, but they're strictly facts. And they're written so that they can be shortened as needed without diluting the story's impact. This doesn't translate well to fiction, even though the training is invaluable.
When I first began writing fiction, I’d know how the story started, how it ended, and some of what happened in the middle. I’d go with that and start writing. And I’d have to cut a scene or a chapter because it didn’t fit (which wasted all the time I'd spent writing that part) or I’d get stuck and not know what came next. For the first book I wrote, I got to the end and learned that my story was too short. (See Kathy Shaw’s April 10 fun post “Help I’m Stuck In The Middle.”)
One day this miraculous, serendipitous, wonderful event happened and I attended the Story Magic workshop. You’ve heard people say a light bulb went on when they learned this or that. For me, a searchlight-sized spotlight went on over my head. What had been missing from my writing suddenly became clear. I needed to plan—to actually plot out my book from start to finish, including characters, back story, and what happened in each chapter, the good stuff, the bad stuff and why it happened.
In the course of the day, Robin and Laura shared their secrets for plotting. Some who attended that day didn’t get it or didn’t like the concept. But I was on fire with enthusiasm.
For me, the information was like being given the secret handshake to the Sisterhood of Successful Romance Writers. Arming with these tools empowered me. Now I had the method and could deal with my weaknesses and those of my characters.
Here I am eighteen titles and numerous anthologies and boxed sets later and I’m still using the Story Magic method to plot. Stick with what makes sense, right? Anytime I’ve tried to coast, I’ve gnashed teeth, wept, and had to go back and review.
This stuff works for me. It works for numerous friends. We continue using this method to plot our books.
That’s why just an idea for a book is not enough. Writing takes lots of work over time. For some that's weeks, for others (like me) that's months.
Sure, I love writing and can’t imagine doing anything else. I work to improve. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I fail. I work just as hard in either case.
But I really, really want to please readers. I want you to love my babies! All writers want that.
And we’ll be living and writing happily ever after—as long as you keep reading our books.