New Year's Resolution – Streamlining
by Lucienne Diver
‘Tis the season for those New Year's resolutions. So often they have to do with slimming down or de-cluttering your life, but what about your fiction?
Just as cars can be made more aerodynamic, writing can be trimmed down to reduce friction and add speed so that readers cruise right on through. How? First, get rid of waffle words like almost, only, just, nearly, seemed, tried. He didn’t “try to help” he just “helped” the woman with her spilled groceries. If she slaps his hand away then maybe he was unsuccessful at helping, but show this in action rather than set up the failure.
Second, get rid of unnecessary tags, whether they’re on thoughts or dialogue. If we’re in a character’s point of view, things like "she decided,” “she thought,” and "she wondered,” aren’t needed. We know your character is thinking something or it wouldn’t be on the page for us to read. Likewise, if a decision is made, we know that she decided.
Third, be precise. A million common words won’t paint a picture as clearly as a few perfectly chosen words or phrases. Also consider that adjectives and adverbs aren’t the only way to describe. Metaphors, similes and character reactions are all wonderful ways to set a scene or show rather than tell us about someone.
There you have it, a few quick and easy dieting tips for streamlining your work in the new year. No willpower required!
Agents of the Roundtable
What are some good ways for authors to build long lasting relationships with readers?
ELAINE SPENCER: The best way that I have seen authors succeed at building relationships is by taking down the walls and building a rapport with their audience. Forget who’s the author and who’s the reader—engage with one another on an even playing ground and you’ll be remembered for your attention and kindness long after the interaction is over. Everyone has their outlets where they “show” best, be it on panels at conferences, over drinks at the bar, hand-selling at booksignings or conversing in social media online—the one common theme among all of these interactions is making it about the people and not the books. When people are invested in the author themselves, that will eventually translate to interest in their books as well.
LUCIENNE DIVER: Be personable. Be real. Don’t sell sell sell, but share interesting elements of your research or humor or bad days as well as good. Give back, whether it’s giveaways or free short fiction or just your time. But, of course, it all starts with writing a wonderful book to which readers connect.
NEPHELE TEMPEST: There’s so much emphasis put on social media and marketing to your readers these days that I think sometimes it’s easy to forget that the true writer/reader relationships come from your books. All the rest is just in support of that. As a writer, the best way you can build a lasting relationship with readers is to write the very best books you can, filled with your heart and soul. Readers will connect with you through your writing.
» French rights to Ramez Naam's APEX, to Presses de la Cite, in a nice deal by the Lenclud Literary Agency on behalf of Lucienne Diver
New Clients on the Block
» Peggy Rothschild: Website | Twitter | Facebook
» SLAVE TO SENSATION by Nalini Singh was listed as one of Book Bub's Best Romance Novels of the Past Decade.
» Gena Showalter's THE HOTTER YOU BURN was one of Amazon's Best Romances of 2015.
» DARK HEIR by Faith Hunter was chosen as a Best of Audible Studios: Fantasy.
» THE INVISIBLE LIBRARY by Genevieve Cogman was one of Book Plank’s Best Debuts of 2015.
» THE FIFTH SEASON by N.K. Jemisin made the New York Times list of 100 Notable Books of 2015, NPR's list of Best Books of 2015, BuzzFeed's list of 32 Best Fantasy Books Of 2015, Library Journal's Best Books 2015: Genre Fiction, and Bustle's list of 2015's 25 Best Books, Fiction Edition.
» A FASHIONABLE INDULGENCE by KJ Charles placed second in the Rainbow Awards for Gay Historical Romance.
» Publishers Weekly gave BLOOD IN HER VEINS by Faith Hunter a starred review.
» Christina Henry’s ALICE came in second for the Goodreads Reviewers Choice Award: Horror.
» APEX by Ramez Naam and THE FIFTH SEASON by N.K. Jemisin made Bibliotropic’s Top Ten SFF of 2015.
» INK AND BONE by Rachel Caine and THE FIFTH SEASON by N.K. Jemisin were listed in Fantasy Literature: Our Favorite Books of 2015.
» THE VEIL by Chloe Neill made the Under the Covers: Best of 2015: Best New Series list.
KJ Charles lives in London with her husband, two kids, an out-of-control garden and an increasingly murderous cat. She writes mostly gay and straight romance, frequently historical, and usually with some fantasy or horror in there. She also specializes in editing romance, especially historical and fantasy, and edits children’s fiction as well.
TKA: The Society of Gentlemen trilogy is Loveswept's first M/M Romance and the demand has been clearly been backed up by strong sales. How do you see the future progressing in this genre?
KJ Charles: Onwards and upwards! Queer romance is thriving and growing in the indie/small publisher arena. Now the big publishers are moving in with their greater reach and resources, I think a whole lot more readers will find out these books are there, to the benefit of sales and author exposure across the board. I’m really looking forward to seeing more expansion from cis M/M romance to cover more shades of the rainbow.
TKA: What has been the biggest surprise for you since you started writing full time and have there been any challenges you didn't anticipate?
KJ Charles: I’m amazed how little time I still seem to have. This past year, in which I've written four books, has whizzed by. Unanticipated challenges: mostly I didn’t realize just how carefully I’d have to schedule my commitments. I thought I had all the time in the world. Hahaha, nope. Books expand to fill the time you have.
TKA: For authors just starting out in M/M Romance or thinking about writing one, what advice could you offer?
KJ Charles: The same advice as for anyone really. Read lots, both fiction and nonfiction. Tell your own story in your own voice; don’t try to be someone else or to write the story you think the market wants. Respect your characters (which doesn’t have to mean liking them or going easy on them, obviously).
TKA: The Society of Gentlemen also includes a short story, The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh. How does your approach to writing shorter works differ from full novels?
KJ Charles: For me, shorts need to be tight. (In writing, not fashion. Shudder.) It all has to be knitted together in a short; any element you bring in has to be used—plotwise or thematically—to make a satisfying whole. You can’t have things/conversations just happening: everything needs to be for a reason.
TKA: Finally, have you thought ahead to what you might work on once the third and final Society of Gentlemen novel is released?
KJ Charles: I’ve got a new book (RAG AND BONE) in my Victorian paranormal series coming out next year. And then I’m delighted to say that the Knight Agency has sold a new queer romance trilogy to Loveswept! This will be set in the sordid, sleazy side of Victorian London with, among others, a fraudulent spiritualist, a smut-peddler and a gender-queer music-hall trapeze artist as protagonists. I can’t wait to get started.
Visit KJ's official website, follow her on Twitter, and join her fans on Facebook.
Author Tip of the Month
Jenna Kernan is the author of the romantic suspense series APACHE PROTECTORS for Harlequin Intrigue. HUNTER MOON, book two in the series, continues in January as the second of the Cosen brothers picks up the search for their missing little sister and the trail of drug smugglers that leads right to his former sweetheart.
Jenna's tip: Whenever I find myself thinking, don't write that, I promise myself that if my words are too embarrassing or personal or raw, I will cut them later. This promise gives me the freedom to write what I want, even if it is scary. I often find this writing is my best, most personal work and also, surprisingly, never the part that my editor wants to change. My tip is not to smother those words before they ever hit the page because if it makes you squirm to even think about writing it down, you probably should.
To learn more about Jenna, visit her official website.