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Spotlight on Kate Walker's 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance ~An Emerald Guide Giveaway!

This week we have author Kate Walker talking about her revised edition of 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance: An Emerald Guide

As Kate Walker is doing a series of posts on writing craft and this Guide, do check her other posts:

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When I first  started writing  - way back in 1984 -  there were no 'how to write romance' guide books to help me at all.  I couldn't find one in print anywhere.  That was until my sister Lucy sent me a book for Christmas that stunned and delighted me - the very first How to Write Romance I'd ever seen in my life.  This book was published   even earlier than I'd written my first attempts at a novel - it was published in 1983 and - as you can see from the cover -  it had rather an old-fashioned approach to writing Romance.    

It also has a lot on practical matters - like word counts, editors' thoughts, details on the publishing process, a  glossary of terms - so that you know exactly the ranks and orders of those ranks of editors in a  publishing office. But there's very little about the actual writing of the novel that you need to do! There is a mock up of a sort of novel - with characters labelled Harvey Handsome and Gloria Glamorous . . . 

 One thing this book did for me, was it sent me away from 'How To'  books for some years - which really  wasn't a bad thing at all. Instead I learned so much more from grabbing as many published romances as I cold find and reading them - and then reading them again - and then reading some more.

This is the first step that I will always recommend  to any of my students or anyone who contacts me and  says they want to write  Romance - or any other sort of novel really: Read, read, read.

Since then  there have been more how to books published  - a lot of them. One of my favourites was always Mary Wibberley's To Writers With Love.   I used to love Mary W's romance novels  and  I was thrilled to meet her at one of the earliest speaking events I ever did and later became a friend.

One thing I learned from her book was that I actually wanted to read it - and I enjoyed doing so.  There was also a section where she deals with all those explanations that every procrastinating would-be author comes up with  to excuse herself for not actually writing anything. At the end of that section, you feel that every excuse has been knocked away from you - and you'd better start!

I never actually planned to write a How To guide of my own. In fact I never, ever saw myself as a teacher - but gradually over time I   found myself being asked to do talks, workshops, courses, weekends on writing romance. I kept all the  notes and the handouts I'd used and I found them so useful  every   time I stood in front of a class. One thing I learned was that, like Mary W's books, courses worked better if they were fun  - we laugh a LOT at my weekend courses and  everyone who walks past the classroom wonders if we're actually studying anything!  

But I also learned  that students don't learn so well from just listening - from talking, laughing and having fun! I was once given a mug from the Romance Writers of Australia  which has the message: Writers write, everyone else makes excuses.  (Jack Bickham).  So when I did start thinking about writing what became the 12 Point Guide To Writing Romance these ideas were in my head.

I had so many messages from people who couldn't come to my courses - they had problems with time, money - or they lived in another country, far too far away.  They all  tended to ask the same questions -  so I found myself writing the same answers every time. So in the end I decided to put all those answers into one book - and the 12 Point Guide was born.  I wrote it as if I was running one of my residential courses - putting in the answers to the questions people had asked.  But I also included  something else - something more that I'd taken from these classes.  In  a   writing class, I give students the information and the explanations they need and then - to make sure that they  really have learned, and absorbed, and understand what I've been teaching them on that topic, I get them to do a writing exercise. A writing topic on the subject we've just looked at - some questions to answer  - just an encouragement to put some words down on paper.  After all, they're all there because they want to write, aren't they?

This is what I've done in the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance.  Each 'Point'  - Emotion, Dialogue, Conflict, Characters . . . has a section all to itself. There's lots of information and advice - and then there are the special things at the end of each chapter - that make this book into more than a How To -  instead it's a Workbook as well. 

Each Point has  a series of 12   questions  at the end, to test your own approach to writing on this topic. Then there are the exercises  - Something to Think About. Then there is perhaps to most important exercise of all - Something to WRITE about.  I've always loved those times in my writing classes when I say 'Now I want you to write about . . . ' And I see everyone's head bent over their paper, pens in hand (or keyboards clicking) as they WRITE.

That's what I also have in mind when someone has bought the 12 Point Guide , read, studied, the first chapter - and got to the end. And there they are asked  to WRITE. We can all  hope to learn to write by listening to a tutor - or reading a guide book - but neither the tutor nor the guide book will ever write your own novel for you. You have to do that.

That's why I've included the special sections in each 'Point' chapter in the 12 Point Guide To Writing Romance - to make it a WORKbook not just a how to guide.   And I'll let you into a secret - whenever I'm struggling with my own writing, if the words don't flow, I got back to my own copy of the 12 Point Guide, find the chapter on the subject I'm having trouble with  - and I work my way through the exercises.  It always works!

And I hope it works for you too.

Would you like to have a chance to win a giveaway copy of the 12 Point Guide?  Leave a message in the comments to let me know what you feel you need most help with in your writing - and I'll pick one response who will win a signed copy of the book in the hope of helping you with that problem!

Kate Walker's 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance: An Emerald Guide


In this comprehensive guide, Kate Walker, an established author within the Romantic Fiction genre, covers all aspects of writing Romantic Fiction, offering budding authors invaluable tips on producing saleable works of fiction, following her 12 point guide.

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28 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this interesting and informative post. This book will be invaluable for anyone hoping to write a romantic novel!☺☺

    A Hug.

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  2. Thank you for coming to visit, Ygraine. That is a beautiful name! I hope the book will help many writers - I've been told it helps writers of all types of fiction, not just romance - which is great to know.

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  3. The books I write aren't exactly romances, but it sounds like the tips in this book can translate to any genre. We all have to handle dialogue, conflict and the creation of memorable characters. My weakness? Allowing other things to get in the way of my writing time. I'm supposed to be working on the second book of a trilogy right now, but I'm making less progress than a tortoise with arthritis.

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  4. Thank you Susan - I'd agree, and I'd hope that the Guide would help anyone writing any form of genre fiction - as you say we all need to learn as much as we can about dialogue, conflict - and specially characters! I read books on writing screenplays but I don't actually write them. And I so understand about that weakness of allowing other things to get in the way of writing time. It's so easy to do isn't it? Good luck with your trilogy.

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  5. I have a friend who considers himself a writer. He is emphatically NOT a reader. I think it shows.

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    1. Oh 'Elephant's Child' - I so agree! I don't have to see your friend's writing to imagine - I can't understand how people who say they are writers just don't read! It's like chefs claiming they never eat!

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  6. Sweet! This was a point of much research for me a few years back, and like you, I found that reading was the real key to understanding the genre, but if you've got a quick guide, shortcuts are always welcome.

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    1. Hi Crystal - I did all that research myself when I wanted to write popular romance. A good guide is - well - a guide but the best combination is a good guide and then reading the books to see how what the guide suggests works in practice.

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  7. This sounds like an extremely helpful series. Thanks for writing it.

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    1. Hi Sandra - I really hope that it is helpful. It's great to know I've helped people.

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    1. Thank you William - I'm glad you think so

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  9. How cool that this is a workbook as well as a how-to guide. Such a smart addition to add. Seems like an incredibly helpful resource!

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    1. I'm glad you think that, Heather. I wanted to make the Guidebook that bit 'extra' and adding the Workbook element seemed the best way to go - I hope it helps a lot of people with their writing.

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  10. Excellent tips. :-)

    Greetings from London.

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    1. Hi there - waving at you from here in Lincolnshire UK . Are you visiting London - or living here now? Thanks for visiting and I'm glad you find the tips helpful

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  11. Ah Kate, you're so down to earth. I picked up a copy of your 12 Point Guide To Writing Romance at a library years ago. It is very helpful, but I've come to realize I'm not really a romance writer, I'm more a women's fiction writer. But so much in your guide applies to all good writing.

    I like the cover on your new edition. Far more captivating!

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    1. Hello Denise! Waving at you. Down to earth - well, that's what comes of growing up in Yorkshire I guess! And I'm married to a Yorkshireman. I think it's a great compliment to know that you see the 12 Point Guide as helpful for your women's fiction - and specially that you think it works for so much in fiction writing - things really aren't so very exclusive are they? I love the new cover too - I think it attracts more people.

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  12. Hi Kate,

    Congratulations on the new and revised edition of the 12 Point Guide. I have the old one - well-thumbed, mind you.

    I've found that reading it through refreshes my mind and make my goal toward creating scenes easier.

    And thanks for this series of craft posts. They are so very welcome! Bookmarking for future reference.

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    1. Hi Janet - I think I've been following you around today as I answer the comments on the craft posts - and there you are again. Thanks for visiting.

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  13. Interesting to see the how to guide from 1983. Curious that it doesn't really have a lot of romance writing advice.

    I agree with Kate that reading as much as you can of the genre you want to write is so important! What an interesting post.
    ~Jess

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    1. Hi Jess - thanks for saying this was an interesting post! I have to admit that when I checked the 1983 Guide, I was surprised how little it actually said about the *writing* of romance- and more about editors and proof copies and such. I so agree with you too - the first advice I give would-be writers is always to read as much as they can. It's the best way to learn, isn't it?

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  14. I think this is such a great idea for writers!

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    1. Hello and thanks for visiting. I'm delighted that you think this is a great idea - I hope it works out to be a great help to writers.

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  15. I bet there is helpful information for writers of other genres in there, too.

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    1. Hello Sherry m- and thank you for visiting! I think you're right - and I certainly hope so! Several writers - and writing tutors have told me that the 12 Point Guide just works for 'fiction' - without needing to limit it to romance. After all most writers need to concentrate on characters, dialogue, emotion etc - don't they? And the best reads are those that deal with those well.

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  16. Your blog is a treasure trove of information Nas. Thanks for this interesting and insightful interview.๐Ÿ˜‚

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