Wetsday welcome

First of all, congrats to Darlene for naming the most surfer dudes last week. An Amazon gift card is comin’ atcha!

And today I’m gonna mix it up a little again, by turning the Sizzle over to a special guest, my good friend, a great writer, Ms. Elaine Golden!

On Writing the Short(er) Romance

Thank you, Donna, for inviting me to blog at Southern Sizzle Romance –I’m delighted to be here today!

I love big, lush historical romance novels and the details that evoke not only mood and tone, but also a sense of the era and the way that people lived, worked and interacted with each other. Truth be told, that’s why I decided to try my hand at writing. I like to play with words, with the rhythm and flow and imagery that the written word can convey.

For quite a while after I decided to try my hand at this writing gig, I attempted to produce one of those same thick historicals. But time and again I would bog down in the very same details that I cherished, so much so that I couldn’t seem to, you know, actually get the story out. I was swamped every time, like an overloaded johnboat.

Then one day I learned of the Harlequin Historical Undone line –a 15k short story, ebook-only publication. Frustrated with my current WIP, I decided that this was precisely the challenge I needed to develop my writing –a small space to focus on the story.

So I gave it a try and was amazed at how quickly 15k was gone –I still had story to tell! How was I supposed to fit an entire story into such a small space?! Out came virtual scissors and snip, snip went thousands of words. I refined and tuned and reworded my way down to a sleek 14,985 words (talk about squeaking into wordcount parameters!).

How? Mostly by paying close attention to the words that I used –carefully selecting the most concise way to convey the information needed to tell my tale. And, when it was done, off it went to the slush pile, to sink or swim as it would.

Ten months later I received a revise & resubmit request –good news, a chance to make the story more publishable. But… they wanted me to add three new scenes. Without losing characterization, story or historical detail?! Why, the only way to accomplish that –without chopping scenes –was to prune and pluck the story more. It seemed impossible, but I was willing to give it a try. And in the end I was able to do it –without sacrificing the story.

In fact, my little story was even better –tighter, more evocative and fast-paced. And my writing had significantly improved. Now I write longer stories, but I’m no longer mired in heavy details. Instead, I find the story swiftly develops, the details now a wonderful harmony to set off the story. What delight!

As a result of so many close revisions till that little story hummed like a tuning fork, I can now spot a passive verb at twenty paces. I can supplant clunky details with lean, precise imagery. I can fully develop a compelling story!

Writing short stories is not for everyone. It’s often much harder to write a short than a full length because it’s more Spartan prose than many writers want to work with. But, for me, it was a wonderful way to study and improve the structure and fundamentals of my writing style. And I love it. Apparently, so does Harlequin, for they ended up buying the entire Fortney Follies series!

Have you ever tried to write a romance short or novella? What did you find most difficult or beneficial from the experience? Respond to this post by midnight (Pacific time & include your email address) and I will select one winner for a free download of AN IMPRUDENT LADY. Void where prohibited.

AN IMPRUDENT LADY, my debut Regency romance, is available now from Harlequin Historical Undone! from your favorite ebook retailer. The sequel, A DISGRACEFUL MISS, was just released March 1st. You can read a blurb and excerpt on my website at http://www.elainegolden.com (embed link: http://elainegolden.sistergoldenblog.com/blog/?page_id=416 )

Undones are short and sexy reads that are perfect when you want a great romance but you’re short on time. Every month two unique shorts are released. Please also check out the Roman-era Undone, A PERFECT CONCUBINE, by Michelle Styles!

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11 Responses

  1. First let me say thank you so much I am so excited to win and there are always books i want so the Amazon Card is greatly appreciated. BTW I think I spy Matthew Fox in there too and his name escaped me before.

    As to writing short. I did submit a short (5K) with a plan of three to follow to an editor who publishes that length my very kind response from the editor was this is good can you turn it into a novel. Now I’ve been bogged down since Christmas. I’m at about 35k of the 50k she wants. Perhaps I shall try again. Shorter is often easier for me and my add =) Great post.

    Thanks again Ro’mama

  2. I love to write short- as my friend Romancemama says, I write like a man- and not just any man, mind you, but no less than Hemingway!!

    I agree that short is often harder but I like it as I can have the whole thing in my head at one time!

  3. Hello, Elaine! Thanks for sharing your insights and enthusiasm with us. Shorts definitely take precise writing, and you have my respect for producing them!

    Both your books listed her today look interesting, and landing a series is impressive. Hope to hear more from you soon.

  4. Sorry y’all, unlike Jillian, I’m all Faulkner…a crude and obnoxious Faulkner, but there ya go. I can’t write a story in less than 80k words and even that is cutting it short for me. My first 3 novels were no less than 92k words with one topping out at 110! LOL

    I think it’s the Louisianan in me; I write as much as others like to talk 😉

  5. Hi Darlene,

    That’s great! Isn’t it amazing, though, how time so easily gets away? Best wishes on that short series!

    ~Elaine

  6. Hi Jillian,

    Yes! It is nice to have line-of-sight on the whole plot! That’s probably why I was bogging down so much when I tried writing long at first. Keeping that plot straight was like trying to catch a greased pig!

    Hemingway, is it? Sounds interesting!

    ~Elaine

  7. Hi Runere,

    Thanks so much for the kind thoughts! I’m delighted that Donna was able to sponsor my post and I could hang with you guys. Looks like an awesome group!

    ~Elaine

  8. danicaavet,

    There’s something to be said for that writing style –it’s my favorite to read! I admire you the ability to write like that (and, yes, I mean the crude & obnoxious part, too 😀 )

    ~Elaine

  9. He Elaine, Thanks for visiting the Sizzlers. Personally like the concept of shorter stories and had looked at Undone but didn’t know which to buy to check them out–Now I know.. They must love what you do to buy two, especially since they often feature their own writers. Congrats on publication and I’ll certainly buy at least one of them.. Rita Bay

  10. Hi Rita Bay,

    Thank you so much! One thing that Harlequin seems to be doing with the Undone line is really experimenting with stories. They have done medieval Japan, China, Rome, the roaring 20s and even some historical paranormals.

    I was so pleased to find them receptive to a series –after the first one was done those siblings were bugging me to tell their stories –there’s a total of 3, though the last hasn’t been titled or assigned a date yet.

    I hope you enjoy the Undones!

    ~Elaine

  11. Thanks everyone for the warm welcome!

    According to Random.org, the winner of a digital download of AN IMPRUDENT LADY is entry #2, to that’s Jllian Chantal! Yeah -congratulations! I hope you enjoy the story!

    ~Elaine

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