Tuesday, May 22, 2012


Last year I was asked to mentor one of the finalists in the Mills and Boon New Voices competition. A huge honour, an enormous responsibility, a lot of fun.

When Charlotte Phillips made it through the first round, I was the very lucky author who was tasked with the job of guiding her through her second chapter. It wasn’t my job to write it for her, but to show her where her own writing could be strengthened, offer a little advice on what could usefully be left out, give her pointers on what weakened a scene, made it work.

Charlotte, let me tell you, was a joy to work with. Full of enthusiasm, excitement, passion, eager to learn, ready to listen, but with a deep down faith in her characters, their story. We discussed technique. The moment to leave one scene with the reader wanting more. How to add drama. How to bring dialogue to life.

When she made it through to the final four I was as excited as if I’d personally made that huge leap, a seriously champagne popping moment. She didn’t win the competition, the standard was phenomenal, but I never doubted that she would make it through to publication.

Since reaching the final four of the competition, she has been working on a new story with the same editor who does for me, what I did for Charlotte. Flo is a red hot editor who — standing back from the intense involvement that writing entails — brings a fresh eye to the work, picking up on any weakness in conflict, or characterisation.

The ability to accept that your book isn’t perfect, is capable of stepping up another gear, is one of requirements of every published author. We all dread “revisions”, but I’ve never had editorial notes that haven’t made my story stronger.

Meanwhile, if you want to share the advice that I gave to Charlotte, you can download Liz Fielding’s Little Book of Writing Romance from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo or Sony - links on the sidebar.

Follow Charlotte’s journey to publication on Twitter @charlieflips and on her blog Her book, as yet untitled (watch this space!)will be available in Riva in the UK in December (coincidentally, alongside the UK Riva release of The Last Woman He’d Ever Date).


Charlotte Phillips said...

Thanks so much, Liz, for all your help, not just the invaluable advice during the competition but for real support and encouragement since. Without a doubt working with you made me raise my game and I learned so much. I am so excited and honoured to share a shelf with you!

Tora Williams said...

Congratulations to Charlotte! I really enjoyed Honeymoon with a Stranger, so I'm very glad that she's achieved this well-deserved contract.

Lacey Devlin said...

Fabulous news! I'm so excited that we'll be able to read more of Charlotte's work soon :)

Nas said...

Hi Liz!

Congratulations to you and Charlotte!

You must be feeling all proprietal and so excited Liz!

Liz Fielding said...

I can't wait to read the book!

Excited, Nas, but this is all Charlotte's work. When we meet in September at the annual Mills and Boon authors lunch it will be as colleagues. :)

Kate Hardy said...

Congrats to Charlotte! xxx