I hope you're all taking advantage of the great advice being handed out by editors and authors online - if you haven't caught up, then use twitter hashtag #SYTYCW2012 to keep up with the mass of help being offered to new writers.
My editor, Bryony Green, senior editor for Harlequin Romance/Riva/Modern Heat is one of those lined to help and inspire.
Last year's runner-up in the New Voices Competition - and who I had the enormous pleasure of mentoring through the final stages - Charlotte Phillips, has just had her second book scheduled, btw :)
Entries are now being loaded onto the competition site for you to read and vote on.
Meanwhile, for those of you still in a shall I/shan't I dither, or putting the finishing polish on your entries, here are my writing tips of the week: -
- Begin your story at the moment of crisis, the point in time when your character's life is about to change forever.
- Give the reader characters she will care about, someone she would want as a best friend. Not perfect - imagine have the "perfect" best friend. :( Think Bridget Jones - chaotic, overweight and with an inclination to put her foot in her mouth right up to the ankle.
- Make sure your conflict is big enough to carry the entire story. It doesn't have to be complicated, but it does have to be deep.
- Develop the romance. The reader wants to see your characters falling in love. They may bicker through the entire story but 48,000 words of endless sniping and "I hate you!"s, followed by a sudden about face in the final chapter, does not convince.
- Dig deep for emotion. Mine your own experiences for the feelings your character is going through. We've all felt anguish, embarrassment, guilt, grief. If you find yourself writing "she'd never felt anything like it before", put your pen down and ask yourself what, exactly, she is feeling and tell the reader.
Finally, to help the party go with a swing, I'm offering Liz Fielding's Little Book of Writing Romance at a special price for a limited time. You can download it at Smashwords for $2.99, just use the following code at checkout QR86P here You can download it wherever you are in the world, btw!