Jilly: Avoiding Me, Me, Me, I, I, I

Me, Myself, IHow many of your favorite stories are written in first person? All, most, or none? Any recommendations? What do you particularly enjoy about them?

One piece of advice often given to newbie writers is to choose the point of view that best fits the story you’re trying to tell. Something that’s shared less often is that for many flavors of genre fiction there seems to be a consensus on that ‘best’ point of view choice. Certainly that’s the way it works for the four hundred or so books in the main menu of my kindle.

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Jilly: Villainous Villains

Villainous VillainsHow bad do you like your bad guys (or girls)? Who are the fictional characters you most love to hate, and are they out-and-out villains or strongly motivated stop-at-nothing types?

Baddies have been much on my mind this week as I’ve been trying to come to terms with the challenges of writing fantasy instead of contemporary romance. The stakes are much higher for my heroine and I’m trying to get my head around writing a world where her liberty and her life are at risk, instead of her creative ambitions. In particular, I’m trying to decide how bad to make the baddies.

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Jilly: Well-Read by Moonlight

Well-read by MoonlightYesterday Michaeline had us writing haiku to the Harvest Moon. She explained that in Japanese culture tonight, 27th September, is the Fifteenth Night of autumn, when it’s traditional to contemplate the beauty of the full moon and wish for a successful harvest. (For more about Jugoya, or Fifteenth Night, click here.)

My brief excursion into haiku territory got me noodling around all things lunar, so in honor of Fifteenth Night, I offer you fifteen (very) loosely moon-related tales for your reading or watching pleasure. Continue reading

Jilly: Alpha Males and Guilty Pleasures

Alpha Males & Guilty PleasuresHow alpha do you like your heroes? If your favorites are uber-dominant types, do they inhabit a sub-genre that expects or requires that behavior?

In my reading life I greatly enjoy alpha male asshattery. There are provisos: obviously the asshat in question must be a good guy deep down, he must have brains and a sense of humor, and he must be enlightened enough to respect and enjoy being challenged by a heroine who’s his equal and maybe even stronger.

Even with those provisos met, though, most of my favorite heroes indulge in the kind of high-handed, obnoxious behavior that I would find totally unacceptable in real life. It’s been on my mind this week, because I’m in the first draft of a new story and I’m gradually filling in all sorts of details about my hero. As I’m writing contemporary romance, it’s closer to home, and I’m finding it tricky to get the balance right. I found it a struggle with the previous book, too: after reading my opening scene from an early draft (a McDaniel College romance writing assignment), Jenny Crusie said she’d keep reading, but only in the hope that my hero, Ian, would get hit by a bus. Continue reading

Jilly: Curling Up with a Good Dragon

Dragon chandelier in the banqueting room, Royal Pavilion, Brighton (via brightonmuseums.org.uk)

Dragon chandelier in the banqueting room, Royal Pavilion, Brighton
(via brightonmuseums.org.uk)

It’s been an exciting, inspiring, exhausting nine days. I collected Justine from Heathrow a week last Thursday, and we embarked on a Regency roller-coaster ride around London and southern England, from the spectacularly OTT pleasure palace otherwise known as the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, through the smugglers’ haunts of Rye and the Cinque Ports, via the Medieval churches of Romney Marsh and the splendors of Canterbury, to the Royal Maritime Museum at Greenwich and the beautiful Georgian mansions of Kenwood, the Wallace Collection and Osterley Park. We swooned over fabulous fans and priceless porcelain. We plotted plots and lusted after libraries. Continue reading

Jilly: Here’s Looking At You

Here's Looking At YouDo your characters judge others by reading their eyes? Do you make the most of this important behavior? And do you get the details right?

This week, I’ve been taking a cold, hard look at the way I write about eyes. Not so much eye color or appearance – I’m not talking twin pools of emerald, though obviously the reader needs a degree of physical description to help them build mind pictures – but eyes as the key to a character’s thoughts, emotions and responses.

It’s hardly new news that eyes are important. They’re the primary means by which humans receive information, and according to body language expert Joe Navarro: “The eyes can be very accurate barometers of our feelings because, to some degree, we have very little control over them.” The eyes are a very honest part of our face, which is why poker players, secret service agents and rock stars cover them with dark glasses.

It’s instinctive for us to Continue reading

Jilly: Series – What’s Your Catnip?

Series - What's Your CatnipDo you read, write or watch series? What keeps you coming back for more?

Series was one of the buzzwords at this year’s RWA National. There were workshops with titles like Writing a Series That Sells Forever, Building the Successful Single-Title (or Category) Series and Payoffs and Pitfalls of Writing Connected Books; a quick look at Amazon.com’s romance bookstore is enough to explain why. Here’s a selection of their top twelve editors’ picks for this year so far, in best-selling Continue reading