Writer's "Cheat Sheets"

» Plotting
» Conflict
» Sensuality/Sexuality
» Romance Plots
» Character Archetypes
» Editing
» 5-Minute Pitch

PLOTTING:

Polti's 36 Dramatic Situations

Five Basic Conflicts (from Polti's 36)

Ronald Tobias' 20 Master Plots

CONFLICT:

Essence of Conflict

Devices to heighten suspense(notes from David Freeman workshop)

SENSUALITY/SEXUALITY:

Desmond Morris' 12 Steps to Intimacy

CLASSIC ROMANCE PLOTS

(from Patricia Ryan's "Pat's Premises: Popular Plots, Conflicts and Elements in Romance Novels," Romance Writers' Report, 17(4), April 1997)

Enforced Intimacy

Love Conquers All

One Lover Rehabilitates or Cures the Other

Emotional Baggage or Internal Forces Keep Lovers Apart

The Lovers' Differences Keep Them Apart

The Lovers' Similarities Keep Them Apart

Babies and Children

Comedy of Errors

Evolving Relationships

Mythic or Fairy Tale Elements

"QUICKIE" CHARACTER ARCHETYPES:

(From "Heroes and Heroines: 16 Master Archetypes," by Caro LeFever, Tami Cowden, & Sue Viders.) Beyond Alpha: The Eight Male Archetypes (more info at Romance Central workshops)

Beyond Cinderella: The Eight Female Archetypes (more info at Romance Central workshops)

EDITING:

After the final draft, edit using the "find" function for the words on the following list. Next, read the sentence containing the offender, and either correct it or leave it be, depending. They are all valid words, if used in moderation, but are prone to misuse, overuse and abuse.

"Fine Tooth Comb and Red Flags and Snags"

Look for passive use

(My thanks to Lynda Hales for compiling this list and graciously allowing me to share it!)

"PITCHING" A BOOK:

(by Michelle Jerott, from Wisconsin RWA's The Write Touch Newsletter, April/May 2000)

If the thought of an editor/agent appointment at the conference has you chowing down Tums, relax! It doesn't have to be an ordeal. When pitching an idea, keep it simple and keep it focused on the romance--don't bog yourself down with unnecessary back story, secondary characters, or subplots. All the editor wants to know is if you have a good grasp of your main characters, a balance of internal/external conflict, and the story's marketing angle ("hook.") Five to ten minutes is plenty of time, so speak slowly and carefully, maintain eye contact, and allow time for questions.

If I were going to pitch my latest book, A GREAT CATCH, I'd say something like this:

"After years of working her way upward in the male-dominated maritime world of Great Lakes shipping, Tessa Jardine lands her dream job as First Mate on the passenger ship SS TALIESEN--a dream job until she meets her captain, Lucas Hall. Ten years ago, Lucas broke her young heart when he walked away from her without a word of farewell, and she can't forgive him for that--or for his more recent part in a failed rescue attempt that cost her younger brother his life. Now Lucas, the ex-Coast Guard hero, is back to complicate her life. Working together day after day, Lucas and Tessa discover the attraction between them is still hot and heavy--but can Tessa forgive Lucas, or ever learn to trust him again? And what will Lucas have to do to win back her love?"

This brief paragraph introduces the main characters, given enough back story to provide motivation, shows the basic balance of external and internal conflict, focuses on the romance, and tells the editor it's a reunion story.

Hope this helps, and good luck pitching your book!


The easiest way to create a summary paragraph like the above is to take a formula adapted from Dwight Swain: Situation, Character, Conflict, Opponent, and Disaster. To show you what I mean, here's the paragraph I wrote broken down according to Swain's equation:

1. SITUATION:

After years of working her way upward in the male-dominated maritime world of Great Lakes shipping

2. CHARACTER:

Tessa Jardine

3. CONFLICT:

lands her dream job as First Mate on the passenger ship SS TALIESEN--a dream job until she meets her captain, Lucas Hall. Ten years ago, Lucas broke her young heart when he walked away from her without a word of farewell, and she can't forgive him for that--or for his more recent part in a failed rescue attempt that cost her younger brother his life.

4. OPPONENT:

Now Lucas, the ex-Coast Guard hero,

5. DISASTER:

is back to complicate her life. Working together day after day, Lucas and Tessa discover the attraction between them is still hot and heavy--but can Tessa forgive Lucas, or ever learn to trust him again? And what will Lucas have to do to win back her love?

That's it! Not too painful, really...

Credit Info

You're welcome to share this resource with others, but please keep my information intact.

Michele Albert is the author of ten romance and romantic suspense novels: HER LAST CHANCE, TOUGH ENOUGH, HIDE IN PLAIN SIGHT, ONE WAY OUT, OFF LIMITS, GETTING HER MAN, HER BODYGUARD, A GREAT CATCH, ALL NIGHT LONG, and ABSOLUTE TROUBLE. Please visit www.inkalicious.com for more information.

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