I’m honored to be featured on the blog today. Thank you, Savvy authors! I’d love to share some valuable writing lessons I’ve learned along the way to being successfully published and end with a sneak peek at my upcoming New Adult novella, book #1 in the Moving Series.
WRITING FOR AN INTERNATIONAL AUDIENCE
I live in sunny South Africa and reading trends take a while to catch here. That makes writing New Adult and Young Adult a little difficult. Presently New Adult is unheard off. I asked my local bookstore when they would be getting New Adult titles and they pointed out Erotica to me. Yup. That’s how rare New Adult is. However I didn’t give up writing New Adult. Instead I Googled my favorite New Adult authors, downloaded a load of free novels and novellas and then checked out the New Adult bestseller lists. Pretty soon I had an idea of what readers wanted and since New Adult is still a fairly developing genre I was free to play around with a few ideas. And since I’m keen on writing about characters living in South Africa, I set the story in a town a few minutes away from my home town. Writing for the largely American market isn’t easy. I’m still getting used to typing dinner instead of supper; living room instead of lounge and color instead of colour.
CREATING UNIQUE, SWOON WORTHY MALE LEADS
Developing a male lead with the right amount of mysteriousness and sexiness isn’t easy. I tweeted my favorite author, Jennifer L. Armentrout for some advice. Her response: Get him to take his shirt off as often as possible. (Sounds like my fave Bollywood actor, Salman Khan would fit right into my novella series). Creating Dean wasn’t easy. I wanted a spoilt, little rich boy with a good heart, hot head and surfer boy sexy good looks. Shrek helped me out here. Yup, you read right – the Shrek from the land of far far away. Remember the first movie where Shrek describes himself to Donkey. He said something along the lines of “Ogres are like onions. Onions have layers and so do ogres.” I’ve forgotten the exact words but the essence of Shrek’s message remained with me. All of my male leads have layers. It’s important for me to look deep inside myself when I’m writing. I’m multi-dimensional – with a sprinkling of crazy – and I try to create characters with some realistic flaws.
I’ve had stories rejected because the male leads came across as bullies or because the female lead’s reasoning and actions were unclear. I went back and did an introspection of the character and analyzed the cause of the bullying – this is where basic psychology comes in handy. It turned my bullying male leads were masking deep seated feelings of hurt, rejection and betrayal behind their actions. Revealing this without actually telling the reader isn’t easy. Especially when my character range from other worldly guardians to fairy tale beasts and regular human men.
WRITE ABOUT GUYS YOU WANT TO FALL IN LOVE WITH
Fiction is about taking the ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary. Breaking stereotypes is crucial. And writing something new in a world where every storyline and plot has been recycled countless times is a huge challenge. The best thing to do is write about the guy you want to fall in love with. Make his good traits better. Make his bad habits worse. Make heartaches the end of the world and make that love smolder.
The key to writing about guys I want to fall in love with (I’m still single btw) is I understand my male lead better. I know what makes him tick, what makes him want to scoop me in his arms and . . . (*wink*). Anyway you get the picture. I write from first P.O.V. and this method works perfectly for me.
CREATING FEMALE LEADS READERS CAN INDENTIFY WITH
It’s important for the reader to find at least one identifiable characteristic with the female lead. Since I write New Adult and young adult fiction, I researched the market first and learned about the type, age and of potential readers. Google really came in handy and bloggers are my best friends. I make a point of checking out the comments section on blogs and Facebook pages dedicated to writing and books. I’ve learned a lot about what readers want to read and what makes them put a book back on the shelf.
The trick here is to create the imperfect girl next door – not an unrealistic person the reader will have trouble identifying with – save that for the antagonist. I draw a lot of personal experience and pour that into my female leads. Memories of awkward meetings really come in handy. Some things are easier to write about from experience.
Setting the scene is very important for the reader. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate renaissance styled description of the surroundings. Simple words and sentences such as “He walked across the living room and paused in the doorway of the kitchen” tells the reader where the male lead is. Keep it simple. One of the lessons I learned in writing school was to use the simplest words possible and to be clear and succinct. It works for me.
PLOTTER OR PANSTER?
I’m a little bit of both. I develop the plot mentally, jot a few notes and start writing. I refer to my notes when I’m stuck at a dead end in my plot. It’s important to understand where the plot is headed, how characters develop and mature and how the story moves forward. Every word and action should push the story forward.
Scenes that don’t add value to the story or to any of the character’s development should be deleted or rewritten. I learned to plot in Writing school. Prior to plotting I took two years to getting one book into a mildly acceptable manuscript. After completing the year long course I wrote three books in a year. Learning how to plot worked for me. But the panster in me will never give up.
***Writing a story is also about believing in myself. I believe wholeheartedly that only I can tell the story nagging me in the best possible way. If writer’s block hits I take a break. I only write when I cannot resist staying away much longer. I never ever give up. I interact online with other writers and ask questions. There are a lot of wonderful writers out there willing to share their writing tips.
Bio: At twelve I was a really shy and obedient little girl (who had no intentions of giving up writing) so in front of parents I pretended to have forgotten about my dream. Instead, I wrote between Math, Biology and Physics – my least favorite subjects, managed to pass my final papers and eventually found a job and obtained my degree part – time. But I never let go off my dream to publish my precious stories. I had my first break in 2011 when I won a writing contest and was published by Penguin South Africa. I wrote an African version on Cinderella.
I’m currently studying towards a Master’s Degree in Business Management and write between my day job and working on my thesis. Apart from writing I also love food, reading and romantic Hindi movies.
Now that I’ve achieved my dream of being successfully published I’ve moved onto the next item on my bucket list – meet and marry the ultimate book boyfriend. If anyone’s working on a scientific experiment that can make book boyfriends materialize please tweet me or inbox me.
I love hearing from fans. Please tweet me @Shersingzn or stop by my Facebook page for the latest updates and release info.
Lace Higgins had no idea her blog post on South Africa’s former wild child, Dean St. James, would result in him being kicked out of his parents’ apartment—and land him on her doorstep.
Dean St. James can’t believe a single blog post ruined his comfortable life. He’s forced to look for another place when his parents kick him out of their apartment. In a moment of total insanity, Dean confronts the writer of the damaging blog post and is surprised when she offers him a place. Dean needs balls of steel if he’s going to live with the sexy writer, especially since she has a penchant for a silk robe that falls open and flashes him the sexiest body he’s ever seen.
Lace decides she has to make up for Dean’s sudden predicament and invites him to move in with her—she could use the rent. She doesn’t expect Dean to be as sexy as he is. But with his habit of walking around shirtless and his swoon-worthy body she suddenly needs to get a grip on her hormones. Losing her virginity to Dean becomes Lace’s top priority if she can win Dean’s trust and show him he means just as much to her minus his parents’ wealth.
Moving In is now available for pre-order.