YouTube: The Romance Writer’s Secret Weapon by Angela Knight

I’d like to share a sampling of my favorite YouTube links I’ve found useful for everything from writing fight scenes to creating e-book covers.

YouTube may just be the best weapon the Internet has ever given romance novelists. Even books aren’t as useful for researching physical skills as videos – and I adore books. The site has been invaluable when I need to research subjects I have no familiarity with.

For example, I decided I needed an evil tattoo artist sorcerer for my new book, Arcane Heart. Now, I know nothing about tattooing. I don’t have a tattoo and don’t know any tattooists.

So, I spent a few hours watching videos by artists demonstrating techniques for newbie tattooists. They covered everything from how to use a tattoo gun to the importance of protecting your customers from blood-borne pathogens.

That research allowed me to tackle my tattoo scenes with the sense of confidence you absolutely need if you want to write about something with authority. Those videos also gave me terrific ideas for plot points.

If you need to know how to do anything whatsoever, chances are someone on YouTube demonstrates how to do it.

Don’t just watch one video and stop, however. If you rely on information from someone who doesn’t know what the heck he’s talking about, you might as well not do any research at all. I’d suggest devoting several hours to watching videos by as many different people as possible to get a better sense of the topic.

Here are a few of my favorite videos and channels. Note that YouTube also suggests related channels that can give you more information.


Cover Creation

One of the most challenging aspects of self-publishing is creating an effective cover.  If your book’s cover is so ugly or boring no one picks it up, you’re not going to sell it. These videos address how to avoid that problem.

  • The Hilarious Art of Book Design with Chip Kidd: This guy created the cover for Jurassic Park, so he knows what he’s talking about. Besides, he’s funny as heck.
  • 4 Key Elements of a Killer Book Design: An associate art director at Simon & Schuster shares advice for creating compelling covers.
  • CreativINDIE – Derek Murphy offers several useful videos on how to create a good cover. He discusses everything from where to find stock photos and fonts to composition, and he offers some tools to allow you to create covers online. He also offers paid courses on various subjects.


Graphics techniques

  • Adobe Photoshop Channel: This is the home channel for Photoshop, which is basically the industry standard for graphics programs. There are all kinds of tutorials here for the different versions of the program.
  • Hair masking in Photoshop: Often you want to cut a figure out of its background in order to use it on a cover. This tutorial demonstrates how to do that in Photoshop CC 2019.
  • The best way to select hair in Photoshop: This tutorial explains techniques for use in earlier versions of Photoshop.
  • Gimp 2.8 Tools Tutorial: How to use the select tool in GIMP. GIMP is a free program similar to Photoshop you’ll find here.


Fight Scenes

If you’re writing a fight scene, watching videos is a great place to start. In a good video, experts show you an attack, then demonstrate how to defend against it. You can then fit those attacks and defenses together like LEGO blocks to create your scene. Look for a really dramatic move and use that as the climax of the fight.

I often list attacks and defenses to create an outline of the fight, bookmarking videos so I can come back for another look as I write. This makes writing a fight much less intimidating and much more exciting to read. If you do your job well by describing both the action and the sensory details, the result will have readers to the edge of their seats.

Sword Fighting

Police work

If you write romantic suspense, you’ll be pleased to learn a LOT of cops make YouTube videos for other cops. They talk about the job, about best practices, and how to handle different problems cops face. They even give tours of their patrol cars, which is darned useful to have.

That said, think of such detail as the equivalent of salt in a recipe. Using too much can make the dish inedible. You need to give readers just enough sense of the process to create an illusion of reality. You don’t want to bore them by turning your scene into a textbook on fingerprint collection. (That’s true for any other procedure your characters use.)


Writers and editors have created some useful videos exploring techniques on all sorts of writing topics.


Plot Bunnies R Us.

Got a problem? You may well find the solution on YouTube. If you’re suffering from writer’s block, a few hours of watching videos may well trigger all kinds of ideas you can turn into great fiction. In any case, it’s a great way to kill an afternoon!


Angela Knight

Love this?

Then check out Angela’s class starting January 7!

New Release

Arcane Heart

When a pair of cops with magical abilities become the target of a hate group, they must unravel the plot against them before it costs them their lives — and love.

Deputy Erica Harris is a witch who can see the magical auras of those around her, a talent which helps her determine when someone intends to commit a violent crime. Her partner, Deputy Jake Nolan, has a psychic link with an African lion that allows him to manifest the animal’s powers.

But it’s tough to serve and protect when demagogues stoke public fear of you. As the two cops fight to unravel a politically motivated web of hate and deceit, Erica and Jake are targeted by a magical assassin hired by the plotters.

While dodging murder attempts, they begin to fall in love. But as Jake’s desire makes his inner lion more possessive, his self-control erodes. Can they afford to take a chance on love when so many lives hang in the balance?

You find the book for sale here:

Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple iTunes


Angela Knight is the New York Times bestselling author of books for Berkley, Red Sage, Changeling Press, and Loose Id. Her first book was written in pencil and illustrated in crayon; she was nine years old at the time. A few years later, she read The Wolf and the Dove and fell in love with romance. Besides her fiction work, Angela's publishing career includes a stint as a comic book writer and ten years as a newspaper reporter. Several of her stories won South Carolina Press Association awards under her real name. In 1996, she discovered the small press publisher Red Sage, and realized her dream of romance publication in the company's Secrets 2 anthology. She went on to publish several more novellas in Secrets before going on to write for the Berkley Imprint of Penguin Random House. Books from her Mageverse and Time Hunters series hit the New York Times list. She was the recipient of a Career Achievement award in Paranormal Romance from Romantic Times Bookclub Magazine Angela has written over 50 novels, novellas and e-books. The latest is Arcane Heart, the story of a beautiful witch cop and her handsome partner, who can assume the form of a magical lion. Angela lives in South Carolina with her husband, Michael, a detective with the Spartanburg City Police Department. The couple has a grown son, Anthony.

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