A Valentine to Brasov

Love it or hate it, Valentine’s Day is hard to ignore.

Scan of a Valentine greeting card dated 1909.
Seduce your Muse and make love to your imagination (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So use it. Use everything – the romance, the excitement, the dread, the loneliness, the togetherness or isolation… all those powerful feelings and how they make us behave. Fiction heaven.

In sixty seconds, scribble down half a dozen story ideas revolving around 14th February. [I’ll do my list in a minute, and post it later.]

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How easy was that?

Did you make the one-idea-every-ten-seconds challenge? I’d love to see your list if you’d post it as a comment…

If your brain froze and you couldn’t think of a single idea, then perhaps mid-February is the ideal time for you to spend a day unlocking your ideas factory so you never have a creative shortage again.

Come to the Where do you get your ideas? workshop in Brasov (Romania) and let those storytelling juices flow. 

It’s the day to seduce your imagination. Give in to your creative urges. Make love to your Muse. Pull up those fictional wallflowers and plant red roses. Bare your breast to Cupid’s arrow and fall in love with your own imagination.

Whether you yearn to write passion-fuelled crime, zingy love stories, gothic romances, out-of-this-world fantasy, medieval bodice-rippers or heart-stopping horror, this is where you’ll discover the key to creating your best-selling idea.

Book now! Start your writer’s heart racing… make this your year.

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What people really want from authors

Author Kate Harrison
Kate

Author Kate Harrison has done her own survey on people’s reading habits – what they love, loathe, buy and borrow, what they recommend and why. Fascinating and informative for writers, publishers and other readers.

Amongst other questions, Kate asked which three words best summed up what you wanted novels to be like. The top 4 words (number 3 and 4 were very close) were:

 4: Funny (39%)

=2: Thrilling and moving (both scored 40%)

And number 1, with 55%: Thought-provoking.

She also surveyed publishers and agents. Here are three of the comments made:

Nicki Thornton, of Mostly Books in Abingdon, said: ‘Readers are always on the lookout for something that really speaks to them. It takes a lot of time to read a book and if it feels like time not well spent at the end  of it I think people do feel disappointed. People do seem to be looking for something ‘a little more’ out of their reading rather than something very throwaway and lightweight.’

Agent Maddy Milburn said that debut authors are having orders cut, and she’s seen an increase in the demand for accessible literary books – as did Avon editor Sammia Rafique, who called these books ‘smart fiction’. But Maddy also pointed out that how the book is marketed makes a huge difference:  ‘ONE DAY is essentially a love story but was given an iconic cover that appealed to both men and women.’ Sammia also called for more imaginative engagement with readers via social networking, to tap into their enthusiasm and interests.

Agent Carole Blake loathes the ‘chick lit’ label and its connotations of air-headedness – for me, she sums up the debate in the following:  Books that deliver a satisfying reading experience, but also leave the reader feeling they have learned something (historical facts, emotional intelligence, anything else) will leave the reader with the feeling that they have not only been entertained but also educated – they are validating their own leisure time and carrying away something more than ‘mere entertainment.’

Have a look here at all the survey results.

 

159 phobias to enrich your characters

Huh? phobias are enriching? Since when? Since you had fictional characters to feed.

159 phobias to enrich your characters, where do you get your ideas?
Photo credit: SlowTek

 

Phobias – overwhelming fear or hatred of things – can affect someone’s entire life and lifestyle, or can disrupt it disastrously. Both of these things are brilliant for fiction, creating the all-important conflict. 

Phobias can be funny, tragic, creepy, surreal, horrific, even quite charming – and can work in any context and any genre, depending how you handle them, of course. You need a light touch – if every character is neurotically obsessed with something, it won’t work. Now and then, though, a touch of phobia is a very handy device.

A romantic hero, terrified of chickens, could inspire a great scene with the girl of his dreams having to rescue him from a feathery fate – a turning point in the story, perhaps.

A crime fiction villain could be trapped by his fear of heights or of closed-in spaces; a detective could be forced to break through his fear of the same in order to save a potential victim or catch the murderer.

The possibilities are endless, and the available phobias are too. It’s amazing what people can be frightened of, and you have to wonder what sparked the apparently irrational fear in the first place. Rich pickings for writers!

I’ve listed 159 of my favourite phobias here, so have a rootle around and see what rings a bell for you. 

Do you have a phobia? Tell me how it makes you feel, or how it makes you act?

Better still – have you found a way to conquer it?