Friday, November 23, 2012

Five Things That Revolutionized my Writing by Jennifer St. George

Updated to announce the winner -- Natasha D!!
Congratulations. Please contact me or go to Jennifer's website to claim your prize!! :)

Please welcome Jennifer St. George to the blog today!

Five Things That Revolutionized my Writing

Recently I developed a workshop concept with my fellow Destiny Romance author Louise Reynolds for the 2013 RWA conference to be held in Fremantle, WA in 2013. It made me think about the key concepts or ah ha moments that changed my writing for the better.  These are my top five: 
Getting My Writing Style Right!

I’m a planner.  Always have been but my writing style was true ‘pantser’.  It didn’t feel right, but I didn’t know how to fix it.  First Draft in Thirty Days by Karen Wiesner gave me the keys to unlocking the natural planner in me.  I credit this craft book with enabling me to write much more efficiently. 
I Want to be Just Like Her!

I ventured into my first RWA conference in Brisbane a few years ago and didn’t know a soul.  At the Awards Dinner, I watched as unstoppable Kylie Griffin scooped award after award.  I thought, I want to be just like her.  During a break I asked her was there any one thing that had made a big difference to her writing.  Enter Margie Lawson’s the EDIT system.  This logical, practical edit system shows things in your writing you might otherwise never see.  It can be tricky to master but stick with it.
The simple GMC

Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation, Conflict is a wonderful tool for writers and I use it before I begin a book. However, my lovely friend, Desire author Rachel Bailey gave me a shorthand version that I keep ‘front and centre’ whilst I write.  Why not this woman for this man and why not this man for this woman?  So simple, yet so useful.
Emotional Order is Important

The talented Nikki Logan calls it the natural order of things, that is, how a character reacts to stimuli.  It’s important to have the order right starting with the visceral leading to the subconscious and ending with the conscious.  This is how we react in every day life. For an author, it is important to capture this on the page, or the reader may feel something is not quite right.
Always Finish the Book

The very first craft workshop I attended was given by the phenomenal Melanie Milburne. She taught me so many things that I’ve used everyday in the years since in developing my writing skills. One piece of advice that really made an impression was, always finish the book.  Again, sounds so simple, but without that advice I probably would have begun many different books without actually finishing them.  As she said, how do you know how to write ‘the middle’ and ‘the end’ if you’ve never done it?
Combined, these five concepts progressed my writing to a higher level.  Perhaps some of these ideas will provide other aspiring writers with that wonderful ah ha moment!

Find Jennifer on the web:

Website                Facebook        Twitter          Author Page

Buy Her Book:

Destiny Romance              Amazon       iTunes

 The Convenient Bride

Sienna De Luca will do anything to save her family's hotel, and ruthless Italian businessman Antonio Moretti knows it. With problems of his own, he proposes a marriage of convenience and plans to use Sienna to secure his next business deal. But things don't go quite according to plan.

 In keeping with her part of the bargain, Sienna travels to Venice to be with Antonio, who introduces her to a life of great luxury and opulence. As befits the fiancée of the famous Antonio Moretti, Sienna is given a new wardrobe of designer gowns and outfits and instructed exactly how to behave when out in public. But after thinking he can manipulate her at his will, Antonio begins to realise he has seriously underestimated Sienna, her intelligence, her skills, her courage – and her beauty. Unexpectedly, Sienna gets too close and when she discovers his dark secret, Antonio's perfectly planned life begins to unravel.

 I will be giving a Kindle copy of The Convenient Bride to one lucky commenter here today!

I love this advice! It's amazing how a small comment can turn around your whole thinking!! What piece of advice has helped you most in your writing?
Good luck to everyone in the draw for the e-book!


The Smiths said...

A fabulous summary, Jennifer!

Joanne Dannon said...

Hi Jen - that's a fab summation.

I don't have a single piece of advice that has helped me along the way. Every bit has helped including Debra Dixon's GMC, Fiona Lowe's Male POV etc....

I love it when I get light bulbs - it really helps in nailing both craft and ideas together.

I just got the 30 Day Draft book and have just started reading it :)

Louise Reynolds said...

Ah, Jen. If only we'd known all this at the start!! We need to spread the word :-)

Sue said...

A good post Jenn. When things are on a go slow (often, given work), I remind myself: You can't edit a blank page. Sprints helped me too--they seem to fire up the creative juices.

Aline Tobing said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Natasha D said...

Hi Jen,
After being a pantster through and through in my writing to date (and having a bit of trouble 'finishing' a couple of stories), I've recently come to the conclusion that I need to be a little more structured - not much - just a little. So out comes my 'story map' and hours (and hours) of breaking down the troublesome plot bits, the headstrong characters, and the red herrings along the way and I think I have the answer for me - being a planned pantster. LOL
I too have to thank Melanie Milburne (she was at the RWA Tassie Roadshow)for setting my head in the right direction.
I also look forward to meeting you in Freo next year.

Aline Tobing said...

Marriage of convenient is my favorite theme for romance. I never get tired of it ^^

Anyway, I think I'm no good at writing so I'm afraid I can't give any piece of advice which helped me most in my writing LOL Only that writing needs time and creativity :)

Kez said...

Great interview Jen! I'm making another attempt at Margie's EDITS system next year after being overwhelmed with the course workload this time around.

Beth said...

Great advice - "finish the book" is especially meaningful to me right now!

I don't have a kindle, so don't worry about entering me in the contest.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I guess you can't know how to write an ending unless you've written one. Or rather several.

Jemi Fraser said...

Annie - I agree! :)

Joanne - those light bulb moments are priceless! :)

Louise - and I appreciate you sharing it here where so many of use can benefit! :)

Sue - and that's the joy of editing - you can always fix the mess! :)

Natasha - I'm a pantster at heart too! Scrivener has been helping me become more of a plotter too - loving it!

Aline - it really does! And I enjoy stories with those themes too! So much fun :)

Kez - I find you need so much time to learn a new system, but it can be so worth it. I'll have to check into that one!

Beth - agreed - finish the book is so important! :)

Jemi Fraser said...

Alex - totally agree! Endings are hard! I needed to work through several before I like any of them! :)

JeffO said...

Some nice tips, thanks!

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Great information. Thanks Jennifer.

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing your first tip: Karen's book. I'm going to order it right now.

I, too, am a planner by nature. But pantsing seems to work so much better for me with my writing. The only downfall to pantsing is it can take forever to decide which road I'm going to choose with each fork in the road. This book seems like it could help me manage my writing time more efficiently. Thanks so much!

DMS said...

What excellent advice! It is so wonderful when something an author says stands out to us and changes our writing.

This sounds like a great book! Thanks for the giveaway. :)

Jack said...

That is great you were able to get so many pointers! It is always nice to find things to help with one's writing.

Melanie Milburne said...

Great blog, Jennifer. I'm so glad to see your book out there. Congratulations!

Jemi Fraser said...

Jeff - I agree - they're great :)

Teresa - it is good advice :)

Sheri - Because I write romance, I always have an inkling of the endings - but I love to have the story surprise me along the way.

Jess - I find it's sometimes the off hand comments that mean the most too!

Jack - totally agree!

Melanie - it sounds great, doesn't it :)

Jennifer St George said...

Thanks Annie!

Joanne and SA Larsen - Karen't book really helped me. I found I was throwing out so many words before nailing her planning system.

Jennifer St George said...

Yes Louise - if only we'd known!!

Sue, I've never tried sprints. Must give them a go one day. I have a daily word count goal which usually works for me.

Natasha - I like the sound of a planned pantster! Yes Melanie is fantastic. I still use so much of the advice she gave in that first craft workshop.

Jennifer St George said...

Aline, you are so right, both time and creativity are so important.

Kez, I found the EDIT system a little hard to master but was amazed at what I discovered in my writing using that system. I found my characters were doing a little bit too much "thinking" and not enough action.

Beth, don't you just love it when you get to the end!

Jennifer St George said...

Alex, it seems such simple advice - finish the book - but sometimes it can be hard to push through. I found entering competitions helped. Having a solid deadline was good motivation.

Thanks JeffO and Teresa.

DMS, I found talking to published authors so useful. Most are so generous with their time and advice.

Thanks Jack - hope there was something useful for you.

Jennifer St George said...

Thanks Melanie. I so vividly remember that first workshop, you are such a wonderful inspiration.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

What great advice. I think the most important I received was to sit my butt in the chair and write.

Jemi Fraser said...

Susan - that's definitely a good one!! :)

Jennifer St George said...

Susan - you got that right!!! And sometimes it is so hard to do when the sun is shining beckoning you away!!!

Maria said...

Always finish the book. Great advice, when I think of all my unfinished WIPs.

Nas said...

A great post with heaps of useful advice. Thanks for sharing Jennifer and congratulations on the release of your The Inconvenient Bride!

Readers can read our review of it here!

Jemi Fraser said...

Maria - I wonder how many unfinished wips there are floating around.

Nas - totally agree! :)

Jennifer St George said...

Thanks Nas and thanks for the review!!

Jemi, thank you for hosting me at your blog. It's been lots of fun.

Danette said...

Useful tips. So glad you posted them today Jemi! And thanks to the author for presenting these tips!!

Jennifer St George said...

Thanks for reading Danette!!

Jemi Fraser said...

Danette - you're very welcome! :)

Jennifer - you're so welcome - it's been a lot of fun! :)

SC Author said...

Dang this was an amazing post! Tons of things to think about, especially the order of stimuli. I was wondering why my action scenes didn't ring completelllyyyyy true, and now, I think I can do it. Thank you!

Leslie S. Rose said...

Simple, yet effective advice. Thanks for boiling down these ideas in such an accessible way.

Jemi Fraser said...

SC - isn't it awesome when something just clicks!! YAY - have fun! :)

Leslie - Jennifer did a great job, didn't she :)

Jennifer St George said...

I found 'the natural order of things' a revelation when I learned about it, SC Author. Improved my writing enormously.

Jennifer St George said...

My pleasure, Leslie. All these concepts helped me enormously.

Jennifer St George said...

Maria - finish the book was one of the best pieces of advice I ever received. It really makes you focus and not give up when things get tough.

Shannon Lawrence said...

I like that: "Always finish the book." You're right, simple, but important. If you ever have the opportunity to attend Debra Dixon's in-person workshop, I highly recommend it!

Shannon at The Warrior Muse

Jennifer St George said...

Yes, Shannon, I also recommend Debra's workshops!!

So, to announce the winner of The Convenient's Natasha D. I really like your planned pantster concept. If you could please contact me via my website: and we can organise for delivery of your book.

Thanks again Jemi for having me - lots of great discussion.

Jemi Fraser said...

Shannon - I totally agree with finishing - only way to learn how! :)

Yay for Natasha!! :)

Thanks again Jennifer - it's been a lot of fun! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for passing these tips along. I love the cover and The Convenient Bride looks like a great story.

Jemi Fraser said...

Medeia - it does, doesn't it? :) And the tips are great!

Angela Ackerman said...

I love posts like this when authors share the turning points that led to their success. And I'm happy to see Margie's name listed. I have one of her lecture packets, and it is on my bucket list to go to her retreat!

I think she is a great teacher and so glad the edits system was such a big help!

Jemi Fraser said...

Angela - I'll definitely have to check out Margie's stuff!! :)

Jennifer St George said...

Thanks Medeia. I love the cover too!

Angela, I found Margie's information so useful.

Thanks again Jemi for having on your wonderful blog!! Nice work on NaNo!!!

Jemi Fraser said...

You're very welcome, Jennifer - it's been a lot of fun!! :)