Thursday, August 3, 2017

Craft is Important by Tara Randel



As you can see from the posts earlier this week, the authors who attended this year’s Romance Writers of America conference have shared great pictures and stories to go along with the trip. Rula and Catherine posted so many pictures, you’ll feel like you were there. Anna filled you in on the things she learned at the conference and her trips to the Disney parks and other conference tidbits. So I decided to recap the trip from another angle.



While RWA is a time to catch up with friends we see only once a year, meet with our editors, learn latest promotion trends and attend award ceremonies, for me, the craft workshops are still a very important component of the conference. Each year RWA offers so many workshops, with a wide variety to choose from, it is very difficult to pick and choose. Yet every time I attend, I’m drawn to the craft classes. I suppose it has to do with the creative part of me, but whatever the reason, I always gain something new to add to my writer’s tool box.

In my early years of writing, I belonged to a local chapter that brought in superb speakers. The foundation I received on the craft of writing was invaluable. And overwhelming as a newbie. But I studied goal, motivation, conflict. I dove into characterization. Learned more about plotting. Through time, my work became better and I felt I was ready to submit to a publisher. I had rejections- haven’t we all!- but I kept plugging away until I finally got the call that changed my life.

Now, whenever I start a new project, I go back to my favorite books for a refresher. There are old books I keep within reach, as well as new books I’ve discovered through the years. As writers, we need to be immersed in the creative process so we can submit our very best project. I’m so thankful for the years it has taken to understand craft, the many manuscripts it took to get it right, and the teachers along the way who helped, encouraged and inspired me.

There are many books to choose from, and as writers, we tend to gravitate toward those authors whose writing advice resonates in us.  If you asked ten different romance authors who they go to when starting a project, you would probably get ten different answers, which is great because we all aren't the same. 

 
 Bottom line? Our craft is important. We need to write compelling books. The books that keep our readers turning the pages because they can’t wait to get to the end, even if it means losing sleep in the process. The books that bring a sigh after the final words. The keepers we reread year after year because we loved a particular story. We honor our readers by continuing to hone our writing skills, no matter what stage we're in during the publishing process. It's an awesome career and I'm so thankful for the wonderful readers who support us and join us as part of the journey.



Tara Randel is an award-winning, USA Today bestselling author of fifteen novels. Family values, a bit of mystery and, of course, love and romance, are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. She is currently working on new stories for Harlequin Heartwarming, The Business of Weddings series. Visit Tara at www.tararandel.com. Like her on Facebook at Tara Randel Books


30 comments:

  1. Being the craft book junkie that I am, I loved this post, Tara. My library is packed with books that have helped me along this journey. Some I refer to more often. Many are tagged with Post-it notes and highlighted in various colors. Some are just plain tattered. :) For anyone just starting out, I hope they'll check out all of the great resources available to us.

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    1. I have flagged pages in my favorite books too. There are certain things that stand out and I have to return to when I'm working on a project. Thanks, Jill!

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  2. A great post, Tara, and a good idea to go back to re-study things.

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    1. I believe we can always improve. Thanks, Liz.

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  3. Tara, it was wonderful seeing you in Orlando. I'm a huge believer in continuous learning, and thank you for reminding us of it through this terrific post!

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    1. My pleasure, Kate. It was good to see you too!

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  4. It was wonderful to spend time and attend workshops together at RWA! With one exception, I attended craft-focused classes and learned new ways to improve my storytelling. Guess this is why we make great critique partners- because we always strive to grow and improve and that means we'll always push ourselves and encourage each other to be the best we can be (although, you are already fabulous to me :)

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    1. Karen, I enjoyed seeing you too! It was fun to sit in workshops together and discuss our works-in-progress. Can't wait to get back to work and implement all we learned.

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  5. Great post, Tara! I have most of these books too. Highlighted, of course--which provides a shortened refresher course of sorts.

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    1. You should see my highlighted books. LOL. But you're right, focusing on key points makes it easier to get right to the important passages. Thanks, Leigh.

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  6. Tara, it was so much fun to see you! There are a couple of books in your photo that I don't have. I'll have to check them out. Were there any workshops that stuck out for you this year as being particularly excellent?

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    1. Hi Carol. Loved catching up with you!

      Two craft workshops stood out. Damon Suede's Power Couples and Joan Johnston's Keeping Readers Up All Night. Damon made me think about new ways to approach my characters while Joan went over ways to hook the reader. I also enjoyed Scene of the Crime with Geoff Symon. (He's written books for writers on the subject of forensics.) Great workshop for suspense or mystery writers. Honestly, every workshop I attended taught me something new. Hope this helps.

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    2. Definitely helps! Thank you. Can't wait to check them out.

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  7. Another craft book junkie here! Just had to declutter my bookcase because I have so many! And yes, I'm anxiously awaiting the tapes from RWA Orlando so I can listen to more craft workshops. :-) Thanks for the post.

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  8. I just bought our own Mel Curtis's craft book about writing unforgettable characters. It's an easy-to-read and digest look at keeping your characters real to readers. I have most of the books you show Tara, and agree with everything already said here.

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    1. I read Mel's book, too. It's excellent and I highly recommend.

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  9. Another craft book/article/workshop junkie here! I love listening to a speaker or reading a craft book with my characters in mind. It helps me to understand them and gets the creative ideas flowing. One of my favorite workshops ever at RWA was one I attended a few years back by Michael Hague (Story Mastery).

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    1. Michael's workshops are awesome. I've attended many times. He's also a fun guy. Thanks, Rula!

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  10. I love craft books and am always trying to learn new things. I just took Mel Curtis's class on conflict and OH MY GOODNESS! It was amazing. I have the book too, which is great. I also love Catherine's book on Writing the Great American Romance. I'd love to have a sit-down with all the Heartwarming authors. I bet I'd learn so much!

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    1. Like I said in the post, put writers together and we'd all have different writing sources to turn to. A sit-down would be interesting! Great idea, LeAnne.

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  11. Story by Robert McKee changed up my game, and I've never gone back after that curmudgeon put me through the paces! Alongside craft books, I keep getting the word that writers need to value other novels like their craft books for how they can make our storytelling bloom. Thanks for this, Tara, and readers--we do it all for you!!

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    1. I attended one of Robert's workshops a long time ago and remember being blown away. Yes- we do it all for our lovely readers!

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  12. I think STORY by Robert McKee is one of the best books on craft I've ever read. I bought the audio when it came out and listened to it more than once. I think bought all the movies he mentioned in it and looked at them with a different light. Highly recommended!

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    1. I agree, Shirley. I think I need to pull that book out again...

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  13. I'm big on craft books, too. I love Mel's book on characters and use it when I start a new story. Among other books. It's like, now how did I do this the last time? :-)

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  14. I know how you feel! For those who don't know, Mel's book is Frankly, My Dear: Creating Unforgettable Characters by Melinda Curtis. I high recommend you add it to your collection if you haven't already.

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  15. I love craft books too, especially Mel's. Do you find you learn differently using books than when you're in a class?

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    1. Yes. When I read a book, I can certainly apply what I've learned but when I attend a class, there are so many more dimensions. Not just the information, but the additional insights from the speaker. During Q & A, different questions may spark the speaker to go beyond their original explanations, so that's an added bonus. Both have their place and I find each invaluable.

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  16. I've missed some of the posts because I'm away, but I love seeing the photo of the craft books...Some of my favorites. I appreciate your thoughts. Nothing I like more than the list of workshops at National! Thanks.

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  17. I have the top two! My favorite is GMC by Debra Dixon.

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