My previous writing tips have covered the general themes of getting started, and how to keep going. Now it's time to focus on writing fiction, and more particularly romantic fiction. This is a brilliant form of escape for millions of people. It's a non-fattening, affordable indulgence and it relies on sweeping your reader into a fantasy world. That means you'll need a hero. Here are my three top tips for breathing life into your creation:
MAKE HIM ATTRACTIVE - This doesn't mean only drop-dead gorgeous, physically perfect specimens need apply! Good looks go a long way to seducing your reader, but they'll need more than that to keep them involved in your story. Time spent in reconnaissance is never wasted. Write a short biography of your hero to discover what makes him the man he is. Give him a past and a future, as well as a present. Upbringing and ambitions forge character, and suggest motivations. Little details such as whether or not he has a pet, what car he drives and the type of music he likes all add colour to your work.
MAKE HIM SUFFER - give him a problem that is too big to be solved easily. In Lady Rascal, Philip Adamson starts out by being too decent for his own good. He's a highly intelligent, hardworking man who has sacrificed his career as a doctor to return home and run the family estate. The strain has begun to tell, but he refuses to give up. Then Madeleine invades his life, and turns it upside down. Unless he can resist her, Philip faces following in the disastrous footsteps of his older brother. He was a man who tore the Adamson family apart. The conflict between the way hero Philip works with cool efficiency to keep everything running smoothly, and the dangerous attraction he feels for Madeline keeps the action moving.
MAKE IT WORSE - Once you've presented your hero with a problem, magnify it. In real life, men tend to work on instinct, rather than emotion. Present your character with a dilemma. Make him choose between an easy decision, or a tough one - between his head and his heart. Will he do the right thing for the wrong reason, the wrong thing out of a sense of love or loyalty, or will he compromise? Whatever he does, make his action consistent with his character. Imagine your heroine's car has crashed on a level crossing, leaving her trapped. A train full of children on a day-trip is running out of control and heading straight toward her. Who would your hero save? As this is romance and we want the story to end happily ever after, he'd manage to board the train, fix the fault and save both his heroine and the children, of course. But not before your reader has turned lots of pages, desperate to find out what he'll do, and how.
Who is your hero? Is he fictional, or a real man of flesh and blood?