story, science, technology and creativity

What can a children’s writer learn from category romance?

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Last weekend I spent an entire day blissed out:

1) I rode my bicycle to a writing conference: the wind was in my hair (under my helmet) and my legs wobbled like jelly (I haven’t gone any distance on my bike since Fergus was a twinkle in my eye!) and I LOVED IT

2) I spent hours in the company of great women, talking about writing, learning new techniques, listening to different ideas, and generally loving being booky All Day Long.


The conference was called “Romancing the West” and was held by the Romance Writers of Australia.

Now you may be wondering:

What’s a children’s writer like you doing at a conference like this?

Well, fear not, this is not going to be an X-rated post.

Although I’ve never been a reader of Mills-and-Boon style romance (it’s called “category romance” for those who aren’t in the know), I cannot deny it: I am a sucker for a good love story.

Love! Warm fuzzy feelings! Belonging! Loving! Being loved! Let’s face it… Love – – and romance — makes the world go round. A good love story has me weeping in the aisles.

And raunchy scenes aside (for I am a children’s’ writer, after all), there’s much any writer can learn from studying romance fiction. I got heaps of hot tips on the day including some favourites, below:

IDEA GENERATION: Have an ideas box and post all your scribbled-on receipts and middle-of-the-night ideas into the box, where they’ll be ready and waiting for when inspiration strikes (or when the babysitter arrives)

CONFLICT: Characters should have at least a couple of head-on slams with their beliefs. This can be as simple as thrusting a character who hates children into a social situation full of children (from Fiona Lowe)

CHARACTERS: If two characters start as polar opposites, they will travel a longer (and more interesting) arc before finding equilibrium/happiness together (Fiona Lowe again)

BRANDING: There are a gazillion authors out there with a gazillion stories. To figure out what your brand should be, ask yourself (and your colleagues): As a writer, what do I do best? What is my strength? What do I write? (from Nikki Logan)

As part of attending the day I recieved a massive bag of goodies (and a door prize!), and my particular thanks goes out to 5 Senses Coffee for their support of the event, because even children’s writers like to stay up after dark. I totally recommend their DARK HORSE blend (and it’s even a romantic name).

Off now to take Fergus to the zoo…whee!!


Author: cristyburne


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