Come for the workshop, stay for the book.
Sophie and Ellen Hartman have delivered their wildly popular workshop, "The Virgin Widow's Heart Stopped When She Saw the Workshop That Would Change Her Life Forever," at the Connecticut Fiction Fest, The Valley Forge Romance Writers, the National Romance Writers of America Conference (twice!), and more. If your writing group is interested in this workshop, please contact Sophie at Sophie@sophiegunn.com.
This is the outline of the workshop:
1. Recognize a Cliché
• Top clichéd phrases and descriptions that should never show up in your writing.
• Top clichéd characters who should never inhabit your novels.
• Top clichéd situations that should never happen.
• Top clichéd openings that will get your manuscript tossed every time.
• Top clichéd love scene elements that make a reader groan (not in a good way…).
• Top clichés romance writers use in promo and why they need to be dumped.
2. Cut Those Clichés: Watch the Editing Process in Action
(Examples of how Sophie and Ellen edited actual manuscripts.)
Identify and rewrite clichés to give your scenes more impact and let your voice sing.
Examples of writing made stronger by cutting clichés.
• Think unique.
• Make it specific and tangible.
• Use your character’s voice or perspective.
• Increase the drama, emotion, or humor.
Think through clichés in the planning stages of your novels to make your writing shine.
Examples of stories made stronger by turning clichés on their heads.
• Do NOT use your first idea.
• Why matters more than what.
• Swap the expected gender.
• Think modern. Think relevant.
⇒ Cliché-free Style: Scrub Your Pages
Bring a 2-paragraph sample from your romance manuscript/book to the workshop, and we’ll work together to spot your clichés and change them for the better.
Praise for The Virgin Widow
“Thank you so much for teaching your anti-cliché workshop. I loved it. Your program was by far the best workshop at RWA.”
—Pierce Rohrmann, Romance Writers of America Member
“I wanted to thank you for a wonderful workshop at the RWA conference. Truly it was one of the best ones I attended…When I got home and reread my work the first cliche I ran into was my hero's "washboard stomach." Unfortunately for him, now he has a little paunch. :-)
—Valerie Putney, Romance Writers of America Member
“Not only was your presentation about how to avoid clichés entertaining, it REALLY helped me…Thank you so much for coming to talk with us…At the risk of sounding creepy, I think of you every time I sit down and edit my work!”
—Lynn Kellan, Romance Writers of America Member
I wanted to let you know again how much I truly enjoy attending your workshop. I learned so much and look forward to applying your methods to my writing.
—Valerie Lynn, Romance Writers of America Member
Not only was it fun, it was so helpful! I will definitely use what I learned as I continue forward on my writing journey.
--Jennifer Greenaway-MacQuan, Romance Writers of America Member
Ellen Hartman’s first Superromance came out in June 2007, just in time for the literacy signing at RWA National in Dallas. She’s sold books about a writer, a rock star, a teenage bully, and a secret baby—turning each of those potentially clichéd stories inside out to find a new angle. Her most recent Super, Married by June (6/2011), is a modern take on the tried-and-true engagement of convenience story.
Excerpts, top ten lists, and more are available on her web site at www.ellenhartman.com.
Sophie Gunn grew up in Philadelphia, but raced to New York City as soon as she got the chance. After four years at Columbia University, she worked at several of Manhattan’s top advertising agencies. But when she moved to a tiny town in upstate New York, she knew her ad career was over. So she opened a computer file and typed, “Chapter One.” Now, she’s back in Philadelphia, six blocks from where she grew up, writing small-town romances for Grand Central Publishing. The first book in her Enemy Club series, How Sweet It Is, is available now. Find out more at SophieGunn.com.)
It's three o’clock in the afternoon. The woman at the desk is tired and she still has a to-do list twenty-two chores long. Who is she? She might be the agent who is going to sign you. She might be the editor who is going to offer you a six-figure deal. She might be the romance reader who is ready to press the "buy" button on her e-Reader.
She picks up your manuscript, or downloads your sample chapter, starts the first page, and—she closes it and moves on to the next manuscript or sample. Your shot is over.
Wait! Why? What happened? Why didn’t she even give your work a chance?
Here it comes. That dreaded answer. The one that doesn’t help you a bit.
She didn’t see a unique voice that spoke to her on the first page.
Voice is almost impossible to describe. I can’t say what it is but I know it when I see it. But take away the voice and there’s no originality, no spark. When there is no voice everything in your manuscript—the tone, the words, the plot, the characters—an editor or agent or reader has seen before.
The good news is that while it’s almost impossible to define what voice is, it’s simple to describe what voice is not: clichéd.
That's where The Struggling Writer's Heart Stopped.... comes to the rescue. Sophie Gunn and Ellen Hartman have expanded on the material they deliver in their wildly popular workshops. What will you learn? Not only how to avoid specific clichés, but also how to examine your writing and root out everything that’s old, tired and been done to death. You’ll learn how to think differently about your work so you’ll never look at your first drafts the same way again. That’s a very big step to finding your unique voice--and your first of many sales!
(Coming May 1, 2012.)
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