Breakout 5: Self-Defence For Women: How To Write a Fight Scene – RWAus14

August 28th, 2014

Susanna Rogers – 2nd degree black belt in kickboxing, published romance author.  Publishes under the name Nina Blake 

  • likes to feel powerful
  • teaches kickboxing
  • can’t run, catch or throw, but can kick and punch


When in stressful situation or danger:  fight or flight mechanism kicks in

Physiological changes include:

  • heart rate rises
  • increased blood flow to muscles
  • pupils dilate
  • non essential things slow down (digestion stops)

There is a third factor that is rarely mentioned:  freeze


Breakout 4: The Dark Side: Psychology, psychopathy and stalking – RWAus14

August 26th, 2014

I have to admit that I had a great time at the dinner on Saturday night, and went to a room party afterwards.  I decided to sleep in a bit on Sunday morning so I missed the first session of the day (which was noted as TBA in my schedule anyway), and got there in time for my first breakout session.


The Dark Side:  Psychology, psychopathy and stalking

Professor Karl Roberts

  • Chair and Profess of Policing and Criminal Justice, University of Western Sydney
  • Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology, University of Massachusetts, MA
  • Expert witness in the UK

This was an excellent, informative session, and provided a lot of information and ideas for those writing crime, suspense, romantic suspense, mystery, thriller or other sub-gentres in the crime category.  Over all I would say it was one of the best all weekend, aside from the Friday workshop.

HOWEVER – and I don’t want to direct this at anyone specific (and I probably wouldn’t know their names anyway) – it also suffered from one of my pet hates.

Professor Roberts took questions from the floor from the start.  People were asking specific questions that presumably related to what their own story.  He jumped to the end of his presentation and despite saying he would go back, he didn’t really.  The whole presentation got derailed by those who only wanted to discuss psychopathy because it related to their own writing.  A lot of the information in his slides wasn’t even shown to us let alone discussed (I think a lot of it was on the psychology, but I’m not sure).

While I had some questions myself, I refrained from asking them at the time.  He provided us with his email address and said he was happy to answer questions we have that way.  I hope that in the future people will be less selfish about hogging the presenter’s time, because I for one was extremely frustrated we missed out on so much content.

And I would suggest that in future, all questions other than clarifications be kept to the end.

And now, on to the presentation we did get:

What do forensics psychologists do?

  • focus on human behaviour
  • assessment
  • human performance
  • explanation of motivation
  • clinical – psychological problems
  • forensic – specific application to crime and offending


Breakout 3: Revision & Self-Editing: James Scott Bell – RWAuS14

August 24th, 2014

Revision and Self-Editing for Publication (2nd edition) James Scott Bell


No manuscript is ever submitted exactly the same as it will be published – revisions will be required.   Just accept that.

Have a strategic approach to revision to make it consistent and easier.

Robert Heinlein’s 2 rules for writing

1.  You must write
2.  You must finish what you write

You will learn the most about writing a novel by making yourself complete one – and learning how to fix things

JSB’s corollary: 

3.   You must learn your craft as you write

eg  Read books on writing and craft, go to conferences, learn technique


 JSB rule:

don’t bore the reader


Breakout 2: The Inside Story: Valerie Parv – RWAus14

August 16th, 2014

Australian auther Valerie Parv is an international best seller, who has sold more than 29 million books.  She writes primarily for Harlequin / Mills & Boone, however she has also written a few books on the art and craft of writing.  I have the revised 2004 edition of The Art of Writing Romance, and also Heart and Craft, which is a collaboration by some of Australia and New Zealand’s top romance authors.  I have found them both interesting and informative books – the way some of them describe their personal writing process is hilarious.

Valerie Parv also has an annual writing award that was established in her name in 1999.  Contestants have to submit the first 10,000 words of a novel, and a 1,000 word synopsis of a romance or romantic elements novel.  The winner is mentored by Valerie for a year, and nearly all the winner have gone on to have top selling books.  She is incredibly generous with her expertise and her time, and often runs workshops at the RWA annual conference.  This was her workshop for the RWA 2014 conference.


How to Draw Your Readers into Your Fictional World 

When you are on facebook, you have a feed of comments and images.  You think that everyone you know sees the same thing, but in fact they have a completely different experience.   Likewise, when you write, you think readers are going to experience the story exactly the way you meant it.  But they will take different elements away from it.


How can we get our readers to see our world exactly the way we intended.  It doesn’t have to be identical, because as long as they are reading they are part of the experience.  However there are techniques to allow readers to get as close as possible to the way we envisaged our story.    Five techniques are detailed below:


Writing the Knockout Novel – James Scott Bell – RWAus14

August 9th, 2014

This was a full day seminar, really good with ideas for plotting and structure.  James Scott Bell was a good presenter, and had a lot of examples from movies and books to illustrate discussion topics.

Overall it was a good day (except seating arrangements, but that is a different story).  My main comments were that I wish he had taken a bit  of time to research more (anything?) about Australia generally, and romance writing specifically.  I realise that he presents this a lot to different audiences.  However if someone is paying you to travel to the other side of the world and give the presentation to a specific audience who – despite the sub-genres – are all writing romance?  I think actually doing some reading up on the romance genre would be a no-brainer.  Reading up on snakes and spiders and Vegemite is not so critical but some of the audience kept bring it up.

Author website:

Other sites:

  • – author discussions
  • – writing topics

Content came from a number of his books, including:

Plot and StructureWrite your novel from the MiddleHow to write Dazzling Dialogue

I have plot and structure, and will probably get at least some of the others.  The techniques are good and  I think will be very useful.  I was also really pleased that it meshes really well with the workshop I did two years ago with Alexandra Sokoloff on using the three act structure for writing, which I have been using since then.

Fiction is creating a dream

Each story must contain death:

  • Can be physical
  • Can be professional (eg Clarice Starling as FBI trainee in The Silence of the Lambs)
  • Can by psychological – in romance this should be that if the main characters do not get together in the end, it will ruin booth their lives.  Psychological death is also the key to comedy – characters may be in funny situations but they have to believe that it is serious

He uses the LOCK System:

  • Lead
  • Objective
  • Confrontation
  • Knock–out ending

Types of leads are below:


RSS Feed