March 7, 2011

Our Lovely Heroes and Heroines…who are they really?

Today's blog is by an author of all things romantic, the very talented Rachel Brimble. For more information on Rachel and her books, visit her WEBSITE

Yesterday, I started a brand new story. A novella. I have just finished my second Victorian historical and it topped out as being my longest novel to date at 91,000 words. Which is why I quite like the idea of a shorter story next, LOL! I write across the sub-genres of romance because after I finish one book or story, I like to write something completely different. I hope it keeps my writing fresh for me and my readers.

Heroes and heroines are the subject of my post today. My writing process involves taking a premise or character that has been fermenting in my mind for at least a couple of months before and then sitting down to write a rough two-three page synopsis. I know this is not a common practice, writing a synopsis before you have written the book, but it works as a really effective tool for me.

It gives me my skeleton, my basis to keep me on track – I don’t stick to it rigidly by any stretch of the imagination, but having a summary of where I wanted the story to go when I started out stops me from the ‘middle sag’ that writers fear like the devil.

But before I write my synopsis, I write the hero and heroine’s character sketches. This is always a very revealing part of the process for me. Where does all that stuff come from? It never fails to amaze me how I start with a list of questions and all this history, hurt, happiness, complication and love comes pouring out. Huge internal issues this man and woman carry around with them, waiting to be fixed either by themselves or the love of their lives. This is the ‘meat’ of our stories, the stuff that the readers want more than the flowery romance and steamy sex…well, maybe not always ; )

Which leads to the question…doesn’t every character we create have a tiny piece of ourselves in them? I’m sure other romance writers will agree with me when I say I couldn’t write that three-dimensional vital ingredient without actually feeling what my characters do. Does that make sense? When I am writing what my characters’ are feeling I am usually drawing on my own experiences of hurt and disappointment, happiness and success to capture that all-important emotion romance readers expect when they buy our books.

Because the one thing writing across the sub-genres has taught me – whether our characters are living in 2011 or 1811, the emotion and feelings they experience are never any different. Why? Because we are human and it is that humanity we want to convey if we are to successfully pluck at the reader’s heartstrings, ignite their passion enough to fight with the hero and heroine to the end. Don’t you just love books? I do!

I’d love to know what you think!

In the meantime, here are the blurbs and buy links for my latest contemporary and historical novels…


The Arrival of Lily Curtis by Rachel Brimble
available from The Wild Rose Press

At the mention of an arranged marriage, Elizabeth Caughley feels her life is over at the age of three and twenty….so she hatches an escape plan. She will reinvent herself as a housemaid. Overnight, Elizabeth becomes Lily…

Viscount Westrop wants nothing more than his legacy to be passed to his own son one day. Even though he feels insurmountable pity for the unborn child already, he knows how much pain a broken promise can cause and will do what is right. But with the arrival of his new housemaid, his plans are thrown into disarray. Lily is funny, feisty and the most beautiful creature on earth – Andrew is thunderstruck. But if anyone suspects how much he wants to ravish her and endlessly love her, Andrew’s lineage will be in peril. And he cannot let that happen…


Getting It Right This Time by Rachel Brimble
Available from Lyrical Press

Two years after her husband’s death, Kate Marshall returns home a widow, seeking security and stability for her three-year-old daughter. But when her path crosses with ‘the one who got away’…her husband’s best friend, she has to fight the desire to be with him for the sake of further heartbreak for her and her daughter.
A tough, straight talking theatrical agent, Mark Johnston is dangerously handsome, exceedingly rich, irresistibly charming – and branded by the tabloids as one of the UK’s most eligible bachelors. So even though he lost the girl of his dreams five years before to his best friend, Mark finds no hardship is being single. Or so he thought…but now Kate is back and his heart is still hers.
Determined not to lose her a second time, Mark has to find a way to convince her they can work. But can Kate cope with the media interest and ruthless, money-hungry clients surrounding him being anywhere near her daughter? Or accept that Mark Johnston is really the family man he claims to be?


Sarah Grimm said...


Welcome! So glad to have you here today. It's always interesting to see how other authors approach a story.

I'm a pantser, so I don't do much before I begin writing. Sometimes I hold a question and answer session with them.If they're feeling cooperative, I might even learn a few things. LOL


Jennifer Jakes said...

Hi Rachel and Sarah,
I'm more of a pantser too, so no synopsis for me until I write THE END. lol
But I loved how you explained drawing on previous emotions, whether it be hurt, sadness or happiness to bring a character to life. So true.:)
Great post, ladies!

Caroline Clemmons said...

Great post. Your book covers are gorgeous, Rachel. I know you're pleased.

IMO, all writers draw on past experiences to form characters, even though it's subconsciously. We are the sum of all our experiences and some part of our brain keeps these filed and indexed.

I'm a plotter and work from a synopsis/outline.

Sandra Crowley said...

Hi Rachel and Sarah, I combine plotting and pantsing; I need the basic plot and more detailed character creation to start me in the right direction and keep me on track. It's the fascinating layers that suggest themselves during the actual writing process that keep the story fun for me.

Wishing you mega sales, Rachel.

Emma Lai said...

Rachel, I'm a panster. I'm always in awe of a plotter's discipline. I think it's impossible not to invest some small part of ourselves in our characters--they would be difficult to believe in if we didn't.

Rachel Brimble said...

Hi everyone!

Thank you all so much for stopping by, I love finding out how other people work in the hope some of their methods might work for me, LOL!

I am starting a new novella right now based on the synopsis I wrote a while ago...but it is not going well, something is just not right. Do you ever feel like that? What do you do? I feel like I'm pulling teeth, arrgh!!

R x

Jill James said...

Rachel, great blog post. So true, what you said about emotions. 2011 or 1811, we all cry, laugh, lose people and grieve.

Donna L Bolk said...

I'm a little bit of both, pantser and plotter. I know where I'm starting and where I want to end up, the journey in between I leave up to my characters, and whatever baggage they'd packed into their lives.

Sarah Grimm said...

@Donna L Bolk What a fantastic way to describe your writing style! I always know where they begin and end up, too, but just call myself a pantser. :)


Karen Michelle Nutt said...

Hello Sara and Rachel!

I'm a panster. I've done everything but write today. lol I don't have an outline, but I do like to have names and descriptions of my characters before I begin.

I write the synopsis after the story is finished and I'm ready to submit it somewhere. I may not even have a title until I've written "the end."

By the way, I love your book covers! I wish you the very best!

Joanna Aislinn said...

I like your process of developing that next story and will consider doing so for my next. I agree about the character sketches--amazing what does come out as I jot down the ideas as they come. Then I sit there and go, "Where did all THAT come from?"

Joanna Aislinn
Dream. Believe. Strive. Achieve!
The Wild Rose Press

Tricia Schneider said...

Hi Rachel and Sarah!

Great post! I don't write outlines, but I do write a quick sketch that is similar to a synopsis. I write it out, then I put it away and don't really look at it unless I get stuck in the story. Then, I'll go back to see where I was originally headed. This helps me get back on track and sometimes stirs up new ideas I hadn't considered before.


Rachel Brimble said...

Wanted to pop in to thank Sarah and all you lovely ladies for popping in and making my visit so great!

I love talking with other writers about our methods and rituals - we are all so different but we understand each other completely.

Rachel x