Some writers are descriptive in their style, writing more in a flavor of purple prose with relaxed writing, detailing each thing, while others are more literary, their prose so beautifully written that it nearly sings on the page. Author Victoria Howard describes her style as basic, “. . .giving enough description for the reader to know where they are, writing enough action to keep the story moving, but not enough to overwhelm the reader. I’ve learned to trim the fat, which is in keeping with romantic suspense.”
For her, the seed of inspiration may be found in something she read in a magazine, saw on TV or overheard in a conversation in a coffee shop. “I’ll think about it for a while, expanding the basic premise, perhaps researching some aspect on the internet, developing characters, choosing my setting etc, before finally committing myself to working on the manuscript,” she says.
Victoria believes striking the proper balance in crafting descriptive passages is critical. “You have to be careful not to overwhelm the reader. Too much description is boring and slows the pace. However, you have to include sufficient to enable the reader to engage fully in the plot. I like to use places I’ve visited and am familiar with. I have a fairly good memory and find it easy to recall sights and sounds I have experienced, which is why all three of my novels are set in real locations. Much easier than staring at a photograph trying to imagine what my character might see or hear.”
Victoria has two critique partners with whom she shares ideas. “We discuss plot elements – what works and what does not. I write a short synopsis, maybe one or two pages in length and send it to them. They also critique certain chapters where I feel some element may be missing or there’s too little or too much detail for it to work. They also read the manuscript when it is completed. It’s a two-way street, and although our writing crosses genres, our writing styles are fairly similar and we are able to understand what we’re hoping to achieve.”
Victoria uses the typical spectrum of social media, such as Facebook, and has her own website and blog, but she’s often a guest on various blogs, talking about either her books or offering thoughts on various techniques and aspects of writing.
“I’m no expert on creative writing, but I am willing to share what I’ve learnt. My name is on the lists of Speakers for my area, held by the local library, the Women’s Institute, and various other organizations, such as the University of the Third Age. I’ve taken part in the Glossop Literary Festival for the last two years and have been fortunate to have been interviewed by BBC Radio Sheffield on a number of occasions,” she says.
Victoria has read a number of indie authors and found Lexi Revellian’s novel “Remix” was exceptional. She’s read all of Brenda Hill’s novels, and also recommends Linda Gillard. (Originally published by Transita, Linda has self-published her last three books as Kindle books.)
Victoria advises aspiring writers to also be avid readers, and from this, to learn the craft. “Learn how to plot, develop characters, and write effective dialogue. A good way to start is writing short stories and entering competitions. When I decided I want to write full-time, I took a university course in fiction writing. The tutor’s comments on my writing assignments encouraged me to continue. If like me, you write romance in any of its genres, join you the Romantic Novelists’ Association which has a New Writer’s Scheme.”
She also admonishes writers not to be disheartened when a manuscript is rejected by an agent or publisher. As Victoria says, rejection is subjective. What suits one agent/publisher, may not suit another. Invest in some research of the agent or publisher to whom you submit. “Follow their guidelines to the letter. But most of all, keep writing,” says Victoria.
Her latest book, “Ring of Lies” is set on the Gulf Coast of Florida and follows Englishwoman Grace Elliott as she struggles to find the truth about her husband, Daniel Elliott who dies in a car accident one rainy night. Grace, is overcome with grief…and panic. She soon discovers Daniel kept secrets: an alias, a list of numbers, and a mysterious beach house in Florida.
Swallowing her fear, she flies to Miami. With little to go on and danger at every turn, Grace must depend on Jack West, an FBI agent, to help her navigate the criminal world of south Florida, and find the truth behind the Ring of Lies.
“Ring of Lies” has been reviewed by Coffee Time Romance, Long and Short Reviews, The Pen and Muse, Romance at Heart and the Romance Studio. Victoria is pleased to say all have been very favorable.
You can find Victoria’s book, “Ring of Lies” in print or Kindle format on Amazon or in e-book format on Smashwords. Be sure also to check out Victoria’s website and her blog. You can find her on Facebook or Twitter. Just in case you missed it, Victoria also wrote a wonderful article for Indies Unlimited on Getting Romance Right.