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on April 25, 2009
I'm a recent college graduate with a degree in English Literature who, very recently, came to the conclusion that if I could spend the rest of my life writing romance novels, I'd be a happy camper.

Without the time (or money) to enroll in a creative writing MFA program, or even an in-person writing workshop, I've had to "educate" myself with books on writing style.

I've read and skimmed several over the past several months--books on dialogue, scene/plot development, characterization, etc--but Leigh Michaels' "On Writing" is the ONLY style book I've been literally compelled to read cover-to-cover. Usually, I start these types of books with the best laid plans, then end up skimming or skipping to the pertinent parts (i.e., what I need help with at that moment), but THIS book is so well-structured, it pulls you along.

Aimed at the beginning romance writer (like me!), Michaels' clearly outlines common pitfalls and cliches to avoid, gives extremely helpful tips on how to write "from a male POV" or "a female POV", and goes so far as to explain the structure, layout and general guidelines for several types of romance fiction (inspiration, sweet, short contemporary, long contemporary, chick-lit AND erotica). Basically, no matter why type of romance you're trying to write, there are helpful tips for you!

It's also chock-full of excerpts from published romance novels, which helps Michaels illustrate the topics she's discussing (there's one section where she points out how silly the overusage of dialogue tags can be that made me laugh out loud).

I just bought this book yesterday and, despite the fact that it's really just a style book, I've read almost the entire 250-some pages. I'm about halfway through my first novel attempt and I can already see where the tips in this book will help me improve when it's time to go back and revise.

As some have said, this definitely isn't a book for the more experienced/advanced writer (even as a beginner, there were some things discussed that just seemed overly obvious), but it's definitely going to be a valuable resource on my bookshelf as I advance my writing skills.
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on February 4, 2007
This is a superb book. I don't think I've ever learnt such a lot in such a short space of time and enjoyed it so much than when reading this.

What singles this book out is it's attention to detail and thoroughness. Michaels guides us all through the process from deciding to write a book, to which sub-genre suits you best, summarising all the different aspects of how to write each, straight through to editing and presenting, to writing a synopsis and query letter.

Each chapter takes one aspect of writing a novel, such as plotting, characterisation, dialogue, love scenes, sexual tension etc. and explains it in easy to read language. Then she goes on to use excerpts from different authors, together with more explanation, to illustrate each point. Its very effective and must have taken ages to compile, as she's used a wide variety of authors from both the UK and America.

Her writing and her chosen excerpts are so easy to read that it's very easy to follow, I can quite see why she`s won so many awards.

I enjoyed it so much I just wanted to hole up somewhere and read the whole book straight through, soaking up every word. There's a lot of it (257 pages) and it's quite densely printed, but that doesn't make it difficult to read because the text is broken up by subtitles, bullet points and boxouts.

As a novice writer myself I couldn't recommend it highly enough and will treasure my copy for many years to come.
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on April 4, 2011
While there are certainly some excellent romance-writing specific bits in here, most of the information is the same old basic how-to write any type of genre stuff. I have at least a dozen of those already. I wanted the whole book to be specifically on writing romance novels and it was far from it. If you are new to writing and want to do romance then this book is a good investment, maybe four or even five stars. But if you already know how to write, this book is not really worth it in my opinion.

Things I learned from this book were to always introduce your hero and heroine in chapter one and there should be some kind of tension between them right away. Don't let them fall in love too fast or too late. Don't separate them for more than a chapter or two at a time; find ways to bring them and keep together as much as possible. Keep ramping up the romantic tension between them by using a lot of tags (like "her ivory shoulders beckoned to him" instead of "he wanted to hold her"). Make sure the romance never takes a backseat to anything else. A lot of the "rules" of romantic fiction seem to be just common sense but there are a several that will not be readily apparent to a writer unfamiliar with the genre and that's where this book shines. Unfortunately, there's just not enough romance-specific tips and tricks to justify the price for me.

Other useful books I recommend for writing romance (or any genre, for that matter) are: Romance Writer's Phrase Book (Perigee),The Writers Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, 3rd Edition,The Virgin's Promise: Writing Stories of Feminine Creative, Spiritual and Sexual Awakening,The Heroine's Journey,Save The Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need,20 Master Plots: And How to Build Them,45 Master Characters,Fiction First Aid: Instant Remedies for Novels, Stories, and Scripts and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print.

Particularly important in writing compelling characters of the opposite gender is understanding the differences between the male and female heroic journeys and how the journeys are structured step-by-step. The Writer's Journey, The Virgin's Promise, and 45 Master Characters are all helpful in this regard; the latter book has a comparison cheat sheet for both male and female heros in the back.

Understanding story structure is vital, and you'll be hard-pressed to do better than Save The Cat! (intended for screenplays but easily adaptable to novels) and 20 Master Plots.

Don't neglect editing or you'll be sorry! Both Fiction First Aid and Self-Editing For Fiction Writers are incredibly helpful. And finally, the Romance Writers' Phrase Book is a goldmine of inspiration in creating tags. If you're writing about men and women in any genre, this book is a life-saver.
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on November 4, 2009
I am trained in script and story editing, have produced literally hundreds of books to unabridged audio and am a bit of a writing book junkie - by no means am I a beginner in storycraft. I bought this book because I wanted something tailored to the romance genre and that is exactly what this book gives you. Yes, you could spend hours on the internet finding similar information and, yes, if you've done your research you'll have heard a lot of it before but this book not only collects it for you in one place but is also utterly entertaining. The book arrived late this afternoon and I have just finished it. It's 3a.m. - I couldn't put it down.
Michaels' passion for the subject is in every word. This is not a book written by someone jaded who wants to be able to point at her book when the 4,999,999th person asks her what the formula for romance writing is! She is also generous with her knowledge. So often one gets the feeling that the author of a writing book is holding something back for themselves - not quite fully explaining a point here or there, alluding to something you sense is more important than they are admitting. Not so here. In fact Michaels is so generous that at one point she even uses a sentence from her own (I assume earlier) work as an example of what not to do!
Highly recommended.
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on January 6, 2008
This book is filled with good instructions and serves as a excellent reference that you can use when starting to write your novel as well as a refresher as you continue with other books or novels.

Although my manuscript was already finished before I brought this book, I wanted to compare my manuscript against the expertise of a professional. I found out that I was a writer on the right track and it also alerted me to important points that I overlooked which only makes me a better writer.

If you want to be better at your writing, add this book to your collection.

Benita Pagoria
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on September 1, 2008
While this book contained excellent information, I believe the writer intended her audience to be beginning writers. If you've been writing seriously for any given period of time, the information conveyed here is repetitive. In fact, most of the information could be found on the Internet. If you're an intermediate or advanced writer searching for perspective, I'd suggest looking for another manual.
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on February 21, 2013
This book has been on my book shelf for several years and when I decided to get back to romance writing it was the first one I read (again). Leigh is a great teacher!

This book is divided into five parts and Leigh leads you through each area step by step so that you can understand exactly what is needed to write a successful romance novel. The detail in this book is astonishing and the amount and depth of the content is appreciated. She takes you through building the framework of your novel, developing the characters, and so much more. Then, at the end, she shows you what to do in order to get it to the publisher. This is a must-have book if you are interested at all in being a successful writer.
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on June 9, 2007
In addition to several nonfiction books, Leigh Michaels is the published author of more than eighty romance novels and so brings a very special expertise to "On Writing Romance: How To Craft A Novel That Sells", her instruction manual for aspiring writers in a demanding and popular genre. Practical, comprehensive, informed and informative, "On Writing Romance" covers the origins and evolutions of the romance novel, and then takes the aspiring writer through each and every stage of the writing and publishing process. Breaking down more than thirty romance subcategories, aspiring writers will learn how to steer clear of cliches and stereotypes by studying the genre they propose to establish themselves in; craft engaging and realistic characters that will appeal to a discerning readership; add conflict through the use of secondary characters; utilize tension and timing to make love scenes come alive; and provide stories with 'happy-ever-after' endings that are neither ordinary or uninspiring, but will reward the reader with a story that they will remember long after the book is finished and returned to the shelf. Enhanced with a sample query letter, a cover letter, and synopsis, "On Writing Romance" also provides specific and practical 'how to' information on preparing a manuscript for submission to agents, editors, and publishers. Anyone seeking to write a commercially successful romance novel of any kind should begin by giving a careful and considered reading to Leigh Michael's "On Writing Romance".
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on February 20, 2007
This is an amazing book--written by a truly stellar author. How can you go wrong, choosing to learn from the very best?! Ms. Michaels has written many, many novels and also does online teaching, so she really knows what she's talking about! This book is a wonderful resource for both beginning and experienced writers. The chapters are clear and easy to understand, yet are packed with the sort of information that one would need years and years to acquire. The title is "On Writing Romance", but writers of other genres would be very wise to pick up this book, as well. Highly recommended!
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on November 6, 2011
Because I write both fiction and non-fiction, and because I work in both the creative and business side of publishing, it's often easy to become distracted. In fact, two of my previous books that began as romance novels developed into general fiction [Kenzi, 2007] and corporate suspense [Celara Sun, 2010]. With my third novel [Windrunner, 2012] "On Writing Romance" helped me to calibrate my writing and stay on track within the romance genre. Michaels defines the many subgenres of romance from chick lit to paranormal. She also discusses, research, character development, legal issues, relationship dynamics, love scenes, dialogue, plot, and finally the submission process. For the new writer and the experienced writer who is new to romance, this book is a very helpful reference created by a very successful author widely-recognized in the romance genre. Highly recommended.
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