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Maisey Yates on Writing and Giveaway!

Let's all talk to Maisey Yates and see what she tells us about writing!

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 Over to Maisey now...

It’s been an interesting year for me in terms of writing. I’ve written books in extremely varied lengths. 50K word category romances, 30K word novellas, 95K word single title romances and 10-15K word shorts.

 

Things I’ve learned? Short does not equal easier...and long isn’t necessarily harder. And that the most important thing is the size of your conflict.

 

I remember when I was working on my 5th book, and I was on the phone with my editor talking revisions and I said: Can’t I just put them in a room together and have them sort it out?

 

She said: If you have enough conflict you could.

 

Internal conflict is important. It’s the...well, it’s whatever the opposite of glue is. It’s the thing that drives the heroine and hero apart.

 

External conflict is often the thing that brings them together: The need for a marriage of convenience, the terms of a will, while it’s that internal conflict that keeps them from their HEA. A feeling of not being good enough, the fear of falling into an unhealthy relationship again, etc.

 

With a 50K word romance I find I can do a pretty deep dark internal conflict - provided I keep external intrusion to a minimum! With the category books I keep it dual POV - H&h only, and I keep the focus tightly on how the internal conflict affects the two of them.

 

For example, my July book The Couple Who Fooled the World (Harlequin Presents) has two
characters with hefty internal conflict. The hero has a very dark past and it’s twisted the way he sees love, sex and himself. He’s deeply ashamed of the things he did to survive life on the streets.  The heroine has a difficult past as well, and she’s never quite healed from it. She doesn’t feel right in her own skin, and in spite of massive financial success, she has issues with who she is.

 

Working these conflicts out for Ferro and Julia, with only 50K words meant stripping away external distractions, keeping scenes between the two of them whenever possible and making sure the external conflict stayed in the background.

 

Of course, external plot is driving the story, but in a book of that length, with the conflicts I choose to use, (conflicts that honestly make it hard for my characters to actually function in normal society...) I have to keep it as a firm secondary, with everything moving to serve those internal issues first, or the readers won’t feel that they’ve gotten a resolution for those characters by the time they get to their HEA.

 

With the 95K word books...things work a little bit differently. I still consider these books to be character and internal conflict driven, without an overly heavy external plot. But I do a few things to keep things moving.

 

First, I’m able to play with a richer cast of characters. In Unexpected (August 20th, 2013!), for example, we meet the Mitchell family. Cole, his brother Cade and his sister Lark. The romance is between Kelsey and Cole, but the other characters in the book, from Kelsey’s best friend to a hot ranch hand, to Kelsey’s many brothers and sisters, help keep things moving.

 

In my Presents I often find that my characters feel like they exist in a vacuum. When things get intense, they sort things out via internal monologue very often because I don’t have the time to build other characters into the book.

 

With these longer romances, there are other characters around to talk to. And not only that, but the internal conflicts of the main characters are truly shown affecting these other characters. The conflict isn’t just worked out between the hero and heroine, but also with siblings, and friends. The scope is much broader, the world larger, because there are almost twice as many words with which to explore the issues the characters have. (And...confession, I DO tend to write a full secondary romance into my longer books, which also helps me meet word count and keep the story’s pacing up)

 

30K word novellas are my new favorite treat. Conflict can be straightforward, but still fairly deep and intense. In Unbuttoned, my first Silver Creek book (June 18th, 2013!) the heroine is very concerned with her public image because of the actions of her parents, and the hero is afraid he’s not worth of love. These are big issues, but without the deep intense, therapy inducing ramifications of a hero like Ferro from The Couple Who Fooled the World (hey, the poor guy used to be a prostitute, we’re talking...he needs 50K to unravel his problems.)

 

With books of this length, I like to have a couple who already know each other. I don’t always, but especially when I was writing my first few novellas, I found it easier to create a believable romance in such a short word count, when we’re bringing the reader in on a ‘relationship in progress’

 

In the case of Unbuttoned’s Lucas and Carly, they’ve known each other most of their lives since Lucas is Carly’s older brother’s best friend. The things is, they don’t like each other very much. Partly because they challenge each other’s internal conflict. ;)

 

And then there’s the shorts...

 

Oh, those are hard. I did a 10K word short, His Pregnant Princess, which you can buy now, and it took me almost as long to write as Unbuttoned did. Because deciding which moments, which elements of the conflict, were important and necessary to include, was very difficult.

 

In this short, Liam and Alys knew each other already, and very well. Liam is the one the heavy internal conflict, while the bulk of Alys’s problems are external, and relate to obligations she has as a princess. The conflict in this book had to be present, and no less intense, but small enough that it could be broken down in the allotted word count.

I don’t think I gave any other characters speaking roles in the short. Everything came down to Liam and Alys, from their first night together, to their HEA. I also kept the external story simple. Everything was pared down to focus on the romance between the two characters, so that, in spite of its length, it still felt like a ‘complete’ story.

 

So that’s what I’ve been learning over the course of the past year! If anyone has questions for me re: conflict, length or anything else, I’m happy to answer them!

Go ahead and ask Maisey questions on writing, I will be giving away a kindle copy of Unbuttoned to one lucky commenter!

Unbuttoned, A Silver Creek novella released this week! Congratulations to Maisey!

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36 comments:

  1. What a great post. I used to find understanding, what was meant by internal conflict and external conflict slightly tricky. But am getting to understand it more clearly now, especially with the help of wonderful posts like yours, thank you.

    Khaleda.

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  2. Thanks Khaleda!

    One thing that helped define it for me is, internal conflict comes from within, while external is brought on by outside forces. External conflict is often what drives them together, while internal keeps them apart.

    I sot of said that in the post, but there it is condensed. ;)

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  3. Pleasure to meet you, Maisey. Great post.

    Hi, Nas!

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  4. Love your explanation for the difference between internal and external conflict, Maisey. :D

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    1. Thanks Stina! It really helped clarify it for me.

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  5. Great post! I haven't ever thought about the conflict and length interplay quite like this--very helpful!

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    1. Thanks, Meradeth! Always happy when I can be helpful. :)

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  6. I love how Maisey broke this down according to conflict and length. Very interesting.

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  7. Love this breakdown!! Seeing the externals as the push and the internals as the pull is awesome! Thanks :)

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    1. Thanks Jemi, glad it was helpful!

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  8. Love the way you broke it down. Makes it easier to understand. Thanks so much.

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    1. You're welcome Renee! And thanks!

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  9. Fantastic post, love it, I love seeing how authors plot all this out. I have to say Maisey, the more I read of your stories the more wow-ed feeling I'm left with, I LOVE your work.

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  10. I completely agree that shorter isn't always easier!

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    1. LOL! Nope! Short requires a whole new thought process!

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  11. Congrats for all the stories! And it's interesting to think how the internal conflict is played up more than the external conflict in a romantic plot.

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    1. I know that's not the case for every author, but for me, it feels key in creating a couple that readers connect with.

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  12. Really interesting post, thanks.

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  13. Maisey,

    You've got quite a range in terms of word count. Good explanation as to how you manage each type of story. Well done!

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    1. Thank you! I've really ended up with some diversity in terms of length this year. It's been really challenging and fun.

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  14. Internal conflict is often times more interesting than external conflict. I enjoyed reading your post!

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  15. Love it! And looking forward to your new book!

    I spend A LOT of time on internal conflict too!

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    1. Thanks Jennifer. ;) Yeah, internal conflict is tough but rewarding.

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  16. Interesting - I never thought about the varying levels of internal/external conflict when going between long & short stories, but yeah, this makes total sense. Congrats on all your books and being able to come up with so much delicious conflict for your characters, Maisey.

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    1. Thanks Nicki. I was really intimidated by doing varying lengths but once I figured out conflict size being so important, it's made it easier.

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  17. Congrats to Maisey! So interesting to read about the difference in writing works of varying length. :) Conflict is so important. I am wondering if she prefers to write longer or shorter works, or if it depends on her mood. Thanks for sharing!
    ~Jess

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    1. Hi! I like different things about different lengths. Plus, my single title length books are a bit funnier, while my Presents are darker, so I tend to feel more in the mood for a certain type of book. And I like elements of both. 30K novellas...those feel like pure fun, I have to say.

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  18. I have to totally agree that short is harder to write, but wow, it comes up a treat when it's done right.

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    1. Lynda, I really enjoy writing short. once I get it sorted in my head!

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  19. I love getting to know the characters in a longer book.

    Shorter is not easier. My current manuscript is on the short side, so I know.

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    1. Medeia, I like that about longer books too!

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