• It is said that good things come to those who wait. I believe that good things come to those who work. - Wilt Chamberlain
  • A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit. - Richard Bach
  • You don't find time to write. You make time. It's my job. - Nora Roberts
  • Each morning we are born again. What we do today is what matters most. - Buddha
  • Luck is when an opportunity comes along and you're prepared for it. - Denzel Washington
  • I can accept failure, but I can't accept not trying. - Michael Jordan

Friday, August 6, 2010

What I Learned From Susan Elizabeth Phillips

While at the RWA (Romance Writers of America) National Conference, I attended a wonderful workshop given by author Susan Elizabeth Phillips. (Love her!!! Even more since meeting her in person!)

Her six magic words that lead to a bestseller: KEEP THE READER IN THE STORY.

What makes a bestseller? A compelling book written in a voice that captivates the reader.

Susan Elizabeth Phillips emphasized: Do not strive to write the perfect book, strive to write a compelling book.

What elements can make a book a bestseller?
*  Riveting plot
*  Care so much about characters we don't want to part from them
*  Author takes us into an unfamiliar world
*  Author's voice

Four tips to keeping a reader in the story:
1) Master good craft
2) Create dazzling characters
3) Write a fast moving plot
4) Write to your strengths not the market

One of her million dollar tips: Create chapter breaks that keep the reader in the story. End each chapter with a hook.

Hope this helps!


  1. Thanks for these, they're awesome.

  2. Wendy, the recent online medical read on eharlequin by Fiona Lowe really showed the gift of ending each chapter with a hook. It really made me sit up and take notice.
    I'm also doing an online class with Shirley Jump for the month of August and its fab too. She gives real feedback on what you've written, as well as letting you see all your classmates work too. It's great learning experience.

  3. Thanks for stopping by Anne!

    Hi Susan!
    I'll have to check out Riona Lowe's medical read. Thanks!

  4. Thanks for this post, Wendy.

    I'll keep it close to my computer as I begin my next book.

    Charmaine Gordon

  5. Love Susan Elizabeth Phillips! And great points. I've mastered the art of chapter hooks!

    Now if I could just think up a good plot.

  6. Hi Charmaine!
    I'm guessing with how many books you've had published in such a short time, you've got it mastered!

    Hi Jen!
    Plots are tough! Good luck!

  7. Great tips to think about as we sit down at the computer to write! I love trying to end my chapters in a way that makes the reader want to read more. If I find myself "Ohhhhh"-ing when I'm typing the final sentence or two, I know it's going to be a great way to end the chapter. It's a game of trying to figure out how to tease the reader! I love it!

  8. Teasing the reader to turn on. That's one of the things thaat a writer needs to look at with every page. Thus our chapter's contest. Are you compelled to read on.

  9. "Teasing the reader to turn on."

    LOL! That just cracked me up. You writing erotica now?!!

    Hone your hooking skills (okay, now I've cracked myself up!) here:
    (Shameless plug coming up.)

  10. Hi Heather, Janet, and Taryn!
    Thanks for stopping by. And to elaborate on the shameless plug, the name of the contest is Hook, Line, and Sinker! Deadline to enter
    November 1, 2010.

  11. OMG. I can't believe I didn't post the name of the contest!

    Sooooo tired.

  12. All good stuff. And like Jen above, I feel confident that I do some of these consistently in my writing. But having them laid out like this reminds me I have to do all of them if I want to write a truly 'can't put it down" tale. Thanks, Wendy.

  13. Hi Regina and Shoshanna!
    Thanks for stopping by. Glad you found the post helpful!

  14. Hey, Wendy,

    I love Susan Elizabeth Phillips and that is great advice. Totally need to remember to end my chapter on a hook.
    Geesh. So much to remember . . .

    Abbi :-)

  15. Hi Abbi!
    I know what you mean about so much to remember. And just when you think you've got it, you learn something else!

  16. She makes it sound so EASY. hehe Great post, Wendy!

  17. Hi Joanne!
    I guess once you've mastered something it is easy. It's the mastering that's hard!

  18. One of my favorite things I learned in her workshop which became my new motto (and Amy kept repeating it too) was the quote from Steve Tyler from Aerosmith:
    Love it!

  19. Hi Wendy,
    I haven't mastered anything. Just keep writing from my heart, be a part of the scene. For me, it's like acting. As I wrote "NOW WHAT?", I laughed and cried through the whole book. I still have to catch my breath when I think of it.

  20. Hi Jen!
    Thanks for stopping by!

    Welcome back, Charmaine!
    I know what you mean. Sometimes after writing a scene my emotions are totally rung out!