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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Romance Writers of America - Joining and Attending Local and Regional Events



At the end of the month the New England chapter of Romance Writers of America is holding a regional conference in Salem, Mass. I'm going. Romance Writers of America is the biggest organization of writers in the romance genre, and their reach is astounding. The local chapter here in Mass. meets at Brandeis University in Waltham once a month, and I'll attend my first meeting in a week and a half; the topic is guns and firing guns.

I started laughing when I saw that, but then it really hit me how much sense it makes to have a gun demonstration/discussion for authors. When I'm writing a scene (there are no gun scenes in Legs or Arms, though), I strive for realism. With the exception of writing paranormal sections of books, or fantasy elements (in which case writer's block is cheerfully fixed by handling plot obstacles with a simple "It's magic! I can make s%!t up!" fix), the work has to be as plausible as possible, or you can feel the reader's eyeballs rolling out of their collective heads from hundreds of miles away. Not wishing to be responsible for a mass ophthalmological catastrophe, I'll attend the gun workshop, because who knows when a character might need a firearm?

I'm more intrigued by the RWA's stance on membership. You can attend up to three meetings as a non-member, and after that they cut you off and membership is required. No problem. I'm amazed you can attend three meetings without membership - I can't think of another writer's organization I've been part of (SCBWI comes to mind) where that's the case. The New England chapter is thriving, with plenty of members securing book deals and publishing independently each month. Behind the scenes romance is big business, and the RWA is a pivotal part of that $1.3 billion that readers shell out each year for the genre.

Most writers I know are fairly reclusive. Not in some J.D. Salinger way, but more in a busy mom/shy sort of way. I don't fall into this category; standing in front of college students for 17 years on and off as I taught, plus four years of speech team in high school means I can talk before large groups, and sometimes it's hard to get me to shut up when I'm discussing a favorite topic. But asking a writer to walk into a meeting where all the other people:

-- know each other
-- are writers
-- have been writing in the genre longer than you
-- are probably better than you
-- will laugh hysterically at your poor writing ability
-- and plan to kill and roast you as a sacrifice to the great god Harlequin

is a bit intimidating.

2 comments:

  1. Television shows and movies also need to have gun workshops. I can't the number of times that I have seen what is supposed to be a "realistic" scene with a weapon and it is completely bungled either by the use of the prop or by the writing. At least in romance books you can imagine that the hero knows how to hold a gun.

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