The Write Editor

Editor's Spotlight

by Michelle Sutton

Gina Holmes

Sometimes I collect older books and read them just to see how fiction has evolved over the past ten or so years. I found an old Heartsong by a novelist named Janelle Jamison, and I was surprised to discover that this was Tracie Peterson’s pen name when she started out as an author. The story was a fantastic medieval romance. It has since been repackaged in 2004 in the anthology Castles. All of the stories she wrote early in her career were fabulous! And she just keeps getting better. In fact, I think she’s written a bazillion books since she changed her pen name to her real name. So without further adieu, I’d like you to hear from Tracie regarding where she started and what techniques she used to help get her where she is today.

Tracie introduces Passion Between the Pages

Often people equate inspirational romance with boring and religious. I’m here to say that if done well, inspirational romance needn’t be either, but instead can be passionate and powerful.

As a writer for Heartsong Presents many years ago, I enjoyed writing stories that allowed the focus to be on the relationship rather than on the bedroom. For me, it turned out to be an awesome training ground. I read my weight in secular romance novels over the years and knew the pattern-formula for every best-selling romance on the market. The books I enjoyed the most were the ones that focused on developing the characters’ relationship instead of bedroom acrobatics. With Heartsong, that focus became imperative.

Often when I see a story line that drags (no matter the market for which it’s intended) it has everything to do with a lack of character development and motivation. In romance this is often the case when writers seek to focus their book on what they consider to be hot—physical attraction—intimacy and body language instead of developing real characters who grow emotionally and participate in rewarding relationships.

When writing for Heartsong, I knew I had an extremely conservative audience who desired a strong message interwoven between the pages of the story. As I went on to write longer novels in a variety of genres for Bethany House Publishers, I found that readers still wanted to be given a message of encouragement and hope. The heart and soul of the reader cried out for entertainment that uplifted, encouraged, and left them with a satisfied feeling that all would be well.

For me, that’s what passion between the pages is all about. Passion is born out of a driving desire for something. That passion can be for romance, a career, finding a cure for cancer, or having a relationship with another person or even God. Passion is necessary to keep our stories from boring the reader, and I can’t stress enough to new writers that passion will be the driving powerful force behind their story.

You can put passion in your story many ways, but these are some tricks I use.

1. Passion is born out of motivation. Why do your characters do what they do? Why should the reader care about their struggle, their interests, their dreams? Break it down even further: What is your motivation to tell this story? Your desire and passion for the story will reveal itself in the content. Be sure you know what motivates you to write this particular book.

2. Passion is born out of truth. Examine the story content. Are you staying true to the heart of the story, or are you trying to manipulate the characters or plot to force it to accomplish something that has no place in your story?

3. Passion is born out of intimacy. As an author you have an obligation to thoroughly know your characters. The deeper knowledge and understanding you have—the more intimate your relationship with them. This in turn allows them to draw into a more intimate relationship with each other. The same is true of our relationship with God. Our passion for Him will be born out of our intimate knowledge of Him.

So the next time you sit down to write, cast your inhibitions to the wind and think passion. What are you passionate about—what is the driving desire behind your story and characters? Knowing the answer to these questions will make the difference between a story that’s hot and one that’s not.

Tracie Peterson is a prolific author with over seventy books to her credit. Romance and historical fiction are her specialties and include Broadmoor Legacy Series, Ladies of Liberty Series, Alaskan Quest Series, Lights of Lowell Series, Bells of Lowell Series, Westward Chronicles Series, Yukon Quest Series and Desert Roses Series.

Tracie Peterson books