Writing for Feels: All About the Romance Class
In 2013, Mina V. Esguerra launched a free romance class for authors who wanted to write contemporary fiction. At the time, Mina was already an established writer in the country, her books having been published by Summit Media. As she was completing a YA fantasy series, she thought of helping other authors write their novellas. Thus, #romanceclass was born.
Over 100 authors joined the three-month online workshop, and those who were able to complete a novella with 30,000 words had their manuscripts ready by the last day of class. The authors independently published their books, and now they have their following, too.
Three of these have been issued by Visprint (Chris Mariano’s Cover (Story) Girl, Agay Llanera’s Vintage Love, and Stella Torres’ Save the Cake), while the rest were sold in Uniqube near De La Salle University. These works include Chrissie Peria’s All’s Fair in Blog and War, Ana Tejano’s Fall Like Rain, and Anne Plaza’s In Over Her Head. The outputs were also sold and distributed via Buqo, Smashwords, and Amazon.
New Romance Class
Three years later, Mina called for participants – this author included – to be part of the #romanceclass second batch. From March to May, we would submit our concepts, create our characters, plot main events, and hopefully finish the draft by May 31.
“What’s different this time around is that the community of readers has grown — and the authors from the first batch have all been published or went into self-publishing. As readers we know what we want more of, and as authors and publishers we know what’s worked for us and what hasn’t. There are more options to publish for authors now, too,” Mina said.
The bestselling author also pointed out that this year’s class had more requirements, making sure that the participants were ready to do real work, had time to write, and had the same goals.
“Some people join just because it’s free but they don’t know romance, or read it, so I tried to make sure that this time around, those joining had the basics down,” she added.
Reasons and Apprehensions
The participants have their share of goals and fears upon entering the class. Racquel Sarah Castro, already a published author, said she wanted to learn more techniques from Mina. She also believes that the workshop is a ladder to getting a print deal. Lia Medina, on the other hand, has wanted to join one of Mina’s workshops, only to back out because of her work schedule.
“Early this year, I started working more independently, so when I found out about this batch of romance class, I felt the timing was perfect for me to join,” Lia said.
However, it was a different case for Yeyet Soriano, author of several novellas published in Mina’s workshops.
“I realized that I can write stories when I have a structure and a deadline. I don’t do straight contemporary romance, [but] I had a story in my head that needed telling, and I liked the structure of the workshop,” she explained.
The three writers also have their fears, including sticking to the rules and guidelines set by the workshop, not producing anything good, or the novella not receiving enough reviews. Another challenge for them is conforming to a trope yet still giving their story a fresh twist.
Aside from reading Mina’s novellas and those from the first batch of #romanceclass, Racquel, Lia, and Yeyet have been researching for their story concepts. Lia is studying about renewable energy and development policies for her main character, while Yeyet is doing a lot of soul-searching, making sure that her characters are solid and their back stories believable. She also notes that digging well into her experiences, as well as those of others, work for her. Racquel, for her part, listens to the comments of her potential readers.
Aside from the #romanceclass Feels Day slated on April 17, Mina manages podcasts and live readings. Other authors have also thought of cool ways to promote their works via different channels and projects: blog tours, comics, and book conventions, designing shirts, posters, and covers, and even baking cookies. Their Facebook group is active, engaging readers and writers of romance to work together and learn from one another.
I am excited for the group, as well as for all the participants of #romanceclass. I have never seen a more helpful and exciting community that celebrates romance in the most unique ways possible. Writing romance is not easy at all, but thanks to this class and other authors who help us, I know we would get those books out, one ‘feel’ at a time.