Five-Minute Writing Tip
You should be kissed and often and by a man who knows how.
That line from Gone With the Wind came to mind when I walked into our local pharmacy the day after New Year's and ran smack into a huge display of red and pink hearts hanging from streamers, boxes of chocolate candy stacked almost to the ceiling, and glittered greeting cards proclaiming love and devotion. The employees must have worked through the night removing Christmas and replacing it with Valentine's Day.
Knowing I'd have to look at all this romantic paraphernalia for the next six weeks made me dread that lovers' holiday. I needed a change of attitude. For better or worse, and with Valentine's Day still on my mind, I decided I would offer a few basic guidelines for writing romance novels. I don't write romances, nor do I read them, so I had to do some research. But it's always good to learn new things. I discovered that writing romance is not as easy as it sounds-but what writing is?
Here are a few tips to get you started. I've used some classic romance novels and one of my favorite movies as examples.
1. Use the basic formula. Boy meets girl; boy loses girl; boy gets girl. The reason Anna Karenina, though romantic, is a tragedy rather than a romance novel is because it doesn't follow this formula. Boy meets girl-check: Count Vronksy and Anna meet and fall in love. Boy loses girl-check: Problems abound; they fight; they part. But boy does not get girl because (Spoiler Alert!) Anna, distressed and emotionally unstable, commits suicide by throwing herself under a train.
2. The ending must be happy. That doesn't necessarily mean a garden wedding and all problems solved, but there must be a desired commitment to make the relationship work. In the movie An Affair to Remember, Nickie Ferrante (Cary Grant) and Terry McCay (Deborah Kerr) are reunited and proclaim their love for one another while recognizing the problem they face-Terry's recovery from an accident that left her paralyzed and unable to walk.
3. Since the plot options are simple: friends become lovers; soulmates are fated to meet; characters give love a second chance, the story must have strong, memorable characters. Romance readers expect to love the hero -who is always far from perfect-but intriguing, and sympathize with the heroine. Your readers also need to sense that your hero and heroine are attracted to one another, and know they will eventually declare their love despite roadblocks and problems thrown their way. Who doesn't love feisty Scarlett O'Hara and arrogant Rhett Butler, and feel their attraction the moment they meet? Who doesn't sincerely believe a happy tomorrow is in their future? Whether you do or don't, check out this video clip: You Tube
4. There must be a considerable amount of conflict and tension. Don't make it easy for your hero and heroine to get together. Look how long it took Jane Eyre and Mr. Rochester to admit their love for one another and marry.
5. Finally, the most important tip doesn't just apply to writing romances, but to writing in any genre. Read books in your desired genre, and take pleasure in that type of writing, otherwise your own feelings will not show through.
After Cissy and I discussed the topic for this month's newsletter, I encouraged her to try a hand at writing a romance story. Hope you enjoy The German to Remember.