Monday, 5 September 2011

Statement: There is a Formula to Writing Romance Novels

I wish! In my former career I was a medical researcher. I have a Bachelors of Science Degree in Chemistry and Microbiology. If this magic, elusive formula existed, I would have found it many, many years ago.

BUT one can argue that there are vital ingredients for the recipe to a good category or series romance novel.

1. The hero and heroine should meet (or meet again after a long separation) within the first few pages of the novel. This should be at a point of change – when something life-changing is happening to one of them. There is no time for setting up the story – editors want the hero and heroine to meet up as soon as possible and let us see the sparks fly – the sizzling romance sparks NOT arguments!

2. The most important parts of your crafting techniques are the Emotional Obstacles (Past Conflicts) that make it seem absolutely impossible that the hero and heroine could ever be together. Romantic conflict is about emotion, not the situation. The conflict must stem from the characters themselves because of who they are and what they have lived through. If the hero and heroine have a past, this conflict must not be based on coincidence that could be resolved over a cup of coffee. e.g. the hero didn’t get the messages that heroine left for him.

3. Physical obstacles (present conflict) push the hero and heroine together so that they are always in each other’s face. The hero and heroine don’t want to fall in love – especially not with each other – but they are forced to spend time together. e.g. Heroine lives in Smalltown and loves it. Hero left and lives in Bigtown. Their brother and sister die in car accident, their son survives. The hero and heroine have joint custody. Both want to look after the child but neither wants to move.

4. After many trials, the hero and heroine will realize that they are in love with the other, they will arrive at the Black Moment, when everything seems lost and nothing can save the day. One or both characters will make a sacrifice for the other and/or change in some major way that proves their love. 

5. After the last big crisis is resolved the hero and heroine admit their love to each other and will then enter into a committed relationship.

So a formula we could extrapolate is:
hero + heroine + love conflicts + present conflicts + personal growth = Happy Ever After

The magic formula for writing romance can be summarized: Take one sympathetic heroine and one yummy hero. Add in some past conflicts with reasons they should never ever fall in love. Give them reasons to be in each other’s face all the time. Let them grow as people and maybe make a sacrifice that really hurts. Stir it together and give them a Happy Ever After.

Serena

19 comments:

  1. Hi Serena,

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful formula for writing that page turning romance.

    Cheers,
    Margaret

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  2. Hi Serena,
    Great blog. Very informative and easy to follow advice. You are always so generous in helping your fellow authors.

    Regards

    Margaret

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  3. Excellent post, Serena! My editor is very big on internal vs. external conflict. And the hero/heroine's actions/decisions moving the story along rather than external plot devices.

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  4. Thanks, Serena.
    It's always good to be reminded of the basics we all need to follow. I'm enjoying your blog :-)

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  5. Great post! I needed to take notes. I do think that the perameters of catagory romance are more narrow compared to a single title, but then single titles need more plot lines and deeper conflict. Either way, great post. I enjoyed the information very much. :)

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  6. Hi Margaret M,
    Thanks for your kind words and for dropping by.
    Hugs

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  7. Hi Margaret T,
    Aw thanks for saying such lovely things about me :)
    Hugs

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  10. Hi Louise,
    I'm glad you're getting something out of my blog post. I will try to keep the entries relevant to writing :)
    Hugs

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  11. Hi Wendy,
    Those are very good points and definitely relevant in category romance.
    Thanks for coming in.
    Hugs

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  12. Hi Kathy,
    Nice to see you here. The parameters for category romance have to be more defined because of the confines of word count. With single title you get almost double (or more) the amount of words, so have a lot more flexibility with the bigger books. I still believe you can get very good and deep conflict even in the shorter books.

    Thanks for coming in and saying hi!
    Hugs

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  13. Great --- and very informative post! Its easy to forget that there is a basic Formula to follow, and many writers need to be reminded every now and then. Me included! LOL!

    hugs, Kari Thomas, www.authorkari.com

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  14. Hi Kari,
    Thanks for dropping in. There really isn't a magic formula but there are certain guidelines that a writer can follow.
    Thanks for stopping by.
    Hugs

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  15. Hi Serena,

    Great post and good advice/tips!

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  16. Hi Nas,
    Thank you! And today I'm over at your blog! So people, come in and say hi to me at Romance Book Paradise
    http://nas-dean.blogspot.com/
    Hugs

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  17. Very helpful and simply put! Thanks Serena.

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  18. Hi Maggi,
    You're welcome. Thanks for dropping in.

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    ReplyDelete