Since i've been holding forth on various aspects of writing romance novels lately, i thought i'd reprise a blog i originally wrote for the wonderful Jianne Carlo with a few additional variations.
I was having a conversation today with a friend who doesn’t read romance. In fact, he doesn’t really read fiction. I was explaining the twists and turns of the plot of a new book I’m writing and I found myself telling him how very complex good romance is. I listened to myself saying it and thought, son of a gun it’s true. Now I will be the first to admit that most people don’t think of our genre this way. They think of romance as the simplest of fiction. Boy meets girl, boys loses girl, boys finds girl again and they live happily ever after. Of course, in my case it’s boy meets boy but the principal is the same. They call it a formula.
But think about it. Virtually all fiction has some formula. Certainly mystery has a lot of rules and suspense is riddled with them. I guess you could argue that Joyce’s Ulysses had no formula, but maybe breaking the rules was a formula of its own. Now, think about romance. We not only have to create an interesting plot with three-dimensional characters who have problems of their own -- we also have to make them fall in love! They have to fall in love somewhat believably, have obstacles that keep them apart also believably, and make it appear at least for a time that they won’t get together, and then, in spite of it all, they end up happy.
I thought about my recent menage, Genetic Celebrity. The main characters are a young business manager who is a homebody chef by preference, a powerhouse female modeling agent who is ten years older than the chef, and a 20 year old, androgynous street kid who is an amazing combination of street-wise and naive.These are three wildly different people with unique goals who had to be brought together. We had to see them fall in love and believe it! We had to think just for a moment that they might not make it. We had to smile and cry a little when they did. Whew, who says romance is simple.
In Beach Balls, the central conflict is over a land development deal that could be threatening homeowners with severe toxicity. But into this story come my two heroes who have to meet and fall in at least lust without knowing they are on opposite sides of a big battle.
Right now i'm writing a short story--a simple short story! But every character needs a back story and motivation, and somehow i have to get two men who have just met to fall in love in a real way -- all in six thousand words.
It’s been many a century since “romance” was a tight formula plot with two-dimensional characters that always ended in a wedding. In fact, we might argue, that today ours is one of the most complex genres to write. But maybe we better just keep it between us! LOL