Interestingly enough, I met a Harlequin Romance writer at a conference. She loved her job and made a good living doing it. Sure, she wrote to a formula–a constrained length, drop-dead word count, books submitted on a tight deadline, formulaic editing–but she paid her bills following her dream. And she was clever, didn’t focus on non-stop sex, developed her characters/plot/setting as much as the romance side. I was impressed.
It didn’t make me want to change genres, but it did give me respect for a style of writing I had written off not only as a writer but a reader. As I researched this article (had to–I write thrillers), I found many recommended tips are what I follow as a thriller writer. I’ve included those at the bottom. I’ll start with some that are romance-specific:
- have a wonderful, loveable, sympathetic heroine and hero–both
- something throws the two together
- plot must revolve around people who fall in love, then struggle to make it work. Think ‘chick flicks’. Romance Writers of America summarizes it:
“The plot typically falls into three parts: the setup, in which the couple meets; the turmoil, which separates them; and the reconciliation, which provides the happy ending.”
- plot includes a ‘cute meet’ where hero and heroine meet–earlier the better
- plot is as much about emotion as action
- plot must include an insurmountable obstacle
- plot makes it appear impossible that the hero-heroine can be together.
- plot is most believable if the writer has been in love themselves.
- conflict (so important in novels) will be between heroine and hero and it should be internal, not external
- Include good romantic scenes
- readers expect a happy ending. No real-life lesson-learned-the-hard-way in a romance novel.
The ‘romance’ style can cross genres–‘romantic thriller’, ‘romantic mystery’–but you’ll recognize it because it has the above characteristics.
These next sound familiar, don’t you think?
- Make both characters believable
- Have characters meet in a unique way
- Create conflict
- Read a lot of romance novels (replace ‘romance’ with your genre)
If you write romance, you want to join Romance Writers of America. They’re an active, vibrant group who are probably just like you.
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Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for Examiner.com and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing Teachers, Cisco guest blog, IMS tech expert, and a monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculum, K-8 keyboard curriculum, K-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.