Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Romance Formula

If I had a dime for every time someone said there was no formula in romance novels, I'd be rich.  But the dirty little secret is that there IS a formula.  Here's what I've found from reading these things.  I'm sure other authors have things to add, but these things seem to hold true for all those romance novels and those movies I watch at Christmastime.

  • The heroine and hero meet early in the book.  Usually, they're angry with each other for some reason, or are on different sides of the fence for something.  Think Doris Day movies for that tidbit.
  • The heroine has to do something to make her stick with the hero.  For some reason, they have to stick around each other. 
  • The heroine and hero have inner and outer conflicts.  An inner conflict is one they're battling on the inside, like a fear or something they want in life, or some conflict they can't solve.  The outer conflict is the main problem in the story.  Sometimes they have a secret they can't let out.
  • Only the heroine and hero can solve each other's conflicts, but they don't realize that until the end of the book.
  • Right before the end, there's a 'black moment' or 'dark moment.'  In that part, the heroine loses everything--the hero, her job, her home, and anything else dear to her.  The sadder and the more she loses, the better.
  • The hero saves the day in the end.  He helps her get back what she lost, declaring his love for her.

Also, there is give and take, good and bad throughout the book.  When the heroine gets close to the hero, he backs away for some reason, and vice versa.  It heightens the tension.

That's it in a nutshell. I don't always follow the norm, but there's always a beginning where they meet, the middle filled with some sort of happy/sad moments, and the black moment.  Every scene has to be important to the plot or it's gone.

Now, many books prescribe to the three act play setup.  Here's a really good description of the three act play:

Also, the beginning, and every chapter, should begin with a big hook.  Think of a movie or a TV show.  It starts out with a bang, to get the viewer hooked.

So if you want to write romances, go for it.  Read a few and see what the author does.  Some authors make really good money writing romances.  You never know.  :)

Have a great week!

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