In real life, many people want to meet someone… and it’s love at first sight. Everything is perfect, and continues so, through courtship, engagement, and marriage. And, we want to live happily ever after.
Many of us grew up believing that most romances followed that exact path. And, when ours didn’t… we turned to romance novels.
They affirm that, somehow, we too will find our “other half,” or our “split apart” person, or Prince Charming.
Or, in a not-quite-perfect relationship, romance stories help us reconnect with what charmed us when we first fell in love with the partner we’ve chosen.
And then there’s reality’s darker side. 40 to 50 percent of all American marriages end in divorce. The statistics are similar in the EU and in the UK.
Tip: If you want a long-lasting marriage, Chile may be a good destination; their divorce rate is around 3%. (The trade-off…? Chile seems to rank 47th out of 69 countries, in terms of quality of life. However, I’m not convinced that’s a reliable stat.)
So, in most of the world, romance stories, novellas, and novels have a steady, eager audience. (No matter what genre you write in, a romantic story arc can increase your book’s popularity.)
But… a story that’s just “meet > love at first sight > courtship > marriage > happily ever after” would fill about 1,000 words (or less) before it was a snooze.
One huge trick to writing successful romances is getting the story right. From the outset, readers need to feel fairly certain that everything will lead to “happily ever after” (aka, HEA) or at least “happily for now” (HFN).
They just don’t want to get there too quickly. They want to savor the delicious tension of a growing, intense romance.
And, they want a story that’s believable. If they can’t imagine themselves as half of the romantic couple… well, it’s just more of the disappointment — feeling “left out” — that they’re coping with, in real life.
Mind maps can work
You can take your hero & heroine, and mind map every possible way things can go wrong, and then go right for the HEA (or HFN).
That could be a complex mind map. Possibly the size of an entire wall, to accommodate all the lines & arrows.
And, even then, you might get lost in the details. (I know that I would. I’ve tried this and got overwhelmed in minutes.)
What most romance writers want is a good, simple plan or template they can use, over & over again. Change the hero, change the heroine, change the setting (and perhaps the time period), and follow the formula.
Result…? A story that’s fun to write, and happy readers who’ll buy every story you write. And they’ll recommend your books to their friends.
The good news is: someone has put together a series of formulas for you.
Rough Start Romance (a report)
Generally, I rave about Britt Malka’s reports for writers. She has a knack for reverse engineering stories and plot elements that work.
Britt sent me this report as a review copy. If she hadn’t, I would have bought it. It’s that good.
In Britt’s “Rough Start Romance” report, she delivers one of her best romance analyses so far.
It’s 26 pages and I think it’s close to essential reading if you’re struggling with a romance plot, or romantic elements in your suspense, cozy mystery, or other genre fiction.
She’s combed through book reviews, reader forums, and blurbs of successful romances, and she’s broken them down into readers’ likes and hates.
And then, she grouped them logically into possible story arcs. Even better, this report is loaded with details, pros and cons, and suggested ways to avoid disastrous plot elements.
For example, Britt opens by analyzing the differences between a one-sided interest and a “hate at first meet” romance.
And then, she breaks them down into how to write each kind, with lots of options. (Like: should your hero be the one who’s interested, but your heroine isn’t, or vice versa? Which is more appealing to most readers, and what are the challenges for writers?)
For one-sided interest stories, she explains a variety of ways to develop the romance, whether you’re writing sizzling and sexy stories, or light romantic comedies.
For “hate at first meet” romances, Britt has figured out several ways that premise can works well. She also explains the deal-breakers… the things that will ruin that kind of story, and result in toxic reviews.
And, throughout this report, Britt includes story ideas, side-character suggestions, body language and speech mannerisms to give your story more depth (and credibility), and a lot more.
My advice: If you want to make romance writing easier, get this report
This report isn’t inexpensive. But, in my opinion, it’s a must-own for any writer who’s struggling to create credible romance plots.
It’s especially useful for new romance authors, who hit writer’s block somewhere around the first third of the book. (Not that I speak from experience, mind you. Ahem.)
Her tips also work for “short reads” stories, as well as epic-length novels.
“Rough Start Romance” clearly explains how to keep your readers engaged (no pun intended) from the first page to the last, with no major stumbles — but lots of juicy, what-will-happen-next tension — from meet to marriage.
Here’s where to find* Rough Start Romance: http://malka.biz/rough-start-romance/
*In the interest of writing unbiased reviews, I don’t use affiliate links for reports and products like this. So, I don’t earn a cent if you buy this report. My review is written from the heart (no pun intended), and I truly believe this is one of Britt’s best reports, so far.