Thursday, 16 June 2011

For the Love of it

If you've ever been inclined to pen a romance, then this post by Sue Moorcroft is essential reading.

For the Love of it

I think I write romantic fiction for many of the reasons I read it – I like the sensation of falling in love. And doing it on paper is much better for my marriage than doing it for real.

Also, romantic fiction is comforting. That’s why, during a recession, the sales of romantic fiction go up. If we feel bad, we want something that’ll make us feel good.

Do I have tips for writing saleable romantic fiction?

Yes - always be in love with your hero. If you don’t love him, how do you expect anyone else to? Your heroine needs to find him irresistible. Although many romantic novels are written chiefly or entirely from the heroine’s point of view, the hero is incredibly important. He might be damaged/naughty but he’ll generally have a broad streak of decency and, directly or indirectly, save the heroine from whatever hell you’re putting her through.

Because you are, right? Books about women living a happy and fulfilled life for whom falling in love is just the cherry on her sickly-sweet cake, tend to be low on interest/drama/emotion and all the things that make good romantic fiction compelling. If your heroine has to fight to find happiness, it will be all the sweeter. Your reader will feel exultant. Reader satisfaction is high on the list of things your romantic novel needs.

So your ending will either be happy-ever-after or hopeful. But don’t fall into the trap of thinking that because you ‘know the ending’ when you begin that what comes between isn’t important. In fact, forget that you know the ending at all. (You probably don’t, not really.) OK, heroine and hero will end up together on some level – but there are endless ways in which that can happen. And why. And when.

And there’s the little matter of getting them there. You need a plot that will get draw the reader along without hesitation, deviation or repetition. Readers want damned good storytelling to go with the emotional punch. Maybe you’d like to give your heroine a quest – and your hero gets in her way? Or throw her a catastrophe and make him part of it? Don’t be afraid to make the stakes high and the penalties severe. Kick off your plot by putting hero and heroine on other sides of a fence – a fence both of them cares about.

Here’s one to get you started: Cathryn adores her dog, Jones. Jones has eaten a sandwich belonging to diamond smugglers – and the sandwich was where the diamonds were hidden. Marcus, a detective, and has been on the trail of those diamonds with single-minded purpose for months. Will he get them? Or, his attention diverted by the diamond smugglers trying to ‘get’ Cathryn, will she slip away?

OK, over to you. Just write the book.

Sue Moorcroft writes romantic novels, short stories, articles and serials for magazines, as well as writing-related 'how to' such as LOVE WRITING – How to Make Money Writing Romantic or Erotic Fiction (Accent Press). Sue is a creative writing tutor, a past winner of the Katie Fforde Bursary Award, a long-serving committee member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the editor of LOVES ME, LOVES ME NOT (Mira Books), a short story anthology.

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Jacqueline Pye said...

Interesting post, thank you. Enticingly written, too. Didn't realise the reason why some books read have not appealed - didn't fall for the hero. I do now!

Lorraine Mace said...

I've been trying to reply to this, but for some reason my blog won't allow me to comment.

Trying again: yes, it's obvious now that Sue has pointed it out that the reader has to love the hero.

Lorraine Mace said...

Yay! Have fixed the comment problem at last.