Opportunity Abounds for Romance Writers

I was doing research for work, and found myself going down the romance rabbit hole. Publishers seem to be proliferating. It’s great that there are so many avenues to becoming a published author, but it’s also kind of intimidating. There’s just so much to take in. In any case, I thought I’d share some of the resources I found.

Chapter 1: Take 2

tu_fcrukljq-renata-tupynambaAs I mentioned in my last post (which was way too long ago), I started over. I had a timeline problem. I got a bit over zealous trying to correct that problem and created a few more for myself. So I’ve already decided to scrap this new version, but in the interest of transparency, I figured I’d share it anyway.

Continue reading

Starting Over

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I once read somewhere–most likely in Stephen King’s On Writing–that if you get stuck, the problem is probably at the beginning. And boy did I get stuck…

I was having a timeline problem, and I knew I needed to start over and push everything back. So I did. And for a while, I thought that it was working. Then I realized I’d written myself into an entirely different corner.  Continue reading

Procrastination: What Happens Next?

Emilie Ogez, Flickr Creative Commons

Emilie Ogez, Flickr Creative Commons

I’ve hit a wall. I find myself going over what I’ve written–endlessly adding and subtracting–to avoid figuring out what happens next. Occasionally I eek out a few new paragraphs…but mostly, I procrastinate. I even came up with an idea for a totally different book, and have been forcing myself not to just move on to a new project.

I’m at that point where I’ve established the love interest, set up a roadblock, and now I’m figuring out how to keep it going for 40,000 more words. Part of the problem is that I instinctively hate when I feel like a story is being dragged out. When I watch old school sitcoms where a problem could be solved if the people on the show would just talk to each other, I bristle. I sigh. I turn the channel.

So how do I move the story along, keep up conflict, and not hate myself in the morning?

If I knew the answer, I wouldn’t be writing this post.

Chapter 1: I Want Your Feedback

Kenneth Garcia, Flickr Creative Commons

Kenneth Garcia, Flickr Creative Commons

Part of this project is about getting feedback from you, the reader. This is a learning process after all. I want to hear from the experts–the readers–about what they like and don’t like. How is the pacing? Are the characters likable? So here it is: Chapter 1.

Let me have it! And, please, remember to share this with your friends. The more feedback I get, the better. Continue reading

To Outline or Not To Outline

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Torley, Flickr Creative Commons

Part of the appeal of this project for me was learning to write in a more structured way. I usually just wing it, but not this time… To that end, I keep Googling things like “how to write a romance novel.” One of the top answers to that question comes from the PBS POV documentary Guilty Publishers. Romance novelist Gill Sanderson gives some tips on how to write a romance, and there seems to be a lot of outlining involved.

Considering I’ve already written a couple of chapters, I don’t think I can follow Gill’s advice to the letter, but I can take a step back and follow that first little piece of advice:

  • Write a hundred-word outline of your story. You can think about it for a week, but writing it will only take an afternoon. Establish hero and heroine, names (important!), jobs, characters. Set the time and place. Are you going to write sweet, passionate, mysterious, religious, supernatural? Decide. Last and most important, what is the problem that is keeping your hero and heroine apart?

So here it goes: Continue reading

Who Will Be Our Romantic Hero?

I started writing last week. I don’t know how much of it I will keep, or trash, or change, but I decided I needed to sit down and get some words on a page. So I took my laptop to the nearby Barnes and Noble, I ordered a chai, and I started typing.

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Playing the Hero, JD Hanckock, Flickr Creative Commons

For the time being, I decided  to set our story on a fictional New England island. (I had to do some research about lobster boats and other kinds of fishermen.) Setting the scene with a (not totally fleshed out heroine) was relatively easy, but when it came to bringing our hero into the scene…well, I stumbled. It’s easy to dream up a number of different characters, but what isn’t so easy is setting up conflict that will keep the story moving. Continue reading

Settling on a Setting

TampaAny real estate agent will tell you, “It’s all about location, location, location!” Perhaps that’s the reason the first question I want to answer in regards to this book is where it will take place. I can say one thing for certain, it will be New England.

Write what you know, that’s what our teachers all told us, right? I find the vast expanses of Wyoming and Montana as romantic as the next person, but I don’t know much about those places. Other than a roadtrip to Yellowstone as a kid, I haven’t spent any time there. I have a big enough learning curve when it comes to writing a romance that I don’t think I want to have to constantly be double-checking facts about my setting.

More importantly, I love New England. I love the coast and the mountains. I love the colors in the autumn and the first flakes in winter. I love the old houses and the family farms that still dot the landscape. It’s hard to imagine any place more perfect for a romance. Continue reading

Why Don’t Romance Readers Like Sassy Heroines?

Roadside Pictures, Flickr Creative Commons

Roadside Pictures, Flickr Creative Commons

I’m not crazy about the word “sassy.” It’s best used to describe the best-friend of the leading lady in a rom-com. It’s pretty patronizing in any other context. As it turns out, romance readers aren’t particularly fond of the word either, but for other reasons. According to myRWA “sassy heroines” are tenth on the top 10 list of popular romance tropes. It’s hard to say how many tropes didn’t make it onto the list at all, but I was still sad to see “sassy” ladies were so far down on the list.

“Strong hero/heroine” came in at number six. I assume the “strong hero” part is what people are responding to based on the relative unpopularity of “sassy” heroines. At the top of the list was “friends to lovers” followed by “soulmate/fate.”

Romance novels are, arguably, as escapist as any fantasy novel. So I suppose I can understand why so many readers are responding to the tropes that, sadly, probably don’t resemble their lives. How many readers are out there pining for their soulmate, who obviously isn’t the lump on the couch who won’t pick up his socks? A lot, I would guess. How many are dreaming about being sassier? Not many.

But I don’t know if I can write a female character who isn’t sassy/strong…so you’re just gonna have to deal with it.