Part 3 –
This might be one of the more natural romances to write. The setting is in the modern-day. No thinking of having to world build, or get any historical facts right. If you set the story in an area you know, then you’ll be on roll.
Your characters will be people that you might come across in real life. Research can come just by you sitting and watching the world go by. The way people interact and talk. Cary that notepad with you at all times. The number of times I’ve picked up things at railways stations or bus stops is unbelievable.
Plot – again the modern-day makes it easy. Read the newspapers and watch the news. If celebrities are proposing – how are they doing it? Have you been invited to weddings recently? Same-sex marriages are no legal, so no need for any gays to hid in the dark. They can now show their feelings. Social media makes it easier for people to stay in touch, arrange things. Make the most of it. When I’m at events, my phone isn’t being used to check Facebook. No, I’m making notes.
The end – Now, these type of books always have an happy ending. Make a hash of that, and bye-bye readers.
One quick mention of the dreaded sex scenes. Contemporary romances can have all the sex you want. But most are clean or have less detailed scenes. Too many and you head in the erotic area. Don’t overdo them. One decent scene will be enough.
Now, everyone has that perfect romantic location in their head. Be it the beach at sunset, a sunset cruise, a hot air balloon over the Serengeti or a quiet meal in. There are so many to chose from, so how to you go about finding that perfect place for a propasal?
Go back to your couple, to make things simply I’m doing the classic route of the man setting everything up. To do things right, he must know his girl rather well. If she hates hiking, a long walk to the middle of nowhere isn’t going to do the trick, even if the waterfall is stunning. The things to consider are what she likes, where she likes to go and do you have a special place?
If you have somewhere that is special in both of their hearts, then go with that. She likes to be pampered – a day at the spa followed by a meal. She likes animals – the zoo or if you can, one of those wildlife places where you can go into the enclosure.
The one thing to remember is how your soon-to-be fiancee reacts. Does she enjoy public places and won’t mind being watched, or does she prefer the quiet tones of somewhere private? Maybe picking the location isn’t going to be as easy as you thought?
But, it is. Go on, admit it. You wrote the couples background – you did, didn’t you? If not you’re on a downward streak. This is going to be hell. How can you make him propose if even you don’t know what your heroine likes? Now, go on, back to square one and get that background wrote. Amateurs, eh?
Now, there’s one more thing to remember. Women being women, she’ll have dreamed of her dream proposal. Every female does, so your mc isn’t going to be any different. If your hero is clever enough, he’d have got it out of her or asked her friends. How much easier do you want it?
Then there’s a romantic holiday route. Take her away. Whisk her off to a romantic location and pop the question. sorted. But is it?
The location is sorted, but how is your hero going to propose? The typical on one knee is common. Or maybe, have him lean over the table, the candlelight echoing around them. Maybe your hero has a joint problem and can’t kneel for the length of time required? Remember that background your wrote, go check it for those little bitty details because if he’s kneeling and you said he got shot in the knee recently…
So, hopefully this has got you thinking about this a bit more. Guess now you are figuring that romance writing isn’t that easy. Go on, you can sort it out.
But I will leave you with one last thought. How is he going to react if she says no…
So, you have your main couple but what about the others? Those minor, side characters that filter in and out. Or do they? For those who have watched Grim, What about Juliette? The Grim’s wife? Minor or major? She came into her own as the program developed and you could say – one of the major characters. This is another thing to consider. Do you what them to remain as a minor character, or are you allowing them to grow?
Think about it. Your couple must have friends. Those they have grown up with, work with, go out with. You can’t ignore them. I dare you to try it. Go on, they’ll come back and bite you. They won’t stay in the background. Remember, they will affected by whatever you through at the main couple. A close friend wont just say – ‘Oh, well, its only a story’.
Minor characters help your main ones come out into the open. They might be the ones to help them get together. Match-make – it happens. Or she has to dump her friend at a party because this drop-dead, handsome guy appears. How will her friend feel. Add it in. Is she happy or will she throw in the jealous card? Think ugly sister time.
Don’t think your readers gloss over those little, bitty characters, they don’t. Okay, some might – there’s always the one. But take it from me, most won’t. So, what can you do?
When planning out your characters, don’t just concentrate on the main ones. That’s a big mistake. Take the same amount of planning with your minor characters. At some point, it’ll pay off. When your female goes out with her best friend you need to know what both like to eat and drink. Plan their birthday’s too. If it’s his best friends birthday, is he going to forget about it – I know, its a man thing so probably yes. But his friend will probably remind him.
Make sure you know their favorite colors too. If like me you then decide to write their story, you’ll already have the details to hand and won’t need to re-read the previous book – been there too. Remember those readers, yeah, those ones, the ones which will spot the inconsistencies and break out the bad reviews. Don’t give them the ammunition.
Your minor characters could easily steal the show, so get them right. You don’t need to go into a full description, unless they are getting their own book, let the readers decide how they appear. Many readers like that. If you do add a description,l do it early on before the reader makes their own decision. Nothing worse then deciding how a character looks and the author turns it all around – I know I hate it.
So, there you go. More decisions to make. Who said writing a book was easy? They were lying.
So, you have your heroine and hero sorted. You’ve wrote their backgrounds but what next? Well, the plot. What are your couple going to discover? Are there threats against them? Or is it going to be a easy-going, fun-loving romance? After all, it’s your story.
But you need to get it right. So, today a few hints and tips. I’ll cover different styles of plots at a later date.
Understand your audience :- Simply right? Maybe not. Most readers of romance are female. They probably buy several books a month, so why should they buy yours? Let’s be honest, there are millions of romance books out there, its one of the popular genres. You probably won’t come up with a brand new plot – it’s all been done before. But, you can spice it up. Turn it around to your personal story. I’ve wrote a retelling of Cinderella, I advertise it as such. Why? Because readers like fairy-tales. When you here the word Cinderella, you think of her happy ending. But it’s been done before – I hear you cry. Yep, it has. So, what did I do? I got rid of Prince Charming. Sorry, I brought her a duke. No glass slipper either – can you imagine how uncomfortable they must be? I added a mask. Now they might have met at the masked balls, but that’s not where they figured out who each other where. No, I made her the owner of a husky stud. And our duke just happens to breed huskies too. There you go, Cinderella with a difference. All you need to do is think outside of the box.
Introduce your heroine : – After all, she’s the main interests here. Go and read my previous post on heroines.
Introduce her other half :- You know, the love interest. Again go and read my previous post on hero’s – but when to bring him in? Straight away or not? Now, this is down to the story. In Falling for a Dike, Ramsey turned up in chapter two. In Falling for Katie, Finlay had to wait until chapter five. Why? Because in my second Romancing in Scotland book, Katie needed more of an introduction, and the plot needed time to develop. So, add in your hero when good and ready.
Now, why are they going to fall in love? That’s the real reason you are writing the book, right? You must have some idea. Now, whatever you have planned – it’s about to go out the window. Yep, it is, don’t argue. So, you have the perfect outline but your characters don’t agree. They won’t – believe me. They will take your script and screw it up and probably be laughing. At some point you might be able to turn it back around – it might not last. Again, you need to think outside of the box – remember it’s all been done before. the girls’ been abused and doesn’t trust men? Thousand of them stories out there. The girl dreams of true love? You don’t want to know how many authors have written that – think fairy-tales again. Take your plot and spice it right on up. Make your readers believe why your couple are going to love each other. This is where the writing of your characters back story comes into play. If that is strong enough your story will fly. Too weak and it’ll flop. Above all else, bring that back story into the plot. If your heroine doesn’t trust easily, your readers will what to know why. The hero caries scars – why? At some point these issues will need adding.
Sex :- Okay, it’s a romance, this needs to be addressed. Are you writing a clean romance – no sex at all? Will you hint at it – drop out to black as they get it together? Or go the whole hog. That’s what I do. My romances are steamy – my mom has described them as filthy. I take that as a compliment – I must have done something right. Can I also point out I am single as I wrote them – so just because you don’t have another half to practice on doesn’t mean you can’t write about it. I mentioned before about google being your new best friend – you can’t imagine what you can find. Go on – google sex and see what you get. There are some good articles. And if you are a romance reader yourself, you know what other authors are writing. Don’t be ashamed of what you write because that will spoil the effect you want.
The ending :- Yes, the important bit. Your couple has met. They have had adventures which they may or may not have wanted. But remember it’s a romance – your readers want a happy ending. If it’s a standalone book, don’t add a cliff-hanger – bad reviews will come your way. If a series you can get away with a slight cliff-hanger – maybe a happy for now ending but hint at something else coming their way. My Persecuting series is out of print fort a revamp, at the moment. Book one has the happy for now ending. Book two completes their story. The others are all happy endings.The romancing in Scotland series are standalone – they need the happy ever after.
So, you have to basic outline – go and plot something.