1: Researching How to Plot Romance

What I know about romance could fit in a thimble. (And I hear the combined shouts of amen from my exes as soon as I hit ‘publish’) So, I’m going to run down the list of what I know has to go into this book. It’s going to be tough. I’m not going to be allowed to kill anyone.

I enjoy writing crime novels with murder and scifi with exploding ships and killing my character’s way out of scrapes. Those things (along with actual sex) don’t exist in ‘sweet romance’ novels. Damn.

So, I think I’ve found a way to put a few deaths in before the story starts. We’ll see. I’m all cold-hearted like that.

researching romance novel plots
Looking at romance plots

Things I know:

  1. It’s going to take alternating POVs–which means third person limited, because I don’t like reading alternating first person. It confuses me.
  2. Chapters one and two will be from each of the people’s POV, showing ‘day in the life’ scenes.
  3. Chapter three-ish will be their meeting.
    1. Instant attraction
    2. Some reason for friction, making them each see the other as jerks (or something similar)
  4. Big conflict – Their goals are in opposition. If one wins, the other loses and there’s no way they (or the reader) sees any way out of it.
  5. They start to grow on each other despite the problems.
  6. Vagaries and other stuff happens to make sure the reader feel more strongly for one of the characters (protag1). There’s probably a best friend in the mentor role.
  7. Something happens to where a way is presented where, with a compromise, both characters can somewhat win. The reader finds out more about the less liked character (protag2) and s/he shoots up in their esteem.
  8. Something goes wrong. I think I’m going to make the — hold on, I have to go back and number the protags — protag1 screw up.
  9. Separation! Everything falls apart. Protag2 goes back wherever s/he came from (oh, did I not mention that s/he should be from out of town? It should help with the conflict and explain why they’d never met before).
  10. Grand gesture! Forgiveness! Love! and Happy for Now.

All romances have to end in either Happily Ever After or Happy for Now. It’s a rule. If that doesn’t happen, romance readers will hate you. Don’t like the trope? Want to write something where one of them dies? Call yourself Nicholas Sparks and DON’T call your book romance. Seriously. Romance readers are brutal.

And, since I think there has to be a dragon and a wizard involved for there to be a Happy Ever After (call me cynical–it’s okay), I will end mine with Happy for Now.

I have a few websites, beat-sheets, and even a Udemy course queued up to expand my ideas. I’ll start sharing those tomorrow, along with what I learn along the way.

WR

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