PDA

View Full Version : Romance writing rules??



Stacey Sweeney
10-18-2005, 08:14 AM
Are there certain rules you "should" follow when writing romance? I already know that every book I write will involve romance. I love happy endings. I wrote a YA romance that I'm currently trying to find an agent for and I'm working on my second. But other than having the main character fall in love, what else does there NEED to be in a romance novel?
Thanks,
Stacey

kristie911
10-18-2005, 11:04 AM
Good question...

I'm going to say love is really the only constant in a romance novel. When you think of all the sub-genres of romance, what is the one thing that links them all? Love. And a happy ending.

StoryG27
10-18-2005, 03:16 PM
Another constant is conflict. It's what exposes every characteristic and drives the story forward. Conflict doesn't mean war, battles, or anything of the sort. It could be an internal conflict, a problem in their past resurfacing to challenge them now, a long time dispute, and lots of other things, but the main characters need conflict and eventually resolution. It helps readers sympathize and gives them warm fuzzy feeling at the end. Also conflict between the two characters falling in love...which they of course will eventaully get over...but it's a lot more interesting to make the reader wonder.

Another, of course, is strong, believable, distinct characters. Characters who have their own manner of speech, body langauage, habbits, and such. They must be real to the reader (and the writer for that matter). I'm sure there's more, but it's 6 a.m. and time for my second cup of coffee, so that's all I can think of right now.

Susan Gable
10-18-2005, 05:01 PM
OMG, I can't believe we have a rule thread in here now when I've been making big waves in the Novel Writing area about rules. LOLOL!

If you want to see what I've been saying about rules there, go up into Novel Writing, and to the thread called Towards a General Standard. :) http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=20704 Okay, see if that works.

The one thing I think you must have to be a romance is the HEA, but the exact formulation of the HEA has changed over the years. It used to be that the HEA meant only a marriage proposal by the end of the story. Now it doesn't have to be a marriage proposal - the reader is satisfied as long as you give her a good indication that these people are committed to one another and will be together after the story ends.

Yes, you have ot have conflict, or else the story is boring. Yes, I agree, captivating characters are a must. But those are story basics, not rules persay.

Susan G.

henriette
10-18-2005, 05:44 PM
i'm kind of confused- what about tragedy? romeo and juliet is probably the most famous love story, and we know what happens to them.

so my question is; if a story ends tragically or without a "get together" in the end, is it still a romance?

help?

Susan Gable
10-18-2005, 05:52 PM
i'm kind of confused- what about tragedy? romeo and juliet is probably the most famous love story, and we know what happens to them.

so my question is; if a story ends tragically or without a "get together" in the end, is it still a romance?

help?

Look at what you said, Henriette. It's a LOVE STORY. A love story is NOT a genre romance. No, if the story ends tragically, it's not a romance. It's a love story. (Often so-called because of the novel of the same name which was a totally tragic love story. <G>)

Romances have HEA. The readers count on it.

Love stories do not have HEA. They also tend to get taken more seriously, and most often, when men write relationship stories, this is what they write. Nicholas Sparks, for example. <G>

Go figure. :)

Hey, even RWA is struggling with how to define romance. I do think most RWA members agree on the HEA, whatever form it takes, as being one of the critical defining aspects of a romance.

Susan G.

henriette
10-18-2005, 05:56 PM
thanks susan; although i have no idea what the heck HEA is! :)

Kasey Mackenzie
10-18-2005, 06:43 PM
HEA means happily ever after, as in a happy ending. =)

henriette
10-18-2005, 06:59 PM
*smacks forehead* of COURSE HEA is 'happily ever after'. jeez, i think i may need another cup of joe!

i guess i didn't make that connection as i've always been the "blubbering over wuthering heights" type; give me a tragic love story or give me death! :)

Cathy C
10-18-2005, 08:46 PM
Of couse, Wuthering Heights isn't a romance... ;)


I don't think there are any rules, per se. But YA and Inspirational are the two closest subgenre for having "strong suggestions."

YA romance shouldn't include descriptive sex. Yes, they might HAVE sex, but it should be rolled over without the rich detail (following them into the bedroom) you might find in some of the adult romances.

Inspirational shouldn't have ANY pre-marriage sex as part of the romance, but that's a whole 'nother topic, and has already been discussed on another thread.

I honestly haven't read much YA, but as I understand it, the motives of the characters shouldn't wallow too much in evil -- meaning that the hero or heroine shouldn't WANT to kill or maim or rape, pillage or plunder. Jealous "rages" might include trashing the other person's car, but not hunting them down in the park.

Anyone else want to chime in on the "no-no's of YA?"

Susan Gable
10-18-2005, 09:39 PM
*smacks forehead* of COURSE HEA is 'happily ever after'. jeez, i think i may need another cup of joe!

i guess i didn't make that connection as i've always been the "blubbering over wuthering heights" type; give me a tragic love story or give me death! :)

Henriette, I love to write the best of all worlds. I love my angst, and like to make my readers cry. <G> (I'm evil that way, but I will confess and solemnly pledge that if you cry at a certain point in one of my books, odds are I was crying when I wrote it. <G>) I also like to make them laugh, and I promise them a positive, uplifting ending. In other words, you know my characters are going to survive at the end, no matter what grief I put them through in the rest of the book. So I like to hope that makes my readers willing to trust me on the journey of the story.

One reviewer of my third book said she wouldn't have read the plotline if it weren't a romance novel because the potential to end badly was too great - but because she knew it was a romance novel, she knew all would be "right" in the end. <G>

Susan G.

veinglory
10-18-2005, 09:44 PM
I think rules are just a way of reminding us of consequences. Like, if I don't have a happy ending, I will not be able to publish with Harlequin. So the question may really be what soet of story do you want to write, who would publish it and what are their guidelines?

henriette
10-18-2005, 11:15 PM
i find this discussion so interesting- thank you to all for such thought provoking posts :) perhaps you can help me to categorize my own novel in progress:

my current WIP is set in france 1835, with obsessive and destructive love and a woman's liberation from the control of others being the main themes. would it be considered simply historical fiction or literary fiction or a love story?

another question: if a novel has romance as one of it's main themes, but it ends in the lovers NOT getting together, how would it be categorized?

any wise counsel would be much appreciated!

veinglory
10-18-2005, 11:25 PM
Possibly 'saga'? Sagas often have romance themes but the main story is about a woman's life from difficult beginnings to eventually becoming strong and independent. They are often set in distinctive historical periods and show the character in the context of important events in these times. E.g. Gone with the Wind...

Susan Gable
10-18-2005, 11:50 PM
my current WIP is set in france 1835, with obsessive and destructive love and a woman's liberation from the control of others being the main themes. would it be considered simply historical fiction or literary fiction or a love story?


Ummmm...it's really hard to say. It could be ANY of those things, depending upon how you write it. Honestly, categorizing works is based more on the execution of the basic plotline rather than on the actual plotline.

For example, we could all decide to write a book about, oh, let's say, aliens taking over part of the planet. If I wrote it, that plotline would probably feature a hero and heroine, one of which would be an alien and one of which would be a person trying to stop all aliens. And they'd fall in love. <G> Why? Because I write romance and because my lovers have one hell of a conflict in front of them. And I'm twised that way. <G>

If you wrote it as an action-packed race against time to save the planet, well, then it would be a thriller version. If you had the aliens show up in the Old West, then it would be some kind of a strange historical/SF hybrid. You could, of course, write it as a straight SF story.

Then you could get all esoteric about it and about being a alien even among your own people, and write in a very lyrical way, and turn out a literary version of it. (Maybe. <G>)

Sorry that I couldn't be of specific help. :Shrug:

Susan G.

katee
10-26-2005, 04:45 PM
my current WIP is set in france 1835, with obsessive and destructive love and a woman's liberation from the control of others being the main themes. would it be considered simply historical fiction or literary fiction or a love story?

I'm totally not published and in no way 'qualified' to answer this, but I have read this somewhere ...

Can you take the love plot line out of your book? If so, and the story still works, then it's probably not a love story. If you absolutely cannot take the love story out and still have a story, you've got a love story.