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SwallowFeather
01-14-2019, 02:44 AM
So, I'm embarking on a romance for the first time.

What do you wish you'd known? What do you think newbies tend to get wrong?

Mine's a multiple genre one, historical/romance/suspense, quite heavy on the history and suspense but I am thinking of making the romance the backbone. Due to the history the HEA will probably be against the backdrop of some very sad events, so kind of a bittersweet thing... trying to balance the sad stuff is part of the reason I'm thinking of going heavy enough on the romance to actually qualify as Romance. Is that a bad idea, do you think?

(Incidentally, what exactly is the meaning of "Romantic Suspense"? Trying to figure out if this fits in that pigeonhole or not.)

Marissa D
01-14-2019, 02:52 AM
According to the RWA's definition of the romantic suspense category of the RITA Award, it's a romance novel "in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot." So, those elements will play a role in the development and resolution of the romance plot.

triceretops
01-22-2019, 01:20 PM
According to the RWA's definition of the romantic suspense category of the RITA Award, it's a romance novel "in which suspense, mystery, or thriller elements constitute an integral part of the plot." So, those elements will play a role in the development and resolution of the romance plot.

That's the definition of my book. I'm spanking new to this genre. I'm a guy, converted over because I had to do a lot of investigation about this genre and topic. It took research, lots of reads and a few pixel princesses to guide me along the way. But I'm still at a terrible disadvantage. Women rule this genre supreme, and righteously so. I've just made 56 review requests from the top sites and I'm trembling. BB is only 2.5 months old, but with no reviews. The publisher sent out a large amount, but we have to wait. The process of reviewing books is highly selective to the tastes of the review readers. It's a hit or miss thing and very difficult. I'm hoping for the best.

SwallowFeather
01-24-2019, 01:12 AM
Thank you! I think mine does qualify as RS in that case, though we'll have to see just how the ending goes. Sorry for abandoning the thread, I haven't been able to use AW for awhile due to the insecure connection (AW's security certificate didn't get renewed somehow & my browser is very unhappy about that, I mean VERY.)

Triceretops, good luck to you! I know what it's like to be hoping for more reviews.

Tocotin
02-04-2019, 05:57 PM
Answering the original post.

Apart from the absolutely necessary HEA (happy ever after) or HFN (happy for now) ending, I think I saw somewhere the following:

1. The hero should be financially better off than the heroine.

2. The first man the heroine sees is usually the hero, with some obvious exceptions (a family member, an old person, etc.).

I might be wrong – if I am, I apologize!

Marissa D
02-04-2019, 06:12 PM
Answering the original post.

Apart from the absolutely necessary HEA (happy ever after) or HFN (happy for now) ending, I think I saw somewhere the following:

1. The hero should be financially better off than the heroine.

2. The first man the heroine sees is usually the hero, with some obvious exceptions (a family member, an old person, etc.).

I might be wrong – if I am, I apologize!

Ummm...no, those are not at all requirements of the genre.

Tocotin
02-04-2019, 06:16 PM
Okay then – sorry. That's good to know, in a way.

CEtchison
02-04-2019, 11:45 PM
Answering the original post.

Apart from the absolutely necessary HEA (happy ever after) or HFN (happy for now) ending, I think I saw somewhere the following:

1. The hero should be financially better off than the heroine.

2. The first man the heroine sees is usually the hero, with some obvious exceptions (a family member, an old person, etc.).

I might be wrong – if I am, I apologize!

Like Marissa D and Roxxsmom stated, the only requirement for the romance genre is a happily ever after.

Now, having said that, I will say there are some publishers, imprints, and editors who make their own romance requirements. There is one editor in particular who states the heroine and hero must meet by page three. She's also a believer that the first non-relative male the heroine encounters is the hero. So you aren't wrong that you've heard that. Just know that it isn't a blanket rule for the genre.

As a matter of fact, I purposely broke this "rule" in my first book just to prove to my friend it wasn't a genre-wide rule

SwallowFeather
02-05-2019, 12:38 AM
Rule 1 sounds like it may be an old-school romance rule. When I think about it, a lot of older romances I can think of do have that element. Though I'm not a big romance reader and couldn't point out exceptions, just a handful of famous examples that do follow the rule.

But to restate my original question, because I really do want to learn. We've seen "avoid sounding misogynistic" in this thread, which is helpful & true, but are there any less obvious pitfalls I might not know about, entering the genre for the first time? How fast have you had your love-interests fall for each other, and has a faster or slower speed worked best for you? How much conversation do you put in--people in love talk for hours, but most of the talk is probably interesting to no-one but them... and yet lovers who don't talk to each other much don't look great on the page either, or am I wrong? Have you learned principles for which conversations are page-worthy?

And here, I seem to have figured out my biggest question. If I understand rightly a romance is built around a structure that basically goes: lovers meet, fall in love, then break up or can't be Together for some reason, then they resolve this in some way and get together after all. That's a simpler structure than I'm used to (but am I missing something?) so how do you usually fill it in? Do you complicate the structure itself (maybe multiple conflicts, etc), use subplots, other things? If you use subplots how do you make sure they don't overwhelm the plot--do you have a way of relating them to the main plot in a supportive way?

Marissa D
02-05-2019, 01:35 AM
It may sound like a simple structure, but it has to work on two levels--the internal, emotional one, and the external, action one--and for both of the romantic protagonists. So you're getting into the heads and lives of two people, demonstrating what makes them tick, what they want, how their past has made them into what they are today--and how that ties into their falling in love...and into what makes them think that they don't have a future together. Resolving the issues, internal and external, that are keeping the lovers apart can be complicated, and your job as author is to make it believable and relateable. Sub-plots can be great, and tying them into the conflict and resolution of the romantic plot can help amplify both the romantic conflict and its resolution.

Have you jumped in and read some romances, preferably in the sub-genre you want to write in? I would highly recommend that...

Marian Perera
02-05-2019, 02:58 AM
How fast have you had your love-interests fall for each other, and has a faster or slower speed worked best for you?

I don't write about love at first sight (or instantly recognizing one's soulmate) because that trope doesn't work for me and I like to build tension. My characters rarely even experience outright lust at first sight, although when they meet, they're always aware of each other in a physical way, e.g. noticing the other person's looks or scent.


How much conversation do you put in--people in love talk for hours, but most of the talk is probably interesting to no-one but them... and yet lovers who don't talk to each other much don't look great on the page either, or am I wrong?

It depends on the topic. One of the best books in terms of conversation between lovers is Gone with the Wind. Long before they're married, Rhett and Scarlett talk about so many different things - the war, fashion, business, what parents tend to expect of children, and so on. And that's not even touching on their relationship.

I usually find conversations between lovers boring if there's no conflict between them. Conflict doesn't mean they hate or fight each other, just that if they agree about everything and get along perfectly, I'm not enthralled.


Have you learned principles for which conversations are page-worthy?

The ones that forward the plot, illuminate character and/or entertain readers.


And here, I seem to have figured out my biggest question. If I understand rightly a romance is built around a structure that basically goes: lovers meet, fall in love, then break up or can't be Together for some reason, then they resolve this in some way and get together after all. That's a simpler structure than I'm used to (but am I missing something?) so how do you usually fill it in?

As Marissa said, it's all about getting into heads and hearts of two people.

Part of the fun of writing romance, for me, is taking familiar ideas and putting new twists on them. For instance, take the scarred hero. This character is often like the Beast or the Phantom of the Opera; he stays away from society. Even if he interacts with other people, he's reserved and tends not to take emotional risks because he's very self-conscious about his disfigured appearance.

So... what if there was a man who was horribly scarred but who was determined not to be an introverted recluse as a result? What sorts of risks might he take, e.g. openly setting out to court the woman he wants, even though she's way out of his league looks-wise? What consequences would he face because of this? (That's an idea for a historical I'm playing with.)

Also seconding the recommendation to read romances. Best way to learn more about them.

CEtchison
02-05-2019, 08:08 AM
And here, I seem to have figured out my biggest question. If I understand rightly a romance is built around a structure that basically goes: lovers meet, fall in love, then break up or can't be Together for some reason, then they resolve this in some way and get together after all. That's a simpler structure than I'm used to (but am I missing something?) so how do you usually fill it in? Do you complicate the structure itself (maybe multiple conflicts, etc), use subplots, other things? If you use subplots how do you make sure they don't overwhelm the plot--do you have a way of relating them to the main plot in a supportive way?

Cherry Adair is a romantic suspense author who has several items of use on her website specifically for writers. Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes is an oft-recommended plotting book for the romance genre.

Authors who write historical romantic suspense include Amanda Quick, Tracey Devlyn, and Lauren Willig. For comparison, you might want to also read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah which is classified as Historical Fiction, but also has suspenseful and romantic elements.

And I'll third the recommendation to read a lot of romance if you want to learn about the genre. I attended my first RWA conference with a friend in 2011 and didn't know what I wanted to write. I picked up a ton of free books and spent the next six months reading and learning. Read a variety of authors. Study them. Compare books to each other. There's much that's the same and so much that's different. Publishers make a huge difference as well. What Harlequin puts out will not be the same as Avon or Gallery or Forever. The more you know going in, the better chance you'll have at success.


ETA: BTW, if you want to read a romantic suspense written by a man, check out Nico Rosso. His book, One Minute to Midnight, was a RITA finalist in 2017.

cornflake
02-05-2019, 08:12 AM
Part of the fun of writing romance, for me, is taking familiar ideas and putting new twists on them. For instance, take the scarred hero. This character is often like the Beast or the Phantom of the Opera; he stays away from society. Even if he interacts with other people, he's reserved and tends not to take emotional risks because he's very self-conscious about his disfigured appearance.

So... what if there was a man who was horribly scarred but who was determined not to be an introverted recluse as a result? What sorts of risks might he take, e.g. openly setting out to court the woman he wants, even though she's way out of his league looks-wise? What consequences would he face because of this? (That's an idea for a historical I'm playing with.)

Also seconding the recommendation to read romances. Best way to learn more about them.

*whisper* I think that's Deadpool.

:ROFL:

LJD
02-05-2019, 08:23 AM
And here, I seem to have figured out my biggest question. If I understand rightly a romance is built around a structure that basically goes: lovers meet, fall in love, then break up or can't be Together for some reason, then they resolve this in some way and get together after all. That's a simpler structure than I'm used to (but am I missing something?) so how do you usually fill it in? Do you complicate the structure itself (maybe multiple conflicts, etc), use subplots, other things? If you use subplots how do you make sure they don't overwhelm the plot--do you have a way of relating them to the main plot in a supportive way?

I recommend Gwen Hayes's Romancing the Beat (https://www.amazon.com/Romancing-Beat-Structure-Romance-Kissing-ebook/dp/B01DSJSURY/) for romance structure.

I started writing a novel before I read romance. At first I wanted to write women's fiction, but then realized that book was more or less a romance. And then I solidly read romance for a year before actually attempting to purposely write a romance. (I trunked that first book. It was terrible.) And I'm glad I did that. So, yeah. Read a lot of romance.

SwallowFeather
02-06-2019, 01:01 AM
Sounds like I need to go to https://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/ and figure out if my library has any of the books they've reviewed! I haven't read much like I said but I've listened to their podcast a few times and I like them. Found out about them from my favorite humor podcast Read It and Weep. (https://read-weep.com/) (Yeah, that's a plug. They're worth it, they're really fun.)

And wow, thanks for all the good input. I appreciate it.

lizmonster
02-06-2019, 01:19 AM
Sounds like I need to go to https://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/ and figure out if my library has any of the books they've reviewed!

They don't exclusively review romance, but they'll point out where romance tropes aren't followed.

Marian Perera
02-06-2019, 01:31 AM
Sounds like I need to go to https://smartbitchestrashybooks.com/ and figure out if my library has any of the books they've reviewed!

I also recommend All About Romance (https://allaboutromance.com/), which is what made me start reading romances in the first place. I used to read their reviews of D- and F-graded books just because those were funny, even though I wasn't into the genre at the time. After I finished all those reviews, I checked out the ones that gave books As, and some of those sounded so intriguing that I read the books.

Dona St Columb
02-06-2019, 04:02 PM
Honestly, my advice would be to read, read, read, as much romance as you can- particularly in the subgenre/s you're planning to write in (which sounds like romantic suspense and historical romance in your case?)

I fell into writing romance because I was in the middle of writing this great, sprawling, historical fantasy novel and it was killing me, so I decided to 'take a break' (lol) and 'write something nice, easy and lighthearted' (also lol). I think people make the mistake of thinking romance is easy to write because everyone knows how it ends- i.e. happily, but in fact it takes a lot of work to carry your readers through on that journey, and set up enough obstacles for them to overcome to make it satisfying, without making it impossible.

I've found 'romancing the beat' (which I think someone else mentioned) to be really helpful when I'm thinking about structure. Otherwise, just lots of reading, and remembering that your characters struggles need to be internal as well as external.

Hope that helps :)

SwallowFeather
02-06-2019, 07:10 PM
Cherry Adair is a romantic suspense author who has several items of use on her website specifically for writers. Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes is an oft-recommended plotting book for the romance genre.

Authors who write historical romantic suspense include Amanda Quick, Tracey Devlyn, and Lauren Willig. For comparison, you might want to also read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah which is classified as Historical Fiction, but also has suspenseful and romantic elements.

Yeah, I should definitely read The Nightingale, b/c I'm also doing WWII. I've heard a lot about it. I also just found ebooks by Amanda Quick and Lauren Willig in my online library system, so I've got the beginnings of a reading list shaping up. :D


I also recommend All About Romance (https://allaboutromance.com/), which is what made me start reading romances in the first place. I used to read their reviews of D- and F-graded books just because those were funny, even though I wasn't into the genre at the time. After I finished all those reviews, I checked out the ones that gave books As, and some of those sounded so intriguing that I read the books.

LOL, I have this SF review site that I do exactly that with. It's funny how enjoyable bad reviews can be. Looks like a good site.


Honestly, my advice would be to read, read, read, as much romance as you can- particularly in the subgenre/s you're planning to write in (which sounds like romantic suspense and historical romance in your case?)

I fell into writing romance because I was in the middle of writing this great, sprawling, historical fantasy novel and it was killing me, so I decided to 'take a break' (lol) and 'write something nice, easy and lighthearted' (also lol). I think people make the mistake of thinking romance is easy to write because everyone knows how it ends- i.e. happily, but in fact it takes a lot of work to carry your readers through on that journey, and set up enough obstacles for them to overcome to make it satisfying, without making it impossible.

I've found 'romancing the beat' (which I think someone else mentioned) to be really helpful when I'm thinking about structure. Otherwise, just lots of reading, and remembering that your characters struggles need to be internal as well as external.

Hope that helps :)

I can well imagine what you mean about thinking it's light and it actually being a lot of work, but to tell the truth I've had a lot of fun so far. Dunno if I'm doing it wrong ;) but coming up with the crazy situation that brings my love-interests together was a lot of fun. There's still significant work I need to do, though, for instance he's not nearly as well fleshed-out as she is. Anyway...

I'll have a look around for Romancing the Beat, though it seems my library doesn't have it... and thanks again to all of you!

AW Admin
02-06-2019, 08:01 PM
I've moved the posts that turned into a detailed crit thread of triceretops blurb for a romance to this thread in QLH (https://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?340643-Moved-from-Romance-Discussion/page2).

Carrie in PA
02-07-2019, 07:56 PM
I'd also highly recommend talking to other romance authors. Do you have a local RWA chapter (https://www.rwa.org/Online/Get_Involved/Chapters.aspx)? You can attend 2 meetings for free to see if it's for you. I've found my affiliation with my local chapter to be absolutely invaluable, but it happens to be an outstanding chapter. I've learned so much through RWA because these people are *professional* to the nth degree and run the gamut from traditional to indie, clean to erotica, newbies to decades of experience. It can also serve as a reality check as to how this world really works, especially in your area.