Shannon here: Donna Schlachter shares her writing process. Comment or answer the question at the end of any post dated Dec 19 – 22 to enter the drawing for her latest title, The Physics of Love. Deadline: Dec 31st, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Donna:
Finding the Romance by Donna Schlachter
As authors, we all know that a little romance sells books. It’s a natural part of life, of relationships, and readers expect some attraction between characters. But not all of us are romance writers. So how do we infuse our stories with romance when that isn’t the core of our plot or our nature?
I sometimes find myself struggling with this question because I usually write mysteries or suspense. Even when I am writing a novella, for example, where romance is the main plot point, I struggle. Romance isn’t a big part of my everyday life, I tell myself. I’m not one of those sweet, frilly, girlie-girl writers who seem to have romance flowing through their veins.
So this is how I overcome this problem: Figure out what the story is about, write it, then go back and look for places to infuse additional romance.
In some stories, the romance is all there is to the book. Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl back. Easy-peasey, right?
Not really. When a reader picks up a romance book, if that was all there was to the story, it would be over in three pages or less.
Instead, readers still want to see conflict, tension, growth of the characters, and finally the character achieving their goals.
Because unless you have a cookie cutter character who’s about as three-dimensional as a gingerbread man, you need for each character to have goals. Sure, they want to win the heart of the other main character, but that isn’t their only goal.
Think back to your courting days. You had eyes for him or her, you thought about them all the time, wanted to be with them all the time, talked about nothing but your true love’s attributes.
But you still had other goals. You went to work or school. You planned meals. You had friends and coworkers.
So as you write your story, think about how these other goals can conflict with the romance. For example, you want to be with your love, but you have to go to work. Perhaps you call in sick every Monday for a month so you can spend a long romantic weekend. Sounds good. Until your boss threatens to fire you. Conflict.
And maybe while you were calling in sick every Monday, a co-worker, who wants you job, works overtime to get in the boss’s good graces. Tension.
How about the main character’s family, who the character always spent Sunday dinner with, doesn’t like the love interest and your parents won’t invite him/her to their house, but the main character wants to spend time with their family. Now the character has to choose. Conflict and tension.
In this type of story, perhaps the main character has a younger sibling who is struggling with setting boundaries on their own romance, and learns what to do or not do from watching the main character.
Maybe the parents’ romance is rekindled as they rediscover their love for each other during their heart-to-heart talks about how to deal with their daughter (or son).
In a story like this, we see character arc, character growth, character goals, tension, and conflict, as well as a good dose of romance. Make sure the reader is rooting for your outcome, because in a story like this one, the main character could choose to drop the love interest because he/she values family more. And this could be a satisfying ending for the reader, unless, of course, this is a formula romance.
In a formula romance, the reader expects that the main characters will end up together. So in this genre, you could introduce another character into the mix who would be a better life partner for your main character than the one he/she has currently chosen. As long as two characters end up together at the end of a formula romance, the reader will be satisfied.
Because really, that’s what writing is about: creating characters and a setting that are believable, and supplying an ending that is satisfying to the reader.
About Donna: Donna lives in Denver with her husband Patrick, who is her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She has published four cozy mysteries and a devotional for accountants under her pen name, and a collection of short stories, a book on writing tips, and several devotionals under her own name. She is currently under contract with Barbour Books in a novella collection on the Pony Express. Donna is a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests.
She will be teaching an online course for American Christian Fiction Writers in June 2017, “Don’t let your subplots sink your story”. Donna loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and online at: www.HiStoryThruTheAges.wordpress.com and www.HiStoryThruTheAges.com. Her most recent release is They Physics of Love. All books are available at Amazon.com in digital and print. Learn more & connect:
About the book – The Physics of Love:
Book 1: Opposition Was it love? No. For him, our coupling was the opportunity to one-up my father, the biggest fish in a very small pond. For three minutes. For me, I don’t know that I really thought about anything. Except I did imagine the look on my father’s face if he could see me now. And that stayed with me much longer than those three minutes on a beach in Newfoundland. Book 2: Momentum Was it love? Must have been. How else do you explain a childless couple in their fifties taking in an illegitimate child, to raise as their own, when everybody around them knew the truth? When they had so much to lose—the respect of their peers, their position in the church, the rung on that ladder he climbed so diligently. Of course, I don’t remember how the story began—I was only six months old at the time. And the story has been told and retold so many times I don’t know if the truth will ever be known. Book 3: Convergence Was it love? Yes. That’s what family is all about, so the answer must be yes, right? But I’ve since learned that family is about a whole lot more than just love. There are complicated dynamics involved in blood relationships, marriage relationships, even those once and twice removed relationships. But one thing I know for certain: it is love now.
Can’t wait for the drawing? Purchase your copy now: Donna’s Books
Question for Readers: Do you have a favorite plot device you love to see in books or movies? Best friends fall in love, amnesia . . ?
Come back Dec 22nd for Donna’s excerpt!