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Sunday, July 17, 2016

Yes, Virginia. Romance stories have a format.

cj Sez:  The following format for a romance novel is a composite of information I’ve gleaned from various sources over the years. It’s a format I keep in front of me when I’m writing romantic suspense. By the way, there is no “magic formula” for writing in any genre, but you can usually find a format to follow.

('Toons are from Facebook)

A likable heroine
This character can’t be weak or dumb and must be actively involved in the plot. There will be some moments of angst in the story, but they should be fleeting. You want your reader to root for the lady rather than think she deserves what she gets because she’s too stupid to win.

A likable hero
This guy should be strong (might only be emotionally), irresistible, smart, and actively involved. He does not necessarily have to be stereotypically handsome to be appealing. His personality will carry him into your readers’ hearts.

Emotional tension
What’s keeping your heroine/hero apart? What threatens her/him? Making these decisions at the outset of your writing will help keep the plot on track.

A believable plot
Your twist on an oldie will work. According to some studies, there are only six (or maybe eight) possible plots in all of literature. One example: Cinderella can be construed as a variation of the Biblical story of Esther, who was an orphan being raised by her uncle and who so charmed a king that he crowned her his queen. Your unique “voice” is important in relating your interesting take on the familiar story.

A happily ever after ending
An absolute necessity for a romance novel. Love stories might not have to end happily, but romances MUST have a happily ever after or at least the promise of one.  

Three of those points are romance writing-specific, but at least two of them—emotional tension and believable plot—can be broadly applied to most genres. Even a memoir needs a bit of tension and a plot to make it an appealing read. But you can help me out here. Please let me know if you can think of a genre that wouldn't use those two points.   


I’m attending the 2016 Alabama Writers Conclave this weekend, so be sure to stop by next week for my review.

You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

Choosing Carter  -- Kindle  /  Nook  /  Kobo   /  iTunes/iBook
Deadly Star --  Kindle  / Nook  / Kobo

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