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Sunday, August 1, 2021

No magic formula for writing

cj Sez: The following format for a romance novel is a composite of information I’ve gleaned from various sources over the years. 
I keep the following notes in front of me when I’m writing romantic suspense.

A likable heroine
   This character can’t be weak or dumb and must be actively involved in the plot. There will, and should, 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 dumb to win.

A likable hero
   This guy should be strong (even if only emotionally), irresistible, smart, and actively involved. He does not have to be stereotypically handsome to be appealing. A well-developed personality can carry him into your readers’ hearts.

Emotional tension
   What’s keeping your heroine/hero apart? What threatens her/him? Making these decisions early on helps keep the plot on track.

A believable plot
   A twist on an oldie will work. According to some studies, there are only six (or maybe eight) possible plots in all of literature. Ergo every “new” story might today be called a trope. 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. Julie Roberts was Cinderella in “Pretty Woman” as was Melanie Griffith in “Working Girl.” Star-crossed lovers, ala Romeo and Juliet, abound. 

   It’s your unique “voice” that’s important in relating your take (spin, twist) on the familiar story.
A Happily Ever After ending
   A HEA is an absolute necessity for a romance novel. Love stories do not have to end happily, but romance stories, in all its subgenres, must have a happily ever after or at least the promise of one.  

  Three of those points are romance-writing specific, but it’s my belief that at least two of them—emotional tension and believable plot—can be broadly applied to all 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. As a reader and a writer, can you think of a genre that wouldn’t use those two points.

  By the way, there is no “magic formula” for writing a novel in any genre, but with a lot of reading, analysis, and/or luck you might find a format to follow, kind of like Anne Lamott’s ABCDE formula for short stories (Action, Background, Conflict, Development, and Ending).  
Writerly/Readerly quote:
“The historian will tell you what happened. The novelist will tell you what it felt like.”    —E. L. Doctorow
And now a few words from my sponsor:

   Hurricane Season is heating up along the Gulf Coast, and that brings to mind HOMETOWN HEROES, the Christmas anthology that gifts a portion of the benefits to the “Cajun Navy.” The Navy is that magnificent group of volunteers who help (on their own nickel) people in hurricane-stricken areas. This anthology may have been released at Christmas, but the stories are enjoyable year-round, and (big plus), it’s on sale.

   THE DAWGSTAR is available as an eBook
and as a paperback  Amazon Buy Now

   DEATH ON THE YAMPA is available as an eBook
as a paperback  Buy Paperback Yampa
and as a #SCREAM, series phone app. There are a lot of authors and their mystery/suspense stories available on #SCREAM. All you do is load the app and search for the author’s name.
   You can ask your local library to order my eBooks for you. You’ll need to give them the ISBN number of the title you want to borrow.
THE DAWGSTAR … ISBN 978-17369146-0-1
DEATH ON THE YAMPA … ISBN 978-1-7369146-1-8
   That’s it for today’s post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same. Stay safe, hear?


P.S. TO ORDER any book of your choice on-line and support an indie bookstore, contact The Haunted Bookshop here:

   If you’d like me to autograph or personalize one of my books for you, be sure to tell them, and I’ll run by the shop.

   The Haunted Bookshop has re-opened to limited hours (and they have an awesome bookstore kitty, Mr. Bingley), so if you’re in the Mobile area, you can stop and shop, too.

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