Friday, November 21, 2014

Keep Those Romances Focused And To The Point

Let's start with the basics of romance writing. We'll call it Romance 101!

In a romance, the central focus of the story line is the development of the relationship and the romance from the beginning to the Happily Ever After. The focus is on the couple. Pretty basic, right?

Unfortunately, far too many authors tend to complicate the story with an excess of sub-plots, back story and so many characters we forget the central story arc. When you are writing a romance, it is crucial that you keep that relationship in your sights at all time. Think of it as your thesis statement that guides any academic writing you might do. This is the goal, the purpose, the driving force. It is everything!

What I have seen lately is a tendency for authors to fill their stories with a lot of extra "stuff". In an attempt to justify everything that happens in the story, the author fills the story subplots and external conflicts that completely detract from the story. It is as if the person thought, "Hey, my hero is angry today. I wonder what caused him to be that way." At which point they launch into this huge back story about how, when he was in the 3rd grade someone pushed him off the monkey bars...

But they don't stop there. The add this amount of "stuff" the the heroine, to the villain, and to every nook and cranny of the conflict in the story.

Now don't get me wrong. We need to have those reasons why our characters do things, but it doesn't have to be over-the-top and excessive. We can have sub-plots. We can have extra characters. But  when the story has too much to deal with and we completely forget that there was a relationship to work on, then we have a problem.

The solution for this is pretty basic.

Plot out the relationship. Just think about how those characters get from point A to point B. They meet, and somehow, during the course of 75,000-100,000 words, they have hit the happily ever after. That is the story arc.

Now, you can build in the NECESSARY (and yes I am stressing that word) elements that will be the glue to hold that story line together. Find ways to take the "one-stop-shopping" approach as well. If one best friend can do the work of the parents, the boss, the best friend and the siblings, then use that one person and keep it simple.

This is one of the biggest reasons I find I am rejecting stories time and time again. My database of submissions is full of  "too much" for why I passed on a story.

I promise you, it isn't that hard to fix.

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