Thursday, January 13, 2022

Mark Knapp and Writing Romance

I am fortunate enough to be married to a Communications Instructor. One of the theories she teachers about every quarter in her Interpersonal Communication course, Mark Knapp's Model of Relationship Building. This is truly something that I think every author who wants to write romance should look at.

Knapp Does have 10 Steps in the model and it is broken down in two major parts, COMING TOGETHER and COMING APART. For romance novels, we focus on the first five since we are heading toward that wonderful Happily Every After.


As you think about your romance novel, think about the plot line working it's way through each of these steps. You can actually plot this out (yes, Pantster's I used that nasty word Plotting!) and you should be able to see where these steps are happening thoughout your novel.

Let me just note that for many authors, they rush through the steps and then wonder why their stories completely fall apart. The key is to space things out.

INITIATING Obviously this is what we will see in the first 1-3 chapters of your standard romance. Your characters need to see something in the other person that impresses them. Please note that this does not have to be a sexual attraction. They can see that person as someone who has characteristics that really draws them in. I think it is also important to note that your characters might not even know what it is about the person that draws them in. It just does. In many cases, in real life, we are drawn to someone but really have no clue why. That is what you are shooting for.

EXPERIMENTING OK, again get your minds out of the gutter and don't rush getting your characters in bed and "experimenting". We are still in the phase of figuring each other out. What is driving them to do things? What are their goals? What are their likes and dislikes? Do we want to dump everything here? Absolutely not. The fun of the romance novel is the building of the relationship.

INTENSIFYING  Generally by this point in the romance novel, the characters will separate their professional lives and their personal lives. It's the whole, "Let's get out of the office and have some Thai food. We need a break from this project!" Phase.

INTEGRATING OK, now they can kiss. This is the point that the relationship in a romance moves from just friends to "something more." Do they have to jump into bed? No. Do they have to say the "L" word? No. But the relationship does cross that line from "Friend" to "Not Just Friends."

BONDING - At this point, the L word does show up. At this point, we get to the Happily Ever After. Look at what Knapp's model says about this stage. "The relationship is indefinite and only to be broken through a formal notice, agreements or death etc." 

The Bonding portion of the story will likely happen AFTER the Conflict and Dark Moment. Not before. 


Now, go and look at your story and see if you are sticking to this idea. 

1 comment:

  1. This was a terrific post! I learned a lot. Thank-you. Kate M.