Friday, 25 January 2013

A Guide to Writing Romance - Part Two

When you write a novel, it is important to visualise your readers.  And often it’s not what you put in, but rather what you leave out, that is important. It is possible to over explain a point or “over tell” it. Nuances are important in writing - let your readers pick up certain facts about your characters and plot without bashing them over the head with unnecessary explanations. This is particularly relevant when it comes to dialogue. It’s not always necessary to say, for example:
“Peter, you are such an idiot!” Sarah cried out angrily.
The reader will get the gist of Sarah’s emotional state from what she is saying. If you have contextualised the dialogue (i.e. the reader is already aware that Sarah is speaking to Peter) you can let the piece of dialogue stand alone without the “Sarah cried out angrily” tag at the end. In other words, your readers don’t need to be spoon fed. This brings me to the second extract from All About Writing’s “The Guide To Writing Romance”:

Second Secret: Believe in your readers.

They’re not stupid. Most romance readers have some college education and many are educated professionals. Most work outside the home part or full-time.

They read for escapism – and for the emotional intensity they find in romances. Don’t talk down to them.

This is important because you can’t set out to write without having some idea who you are writing for. Every genre has its reader expectations. Your readers will expect that certain things will happen. For example, the hero will be desirable, the heroine feisty. They may have any number of problems along the way but they will end up with the prospect of happiness before them.

Different publishers insist on different conventions. Some want their heroine to indulge in no more than a deep and loving kiss, while others are happy with, in fact insist on, a spicy love scene or two. But these are details. The major expectations remain the same.

And that’s fine. That’s what draws people to read romance. They want to identify with the characters and live their intensity and passion along with them. They want to imagine themselves living happily ever after with the man (or woman) whose crinkly smile reduces them to mush.


Think about the last romantic comedy you watched on the small or big screen. Now, read a romance or go and see something fresh. What do they have in common? How do they differ?

This will show you that, however strict the conventions of romance appear to be, in fact they leave enormous room for creative energy.

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