“It’s all about the love story, Sweetheart.” That in a nutshell – or a heart shaped hatbox – is the message my agent Denise had been trying to deliver to me for months.
When it comes to writing romance fiction that sells – to agents and editors and readers alike – the secret is in the sizzle and sex and struggle at the beating bleeding heart of the story.
I may not be hardhearted but I’m definitely hardheaded. It took some skull blasting to get this simple truth past my dumb denial.
I was messing with side relationships. I was entangled with sub stories. I was about to swath my office with butcher paper covered in colored plot lines.
Then Denise in despair got truly down to it. “They’re either together or thinking about being together or agonizing over why they shouldn’t be together.”
Not a direct quote but the direct essence of how she referred to my heroine and hero. Finally I got the message and it came with a plotting problem attached.
How do I keep the story from stagnating? This is the art of romance writing in a nutshell – or a heart shaped hatbox. You as writer-creator must simply make excitement happen.
You do that by way of the same basic storytelling element that makes any story a must read. That element is Struggle. Your would-be lovers grapple together and separately to get from would-be to is.
The harder and more apparently impossible the struggling and grappling you create – the more of a must read your story will be.
Then there’s the sex. A scintillating source of struggle and sizzle and even suspense for certain in fiction and real life as well. We all want to know how that tangle will untangle – or knot.
So what do I do with all the side and sub stuff I struggled to invent? It helps that I’m writing a series – which by the way is the way to agent-editor-reader hearts on Valentine’s or any day.
Each of those discarded tangential relationships and alternately colored plot lines cries out for a related but separate story of its own.
That story also will be about – you guessed it – Romance Romance and Nothing but Romance.