Seven Ways to Win Over Romance Book Editor, written by Sheritha Singh caught my eyes. I wrote several chapters for romance novel last several years, but I had to stop as I focused writing for the second saga book, Enthusiasm. The same thing happened, I had to stop after about 60% on the way of writing it. I followed my heart to start writing my third writing project that now is done 95%.
I know writing romance is not easy. So, what special things that made me interested to click and read her article? Here, I would like to share it with you. If you are a romance novel writer, you should read it too.
- Independently Acting Body Parts
Hands don’t act independently. Although editors place a lot of emphasis on showing NOT telling, it is important to take note of how body parts fit into a scene. A suggestion to correct the above-mentioned peeve is: She shivered when he curled his arm around her waist.
The hands have to belong to someone. Otherwise the original sentence would simply mean that the character has a detachable hand that is capable of acting on its own whim.
Marsden’s plain, brown eyes never once moved off my face.
Another common mistake writer’s make is when characters make visual contact. When writing romance, writers tend to place a lot of emphasis on the first time characters spot each other. Eyes roll or widen or lock. Again, the editor who pointed out the above-mentioned independently acting body part pointed out that the sentence literally translated that Marsden’s eyes were on the character’s face — kind of a like a fly or a spider. To avoid an independently acting body part the editor suggested:
His gaze never moved off her face.
- Characters Interacting with Each Other
When writing group conversations, editors urge writers to consider all dimensions of the character during the scene. Remember characters are not made out of cardboard. They are three dimensional. They move and breathe, they have hard to break habits, and they feel emotions . . .
For example, when writing a group dinner scene, picture a normal dinner scene:
The shy nerd who isn’t sure how to strike up a conversation with his crush and toys with his food,
The couple who constantly glance at each other across the table and exchange secret smiles,
The unsmiling billionaire who doesn’t talk while eating.
Characters don’t just eat during a dinner scene. They look around, they drink wine, they check their phone messages, and they try not to get annoyed with the person sitting next to them. A romantic setting may be described by incorporating scented candles, soft music, a table setting for two — don’t be shy to show the reader what the character sees and how the character reacts. Characters often have things playing in their mind even while interacting with each other — show it. A shy character may recall romantic disasters and may not be able to fully enjoy eating while having lunch with the boss she’s always had a crush on.
If the writer had simply used dialogue tags such as said, whispered, grunted, growled, etc. the reader wouldn’t be able to visualize who was doing what. Unnecessary dialogue tags also weaken a scene.
- Elaborate Descriptions
She swung her long, shiny chocolate-brown hair.
An editor suggested leaving shiny out. The important thing is for the reader to visualize the character and create a mental picture.
- Increase the Tension Between Characters
- Create Real Characters
“I really like your characters in this one. I think I have told you that I think your readers are really going to connect with Lace. Her freak outs are so realistic, and I think they will find them very funny as well.”
Remember, regardless of whether your characters are paranormal, human, or alien, they must exhibit behavior that readers are familiar with.
- Limit the Backstory
The fresh scent of rain wetting the earth reminded Lace of the day Daniel dumped her. The rain washed her tears away and eventually the sun broke through the clouds and dried her face.
The reader can tell from the above scene that the rain made Lace recall her broken love affair.
- Increase the Stakes For Your Main Characters
The character with the most to lose is the one that has the highest stakes. It could be the hero who merely wants a one night affair and ends up with a pregnant lover. He cannot risk the scandal and neither does he want his child to face the same hardships he did growing up. What does he do? Marry his lover or take his child away? Since he was raised an orphan he wants his child to have both parents. What does he do? (*)