Saturday, May 14, 2011

All You Need Is Love

One of my favorite classes at the LDStorymakers conference was a the class Sara Eden taught on writing romance. Here are my notes:

Romance is the MOST read genre. Taking up more than 40% of the market all on it's own. Romance is tricky to write because the story question and the answer are already determined for you.
Story question: Will they get together?
Answer: YES!

If your story question and answer are different, you are probably not writing romance, but maybe a romantic plot line.

But whether writing a romance novel or a romantic plot line the principles are the same.
  1. Strong emotional connection between characters
  2. Need fulfillment
  3. The couple is something to each other that no one else is
Emotional connection: "Hot" is not an emotion (love that). Characters need interaction and time together for us to believe in their romance. They shouldn't be perfect but have strengths and weaknesses we can relate to. No one can relate to perfect. We need a reason to cheer for them independently and as a couple.

Need fulfillment: Your hero/heroine should fulfill a need in each other. Needs can range from shallow (I'm hot--you're hot--let's make out) to deep (someone to see through our mask, protect us, be our equal, etc.) The deeper the need the deeper the connection.

To add tension add competing needs. Example- Katniss in THE HUNGER GAMES is stuck between the two competing needs - Save Prim and Save Peeta.

Use your knowledge of human nature to figure out what your characters need in a significant other.

Couple is something to each other that no one else is: If their connection is not unique it will lack impact and not be satisfying to the reader (step in need fulfillment). This is why their connection MUST go beyond love at first sight or just the physical (because not to sound crude, but you can get that anywhere:)

A great way to prove this to your readers is to show them with other people. Example: Elizabeth Bennett with Mr. Collins vs. Elizabeth and Wickham vs. Elizabeth and Darcy. We are clearly shown who is best for her.
Last of all here are the romantic pitfalls that these three principles will help with:
  1. Love in a vacuum (people have to eat you know)
  2. Romantic tension that relies too much on the physical (it could be anyone)
  3. Little or no romantic tension (jump into it too fast)
  4. Weak sources of conflict (example: a misunderstanding that could be cleared up easily)
  5. Love has no foundation
I LOVED this class. I learned so much. I knew I liked specific stories, but it is fun to see just why they work so well.


mom said...

You are my first blog to read outside of my own family. My daughter in law found you.

I appreciate your information from the writing class you took even though I thought before I read it that it would not apply to me. Now I suspect that as I begin writing in earnest (note that I did not use earnestly as it was an adverb)I will have to include a romantic story line so someone will read it. Thanks.

On the younger scene, do you have any knowledge on getting children's books published? I am interested in writing a well illustrated book for kids about 3 to 10 years old.

Angie Cothran said...

Thanks for the above comment :) I don't know a ton about children's books but here is what I have learned. At this last conference an agent and an editor said they are always looking for author illutrated books (2 for the price of 1 I guess) and books that are unique. They gave the example of a little girl who gets a glacier for a pet.

I think a great resource is, go to the who reps whom link and see what agents rep the work of authors like yours. Then you can search for interview online where they talk about what they would like to see.

Good luck! The world needs more great children's books.

Katrina L. Lantz said...

I LOVED this class, as well! Seriously opened my eyes to something that makes so much sense now that Sarah brought it up. I'm talking about the needs of each person, and how they have to fulfill needs in each other that no one else in the story can. Thanks for sharing your notes!!

Angela Felsted said...

This is great and so true. I'm learning first hand how hard romance is to write.

Jolene Perry said...

I was totally IN THAT CLASS! lol.

Also - LOVE that pic . . .

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