Writing Romance – Five More Tips
Good Romance relies on good characters. We need to believe in them. They should be strong and complex enough for us to identify with them. Then, we need to see them doing things, in dramatic scenes that we can immerse ourselves in. We also need conflict – there's no point in a story if they're happy at the beginning, happy in the middle and even happier at the end. We must fear for them, and for their love. We must have our hearts in our mouths, while we wonder if they'll ever get it together, even though it's obvious they're made for each other.
That's the basis of all published romance. Beyond these fairly fundamental points, though, there are ways to make your writing special.
Here are five important writing tips that will make your nail stand head and shoulders above the publishers' slush pile.
Tip One : Show, do not tell. In other words, do not include paragraphs and paragraphs of exposure. Show what your characters are like, do not tell us. Do not tell us she's kind. Show us her kindness, and his existence to trust – through what they say and do, and how other characters relate to them
Tip Two: Give them a believable setting. You must know it well in order to write it. You need to know far more than will ever appear in your book. But knowing the details gives you the confidence to write with authority.
Do not get carried away by your research and write long details just for the sake of showing it off. Research is like good make-up. It should make you look better, but you should not be aware of it.
Tip Three: Every detail has a job to do. Every description, every subsidiary character, every scene, must take the story forward or develop your main characters further.
Tip Four: Write believable dialogue. This is what people first notice about a book. If the dialogue rings true, it brings pace and energy to a story. It helps you "show", rather than tell what your characters are like.
Dialogue should be the appearance of real speech. But if you've ever recorded people speaking, you'll see they do a lot of repeating and um-ing and ah-ing.
The challenge for the writer is to give the appearance of real speech, without its drawbacks. Allow people to interrupt each other, have them not finish their sentences, but do not let them go on long, circular repetitions.
Tip Five : Edit well. You can fix almost anything in the rewrite. Switch from your writer persona, who loves every word, to a more critical editor. Look at every scene, character and detail. Does it take the story forward. Be ruthless.
Cut adjectives and look for the dreaded sagging middle. If things sag in the middle, look for scenes where nothing much happens. Kill them or make sure something happens that will move your story along.
They're easy to say, but harder to adhere to. I guarantee, though, that if you can make these points work for you, you'll have a publishable Romance, full of love, conflict and suspense.