Thursday, February 14, 2013

Christine Rains: Writing Romance

Christine Rains is here today to share with us some tips for writing romance. Take it away, Christine!
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It's that time of year when love is in the air. Hearts decorate store windows and chocolates fill their shelves. The best restaurants are booked up and jewelers tell you every kiss begins with a diamond. There's the lovely scent of fresh flowers and greeting cards.

None of this sounds particularly romantic, does it? No, certainly not. How would we write romance stories if it was only about pretty baubles and good food? Romance is the most popular genre for a reason. It's about two people falling in love. It's about intense emotions and noble actions. It isn't an easy tale to write.

Here are four key things to remember when writing romance:

1. Sympathetic and realistic characters. Even if you're writing a love story about vampires, the reader has to be able to identify with the main characters. They must have human emotions and flaws, and they must tackle conflict realistically.

2. Conflict and common ground. Of course there has to be something or someone trying to prevent the couple from having their happily ever after. It might even be the protagonists themselves wrestling with inner turmoil. But for a relationship to be believable, they must find common ground somewhere. A goal, a belief, or a beloved hobby. Opposites do attract, but something other than lust and external conflict must bind them together.

3. The relationship must be central to the plot. If you could write the same story without the relationship, then it isn't a romance story. The romance must propel the story forward.

4. Sacrifice. The characters must be willing to give up everything to be with the person they love. In some stories, it's their own lives, but not every tale requires it. Yet it must feel like the ultimate sacrifice to the one giving whatever it is up.

We may be bombarded by the commercial aspects of Valentines Day, but we are celebrating loving another person despite their flaws and spending time with them doing something both of you enjoy. We realize that our lives wouldn't be the same without that person in it, and we'd be willing to sacrifice anything to make sure they stay.

Happy Valentines Day!

--
Is this not the hottest dragonslayer you've ever seen?

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73 comments:

  1. Good points, Christine. And common ground is important, especially in real life. (Because the relationship won't make it otherwise.)
    Happy Valentine's Day, Christine and Lynda!

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    1. Thank you, Alex. Happy Valentine's Day to you too!

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  2. That is a very fine looking dragon slayer! :)
    I love reading and writing romance - that intense emotion is so much fun to work with :)

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    1. Thanks, Jemi! I do love looking at that cover too.

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  3. '...something other than lust and external conflict must bind them together.'

    Nothing worse than picking up a (what you hope is going to be a lovely) romance only to have lust as the driving force. I'm a sucker for a good love story, but there HAS to be that inner turmoil & external conflict just like you said. Otherwise the book gets dumped in the 'didn't finish' pile.

    Great tidbits of wisdom! Thanks for the post.

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    1. Thank you, Terri. I've done the same thing with books.

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  4. Thank you so much for hosting me today, Lynda!

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  5. I'd give much more than a kiss for a diamond LOL :) But you all knew me is a bit slutty.... :)
    Happy Valentines, Christine and Lyndy!

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    1. *LOL* Happy Valentines to you too! Thanks for the laugh.

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  6. Great guidelines, Christine.
    Happy Valentine's Day to all!

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    1. Thanks, Carol. Happy Valentines Day to you too!

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  7. These are great points to remember, definitely has to be "all or nothing". Happy Valentine's Day!

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  8. Lovely post! happy Valentine's Day!

    Hugs and chocolate,
    Shelly

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  9. Definitely loving point #2--something that's true in a novel and in real life!

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  10. GREAT tips, Christine! I agree with all and don't think I could add more! Ahh, vive l'amour! :D <3

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  11. Beautifully encapsulated, Christine.

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  12. I like what you said about none of that having to do with romance. It doesn't. It's putting the other person first.

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  13. Oh wow, good advice. I have to go run my own story through the sieve of #2...other things besides physical attraction and the external conflict binding 2 people together! Happy Valentine's Day, Christine and Lyn!!

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    1. Thank you, Carol. Happy Valentines Day to you too!

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  14. Just like with real life love it's the emotions which matter, not the stuff we buy.

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  15. I see Christine's book everywhere today! Yay for another writer.

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  16. Hi Christine and Lynda!

    Great post and examples. The best example of good writing is when we sympathise with the bad character.

    Nas

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  17. Definitely want to believe the relationship is about more than lust and external conflict. :)) Good stuff.

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    1. Thanks, L.G. We need so much more to our characters than just that!

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  18. I don't know if I could ever write in the romance genre - the character depth and interesting inner dialogue needed to keep it interesting and fresh (which romance authors do so well) would intimidate me. :) But your four principals (well, except 3) hold pretty true across genres, so thanks for the advice! :)

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    1. You're welcome, Bethany! I love writing about people and relationships. That's why romance fascinates me so.

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  19. Great post! I agree that creating memorable characters is important.

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  20. This is good advice, especially because I was struggling with how to incorporate romance into my own story. I especially agree with the part about sacrifice; I read stories about protagonists who fell in love with selfish people, and those romances usually didn't last long because the selfish people were unwilling to make sacrifices for the people they claimed to love.

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    1. Thank you. I completely agree. I see a lot of romances that are one-sided. They get the happily ever after, but you know it couldn't possibly last long based on what you read.

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  21. Yes, he is.

    Those four things are important to keep in mind. Thanks for the romance writing tips.

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  22. Great points, and they are all so true;)

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  23. Love all the different takes of the romance / love and Valentine's Day!

    Great post!

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    1. Thanks, Yolanda! I've seen a lot of romance posts around this week.

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  24. Sounds like four ingredients common to any epic love-story, with plenty of reasons for the plot and characters to be believable. Thanks for sharing :)

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  25. Replies
    1. Thanks, Susan! I'm very fond of my dragonslayer.

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  26. Thanks for sharing this helpful post. I plan to write atleast one romantic book in this lifetime. Will keep all the points in mind when I start writing a romance.

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    1. You're welcome, Rachna. And good luck with your book whenever you start to write it!

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  27. Great post! I love a good romance. :)

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  28. Hello, I am Yvonne from Yvonne's Poetry Corner, I am an ambassador for Arlee Bird of the A to Z Challenge. As you have signed to take part have you considered putting the A to Z logo on your blog? I enjoyed reading your post and will certainly return during the challenge to read some of your work.
    Yvonne.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. I'll be doing the Challenge this year. I'm excited about it!

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  29. Simple and so true. Thanks for the post. :-)

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    1. You're welcome. Have a lovely weekend. :)

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  30. Great tips Christine. Thank you.
    I don't think that I'll be able to write good romance scenes... not that I've tried... it's just a feeling...

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    1. Thank you, Michelle. For the longest time, I never considered myself a romance author, but suddenly I realized I was. It was a bit shocking because all I thought I was doing was practicing good characterization.

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  31. I love the first tip about sympathetic characters - so many writers seem to fail at that, believing the idea or the concept is the most important thing about their story. If you don't care about what happens to the characters though, the rest really doesn't matter. Good stuff.

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    1. Yep, definitely. It's the characters that make the story.

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    2. I completely agree, Chris. My stories are character driven.

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  32. Excellent tips! I especially agree with your tip about the characters needing common ground.

    In so many "romance novels", the characters just have sex and then suddenly realize they're in love. There's actually so much more to it than that.

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    1. Yep, often the romance is forgotten.

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    2. Thanks, Misha. I get so tired of romances like that. I need great characters.

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  33. Thank you so much for these wonderful tips. I need to bookmark this. :) Nice to meet you, Christine! Thanks, Lynda, for hosting!

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  34. Wonderful tips, Christine!.
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  35. Very excellent points! Especially the conflict. Those scenes full of TENSION between characters are such fun to write!

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  36. Great list of what makes up a romance novel. One that ticks all those boxes is usually a great read.

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