February is the month of love and romance here at JMR Professional Editing & Literary Services and our topic of conversation today is...romance novels!
Believe it or not, there is a tried-and-true formula one should follow when writing effective romance.
"But," one might ask, "what about creative license and artistic freedom?"
"They are alive and well," I would answer, "but there is no use in trying to reinvent the wheel."
And surprisingly, it's not the "publishing establishment" that dictates the success of this formula, but the dedicated readers that enjoy romance novels. What is said
formula? Well, it's pretty simple.
Boy meets girl.
Boy loses girl.
Boy gets girl.
I know, it's pretty simple right? Though there are a myriad of variants when it comes to the characters, i.e., the "boy" and the "girl", the basic components are always the same.
Shall we test this theory against some of the most iconic love stories of all time? Yes, we shall!
Titanic *insert deep sigh here*
Leonardo meets Kate. Check.
Leonardo loses Kate when he freezes to death and sinks to the bottom of the ocean. Check.
Leonardo gets Kate when they are reunited after the old lady dies. Check.
This romance does indeed follow the formulaic plot points of romance.
"But," one might protest, "that's a movie, not a novel."
Gone with the Wind *sigh even deeper*
Ah, this one gets a little tricky, doesn't it?
Rhett meets Scarlet. Check.
Rhett loses Scarlet to Ashley (milksop). Check.
Rhett gets Scarlet when she realizes that she truly loves him. Check.
Scarlet loses Rhett when he can no longer abide by the rollercoaster ride that has been their love affair. Ch—wait a second...
There is a reason that this story has stood the test of time; Margaret Mitchell leaves the last element ("boy gets girl") as a cliff-hanger. Is Scarlet able to convince Rhett that she truly loves him? Does Rhett find the happiness he has sought with Scarlet? Does Rhett ever "get" Scarlet? The answer is up to the reader's imagination. (But, of course he does. He's Rhett and she's Scarlet; they MUST end up together.)
The Notebook *grabs tissue*
Nicolas Sparks is the master of the romance formula.
Hunk meets Beautiful. Check.
Hunk loses Beautiful. Check.
Hunk gets Beautiful when they die in bed together. Check.
Obviously, I don't know the names of the actual characters, but their pseudonyms are descriptive enough for you to understand whom I'm speaking of, right?
Sparks uses the "loses" and "gets" module several times during the course of the book, but it never looses its efficacy, which speaks of the level of proficiency Sparks has as a romance writer.
So, we've covered the formula for writing effective romance and we've seen it used (with extreme monetary success) in three different instances. Now that you're sufficiently motivated to write a best selling romance novel, let's go over publishers and agents that accept romance manuscripts.
Click on this link to find a wide array of romance publishers looking for submissions. Be careful to read all submission requirements before sending off your manuscript.
Click on this link to find literary agents currently looking to represent romance authors. Once again, each agent has their own specific submission guidelines, so read carefully before submitting.
Thanks for reading and now...get writing! Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day!