WHAT MAKES A STORY A ROMANCE?
Is it the plot? Is it the characters? What? One of the biggest reasons for rejection from The Wild Rose Press is — IT ISN’T A ROMANCE!!!!
So let’s find out what it takes to make a romance – a good one.
The first thing to check is that 50% of the story is the romance – not the plot, not the setting, but the actual relationship that is developing between the hero and the heroine. Since that is who we’re interested in, then we ought to see their names — often — like 3 or more times per page. Do a search for each of their names and see how often they come up throughout the manuscript. Is it three times the number of pages for each of them? Great!
Next we come to the core of the story, the relationship. The plot revolves around the relationship; the storyline is secondary. Yes, you have to have a good story, but if the relationship comes in second, it’s no longer a romance. And a relationship isn’t about the physical heat between them. It’s what creates that heat. It’s the emotion behind the actions that count, what makes them who they are… Why does he like her? What does she see in him (aside from his gorgeous eyes, rock hard abs, and dark, curly hair)? What character traits attract them to each other? It’s not all about what they “see.” Basing their reactions on looks is not the way to move a relationship forward. Is she sweet and considerate of everyone (including his grandma whom he can’t stand)? Is he kindhearted even though he tries to act like a tough guy? Think of it this way, if you were blind, what might attract you to a person besides voice? Use all of your senses. The clean smell, the solid handshake, the considerate whisper when you have a headache…
With all that time spent on your hero and heroine then you obviously don’t have a lot of time to waste getting into the nitty gritty details of secondary characters. After all, you still have a plot to create in the space you have left. Okay, so your hero had lunch with Mom and Dad, and Dad wanted to talk about investing. We don’t need to know that Dad runs a brokerage firm and that he’s been doing it for twenty years and that his partners are like family, blah blah blah blah blah. The pages you could fill with background information are just fodder for the shredder. Does the reader really care? Not likely. They want to hear about the hero and the heroine. A quick blurb is all anyone else gets. If your hero wants to talk with the heroine later about what he discussed with Dad, great. Especially if it has an effect on their relationship. But secondary characters only put in cameo appearances, no longer than a page here and there.
And since it’s all about character, we’ll go into more detail in our next installment in just a little while.
Hope this helps. Happy writing!
Posted by Jamie West, Senior Editor and Donna Basinow, Editor.