Monday, August 26, 2013

Turning Points of Romance: Keep Them Wanting More

Turning Points of Romance: Keep Them Wanting More

I want to talk about turning points in a romance because I sometimes see potentially great stories that lack structure. No, we don’t want cookie cutter stories but in order to keep the reader interested, the plot moving, and the conflict high, we need a balance of goal, motivation, conflict, and turning points.

Depending on the line you’re targeting, your story begins with the characters in their ordinary world.  Then something happens —the inciting incident—that brings the characters together and forces their interaction. For example, if you’ve seen the movie While You Were Sleeping, you know the inciting incident is when the man of our heroine’s dreams falls in front of a train and she rescues him. Her path in the story is changed.

The first turning point, usually by the end of the third chapter in a full-length novel, is when the family believes she is their injured son’s fiancĂ© and she makes the decision to let them believe it because the grandmother has a weak heart. This turns the story in a new direction. She’s caught and though she knows it’s wrong, she wants the closeness of his family, something she’s never had and desperately desires.

The second turning point (or middle) is when, after spending time with the family and enjoying the love and unity, she meets the brother. Again, the story is turned in a new direction. He’s suspicious and she must dive deeper into a pit of lies even as she begins to fall for him. She thought she wanted one thing but now she’s not so sure.

The third turning point comes very close to the end. This is when the “man of her dreams” wakes up and she’s forced to follow through with her lie of an engagement. She’s getting everything she thought she originally wanted. The story reaches a pivotal point and the heroine must make a new decision.

The black moment is another turning point. This is when the character thinks all is lost. Our heroine doesn’t love the original man but loves his family. She doesn’t want to break their hearts, but she can’t go through with the wedding and spills the beans at the altar. She leaves the chapel having lost both the family she needs and the man she loves.

The conclusion comes last. Everything is wrapped up, all is forgiven and the character lives happily ever after. In a romance, this is when the I loves yous are said. In our story, the hero and his family track her down at work and he proposes.

Once the I love yous are said and everyone is happy, the romance plot is done. I’m seeing a lot of those I loves yous said early. Romance readers need their heroes and heroines tortured with internal and external conflicts. Happiness too soon will bore the reader into putting the book down. Romance readers read for that happy ever after moment that comes only after the characters have had their hearts ripped apart.

In other words, don’t solve the conflict too soon and always leave them wanting more.

Diana Carlile
Sr. Editor, Scarlet Rose
The Wild Rose Press
Cover Art Design

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