That Romance Question Again

I’m not naive enough to think writing romance was easy, but I was under the impression I knew what the criteria were, and when I started my Victorian Love story, that’s what I thought it was. Not so.

I tried again, and this story doesn’t fit the formula either – but undeterred, I’m going to have another go at moulding the plot to what the romance publishers want. It’s the singularly most popular genre at the moment and I don’t intend to let a couple of extra chapters and an incorrect PoV beat me!

So, I’m back to the tricky problem of discerning exactly what constitutes a romance as opposed to a women’s’ literature story. My research tells me the main premise of any romance, is to put a hero and a heroine together and keep them together-yet-apart, until the final page. The others are:

- The story is focused on the relationship between H & H
- H & H must meet as soon as possible. [Chapter Three won’t cut it!]
- They should be together for almost every scene.
- When they’re not together they need to be thinking about each other
- External conflict is solved by working together
- Conflict of secondary characters should be alluded to, not focused upon.
- Subplots exist purely to further interactions between the H & H
- The main - and if possible, the only - Points of Views, are the H & H
- There must be a Happy Ever After

My wip now conforms to all these points apart from two, so with another re-write, a shifting of events, oh and I almost forgot, more drama! I may just do it.


Jen Black said…
Those are certainly most of the criteria M&B demand - but what about internal conflict between the H/h? What keeps them apart?
Glynis said…
That was interesting, I learned something new. I am not sure what genre my book will fall into, but I do have a little romance going on :)
Augustina Peach said…
Thanks for giving these criteria! This helps explain the response I got from an agent who said she lost interest when my story moved from focusing on the two main characters to focusing on the historical part. I thought maybe my writing had gone bad at that point, but I can see now that maybe I was just wandering too far from the formula by having the H/H paying attention to something other than each other, ha ha.
Ginger Simpson said…
The expectations of writing romance are certainly far more constraining than the real thing. If I was with my husband in every scene, one of us would be dead. :) Really, are we dumb enough to buy into the HEA? Not every story has one...just ask the millions of divorced people who thought they'd found Mr/Miss Right.
Alison Stuart said…
Now you have revealed the formula EVERYONE can write that HMB pot boiler! LOL
Don't you love it when people who have never read a HMB, announce that they could knock one over in the weekend?
I've made several attempts at "knocking over" a 50,000 word HMB - and failed dismally on all counts. I have the utmost admiration for my HMB friends!

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