Plotting romance: when it works and when it doesn’t

Romance in novels is a big part of what drives readers’ emotional connection and thus sales.

Whether YA, women’s fiction, literary fiction, mysteries or thrillers, romance can be a big part of the plot and should never be overlooked. Writers spend so much time crafting plot. But what about crafting a romantic arc, a relationship, or a marriage?

What makes romance work in books:
  • Authenticity. We want to believe that these two people are real, that their relationship goes through natural processes, and they share the same feelings we do.
  • Motivation. A character’s hotness level isn’t motivation. It’s factual evidence. So what drives two characters together? Is it opposites attract? Do they spend a lot of time together in a close environment? Putting two characters together doesn’t mean they are right for each other, just like in real life when you introduce two people to each other. So show the reader how they fit, how they flirt, and what their connection is really like. That’s how bonds are built between the characters and between the book and readers.
  • Complex 3D characters. Relationship success and failure is a big part of plot. It can drive it and layer it. When you show the sides of a character and consequently show the sides of the character in their relationship you build a layer of meaning to that character that they didn’t have before. It can help build character as I said, but also build plot because you weave storylines into it.
  • Whimsy. My final point may seem contradictory, but it makes the relationship complete for readers. This being that your book isn’t real life, it’s fiction. Romance is part of escapism. So don’t use too many mundane elements of everyday love unless you can layer them in a way that works. Dishes aren’t sexy. Dog walking isn’t sexy. Grocery shopping isn’t sexy. So pick and choose carefully the actions and scenes where the lovers/romance interacts.
What happens when it doesn’t work: Continue reading

New Client: Paulette Lambert and the California Health and Longevity Institute

You might know Paulette Lambert from Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition or heard of the California Health & Longevity Institute from sources like ABC, NBC, MSNBC, the Wall Street Journal and the Los Angeles Times. The California Health & Longevity Institute has a comprehensive approach to health and well-being in the areas of medicine, nutrition, fitness and life balance.  “Only 20% of weight loss comes from fitness,” she says. “The rest is how you eat.”

I am so pleased to welcome her and CHLI on board as a client.

Twitter: @paulettelambert, @chli360health

Website: Paulette Lambert

Q: If I am published or have been offered a contract for publication do I need an agent now?

ImageQ: If I am published or have been offered a contract for publication is it necessary to find an agent at this stage? Isn’t an agent’s job just to find you a publisher?

A: An agent does so much more than just match writers with publishers. Yes, you should still search for an agent because you want them to negotiate your contract in the works, future contracts, and be your business manager in all aspects of your literary career. An agent knows, from their experience in the industry, when to push for you and your offer and when to accept. So, just because you got your offer it doesn’t mean the work is over. There is so much to be done.

Agents’ specialties include guiding authors to publication, a career’s worth of knowledge in contract negotiation, editorial advice, rights sales, marketing and social media consulting among solving all the other issues that come up in the publication process. An agent is a liaison between you and your publisher so your agent will cross check your royalty statements, consult the designer on your cover, and all the other things that writers often don’t feel comfortable handling.
Continue reading