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    Default The Basics of Romance Writing Lesson 1

    THE BASICS OF ROMANCE WRITING>>
    >>
    Lesson 1>>
    Definition of Basic Types of Romance Novels
    Developing Characters
    Character Charts
    >>
    >>
    Defining Category Romance>>
    Basic Types of Romance Novels
    >>
    Genre Divisions:
    * denotes sub-genre>>
    >>
    Contemporary Romance: Story occurs in the present day and deals with realistic problems. Current events/real people aren’t mentioned because it will quickly date your book. It could take eighteen months to two years for your book to reach the shelves.
    >>
    Long Contemporary: 70-80,000 words. These usually have more secondary characters.

    Short Contemporary: 50-60,000 words.
    >>
    Traditional: Short cotemporaries without a man and woman making love. Some people also call these Sweet Romances.
    >>
    * Inspirational: Either contemporary or historical, usually with a Christian element. Length varies, check the publishers guidelines.
    >>
    * Romantic Suspense: Romantic situation with a mystery woven in.
    >>
    Historical: 85-100,000 words (depending on publisher guidelines this could be over 100,000 words) located in Europe and lace w:st="on">North Americalace> between 1066 and 1900; although the 1900’s may now be considered historical.
    Regency time period 1811-1820 and run about 50,000 words (check publisher guidelines) and involve the upper class. Regencies that are longer and spicier and have a touch of comedy.
    Scottish historicals are still popular, as well as the Mediaeval time period.
    >>
    Western romance is coming back.
    >>
    * Paranormal: Elements of fantasy, science fiction, time travel, witches, vampires and other unearthly species, also futuristic elements. Length varies.
    >>
    * Ethnic/ Multicultural/Interracial romance: Romance novels that involve heroes and heroines of color. These are mostly contemporaries, but there are some historical.
    >>
    >>
    Young Adult: Involve innocent first love and contains no sexual scenes. Intended for pre-teens and teens. Another line now carries realistic situations that may focus on premarital sex. **Check publisher guidelines. This is a hot category right now.
    >>
    Category Romance: Category, also called series romance will be “categorized” by a specific brand name such as Harlequin Presents, Superromance, Intrique etc., the covers are similar and they are sold together in a package line on a monthly basis. Each line has certain common elements, such as the level sensuality or the level of mystery balanced with the romance. Word count differs greatly from line-to-line, usually anywhere from 50-90,000 words. Harlequin/Silhouette recently changed word lengths on some of their lines, so check their guidelines.
    As always, a happy ending is mandatory. Category romance encompasses all genres and sub-genres found in basic types of romance novels.
    >>
    Single Title: Single titles are stand alone books on the shelf without being part of a particular line. This type may stay on the shelf longer and have a longer print life. To name a few publishers Harlequin Mira, Avon, Berkely and lace w:st="on">St. Martinlace>’s Press publish single titles. Word count ranges from 90-100,000 words, but check the guidelines first. Single titles encompass all genres and sub-genres.
    >>
    Mainstream: In the mainstream genre the romance is not of the utmost importance—how to tell: if the romance was removed from the storyline and there would still be a story, it is mainstream book. The main focus of the storyline is not the relationship between the couple. Word count ranges from 90-100,000 all genres and sub-genres. Mainstream also has a broader focus. Example: Family sagas, such as The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough.
    Tambra Nicole Kendall
    Sensual. Magical. Unforgettable Romance.
    www.daughtersofavalonpublishing.com
    tambrakendall@att.net
  2. Tambra's Avatar
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    Characterization>>
    Character profile questions and interviewing your characters>>
    >>
    *Exercise and discussion
    Character Charts, Character Profiles and Character Interviews
    Discussion: What did you discover about your hero/heroine/villain?
    If you tried the character interview did you like it?
    >>
    >>
    Characterization>>
    >>
    Character and plot are tightly bound together. You can’t have one without the other. As the title says woven together like Celtic knot work. How do you start? I find the character chart an excellent beginning. It lets you see the development of the character as you fill in the information.
    >>
    You can always change things as you get further along in a story, it also gives you a quick reference on character statistics. When you work on multiple stories at a time this can really help and save you from using the find/search feature.
    >>
    Don’t be alarmed if you don’t have all the blanks filled out on the charts. Ideas will come to as the character develops and becomes more real. Later on you can to go back and make adjustments or fill in areas you didn’t know the answers to.
    >>
    A story is fluid don’t be afraid to make changes. On the other hand, if you change too, much you’re going to have huge problems. This is a matter of balance.
    >>
    Characters are not supposed to be perfect, they need flaws or else the reader won’t be able to identify with the characters you’ve created. Without flaws, the character can’t grow and learn what they need to by the end of the book. It’s part of the character arc.
    >>
    >>
    Character Charts and Interviews>>
    >>
    If you’ve filled the character charts and still are having problems getting to know your main characters, you can do a character interview. You can have a critique partner or writing friend do this. You can do this on your own, so no worries.
    >>
    Pretend your sitting across from your character and talk to them. Write down what you discover. Many authors have overcome plot obstacles/stumbling blocks this way. Hopefully, this is where you begin to see how character motivation and plot are connected.
    >>
    If you don’t have any charts, here are two charts to get you started. (Even if you do, sometimes having some extra charts with different items is all the muse needs to get going.)
    >>
    Fill out for charts for each: hero, heroine and villain. A strong villain is needed so you need to know him/her too. Since your hero and heroine must be strong characters, so must your villain.
    >>
    >>>>
    Character Development Chart>>
    >>
    Title of Story:
    >>
    Publisher: (or target publisher, if you know this)
    >>
    Main character:
    >>
    Physical description:
    >>
    Personal Background:
    >>
    Character Traits:
    3 positive, 3 negative
    >>
    Character Tags:
    Appearance:
    Speech:
    Mannerisms/Habits good or bad:
    >>
    Character’s Greatest Fear:
    >>
    Character’s Greatest Desire:
    >>
    Self-Concept (How does character see themselves):
    >>
    Favorite Environment:
    >>
    Education/Experience/Skills:
    >>
    Internal Motivation:
    >>
    External Motivation:
    >>
    >>
    Character Profile Questions>>
    >>
    Adding Character Profile questions to the character chart can help you get to know your character on a deeper level. If you don’t have a good grasp of your character, there’s a good chance you’ll have trouble when you begin plotting or somewhere down the line things will begin to unravel.
    >>
    You could end up having a character that is inconsistent and will make decisions that don’t make sense because you don’t understand them. Yes, characters are supposed to have conflict but when you set up your hero as quiet and mild manner, then a couple chapters later he’s alpha, some decisions need to be made and GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict needs to be addressed. We’ll go over GMC in more detail a little later on and how important it is to characterization and plotting.
    >>
    Characters need to be three dimensional. Don’t make perfect heroes and heroines. The reader can’t relate to perfect and neither will the editor or literary agent that reads your manuscript.
    >>
    This is fiction and making our characters larger than life is needed to hold reader interest. Archetypes can help in developing characterization. Characters that are not well motivated and developed will stall the plotting process.
    >>
    Tambra Nicole Kendall
    Sensual. Magical. Unforgettable Romance.
    www.daughtersofavalonpublishing.com
    tambrakendall@att.net
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    Hero Archetypes
    >>
    Here’s a quick rundown of male archetypes. Check used bookstores for books on the subject. Other websites may give you other definitions to add to each archetype, so give them a try as well.
    >>
    The King, Prince Charming, The Warrior, The Scholar, The Rogue, The Seducer, The Minstrel, The Sidekick
    >>
    A man isn’t just one of these; he can have traits of another archetype.
    >>
    The King: A leader focused on his work. No time for anything else, which makes him lonely.
    Prince Charming: This man enjoys life, usually doesn’t want to take the responsibilities of a higher position but is loyal.
    The Warrior: A man with honor usually is outgoing and brave, confident of himself. Another natural leader. Don’t challenge this guy because he thrives on them.
    The Scholar: Analytical and detached emotionally. One who likes to be in control and alone. Thrives on learning.
    The Rogue: He’s one who lives his life on the wild side. His past is buried and overindulgence keeps him from facing reality. Never stays in one place and is always looking for fun. This guy does like to be around others.
    The Seducer: Another party guy but with an agenda of conquest. Like a con man. His conscience is gone as he focus on only what he wants and will do whatever it takes to satisfy his goal.
    The Minstrel: Artsy type, sometimes the lost soul. He doesn’t exude the charisma like the warrior, prince charming or rogue.
    The Sidekick: He has a heart, shows compassion for others. People like him/love him. Values friends and is helpful.
    >>
    A note here about Alpha heroes since they are so popular: Alpha does not = asshole. >>
    Many romance writers don’t understand this archtype. From the fabulous,Alicia Rasley (www.sff.net/people/alicia): Alphas are men in charge, they are leaders. Yes, an alpha can have a dark, dangerous past but it’s what he does, the choices he’s made that makes him Alpha.
    He has exceptional social skills, empathy, intuition, a commanding presence. He’s principled and deals with tragedy by seeking control over the world around him. My personal favorite alpha heroes are Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunters and her agents from her BAD series. (BAD-Bureau of American Defense.) Okay, I love anything Sherrilyn Kenyon writes because her characterization and world building skills are amazing.
    >>
    >>
    Character Profile Chart # 2>>
    Character Profile Questions>>
    >>
    Short Version>>
    >>
    Name
    Age
    Physical Appearance
    Mannerisms/Habits
    General Personality
    Likes/Dislikes
    Occupation
    Height/Build
    Unusual Physical Traits
    Style of Dress
    Talents/ Hobbies/Interests
    Pertinent Background Info
    >>
    Long Version>>
    >>
    Name
    Age
    Build
    Eyes
    Skin Tone
    Height
    Facial Features
    Hair
    Way of Moving
    Mannerisms/Habits
    Unusual Physical Traits
    What Does Character Consider Best/Worst Physical Trait
    Voice/Favorite Expression
    Likes/Dislikes
    Style of Dress
    Jewelry/Cosmetics/Etc.,
    Social/Financial Background
    Relatives/Relationship With
    What Was Character Like as a Child
    Family Social/Financial Status
    Home Environment
    Long Version/Character Profile (Continued)
    >>
    Education
    Character’s Current Social/Financial Status
    Current Friends
    Pets
    Attitude Toward Money
    Religion/Political Interests
    Past Romantic Relationships
    Attitude Toward the Opposite Sex
    Talent/Hobbies/Interests
    House/Apartment
    Decorating Style
    Housekeeping Abilities or Lack Thereof
    Car
    Pertinent Health Info
    General Personality Profile
    Reacts in a Crisis
    Complexes
    Philosophy
    Priorities
    Regrets
    What Does Character Consider Best/Worst Character Trait? Are they right? Want/Try to Change?
    Dreams/Ambitions
    Darkest Secret/ Deepest Fear
    Sees Self as:
    Others see character as:
    Conflict with Hero/Heroine
    >>
    The Exercise>>
    Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter in What If? Has a great exercise for their students to help flesh out characters. The Exercise: First work with a story you have already written, one whose character needs fleshing out. Writer the character’s name at the top of the page. Then fill in this sentence five or ten times:
    He (or she) is the sort of person who ____________________.
    After doing this, determine which details add flesh and blood and heart to your characters. After you have selected the “telling” detail, work it into your story more felicitously than merely saying, “She is the sort of person who…” Put it in dialogue, or weave it into narrative summary. But use it. (What If? Page 45)
    >>
    >>
    >>
    Tambra Nicole Kendall
    Sensual. Magical. Unforgettable Romance.
    www.daughtersofavalonpublishing.com
    tambrakendall@att.net
  4. Reviewer Danielle's Avatar
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    OK I have a question. I dabble (word for me not anyone else because this is what I do, dabble) in trying to write a romance novel. I immediately get caught up in the novel and next thing I know I am 100 pages into the book and then it comes to a screeching halt. What happens next is an insult to writers across the world I know, but I throw the story out. I am stuck and just cannot go anywhere with it anymore. So, should I be doing these outlines before I start? And should this be done before I begin every single story?
  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reviewer Danielle View Post
    OK I have a question. I dabble (word for me not anyone else because this is what I do, dabble) in trying to write a romance novel. I immediately get caught up in the novel and next thing I know I am 100 pages into the book and then it comes to a screeching halt. What happens next is an insult to writers across the world I know, but I throw the story out. I am stuck and just cannot go anywhere with it anymore. So, should I be doing these outlines before I start? And should this be done before I begin every single story?
    Daneille,

    I do the same thing. But I don't toss them. They just sit on my hard drive and haunt me.

    Yakkity
  6. Tambra's Avatar
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    Hi Danielle,

    I cringed when you said you threw your work out.
    Keep it. Make a folder and put it in there. You never know when you can pull it back out and finish it.

    The reason you can't finish is because of plotting. We will go over plotting techniques in this workshop.

    Not everyone writes the same so there isn't a set process.
    Personally, I can't plot a whole book out.
    I fill out what I can on the character chart and then I write a story synopsis. I write out what I think will happen in the story. (Or write as much as I know) then I start writing the actual project.

    The technique I use is called leap frog plotting. I write a chapter or two, read over it and think about the characters and what will happen next.

    I usually have a vague idea of what will happen but many times as I go along something better emerges and I scribble down the change in the margin of the story synopsis. I'm really a combination plotter-
    I don't just sit at my computer and type. Most of the time I know the main high points of the story and work out from there.

    There are some writers who can't begin their novels until they have it all plotted out. I can't because that takes all the fun of writing away.

    Does this help or do you need more information?

    Best,
    Tambra
    Tambra Nicole Kendall
    Sensual. Magical. Unforgettable Romance.
    www.daughtersofavalonpublishing.com
    tambrakendall@att.net
  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tambra View Post
    Hi Danielle,

    I cringed when you said you threw your work out.
    Keep it. Make a folder and put it in there. You never know when you can pull it back out and finish it.

    The reason you can't finish is because of plotting. We will go over plotting techniques in this workshop.

    Not everyone writes the same so there isn't a set process.
    Personally, I can't plot a whole book out.
    I fill out what I can on the character chart and then I write a story synopsis. I write out what I think will happen in the story. (Or write as much as I know) then I start writing the actual project.

    The technique I use is called leap frog plotting. I write a chapter or two, read over it and think about the characters and what will happen next.

    I usually have a vague idea of what will happen but many times as I go along something better emerges and I scribble down the change in the margin of the story synopsis. I'm really a combination plotter-
    I don't just sit at my computer and type. Most of the time I know the main high points of the story and work out from there.

    There are some writers who can't begin their novels until they have it all plotted out. I can't because that takes all the fun of writing away.

    Does this help or do you need more information?

    Best,
    Tambra

    Tambra,

    Plotting help is good! I need that. I start and then get about halfway there and decide I've made some monster error and get stuck.

    Is this an affliction that other writers have too? Or is it just me?

    Yakkity
  8. Tambra's Avatar
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    Hi Yakkity,

    I think when writers are beginning, they get stuck and frustrated because they don't know how or what to fix so they can keep going.

    I'll do my best to help you push forward with your writing.

    No, you're not the only one this happens to.

    I can't stress enough DO NOT THROW YOUR WORK AWAY.
    You can always go back later and pick it up.

    Example: You wanted an novel. But instead you discover the reason it wasn't work is because it was really a novella or short.

    Best,
    Tambra
    Tambra Nicole Kendall
    Sensual. Magical. Unforgettable Romance.
    www.daughtersofavalonpublishing.com
    tambrakendall@att.net
  9. Tambra's Avatar
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    Novella lengths range from 20/25-40.000 words generally. Each publisher has their own idea of what novella length is but this is pretty much what it is.

    Best,
    Tambra
    Tambra Nicole Kendall
    Sensual. Magical. Unforgettable Romance.
    www.daughtersofavalonpublishing.com
    tambrakendall@att.net
  10. Reviewer Danielle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tambra View Post
    Hi Danielle,

    I cringed when you said you threw your work out.
    Keep it. Make a folder and put it in there. You never know when you can pull it back out and finish it.

    The reason you can't finish is because of plotting. We will go over plotting techniques in this workshop.

    Not everyone writes the same so there isn't a set process.
    Personally, I can't plot a whole book out.
    I fill out what I can on the character chart and then I write a story synopsis. I write out what I think will happen in the story. (Or write as much as I know) then I start writing the actual project.

    The technique I use is called leap frog plotting. I write a chapter or two, read over it and think about the characters and what will happen next.

    I usually have a vague idea of what will happen but many times as I go along something better emerges and I scribble down the change in the margin of the story synopsis. I'm really a combination plotter-
    I don't just sit at my computer and type. Most of the time I know the main high points of the story and work out from there.

    There are some writers who can't begin their novels until they have it all plotted out. I can't because that takes all the fun of writing away.

    Does this help or do you need more information?

    Best,
    Tambra
    Yes it does help, thanks Tambra. My hubby gets frustrated when I start a story because he says he doesn't understand how I could just drop a story. I am so glad you have this class going, hopefully it will help me get through one. The only story I ever finished was when I was 10 years old and it was a Christmas present.
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