Romance and a Cup of Tea

by Suzanne D. Williams

So there I was, Kindle in hand, ready to read, and my thoughts went something like this:

Ah, a romance story. This should be good. Chapter one, enter main male character. Rugged cowboy who used to live here. Gotcha.

I clicked. Next page. Enter female character. Oh, I like her. She has a bit of a past to overcome. That’ll keep it interesting.

Chapter two. Male character stumbles across female character. Chemistry. Yes. I see where this is going.

Chapter three. Wait! He has a past too, and his traumatizes him. Fun. Will he overcome it? Will it drive them apart? (Of course not. It’s a romance novel. They’ll get together.)

Click. Chapter four. Chapter five. Chapter six. Yawn. Wait. I’m bored? What happened? Click. Chapter seven. All is resolved between them.The family thinks he’s great. He’s overcoming his obstacles. I glance down at the percentage meter. Thirty percent? What happens in the rest of this book?

Chapter eight. Stop. Why am I reading from her brother’s point of view?

Chapter nine. I don’t care he’s eating catfish.

Chapter ten. Hold up. She does charity work? You’re just now telling me this? What does that have to do with him and her?

Chapter eleven. Big cataclysmic event. I rub my hands in glee. Maybe the author will drive them apart. Make this more interesting. No? What? The streets of the town lay which direction? The little old lady had what happen to her? Volunteer fire department? And who’s the blonde girl?

WHERE’S THE COUPLE AT?

Oh, that’s right. They’re great. We fixed them by chapter seven.

That’s when it hit me. Writing plot in a romance novel is like brewing a good cup of tea. (You say, “How about coffee?” But I don’t drink coffee and I’m writing this, so I say “tea.”) A good plot boils the story down to the perfect concentration. Too weak and the reader becomes lost. The story rambles. It’s no longer a romance. It’s a … story about an entire town. It’s not him and her fixing what lies between them. It’s “and then we went here, and then we went there, and then this happened.”

My favorite plot advice uses the words “but” or “therefore” to determine what happens next. Never slip into “and then” or the story will fall flat. The biggest “and then” problem in a plot is usually spanning time. If the story covers many months, it’s not necessary to fill in all the gaps. Often, it can be done subtly. They met in the spring, but aren’t married for a year. If nothing happens during the summer, I don’t need an entire chapter that serves no purpose. Instead, concentrate the flavor.

Where the characters are in the plot, should tie to where they were and where they are going. In a romance, each scene needs to be about them or to affect them. Leave all the little stuff, what other characters may be doing, to the reader’s imagination. After all, people don’t read a romance to know how the family is or what the town looks like.

Use each event to condense their relationship to its finest level and forget the other stuff. Put me in his head and in hers. Make me love them individually, then bring them together, overcoming the odds stacked against them. That, my friend, makes for one tasty cup of tea, and one I’ll long remember.

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother. She writes a monthly column on digital photography for the Steve’s Digicams website. She is an author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She also works in graphic design and is a professional proofreader.

Book Title: MISSING

Author’s Blog: http://suzanne-williams-photography.blogspot.com/

Amazon site for the book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008DFT1VS or http://www.amazon.com/Missing-The-Sanders-Saga-Volume/dp/1475294913/

Create Space site for the book: https://www.createspace.com/3867174

Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSYgV1vWLYY

 

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