Friday, September 27, 2013

FAQ: You just use a formula to write your books, right?

This is a question I get from time to time: So, you use a formula to write your books, right?

I've heard other romance writers address this question before by saying, "no, there is no formula." I think writers feel insulted when someone tells them their craft can be copied by using a formula.

But I'm going to let you in on a little secret: I use a formula.

And I'm going to share it with you.

If you want to write a good romantic suspense novel, all you need is:

A hero

A heroine

A romance

A plot

A conflict

A setting

A happily ever after

I won't overcomplicate the formula, but here are a couple notes in case that brief list is too vague and you're less an addition person and more into algebra.

A hero: compelling and worth reading about. the reader should care about him. he needs something at stake. provide enough backstory to give him depth, but not too much to slow the pace. the book is taking place in the present - not the past. don't make him perfect. perfect is boring. know his motivations. what makes him tick? what does he want? what is keeping him from getting it?

A heroine: ditto.

A romance: after an initial attraction or chemistry, the characters should fall in love over the course of the novel. they need a reason to want to be together and stay together despite the problems that threaten to pull them apart and the murkiness of the future. they can't be completely in love with no issues because it's hard to keep the tension when this is the case.

A plot: what happens in the book. not a series of unrelated events, each scene should build on the one before it. don't resolve conflicts too quickly. start the scene with a hook and end with a cliffhanger. make the reader turn the page.

A conflict: you need an internal conflict for each character, an internal between them, and an external conflict which may take the form of a villain or a disaster or anything else that causes a problem for your characters.

A setting: should be an active part of the book. where the book takes place should affect the plot and the characters.

A happily ever after: tie it all up with a bow! if you have any secondary characters who are loose threads, that's a great opening for your next book.

See? Simple.

Now: get writing!

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