Thanks to my friend A.M. Stuart, I have discovered Gwen Hayes and her little book, Romancing the Beat, story structure for romance novels. It’s a little book, but it supports my long-held belief that romance authors must write at least two stories in every book. One, the plot or action story, two, the romance. It’s always nice when someone else confirms your own opinion. 🙂
Hayes approach to the love story follows a simple pattern:
- falling in love,
- retreating from love,
- fighting for love.
The beauty of this little checklist is that it can be applied during –the dreaming part of the writing, (when the author is just noodling around with ideas)
–when writing an outline,(for those plotters among us)
–during the writing of the story,
–or after the story is finished and the writer is in editing mode.
As someone whose first draft is always a discovery draft, being able to apply “the rules” after the fact is a great benefit.
If you use Scrivener, there is a template available on Hayes’ website with romancing the beat loaded onto Scrivener.
There are scads of “how-to write” books on the market. I’ve read many of them and recommended them on this blog, but Romancing the Beat, hits a high note for me. I’m happy to recommend it.
It’s summer time and the weather is hot and dry. I decided I wanted a new dress. I found a cool fabric and a pattern. Took extra care to fit the paper pattern, cut out the dress and sewed it up. All was well. I’d have a new dress for Sunday. Except, the neck facing didn’t sit down properly. I unpicked the seam, worked the curve again, pinned it, re-stitched – same problem. Repeated this process several times with the same, unsatisfactory results. ( I know. Repeating the same actions over and over and expecting a different outcome is a sign of madness.) Before I ended up putting a hole in the fabric I put the whole thing away and cleaned my closet instead.
Eventually, I looked at the problem again and realized my error occurred several steps before the facing. No matter how much I tweaked that final seam, it wouldn’t come right until I ripped back to the source of the mistake. Ugh! I hate ripping out, but I want this new dress and I want it to look good, so rip I did.
The whole process is a bit like editing. I had gotten stuck in my wip – maybe that’s why I decided to sew instead. When I couldn’t avoid the keyboard any longer, I cogitated on the source of my problem and realized I needed to go back. Tweaking the last sentence, playing with the last paragraph, substituting words and synonyms was not going to get me unstuck. The error was structural. I needed to shore up the foundations of the story. My “cute” idea was not enough to carry a whole book. Fortunately, re-writes on a computer aren’t as arduous as ripping out a seam. I can fill in the blanks, add pages of new conflict and flesh out my character motivations without hours of labourious unpicking.
So, there I am, on track with the dress and the story. It’s a good week.