I finally finished the rewrites that my agent asked for. One of my critique friends asked to see them before I send them to Lauren, so they’re not on their way yet, but they’re done. And that feels GOOD!
Things I learned about writing a romance:
Everything has to affect the budding relationship between “guy who met girl.” I tried to cheat. Yes, I admit it, and I thought I could get away with it. I didn’t feel comfortable hinging everything on the push-pull of the romance, so I added a mystery subplot that played into the hero’s business and let the heroine bail him out here and there. It didn’t work. As my agent and my writer friends who KNOW romance explained, the story has to be driven by the “I’m attracted to you, but….” struggles of romance. The relationship has to drive every part of the story. Adding the mystery was a misstep. A fixable misstep, but one I’d do better to avoid next time. Each genre has rules. You can bend them, but you’d better know what you’re doing if you intend to break them.
Characters can’t be stereotypes if they matter at all in the story. They have to have depth, or why care about them? And if you push the envelope and break the stereotype too much, the consequences need to ripple through the story. For instance, I tossed in a surprise about Ian’s fiancee’. I thought it added a nice out-of-the-ordinary punch. The surprise went over great, but I got nailed for not dealing with the consequences all the way through to their eventual outcome. So think cause and effect from beginning to end. Why did it happen? What brought it on? And how did affect everyone involved?
I wrote my story from single POV. The first romance novel I studied to get a feel for the genre did that, so I did, too. Then I read Catherine Bybee, and she alternated scenes between the heroine’s POV and the hero’s. That might have made things simpler for me. With the guy’s POV, readers can get closer to him and know his reasoning when he’s a jerk (even though in his mind, he’s not). It’s a tough call, but since I wrote this first novel in single POV, I’ll write the next one that way, too. If I ever start a new romance series, though, I might play around with his and her POVs. It punches up the tension and makes both characters more sympathetic. We don’t have to rely on the heroine guessing what her romantic interest is up to. He can tell us. POV is something to consider when you start a novel. Is single better than multiple? Which would work better?
Small details can make a big difference in a romance. When I write urban fantasy, the conflict is on a grand scale. Life and death weigh in the balance. In romance, emotions drive the story. A misunderstanding can derail an entire relationship. Working on the dance of “he said,” “she said” was good for me. It reminded me that it’s fun to let your characters tell lies. Usually, in urban fantasy, the good guys and the bad guys face off against each other. But in real life, people sidle out of responsibilities, they distort the truth, and they tilt events to their own advantage. And sometimes, they out and out lie. It was refreshing to work with motivations driven by emotions and needs instead of good versus bad. (I like that, too, though:) Anyway, the romance, for now, is done. Tomorrow, I start doing plot points for my third Wolf’s Bane novel. It’s back to gargoyles, witches, and werewolves again. I’m liking the balance–dealing with mortals and their emotions for one book (romances) and then switching to battles and monsters for the next. Pretty fun!