Tag s | Romance

Should I Push Romance into my Story?

Whenever I go to a conference, I am privileged to hear about a wide range of stories and ideas. I always want the writer to succeed in marketing work to editors, so often I’ll ask how much romance the story has. Sometimes it has quite a bit. Other times, not so much.

One writer told me that a male character was “intrigued” by a female character, but that was the extent of that thread, and more romance could be added. I appreciated the writer’s candor and willingness to bring the book to a more marketable level. However, after hearing the story’s basic outline, I could see that the romance would most likely feel forced and contrived at worst, and add little to the story at best. I advised the writer to leave the story as is.

Does a lack of romance in a plot mean an automatic rejection from me? Not at all. Many stories are entertaining and enlightening without a trace of romance. Throwing in an unrealistic romance, such as a declaration of love from two characters who have had very little previous interaction will look like a marketing ploy and serve as a distraction or even an annoyance to readers.

Do writers need to consider the market when writing for traditional publishers? Yes.

Should they make their story something it’s not? No.

But what if a writer creates a story that doesn’t fit anywhere? There is no general answer to this one. This is where writer and agent strategize and together, attempt to walk the best path to success.

Your turn:

Have you struggled with making your story marketable? What did you do?

Have you read a book where some elements seem to be an afterthought? Did you keep reading?

 

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Happily Ever After

Some people wonder why genre readers want to read the same thing over and over. Well, they don’t read the same thing all the time, and they have expectations. A primary expectation? A Happily Ever After ending. If you enjoy perusing book reviews on Amazon, you’ll find that many readers …

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The Joy of the Love Story

Sometimes readers will tell me they don’t understand why anyone would enjoy genre romance novels. Sometimes they’ll even grimace and shudder. I can tell you a couple of reasons why these are such great books: They Make Sense Some books don’t make sense. If you read book reviews, you’ll see …

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Where is the Romance?

When I talk with authors about their stories, sometimes they’ll say. “Yes, there’s romance. But it doesn’t happen until chapter five.” That’s when I look at the story and try to give advice on how they can change that. Granted, not every novel is a genre romance, nor should it …

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Heartsong’s Publishing Legacy

Last week, as mentioned in Tamela’s wonderful tribute, Harlequin announced that the Heartsong Presents imprint is going to be shuttered. Heartsong Presents has been primarily a “direct-to-consumer” book club which published romance titles with a specifically Christian message. {And last week I joked about how things can change on Tuesday… This announcement came …

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Why I Read Romance Novels

Valentine’s Day is on its way, and that got me to thinking about that four-letter word we all use with impunity:

LOVE.

What a powerful word, one so full of meaning I could write a dozen blogs about it and still not exhaust the depth and breadth of all it entails. I’m grateful for love. For God’s love. For my hubby’s love. For my family’s love. For my doggies’ love. Love has blessed me more than I could ever deserve. But then, isn’t that the very nature of love—that it comes to us regardless of our so-called “worth.” And one area where I most enjoy the blessing of love is in writing. Whether poetry or novels, nonfiction or essays, I’m not afraid to admit that I love reading about love. And I especially enjoy–get ready for it–romance novels!

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A Little Less Shade, A Little More Light

by Steve Laube

There could not be a better argument for the need for good Christian romantic fiction than the recent sales phenomenon of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. In case you aren’t aware, this trilogy has sold ten million copies in the last three months. Ten million copies. The content of these novels should be x-rated and yet sit atop every bestseller list in the country. The media labeled the novels “mommy-porn” which is an apt description considering the book’s advocacy for aberrant sexual behavior. It has sold over one million e-book copies for the Kindle suggesting that some buy it for their e-reader because they can hide what they are reading by not showing the cover.

Of course there has always been salacious fiction on the market, so this is nothing new. Many saucy and erotic novels are readily available with the click of a mouse. But none, with such unapologetic deviance, have achieved such extraordinary success in such a short time.

Christian novelists? You were born for such a time as this. The message of love and romance in the confines of a loving God-centered relationship is diametrically opposed to that found in these bestsellers. Write stories that show relationships with all their ethos, anguish, strife, redemption, honesty, and romance. Therefore, let this phenomenon be a clarion call for you to dig deep and improve your storytelling, hone your craft, and shout it from the mountaintops that there are great novels that can be read as an alternative to what the general market offers.

If you aren’t aware of what is available, go to Fiction Finder and search by genre. Our agency represents over 110  of those great novelists.

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Romancing the Readers

I had a conversation with a writer friend a few weeks ago. She was telling me that the book she’s writing is, at the core, a romance, and no one was more surprised than she. “I don’t know a thing about writing romances,” she confessed. “Any tips?” I sent her an email with my thoughts, and that was that. Then she emailed me a few days ago:

“I just re-read this [email] as I’m still struggling through the end of my ms. This is an unbelievably beautiful note! It would make a great blog post on how to write romance….”

Well! I took a look at it, and I think she’s got something there. It does lend itself well to a blog. So I did a little editing, and here you go. If you find yourself writing a romance and you’re not quite sure about it, here are some things to keep in mind about the hero and heroine:

* The reader needs to see their attraction as believable. In other words, Not just because he’s handsome and she’s beautiful. As with real romance, let their feelings surprise them, then show those feelings growing as an organic part of the story. That’s not to say they can’t be immediately attracted to one another, or that one can’t be immediately attracted to the other. That instant spark does happen. But make sure readers see good reasons for romance—and love–to grow between them. Think about it. What’s more romantic than a man who treats women and children with respect? What’s more appealing to a man than a woman who honors and respects him? It’s not about Tarzan meets Jane, it’s about character and integrity and true strength and beauty.

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Fresh Formulas

Some have a hard time appreciating the talent involved in writing genre fiction. By genre fiction, I mean novels that fall into a defined category such as contemporary romance, historical romance, romantic suspense, or cozy mystery. Many of these novels are published by mass market publishers (like Harlequin) and fit in lines they have formed for the sole purpose of selling the genre.

These are distinguished from Trade fiction where there isn’t necessarily a specific line that has been formed to sell a genre, although there are exceptions to that “rule” like the “Love Finds You” series from Summerside Press. In publisher’s lingo “trade” means a 5 1/2″ by 8 1/2″ trim size and is probably between 80,000 and 100,000 words in length. “Genre” or “category” fiction can mean the 4″ by 6″ trim size (also known as mass market) and between 50,000 words and 70,000 words.

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The Superiority of Christian Romance Novels

A dedicated reader of the blog (Thank you!) posed an excellent question in response to a recent post:

 Recently, I heard a female Christian marriage counselor/speaker say that women should avoid Christian romance books. She stated there was no such thing as Christian romance. Since she was speaking on the topic of pornography, I assumed she was referring to fiction that leads the reader’s mind where it ought not to go. In my opinion, most romantic Christian fiction does not fall into that category.

My question for you: How would you respond if someone told you Christian romance was sinful, or that there was no such thing? Has that happened to you before?

Last week I responded to the idea that there is no such thing as Christian romance. “Christian Romance – Fact or Fiction?

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