I have been watching a lot of romantic comedies, lately. What with Christmas romance movies (hello, Christmas movies on Netflix! #iwishihadthehallmarkchannel) and finishing up my Clean and Quirky Romance novel, Happy Scoops, I’ve had lots of opportunities. By the way, Happy Scoops is now available for purchase in ebook HERE or paperback purchase HERE! Woohoo! You can check out THIS POST to find out more if you’re interested.
Between watching and writing romantic comedies, I’ve learned quite a bit. If you care to read this slightly satirical list, you might actually get some good ideas, or just have a laugh if you’re not in the least interested in writing a sweet romance/romantic comedy novel, but enjoy being entertained by them.
Ready to learn a few of the secret weapons we romance writers use? Then read on!
1. As with any novel, there has to be a problem. However, in romance, and especially Christmas romances, there has to be some sort of deadline that propels a woman forward into finding a man and taking a chance on him. Sometimes the sexes are reversed. Maybe there’s a Christmas Ball she just has to have a date for? Or maybe he needs to find a mother for his children by Christmas? Also, it’s likely that if this doesn’t happen, well, I guess that all of Santa’s elves might die. Or something. You get the picture.
2. The first kiss has to be totally awkward. Like, mistletoe magically appears above them, or the man says; “Oh no! My lips accidentally fell on yours.” I’m going to tell you, if you don’t have this, then you might need to edit your manuscript. If you’re a reader and you haven’t encountered this in your Sweet Romance, then you might need to pick a different book. I had fun following this rule in Happy Scoops. Just sayin’.
3. You need a sappy story line at some point, although this one is optional. It is not optional, however, if you have a super-duper-inexplainably grumpy character that sulks around. When you get the audience to the point of writing him off, there has to be some sappy backstory that makes you suddenly care for said grump that you didn’t give a hoot about at first.
For instance, last night I was watching one such movie and I learned that Angry Main Character was angry because his fiance had died. Why this made him not want to sell his grandmother’s estate? I don’t really know. But I remember the sappy backstory. Do. Not. Forget this.
4. Do you like pets? Then throw one in for good measure. He’s definitely a great character to use to get the lonely souls together. Although, be careful! Some people don’t like pets, so you don’t want this pet to have too much of a main role. Just enough to be the same amount of cute as one of those animal pictures in those forwarded emails you get–not fifty of them.
Warning! Do not kill the pet! Not even if you think it’d be a great way to get the couple together. It’s just not worth it. How can you have a Happily Ever After if the dog is dead? And NO! The pet’s puppy is NOT a good enough substitute. Wait. Is there a movie like that? Yes, there is, though I’ve never seen it and I refuse to watch it. Just like your readers will cease to be your readers if you kill the pet.
5. Have you ever made a wish on a star, or on a snowflake, or maybe even just while gazing into a lake? Well, in your next romance novel, you can pretend that you are the main character and have said character make that wish. And you know what? You then get to make the star, Santa, time-traveling guardian or any other thing (the pet from number four?) make that dream a reality. In your novel, anyway. It’s preferable if this wish is the answer to #1, but, you know. Whatever.
6. Whether they had that awkward kiss in the beginning or not, nobody wants to read a book where the couple doesn’t end up having a little kiss at the end. You’d better do this, or nobody’s going to want to read your sappy, sweet romance. Tough words, but they’re true!
7. One thematic tactic you can take is to make sure that your main character has a name like Holly if you’re doing a Christmas film, or Bell, if your main character is going to end up in a ball. You know, the Bell of the Ball? Or how about Misty if you’re going with the whole, “Oh no! Mistletoe accidentally appeared above our heads and now we have to kiss,” theme.
Personally, I think I’m going to write a Christmas romance based on a girl named Misty, and I’m sure it will be a hit. “Misty and the Mistletoe.” Although, that title is probably already taken, or will be by Christmas 2017. Also, the name doesn’t really have to make sense. Just has to be tight enough that we get where you’re going with your little play on words.
8. Have you ever experienced a romantic relationship that went wrong? I’m pretty sure that most of these Hallmark romances were written by people who really, really, really wanted some relationship that went wrong to have gone right. So, using the power of an author, they write a romance, but disguise it a little. Voila! We have some quirky story that makes you wonder how anyone ever came up with the idea. So, feel free to write a romance based on a failed relationship and fix all of those missteps. Then, you’ll be able to think of that relationship as having ended Happily Ever After. It might make you feel better. Or possibly worse, if you discover what you did wrong in what could have been the relationship of the century. I’m thinking you should use #8 carefully.
Note: No, I was never forced to dress as an ice cream cone and work at my parents’ ice cream shop to pay off traffic tickets where I may or may not have discovered romance–the premise of Happy Scoops. See how I said that most romances are probably written by people with those kinds of relationships? “Most” is the key word, here.
9. There has to be that moment when the reader doesn’t think that things are going to work out. You know that point when the main character finds out that their significant other was lying, but the main character doesn’t know the whole story, so they take off and the relationship is devastated? It doesn’t have to include lying–maybe their ex comes back and professes that they actually do love the main character? Hmmm. Think about about it. You’ll come up with something good that leaves us hanging for a moment in preparation for the beauty of #10.
10. If you are writing a romance novel and you’re thinking, “Hmmm. Maybe I’ll get conceptual, metaphorical, or depressing at the end,” STOP! Nobody wants that. You just read what I wrote in #8. You need to end happily. That means that you end with a kiss, wedding, or in some way that informs the reader–without a doubt–that the couple is TOGETHER. Seriously, if you don’t have an H.E.A. (Happily Ever After), then you’re not writing a romance and your readers might end up throwing your book at you.
So, there you have it! Using these ten tips, you should be able to create an incredible sweet romance novel.
If you read through and enjoyed any of these, you are probably ready and trained to become a romance writer. Or, maybe you just want to read a romance novel?
You can snag my FREE Clean and Quirky Romance Book Bite (like a brownie bite–yummy, sweet and just the right size), Twenty-Five Candles HERE, you can snag Happy Scoops HERE, or please show a little author love by sharing my post on social media.