I’m so pleased to have debut Special Edition author, Helen Lacey joining me today! Not only is Helen the CP of one of my gorgeous CPs, I was also lucky enough to meet her at the RWAus conf last year. She is so lovely and fun and approachable and well… if her book is anything like she is, we are all gonna adore it!
Today though, Helen is talking about something that makes romance writers twitchy – the FORMULA!! Over to you Helen…
Category + Romance = Formula?
Last year I attended a writer’s dinner, which was held theevening before a regional day long writing conference. This was my firstofficial ‘do’ as a published author. Well, a contracted author at least. As anunpublished writer I had attended several Romance Writers of Australiafunctions and always felt comfortable in my skin and in the kind of books Iwrote. This was a little different. Although I knew several writers who werethere and some were RWA members, the majority of attendees were mainstreamwriters – some young adult, some straight fantasy, some literary, a few poetsand some working on their memoirs.
I introduced myself as a romance writer and Harlequin authorand received a few cursory smiles and everything seemed to be going well until midintroduction to someone I was asked, “So – how exactly to you write one ofthose books? To a formula, right?” Of course I smiled, and determined to answerpolitely I said, “Not exactly. I work to publishers guidelines of course. Thereare specific parameters within the line I write for.” She looked at me and said.“So, yeah, like I said, to a formula?”
To which I smiled again and replied. “In my experience,romance novels are no more written to formula than say, a crime novel.” Towhich the lady in question looked at me again, clearly perplexed. “Oh, you know,” I went on to say,“you have a good guy, a bad guy, and a crime to be solved. In a romance youhave a hero, a heroine and they fall in love.” I was just about to continuewith my – “And like in fantasy novels where there is always a quest….” But shelost interest and left me to my internal ramblings.
But it got me thinking. Of course I’d heard the word‘formula’ being bandied around for years. A hero, a heroine, a love scene, twoarguments and a happy ever after – that’s the secret, right? If it was thateasy I figured everyone would do it – and not just the committed thousands who submit a manuscript toHarlequin every year. Of course, in this secret formula there’s no mention of the conflicts keeping them apart, themaintaining the tension, the characters development, the emotional journey forthe reader. There’s a great article here at MyRomance Story. com which talks about the fabled formula for writing aromance novel.
The first ‘How To’ book I read on romance writing was by ValerieParv I can’t remember reading any chapters on a secret formula that would helpme write a better book. Not even in Romance Writing For Dummies by HarlequinEditor Lesley Wainger did I see a chapter instructing me on how This + That =Book That Will Get Published. Oh, there are chapters onGoal/Motivation/Conflict, on creating compelling characters, on maintainingpace in a novel, on creating the perfect love scene, writing and outline etc.But a secret formula? Not anywhere.
And that’s okay. Because it means we can take our hero andheroine on a journey that isn’t constrained by any scientific way of expressing information symbolically – wecan simply let them fall in love.
Thanks Rachaelfor having me on Theory on Thursday. I have a copy of Made For Marriage to giveaway to one commenter.
Equestrian CallieJones was used to difficult parents at her riding school. But Noah Preston tookthe cake.
How dare he questionher teaching abilities, after his headstrong daughter paid no heed to rules—herteacher’s or her father’s?
Single dad Noah wasready to apologize for overreacting. But he wasn’t sorry for the way thestunning American riding instructor made him feel. And he soon learned thatthere was more to Callie than her smarts, sass and fire: a shattered heart thatthreatened to splinter even further. Could he make her see that he—and hisfamily—were for keeps?
Helen Lacey on the web: