On the Writing of Romance Novels, and Plot Problems Therein

Wow, I’ve neglected the site for an entire year! Apologies. I published a suspense/murder-mystery novel under a nom de plum, with novel #2 at an editor with an artist teed up to create the cover. #3 is written and past first draft, and #4 is being written. That last one is a departure from the first three, with a focus on character relationships and the consequences brought on by the previous books. Book Three was hard to write–the saying that if an author doesn’t cry while writing it, readers won’t when reading it is true. And Book Four is where pieces get picked up.

That, in turn, brought me to looking at a trunk novel that I’d buried after writing myself to the point where characters and plot needed complications and messy feeling-type issues. Need I say I wrote this a long time ago? I described my issue to a developer while on Focusmate: “Someone hands you 20,000 lines of code and says ‘clean this program up: it’s supposed to be used to count spiders.’ Then you start looking at the code, and it plays music, and a great game a chess, all with cool graphics… but doesn’t count spiders. Now I have to ‘edit’ it to make it do that.” Okay, weird analogy.

Cover of book titled

Image from Wikipedia

My point is that it’s got good bones, this 20-year-old discarded 80k of writing. Interesting characters, great visuals, nice location. All the elements, but not enough plot points to make it a novel. A romance novel. A genre I’ve never written in. About a triad, becoming a quartet. While there’s tons of interesting (and sometimes contradictory) advice on creating a romance novel, (a) it feels more like ingredients and directions for making a very fiddly cake, and (b) it’s all focused on CIS het couples. The only poly novel I’ve read to this point, and one that piqued my personal interest, was Donald Kingsbury’s Courtship Rite.

My takeaway from a few hours searching is that, while LGBTQIA+ realities have (finally) moved more into the mainstream, “Romance,” at least as defined by literally dozens of coaching and writing sites, are still back in the 90s (except for the BDSM components for a little more spice). So, better armed, I’m looking for the “story arc” and “formulas” that do focus on the plurality that love can be.

Or maybe I should stick to SF and M/M? {sigh}

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