Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Rules for Writing a Sweet Romance Novel, Anniversary Time

Roses are so romantic.
Photo by J.Q. Rose

I just finished reading Kat French's romance novel, Undertaking Love, The book caught my eye because the story deals with an undertaker and my novel, Deadly Undertaking, takes place in a funeral home. The undertaking business is the link here, but no similarity in the plot or characters.

Kat's story is a great read filled with tender and funny moments, but wouldn't be classified as a sweet romance. Several spicy well-written scenes are in the story with the bedroom door open.

Rules for a Sweet Romance Novel by J.Q. Rose

So what is a sweet romance? What makes it different from a romance? 
Aww--sweet romance.
In an article, Keeping It Sweet While Turning Up the Sex, Mary Janice Davidson writes--"In a sweet romance, you've got to show the love without necessarily showing the lovemaking."

That's right. No action with the bedroom door open! 

Rules shouldn't come into play when dreaming about love and romance, but sweet romance has rules and readers all know the rules when they decide to choose a sweet romance novel. No explicit sex is definitely one rule. Another the reader expects is the Happily Ever After (HEA) ending. The couple overcomes obstacles and conflicts to get together at the end of the book.

Writing how the couple's love story progesses even has rules:
1. A physical attraction--gorgeous blue eyes,  thick wavy hair, shapely legs,
2. An unplanned touch e.g. trying to retrieve the same piece of paper and their hands meet or accidentally brushing together in a crowded bar. Even a formal handshake can sizzle the air.
3. A build-up to the first kiss
4. And an embrace with smoke 

I know it sounds crazy to read a novel when you already know there are rules followed all the way to  the HEA ending. So why are they so popular?  I believe it's because readers become emotionally involved in the characters' lives. They care about the characters. 

A sweet romance writer faces a formidable challenge because of these expectations. Sweet book author, Lisa Mondello (Her Heart for the Asking), said, "I write for Avalon Books and they're about as sweet as you can get. One of the things I do is focus on the emotion between the hero and heroine."

The emotion, the connection, between the hero and heroine is what draws readers in because they care about the couple. Readers will continue turning pages to find out how the two will overcome conflicts so they can be together. 

What can you add to my "rules" on writing/reading a sweet romance novel? Do you always want a HEA ending? Please leave a comment below. I'd love to read your thoughts on this topic.

Wedding rings.
Speaking of romance. Our wedding anniversary is this week.

The definition of romance in a long-life marriage goes through many changes. What you think is romantic at 18 is so different when you're 30 or 60.

On our first anniversary I was heart broken when he wanted to plow up the garden instead of take me out for dinner. (Let's just note, that did not happen again. hee hee and we did go out for dinner later!) I was expecting roses and candlelight.

Tonight our anniversary dinner was at our favorite restaurant--a bar and grill--sitting on their deck overlooking a river. Beautiful and peaceful.

So wherever you are in your journey of romance, I'm sure you know it isn't all rainbows and roses. But going through those ups and down times is the glue that keeps the romance going. Cherish every minute of it.

Sweet romances are great for escape, but I'll take the real life experience anytime.

Thank you for stopping in today.

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Unknown said...

I think it's great to be a writer and I want to try these rules. But maybe later because now I'm a little bit busy and I ask http://college-writers.com/ to help me with this task. But I want to note that it's very cozy and you have more free time.

Susan Bernhardt said...

J.Q., I think you and Gardener Ted are a wonderful couple. Happy Anniversary!

Anonymous said...

Happy anniversary, JQ! So glad you had a lovely and romantic evening. I enjoyed your thoughts on sweet romances. They might be sweet, but they're often full of passion!

J.Q. Rose said...

Thank you Essay writers--I hope you do get to try the rules and see if they fit for your style of writing.

J.Q. Rose said...

Thank you, Susan. I appreciate your kind words!!

J.Q. Rose said...

Thank you, Helena. Sweet and passionate. Oh yes!

Ann Herrick said...

Happy Anniversary! Obviously you've discovered the rules to true romance. :)

J.Q. Rose said...

Thank you, Ann. You made me smile.

Nan P said...

You and the Gardener had a lovely evening for your river side dining. Glad he never repeated that plowing-over-romance incident!

I have to admit I chafe at the very notion of formulas for fiction, even though I know that's the norm for some genres. I much prefer books (both fiction and nonfiction) that don't follow rules. Sure, I want a strong story arc and relatable characters, but I get bored reading books that follow a predictable pattern.

Sydell Voeller said...

As a former writer for Avalon, I think you "hit the nail on the head." It's all about the emotional connection, which in my opinion, is more difficult to pull off than if your novel contained sex scenes too. I don't like to think that there are "rules" for writing sweet romances, however. Somehow that sounds too much like a formula, and many readers, I think, regard romance writing as easy to do because they think all you do is follow a formula. Maybe "guidelines" might be a better choice of words--although I realize I'm splitting hairs here. (Sorry for the cliches!) All-in-all, an interesting post, JQ. And I hope your anniversary celebration was the best.

J.Q. Rose said...

Hi Nan, that's the challenge to follow the rules, but keep the story fresh. Takes a great storyteller to do that! Thank you for stopping in.

J.Q. Rose said...

Thank you, Sydell. We had a simple, but enjoyable anniversary dinner...just right for us. I like your term of "guidelines" and I do think writers "rely" on writing sex scenes too much instead of developing the characters readers will fall in love with.

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