Friday, September 5, 2014

How to Make an Okay Romance Plot Compelling

Two story sparks have been taking turns in my brain since mid-July. For one of the sparks, I only have a rough impression of the characters--they're going to be a LOT of fun! I decided to develop the other spark first.

I knew the setting, the hero's backstory, and a vague idea of the heroine. That was it! But it turned out to be enough. I immediately listed reasons they could be together throughout the story. The one I liked best was okay, but not page-turning.

How did I know? Well, I asked myself if the stakes were high for both characters. The answer was no. Sure, it gave them a reason to be together, but if either could quit at any time and go on their merry way, the plot won't be very strong.

So I tried on other reasons for them to be together, but I kept coming back to the first one. I figured it was a sign I was on the right track. At that point, I brainstormed ways to raise the stakes. A few came easily, but they still weren't as big as I'd like. Since I was busy updating my website and putting my business records in order, I didn't worry about it too much.

And what do you know? A week later the lightbulb flipped on, and I knew exactly how to raise the stakes. I was ready to plot the book! Yay!

Questions I ask to make an okay plot compelling:

1. What is keeping the hero and heroine together throughout the story?

2. Is it coincidental (ex: they live in the same town and bump into each other every other chapter?) or is it goal-oriented (ex: they're working together on a project)?

3. What is keeping the hero from walking away from this arrangement? Does he have a good reason to be in it?

4. What is keeping the heroine from walking away from this arrangement? Does she have a good reason to be in it?

5. Can you find a side reason for them to work together too? (ex: they are co-chairing a benefit dinner to raise money for cancer. His nephew has cancer. Her mom died of cancer. Side reasons? His sister begged him to help plan the benefit because he owns a local insurance agency and has tons of connections. He gave his sister his word. And the heroine's side reason could be that she is a party planner and trying to launch her own business.)

6. Do both characters have strong motivations to work toward this story goal? What are they?

I'm convinced a good romance writer can take an okay plot and make it compelling. Just give the reader plenty of reasons why the characters are doing what they're doing!

How do YOU make a plot compelling?

Have a wonderful weekend!!

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