How Not to Write: Romance

Edmund Blair LeightonIf you want me to abandon your book mid-read, please have nothing happen.

Have you ever read a book that would have made a good short story or novella, but instead was fluffed out to make it “book length”? I have (of course I have, I’m the one ranting about it, right?) It was a sweet 50 page love story that had been stretched to 150 pages. The author only gave us two or three conversations between the main characters, but she told us what they ate for EVERY meal. They met, they liked each other, got to know each other a little, there was a conflict about him staying in town, and it was resolved. Nice neat story. The extra fluff ruined it for me.
Romance novels need just as much plot as other novels. SOMETHING has to happen. The characters need to do something, say something, go somewhere, earn something, lose something…I don’t really care what they do, but they need to do more than like each other, do nothing, and end up together at the end. If I’m on page 100 of a 200 page novel, and there’s no reason for your couple not to be together, you either need to add 100 more pages of plot to keep them apart (for real reasons, not dumb ones, please) or end it and make it a novella.

What do you do when you’re 50 pages from the end of a book and you realize the plot is exhausted?

Painting by Edmund Blair Leighton


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