Welcome! Reading, Writing, and Regency combines my interests as a reader, as an author, as a teacher, and as an amateur historian who's always been intrigued by the English Regency period (1811-1820). Come on in, pour yourself a cup of virtual tea, and let's have a chat!
When I started teaching romance writing, it took a while for me to realize that there's an aspect of romance we seldom consider in depth. We talk a lot about characterization and plot and conflict. But too often we assume that the love story -- the attraction and progression of our characters as they fall in love -- will just happen naturally.
But that assumption is how we get so many characters in romance who move from "I hate you" to "I have to have you forever" with no logical reason -- leaving the reader scratching her head about how on earth these two could ever have fallen in love.
Today's post comes from author Ginger Monette, author of Darcy's Hope -- Beauty from Ashes.
Ginger has made a study of how to write characters who move plausibly and convincingly from initial meeting to happy ever after. Please welcome Ginger!
As romance novelists, it's our job to
weave stories that gives readers a front row seat to watch the unfolding of a
beautiful love story.
So what's the best way to show a
couple moving from “Hello my
name is” (or even “I despise
you”) to “You're my soulmate and I want to spend the rest of my life
Having been disappointed by numerous
novels where the couple claimed to suddenly “be
in love” without actually “falling in love,” I went on a quest
to investigate this mysterious process of falling head over heels. What I
discovered changed my writing.
I dissected some fifty romance novels
and made notes. All the couples had hefty doses of attraction, but the most
satisfying stories went beyond attraction to something deeper. They showed the
characters passing through four phases that moved them step by step from “meh” (or downright hatred) to “wowie-zowie
he's the most wonderful person in the world.” And each phase seemed to be characterized by
distinct thought patterns—particularly if at first Prince Charming seemed to be
more of a frog than a prince. Here are the stages I observed:
Acknowledgement of him:
-Acknowledges some good quality about
him (talented, kind, generous, etc)
-Finds him attractive
-Hyper aware of him, or hyper critical
of his shortcomings (which often signals preoccupation or a subconscious denial
-Acknowledges an attraction, but blows
Appreciation of his good qualities:
-Defends his character while not
necessarily liking him
-Is genuinely thankful for a good
-Beginning to warm towards him
-Not so judgmental towards him
-More willing to consider his opinion
on a matter
-Takes his advice
-Imitates quality or action of his
-Admits her initial criticism or
objections were exaggerated or biased
-Curiosity grows—willing to spend more
time in his company
-Acknowledges similar values or mutual
-Finds she is thinking (fondly) of him
more and more
-Openly acknowledges her love/warm
feelings for him
-Desires to be in his company
-Thinks he is wonderful
-Thinks he is perfect match
-Misses him painfully when he is gone
about him constantly
how did this awareness of stages change my writing?
In my novel Darcy's Hope
~ Beauty from Ashes, I kept these stages and behaviours in mind as I
crafted scenes.They became an outline of sorts that I wove with
compelling action, mystery, suspense, and historical detail. When my characters
(Jane Austen's iconic Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet) are reunited at a
WWI field hospital, Elizabeth is none too happy to encounter Darcy. And
although she disdains him, I had her acknowledge that he is handsome and
there is something between them. This cracks the door to romance and
gets readers rooting for the couple.
I moved her into the appreciation stage
by having her surprise herself by praising and defending Darcy to a colleague.
After she directly benefits from his wise leadership, she comes to appreciate
him, even though she still doesn't like him. Readers can feel her slowly
warming towards him and eagerly turn pages to find out how the couple will sort
out the baggage between them.
As truths of Darcy's past are
dramatically revealed and she comes to understand him better, I have her admit
that her initial criticisms were misplaced. Now, with a softened heart, she's
able to look at him more objectively. Then I set up an ah-ha moment where she
realizes they both share a similar deep-seated insecurity which turns her
reservations about him into empathy. Now that her appreciation has turned to
admiration, her feelings are almost there! And readers are waiting with
bated breath to find out what it will take for him to fully win her heart.
gave him some scenes that show off his admirable qualities, so not only does
she find herself attracted to him, she admires his leadership, work ethic, and
drive. Then I purposely played up the things they have in common and showed her
enjoying his company. In short, I showed them building a relationship.
Finally, after they share a heroic act and laugh over a tent whipping in the
wind, she realizes that in fact she adores
crafting scenes that follow this four-stage progression of romance enables
readers to sense her falling in love, so it's no surprise when she
finally declares it. I think a lot of romance authors make the mistake of never showing
the characters moving beyond physical attraction and chemistry. It's not easy! But to write a fulfilling romance, the
characters need to interact on a deep level and share common interests. Readers
should see the couple building a relationship and hear their
internal dialog as their thoughts and feelings evolve.
this four step model, I think Darcy's Hope has succeeded in providing
readers a deep sense of satisfaction as they watch the heroine's tiny bud of
acknowledgement open into appreciation, then expand with admiration, and
finally blossom into full adoration.
challenges do you face showing a couple falling in love?
Abbey Meets Pride & Prejudice!
Escape to the era of Downton Abbey and
experience all the drama of World War 1 alongside Jane Austen's iconic
Elizabeth Bennet & Fitzwilliam Darcy. You'll watch their tender love unfold
as they learn to work together and reconcile their differences at a field
hospital only miles from the Front. When injury and espionage separate the
couple, Darcy is crushed. But Donwell Abbey holds a secret that just might
“…a stellar example of fine
Austenesque literature. …an exceptionally moving story complete with a
compelling plot, danger, mystery, action, introspection, vivid detail, and an
emotionally wrought romance.” ~Austenesque Reviews
I’ll be the first to admit that there are certain things about English grammar which defeat me. I have a tough time with “who” and “whom”. Whichever one I settle on, it ends up feeling wrong. But some of the other questionable choices in English usage have shortcuts and easy fixes – quick tests to tell you which form is right. I learned these in my high school English classes from some very practical teachers, and I’ve been thanking those lovely ladies (and one gentleman) ever since. Here’s one that hangs up a lot of writers. Wade is making Jane and I go to the store. Or wait -- should it be Jane and me? The test for whether to use I or me (or he or him, she or her, or they or them) is to read the sentence without the other half of the compound. When you leave Jane out of it and read the sentence, it becomes Wade is making I go to the store. Obviously you wouldn’t say that; you’d say Wade is making me go to the store. – so it’s immediately clear that in this usage it should be Jane and me. It’s an easy-peasy test that works in almost all confusing compounds. Joe and me are going to play golf. (Me is going to play golf? No. – so it’s Joe and I.) Sara and him are getting married. (Him is getting married? No – so it’s Sara and he.) A very similar test means that you’ll never again have to fret about whether to use its or it’s. The confusion with its / it’s arises because teachers have drummed into us that we form possessives by adding an apostrophe and S. But its is already a possessive (so are his, hers, theirs, ours...) Pronouns, since they have a possessive form, are an exception to the apostrophe-S rule. It’s means it is.Always. So when you’re confused about whether to put in an apostrophe, read the sentence with it is and see if it makes sense. It’s a far, far better thing I do... (It is a far, far better thing... Apostrophe needed.) It’s time to go to work. (It is time... Apostrophe needed.) The power surge made the hard drive blow its brains out. (Blow it is brains? Nope – no apostrophe needed.) Meanwhile, if anybody has a quick and dirty, foolproof test for who / whom, I’d love to hear it!