How to write a romance novel for Camp Nanowrimo

Piyusha Vir wrote this lovely post about her difficulties in attempting Camp Nanowrimo. For the uninitiated, Camp Nanowrimo is  a virtual writers’ camp where you can set a target and push yourself to achieve it. Piyusha wants to write 10,000 words, but wants to know how to pen a romance novel during Camp Nanowrimo. You can read her list of queries here:
https://wanderingsoul2015blog.wordpress.com/2016/04/06/how-do-i-write-a-novel/

Piyusha, thanks for tagging me to answer your queries. Since your questions were too numerous to be answered in a simple comment box, here’s my response in the form of a blog post:

Don’t chain together incidents without theme.

A novel is not a running commentary of various incidents. The point of a story is not that protagonist has to get from point A to point B. Well, it can be a useful instrument to form the setting of your story. Eg the hero and the heroine are both going to visit La Tomatina festival and for various reasons have to travel together. In a romance novel, it can serve to bring the characters in enforced propinquity, but beyond that, you cannot use this premise. Neither can you just have your character move from an event like attending a concert to another of attending a wedding. You can have these, but only if these situations serve a  purpose in your story and move it forward. Eg did she see the hero’s ex at the concert and begin to feel insecure? Did he attend the wedding and learn from a relative that she’d had a terrible year because her parents died in an accident?
As your story progresses, the theme tying all the incidents should become clear. What is your story about? In the above example, you could make your theme about redemption. Did the heroine break law when she was angry about losing her parents? Has she since then carved a new and better life for herself?

No lengthy description of the mundane 
Your second query is: do I describe every (boring) detail in the story?
Answer: You don’t have to describe everything. In fact, you should stay away from making that mistake.
A novel has limited number of pages and readers have limited attention span. If you describe every mundane thing, it will waste story pages and annoy your reader. We know how people get ready. You don’t need to describe every act your protagonist goes through to reach the place of action. So, if she’s meeting the hero, it would be sufficient to mention she reached there. Did she take the trouble to do her hair? Was he straightening his tie as she walked towards him? That is useful because it conveys the state of the mind of the character. Otherwise, skip the mundane descriptions.

Don’t add details irrelevant to the story

You shouldn’t mention anything that doesn’t add to the story.
A bird chirping in the distance. Now, that is a natural thing to notice, but in your story you have to add detail only when it brings out emotions and reactions of your characters. Eg your hero is about to stand for elections and receives the  shocking news about the heroine’s unsavory past. Picture him focusing on periphery rather than his own pain and conflicted emotions. Does he hear the chirping of the bird because his own world has come to a standstill? Now the little detail serves to add impact to your story.

Confusing character and characterization:

The query was, “My character can’t go from being carefree and confident in the first part of the story to someone who is always anxious and needs re-assurance in the second part.”
Answer: You don’t change who your character is at the core. The story follows the arc of the character’s journey. The GMC should be clearly delineated. The character in your story has a goal, motivation, conflict. By the end, they may change their goal and hence motivation and resolve the conflict. In a romance, that’s how they find a HEA. In the above example, the hero might find he doesn’t really want to contest elections if he has to give up the heroine. Thus, the motivation to act in the way he has been acting, is now gone.

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Romances have a common storyline. Or do they?
Romances have been done before. That doesn’t mean a new story has no freshness about it. When you write a romance, you have to focus on what’s special about your story. What is standing in the way of your protagonists and how they will overcome the issues between them? What twists or self revelations will landmark your characters’ way to finding their HEA? A happy ending is a must for a romance and it’s the author’s job to make it convincing, despite all the odds that have been presented in the book.
Btw the above plot is a budding idea of a new book. Hope you found the example helpful.
Keep writing and good luck for Camp Nanowrimo!

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Unexpected Valentines – A #Valentinesday release

Hi folks, I’m super excited to share news about my latest book which is a short story collection set for release on none other than than the lovers’ day! 🙂
What better date than 14th Feb. to celebrate ‘stories to make you believe in love’ ? Unexpected Valentines blossoms with happy endings.

About the book:

Love can be found at the most unexpected places, with unlikely people. Your heart might be searching for love but when love finally hits, it shies away from committing.
What are the barriers that keep two people away, even when perfect love is just within reach?
Explore the ways love can be discovered. Celebrate romance with this quick read ideal for romance fiction lovers.

Stories in this collection:

Unexpected Valentine

The Magic Within

Love at loggerheads

Chained to Shadows

Right or Wrong

Coffee and Clashes

Hooded Desire

Preorder now at:

http://www.amazon.com/Unexpected-Valentines-Stories-make-believe-ebook/dp/B00TBC9O9Q

Add to Goodreads at:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24867685-unexpected-valentines

#BookReview – Runaway Lady Conquering Lord by Carol Townend #historical #romance

Runaway Lady Conquering Lord by Carol Townend is a historical romance from Harlequin.
I’m quite a fan of historical romances especially those from Georgette Heyer and at one time used to devour historicals from Hqn too by the dozen. However, I moved onto other kind of genres as one does and so have taken up this one after a long time. Having finished writing a medieval Indian historical myself, I was in a mood to read a period romance and also to look into how much historical romances have changed over the years.
Harlequin has certainly evolved in this genre too. They have high standards and this was borne out by this book. As far as research is concerned, the author has fairly excelled. She has seamlessly woven research into the story. The descriptions are very vivid – so much so that you can actually visualize the damp on the castle walls as you read on. From my experience I know how difficult it is to manage research while writing about the past and I salute the author for this.
The romance is also good initially. The setting isn’t one I had the chance to read before this and I found it intriguing. Mostly one finds virgin heroines in period romances so it was quite a change, at least for me, to read a heroine who had an affair in the past. I quite enjoyed the story but as it neared the end, it lost its course a bit. The internal conflict was tapid and the characters overall came across as a bit too stoic. I would have welcomed some overt emotion in the heroine but she’s portrayed as being too perfect and in control. Without giving away the end,  I can only say it was a bit unsatisfactory to find they didn’t have to face any major obstacle to get their HEA.

Verdict: I give this book five stars for the research and setting and four stars for the romance. It definitely gets you into history. You will not regret picking it up.
Recommended for historical aficionados.

Guest post On Words and Sentences blog: Summerita Rhayne on the dos and don’ts of writing romance fiction

Nikita Jhanglani invited me to share my thoughts about the dos and don’t of writing romance fiction. Here’s my post on her blog Of Words and Sentences – Nikita Jhanglani.

Here’s an extract:

Nikita Jhanglani:
According to you what are the dos and don’ts of writing a romance novel that every aspiring author should stick to.

Summerita Rhayne:
Hi Nikita. Thank you for having me on your blog and giving me the opportunity to share my views here.

The absolute dos that a romance novel needs are these:

Two main characters. My books are M/F romances so they involve a male and female but that is up to the author.
A happy ever after. That is a must. In all romances, things must be resolved and the couple must confess their love and the desire to be with each other forever. Nowadays, a happy-for-now is replacing the HEA in some lines but speaking of personal preference, I go for the mushy endings, both in reading and writing romances. The happy-for-now mostly works if the story is in series form.
Emphasis on emotional conflict. Romance novels are character driven and not plot driven. There’s nothing more off-putting in a romance than characters jumping from one event to another without rhyme and reason. What I find gripping in a romance is the emotional ups and downs. The core question in any fiction is how a character chooses a particular path instead of another when the personal stakes are high but it’s asked most eloquently in romances.

The don’ts are all relative in my point of view. You need them according to the publisher you are working on. Some publishers require Alpha males who are filthy rich so that the fantasy element is fulfilled. Some will require you make the heroine beautiful so the attraction-at-first-sight trope is fulfilled. The list is endless.

Here are the don’t s which I follow:

Use secondary characters sparingly. In romance novels, secondary characters are distracting. Especially if you’re writing a novella upto say 50k words, you just don’t have space to do justice to your main characters let alone complicating it with others. However, secondary characters add fun to the story and provide support to your main cast…Read the rest here

Thanks to Nikita again for hosting me.

Do share your views on the post, folks!