Many writers post writing articles on their websites. Romance writing how-to and such. But anybody who’s been even a semi-regular visitor here knows that comprehensive non-fiction articles and persuasive arguments aren’t my strong suit. So instead I’ll just randomly offer thoughts on the writing of romance. Very random. Your mileage may vary.
(1) Once the hero says “I love you”, the story is over. Wrap it up.
(1a) If the hero does not say “I love you”, but instead flies off to Mozambique, leaving the heroine to simply bask in the warmth of her own personal growth, it is not a romance and your readers will be pissed if they dropped $13 because it said Romance on the spine. It may not be your responsibility to tag your book for market, but it is your responsibility to know how your publisher does.
(2) Exclamation points outside of dialogue (or even in it) are melodramatic! They jerk readers out of the story! And they are the secretest secret agents of Telling Instead of Showing.
(3) If you’ve based a scene on something you’ve done and your editor and/or test reader declares your heroine a “psychotic bitch”, don’t take it personally. And ixnay on the pseudo-biographical moments.
(4) Take as much time with secondary names as you do your protagonists’. If your book is a hit and a sequel is called for, you don’t want to be stuck with a hero named Alfred. Okay, maybe you would, but if you don’t it’s something to keep in mind.
(5) To calculate word count, write the damn book. Then, if you’re subbing to an e-pub, hit the word count button. For NY, doublespace and multiply page count by 250. For Harlequin/Silhouette, get drunk, hit print and send it out, because who the hell knows.
(6) Your characters cannot see their own faces without a mirror.
(7) Responding to edits with “But I really talk like that!” isn’t going to make it better in the eyes of the person rejecting your dialogue, now is it?
(8) If you ever think “Eh. It’s good enough”, imagine the woman who’s buying it despite having to feed her husband hamburg instead of steak because she enjoys your books that much.
(9) Characters in the beginning of a relationship won’t come out of the bedroom the same as when they went in. If your sex scenes are skimmable, the intimacy is not impacting their relationship enough.
(10) One of the greatest joys of being published: No torturous query and cover letters to your editor. If I remember correctly, my letter accompanying 72 Hours was something along the lines of: Here’s 72 Hours. I hope it doesn’t suck.