Sunday, October 3, 2010

Good background, now how to deal with the actual romance elements!

When I'd completed my first general research into New Zealand's wine vineyards (I'd have to delve into it more thoroughly as the story progressed), I faced the most important, and for me the most challenging, element in the book: the romance!

It wasn't that I'd never experienced the joy and pain of first love, along with the intense heartache when that love was over. Far from it. The problem I faced now was how to put those feelings into words, then weave them into a passionate and believable story. This dilemma really gave me pause to think and, I admit, more than a few worried moments. In fact, I was terrified. I finally had a book contract, but what if I couldn't pull it off? Sure, I'd managed the first 3 chapters, but the truth was I hadn't given the entire book enough thought, especially not with the guidelines my editor had sent. And while this gave me a fair number of fitful nights, it was eventually to become one of the best "on the job" writing assignments ever. Writing plots with a lot of action, mystery and suspense came fairly easily for me. But it was high time I learned how to make the people in my books come to life. For that's what keeps readers turning the page: truly caring about the characters in a novel and what happens to them!

I don't know how other romance writers do it, but I began by getting as completely into my heroine as possible: Who was she? How had her previous marriage affected her views on men? What were her preconceptions about her brother-in-law who ran the vineyard? Why did she both hate and fear him? What would cause her to defy her fears and fly to far-off New Zealand and confront him?

On the other side of the coin, how would he react to her? Why did he resent her, even hold her responsible for his brother's death? How could they ever work together in the best interests of the vineyard? Despite his anger and resentment, how would he react to the overpowering sexual attraction he felt toward her?

I made copious notes on both of my main characters, and slowly but surely I began to see a light at the end of the tunnel. Never before had I spent so much time getting to know the people I was writing about. Before long, I felt I knew them almost as well as the members of my family. In fact, in a way they became members of my family!

(Next: My first romance novel begins to come together!)


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