Friday, February 7, 2014

Juice it up! By Barbara Edwards

Love or hate, writing romance is all about emotions.

I’ve judged hundreds of contest entries, read thousands of books and reviewed a few dozen. And gotten to the point where I’ll stop reading if the story lacks a certain pizzazz.  I’ve noticed the same mistakes by beginning authors. The emotion doesn’t jump off the page and grab the reader.
For example: I love you- Okay, sweet. How about: I adore you- sounds a little more exciting. Or I hate you can be I despise you, I detest you – lots more feeling there.
I’ve learned you need to go over the top to hook your reader.
Check that word in your thesaurus. I bet there a bunch of other, better words to use.
That’s a problem, too. You start with the excited tingle; increase it to shiver, shake, and shudder and then what –
To sustain the over the top emotions can be exhausting for the reader as well as the hero and heroine. We need to shake them up. Drop them into an abyss of despair. Cut off all that love and give ‘em a jolt. Switch the emotion to the other side of the spectrum. Give her a gulp of guilt to sour the sweet love feelings or a dose of bitter regret.
Oh so many wonderful emotions to pick from. Don’t be boring.
Sure a romance is about the triumph of love, but there won’t be much of a celebration if he quietly woos her, she decides to share her life and they live happily ever after, with two babies and a white picket fence.
Throw in the biggest monkey wrench you can devise. If their love survives a catastrophe, death, horrid mistakes in judgment or the evil actions of that villain, then the story is a winner.
Good luck with those rewrites!

Check out my website for excerpts from my books and a whole bunch of other stuff, like some juicy reviews, and my blog
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Margo Hoornstra said...

Good advice! I once had a story stalled, so I threw my hero off the roof. Got my heroine's attention.

Jannine Gallant said...

You should see my thesaurus. Literally falling apart. The right words are so key to creating atmosphere.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hey Margo,
You got me hooked! Then what? Which book?

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Jannine,
I used my to tatters, too. I love, adore, etc. words. It's like picking tidbits from a smorgasbord.

Diane Burton said...

Great post, Barbara. Love the part about shaking things up. Not sure who first said it but, get your MC up a tree then throw rocks at her/him.

Alicia Dean said...

Yes, excellent post. If your characters are too happy, your story is boring! Make them work for that HEA. I love that you threw your hero off a roof, Margo. LOL. Way to shake things up!

Romance Can Be Murder said...

Barb - I'm in Rewrite Hell right now, and your blog just gave me a kick start - thank you!

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Diane,
Rocks, arrows, sticks and stones: anything to get them moving.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Alicia,
Over the top is always better than in a rut. Margo has great ideas and plots.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Glenys,
Glad to be of help. I had to write it on a sticky and put it on my computer screen to remember to keep it exciting. Good luck with the rewrites

Margo Hoornstra said...

Barbara, since you asked the book is my latest, yet to be published Stolen Trust. I'll keep you posted. No pun intended! I too have a dog eared Thesaurus.

Leah St. James said...

You said it, Barbara! I read too many "romances" where the characters move through the scenes like drones. Terrific advice.

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Leah,
I noticed your work has a lot of punch!

Barbara Edwards said...

Hi Margo,
I'll be looking for it. Thesaurus? Only an author would name her dog after a collection of words. Love it.