1. Immy
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    Immy Member

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    How soon do I introduce the love interest?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Immy, Feb 24, 2012.

    So...I'm writing a romance and basically, it's Summer-time and the protagonist visits a tiny village in the Scottish Highlands and while there, falls in love before returning to London for a major operation where things go drastically wrong. The main themes of the book are; summer romance, young love, loss and friendship. The summer romance is important but I don't know how long to take before introducing the person she'll fall in love with. Is there a rule for this? I know that in a lot of books, people prefer to introduce the main character in her normal environment before something happens to change the story. When do you think I should bring this change into effect without making the beginning boring?
     
  2. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't know any rules, or if there even ARE any rules. I wrote a romance novel and my characters love interest appeared in chapter 3 or 4, the first chapters were pretty short so basically he entered at page 24 and liked it, so he decided to settle down. :) I think you can leave it pretty much up to your creative instinct. When do you feel it's right to introduce him/her? I've read books that have both characters introduced right from the start and then others that present one at the time. Have a look at the books you have read and see how they do it, and evaluate the result.
     
  3. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    I've read some submission guidelines for Mills & Boon type romance publishers, and they say you should introduce the love interest as soon as possible - some even say on the first page. Basically, if your plot resolves solely (or primarily) around the relationship between these two people, why wouldn't you jump straight into the action and show them meeting in the first chapter? If you spend 5 chapters introducing your MC and describing the circumstances that lead to her meeting the romantic interest, isn't this just backstory to a romance? Ditch the backstory and start with the story.
     
  4. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    For a romance novel then it's as best to do it as soon as possible. If it works then try to introduce them in the first chapter.
     
  5. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not every romance has the romance as the only event. A lot of them are actually about some other problem and these two happen to meet along the way, almost as some kind of a subplot. (even though people usually read them for the romance, that is not always all it's about) I think it's natural to let the actual story get started before introducing him/her. Plus personally i dislike when it's too obvious that they will end up together right from the first page. Then I might just skip the whole story and jump right to the last 5 pages.
     
  6. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    If the romance is a subplot, then you're not writing a romance - you're writing some other story with a romantic element or romantic sub plot. Honestly, a real genre romance will concentrate on nothing but the romantic relationship for the entire novel, and all sub plots or other events will be secondary to it. I think you need to be very clear what you are writing, as it sounds like you're not sure what a 'romance' actually consists of.
     
  7. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you had read my post more carefully you would have seen that I said Almost as if it was a subplot, not that it would actually be.
    One book I read on writing romance defined it like "two people falling in love against a background of other action". What I was talking about was letting that 'background' action get started first and then introduce the love interest, so they will have something to connect them when they meet, or even a reason to meet in the first place. It doesn't have to take several chapters, like I said, mine appeared at page 24 and that doesn't seem very long to wait for him to show up. Throwing the heroine in the arms of the hero in page one seems just silly to me, but then I guess there are good and bad ways to write something like romance. even if a story is about two people falling in love they still need a plot. Falling in love is not a plot per se. There has to be conflicts, obstacles to overcome , issues to deal with etc. otherwise it would be a very short story indeed. Two people fall in love, they live happily ever after. The end.
     
  8. evil smurf
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    evil smurf New Member

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    I think that it really depends on what kind of novel you plan on writing. If it's going to end up being a romance novel, I would introduce the love interest as soon as possible, in the first chapter if possible, especially if romance is the main theme of the novel. If it isn't, then I wouldn't introduce the interest until later, possibly in the third or fourth chapter, depending on what the main storyline is. I don't write romance too often, but when I do this is normally what I would do.
     
  9. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    Yes, but it's like I said - the difference between throwing us in at the point where the story STARTS, and including a load of set up and backstory first. Some people like set up, some don't, but that's really the point I was making - in romance, people EXPECT the love interest to walk onto the page early on. If he doesn't they will be disappointed, so if you call your novel a romance you might be setting your readers up for disappointment.
     
  10. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Again you are putting words in my mouth. Did I say start with backstory? No. You shouldnt assume people around the world write according to the american model, which is very formulaistic. In some places People actually prefer a more natura story. Im not going to answer you anymore since you obviously like to read things i dont even say.
     
  11. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    I think you're taking my comments a little personally - I meant no disrespect, I was simply responding to your question. I stated my opinions only. You can ignore them if you want, but if you only listen to the opinions you like and disregard those that don't support your own, then why do you ask?
     
  12. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'd say the most effictive romances I've come across in books AND movies (I've read/seen not many but those I did were good) didn't necessarily start out with the love interest, but they DEFINITELY started the book introducing the idea that the story will be about romance.

    Take Romeo and Juliet. We don't see Juliet immediately but we know Romeo's a well...a romeo more or less as soon as the story starts and of course the prologue mentions the star crossed lovers
     
  13. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Ditto this with stars.
    If you are writing a ROMANCE, the man and women should both be present in the first chapter, if not physically, then there should be a roll of drums feeling--build up to the man arriving in the village, people talking about him etc. They should meet and clinch by the end of chapter two, latest. Why? These kind of romances are only 65-75,000 words long, and the readers want as much romantic interplay between the characters as possible.
     
  14. TheWritingWriter
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    TheWritingWriter Senior Member

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    I think introducing them relatively soon would be wise. I don't like to jump right into things, personally. I'd probably do a quick scene with the couple, & then I'd start from the beginning. Like in a prologue, give the reader a taste of the romance, real quick, and then in Chapter 1 start where they meet or something like that. That way you get the reader's interest but you don't have to sacrifice details or chunky story scenes.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's no rule for this that fits all stories/plots!

    each one will dictate when and how to introduce the characters and kick off their relationship... to try to formulize things like that is the antithesis of 'creative writing' imo...
     
  16. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    I agree that this is the case for most genres/stories, but not romance, which is probably the most prescribed and formulaic genre of all - publishers of romance expect and demand certain things, and one of them is that the love interest is introduced very early on. This is because in a romance novel the story of the couple getting together is the central plot, and everything else is subordinate to that. My question is whether Tesoro is actually writing genre romance at all, or rather contemporary fiction or women's fiction with romantic elements.
     
  17. Erato
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    Erato Contributing Member

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    I would introduce the object of interest quickly, as in first or second chapter, and then let the love grow over at least one chapter if not more. If you feel it should move at a faster pace, you could have it be love at first sight; I'm not good with romances, though, having never been in love myself.
     
  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    good point, nakhti...

    i wasn't referring to formula romance like that harlequin and silhouette churn out, which do have very strict rules 'n regs that must be followed in structuring the plot, but only to the latter kind you've mentioned...

    immy...
    if you're writing for the major romance imprints, you must follow their guidelines to the letter, in regard to both structure and content...
     

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