1. LostArtist

    LostArtist Member

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    Must be in want of a wife

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by LostArtist, Sep 21, 2020.

    Jane Austen; Pride and Prejudice
    'It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of good fortune must be in want of a wife.'

    What an amazing line, and the first line no less. Instantly, you know you are reading a romance novel, a love story.

    I like that the first lines can grab you straight away, but I don't believe it is a must. I don't want to be beating myself up over making a perfect first line, when I just want to know what story I am reading. first-line, second page, end of chapter one, I don't care. However, a promise must be made at some point near the beginning. Between the author and the reader "By the time this book is over, 'this' would have happened."

    With that, a certain responsibility lays with the opening of the book/novel/short story.
    My question is about romance, love... erotica
    how do you make that promise? What are the ways in which you make it clear to the reader they are reading a love story? What advice would you give to someone writing their first romance? (cough* cough*)

    Also when writing a short story, how would you get your main love interests to have a relationship blossom while avoiding the cliche of 'love at first sight'? especially if your short story takes place in a narrow time scale?
     
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  2. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    There's a couple of things I use to establish romantic interest in my genre Romance works (two novels, a novella and a short story):

    It's not really love at first sight, but I always start with attraction at first site. Physical, sexual attraction from the first time they meet, at least on the POV character's part. I write mostly enemies-to-friends-to-lovers, so because there's usually a lot of animosity at the beginning I use the physical attraction as a wedge.

    As for the more romantic side of things, I work my way towards that by the characters being impressed with each other as they come to know each other better, be it skill, talent, or a specific personality trait. I find that admiration can quickly slide into like, which then can turn into love eventually. I also have a huge competency kink which makes its way into pretty much everything I write.

    I don't really ascribe to the notion that romance has to be front and center on the first page, though there's nothing wrong with preferring that in your own reading and writing. I just personally prefer starting with characters who are 100% not looking for love or a relationship at the beginning of the book, but by working or spending time together realize that the best thing that's ever happened to them has been staring them in the face for quite some time.

    As far as advice, I would suggest deciding if you're writing genre Romance or a story that has a love story in it. If you're writing genre Romance, you must provide your readers with a Happily Ever After or Happy For Now ending. If one of them dies, or if they break up in the end? You are not writing genre Romance. Readers of this genre specifically buy books marketed as Romance expecting that ending, and if they don't get it they will be very unhappy. Just like if you read a mystery novel where you never find out whodunnit at the end - it's not what those readers want, and pissing off the people you want to part with their hard-earned cash by doing a bait and switch is a bad idea.
     
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  3. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I would always advise, when considering questions about opening sentences, etc, to get the entire story written first. That way you'll know for sure what promises the story has actually kept. Then you can hint at what they will be as you craft your opener—be it the first sentence, paragraph, whatever. I would not waste too much time trying to think of the perfect opening sentence before you actually write the story.

    Mind you, I suppose some people do start with a bang and it works for them, so I'd never say never. But if the perfect opener doesn't hit you right away, just move on! It can be worked on later, during the editing sessions.

    On a slightly different tack, one sure-fire romantic grabber is when one character shows the other a level of understanding that is way deeper than expected. When somebody you hardly know (or don't even like) says exactly the right thing in your defense, or to comfort you. When that person knows exactly what you mean, and is able to explain it better than you can. When somebody covers a mistake you made, diplomatically, but knowingly, and saves you embarrassment. When somebody you've just met makes an observation about your character, preferences or motives that you thought nobody else would ever guess.

    These kinds of connections are incredibly powerful, and they can actually happen very quickly in a relationship. Some relationships ARE very quick to establish themselves. Love is not always a slow buildup. Sometimes it happens like a whack between the eyes. Or out of the blue. Suddenly there's THIS PERSON. It goes deeper than 'attraction' It's 'connection' You've connected with them. You trust them. And you know the connection is real and mutual. It's exciting, but it's also calming. You just know. There may be huge obstacles to making the relationship work in a real-world setting—especially if the person isn't acceptable relationship material (too old, too young, already married, out of your league, forbidden in some way)—but there isn't any doubt in your mind how you feel.

    It's one of the reasons I am lukewarm about romantic triangles, unless one pair is a long-established routine but pleasant relationship, suddenly upended by the 'real' soul mate's appearance. I am not convinced by a person who struggles to make up his or her mind between two potential mates. I'm inclined to believe, if they really don't know how they feel, that probably Mr/Ms Right hasn't actually turned up yet. :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2020
  4. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    If I can add another by Austen—



    • Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition, seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.
     
  5. Mana_Kawena

    Mana_Kawena Member

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    First off, I'd like to clarify whether this book is going to be romance or erotica... certainly if it's the latter I would hope that the reader would be able to pick up on this before even opening the book! Romance, otherwise, I would say that it depends on your style and what kind of audience you are writing for... some people prefer a slow burn, whereas others like to get right to the point. There is no one way to craft an opening line, and as others have said, you may want to worry less about that opener until you've written a good portion of your story; an opener needs to hook, but the best ones also foreshadow elements of tone and what conflicts a reader might come to expect. It really, truly all depends!
     
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  6. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Contributor Contributor

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    straight to the point, huh.
     
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  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Yep. Everything that happens basically flows from this understanding of who Emma is.
     
  8. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Contributor Contributor

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    I can't say that I've read the book, but the movie was pretty good.
     
  9. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    The book is even better.
     
  10. Friedrich Kugelschreiber

    Friedrich Kugelschreiber Contributor Contributor

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    They usually are.
     
  11. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    Why fuck up a good thing by adding a wife?
     
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  12. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Potatoes again? Supporter Contributor

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    Oscar Wilde and Somerset Maugham smirked at each other from opposite sides of the room. (yes, I know they never met)
     
  13. LostArtist

    LostArtist Member

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    I am a fan of this trope, definitely gives the characters more dimensions, that some times you realize that what you want is 'staring you in the face', and can even show love takes a bit of effort and can be found in unlikely places.
    Would Like to note that the 'Friend' stepping stone is important. I have seen enemies-to-lovers and had it explained away as 'sexual tension' to me it seems to give off a bad message.

    SPOILERS: Yes... they get together at the end... phew, I'm in the right genre.
    Also yes! 'front and center' '100% not looking for love' I can get behind that, better being an unexpected bolt from the blue, or the love story being a complication to the main plot.
    "I was going to do this, but now I am in love, I don't want to do it," and so on

    Very good advice Jannert Thank you.

    Again. More brilliant advice, definitely the direction I would like to take my romance plot and sub-plots.

    I am not a fan of the 'love triangle' trope either. A good MC has to know what they want, otherwise, they can just seem fickle or indecisive.

    good little opener. letting you know that something about this statement will change by the end of the book.
    Thanks Mana.
    Yes, I would hope you know it is an erotic book when you pick it up. A Tittle like "Lusty babes" and a picture of discarded clothing or legs will do the trick.
    The slow burn vs quick burn is a good question. If it is slow, how long should the time span of the relationship in question be over? and in the case of fast, how would you avoid love at first sight if the book takes over the space of one evening?
     
  14. Mana_Kawena

    Mana_Kawena Member

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    Well that sort of title and cover would certainly clear things up! As an example, let me offer this to differentiate between a slow burn and fast:

    "I saw her, and knew right then and there I wanted to rip off her clothes and ravage her."

    Pretty clear and straightforward, very "fast burn" style with a narrator who gets right to the point, yea? Versus a slow burn which might begin like so:

    "I looked up from my phone and found I couldn't take my eyes off of her, my greedy eyes drinking her in like a man stumbling through the desert upon finding an oasis."

    A slow burn tends to focus more on romanticizing the target of affection with prose, whereas a purely carnal experience (the more "fast and dirty" type) style won't often beat around the bush so much as just jump right in. It's like the difference in how some people approach a multi-course meal; do you savor every course as it arrives, or just skip right ahead to the dessert?

    Honestly, either style could work for a single night's encounter! It all just has to do with how you as a writer are looking to tell your tale :)
     
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  15. Maggie May

    Maggie May Active Member

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    Instead of the instant attraction, you could go the opposite where they instantly hate each other create the story that ends in passion!
     

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