Wednesday, November 16

The Structure of a Romance Story: Part Three

The Structure of a Romance Story: Part Three

Ever had a day where it feels like you need to do twelve zillion things? That’s the way I’ve felt for the past few days and, as a result, have probably accomplished less! SO, I’m going to give myself permission to post less for the remainder of the month.

I’m happy with the amount of writing I’ve done (my plan is to gather these posts together and put them in a book), so yea! And I’m going to continue in the same vein, though I need to accept that I can’t do a post a day. I need to take the weekends off to catch up on odds-n-ends.

What follows is the last post in a series on the structure of a romance story, the first part is here and the second here. Also, I’d like to reiterate that everything I say in this post has been inspired by these videos.

Act Three: The Midpoint

Everything is different now that the girl and the boy have been intimate. Speaking of which, if this is a spicy love story then the boy and the girl have a series of increasingly intense physical encounters.

 Whatever the spice level of the story their physical intimacy has made the girls problem even more difficult to solve. Why? Well, this could be because ...

  • the boy is an arsonist, the girl is a firefighter.
  • the boy is a forger and the girl works for a company that insures paintings.
  • the boy ruined her family’s fortunes.
  • the boy is a thief, the girl is a sherif.
  • the girl is on the trail of a killer and all the evidence points to the boy.

Whatever the reason, the girl decides that they cannot be together in any meaningful way. She realizes that they are doomed and that her terrible problem is farther than ever from a solution. Despite this, she loves the boy though she’s not sure how he feels about her.

The All Hope is Lost point arrives at the end of  Act Three (recall that I’m using a four act structure). What exactly this looks like, what form it takes, depends upon your story. If the boy is a thief then he might be arrested. If the boy is a duke then he will inherit his family’s estate and become a duke. Whatever happens it will divide the lovers forever.

The important thing is that, here, it must seem hopeless, the difficulties must become bigger and more formidable until they are overwhelming.

At the end of Act Three the lovers say goodbye. They say, tearfully, that they wish things could have been different, but this is the end of the road, the end of their story.

Act Four

The girl experiences a dark night of the soul. She has never been so miserable in her entire life. Similarly, the boy feels that, thinks that, all is lost.

The boy has an idea ... or maybe the girl does. The idea is for a new direction. A solution to the girl’s terrible problem has appeared.

The girl feels that the boy’s solution is remarkable. She can hardly believe it. The solution has cleared the way for the lovers to be together.

The boy is delighted. Depending on what kind of a romance story this is, he might ask the girl to marry him. The girl might ask him what changed his mind, because when she first met him he made it clear that he wanted to be a bachelor for life. To which the boy might say something like, “Our experiences together have changed my mind. I have discovered that I love you and I cannot live without you.”

And the boy might cock an eyebrow at the girl and say something like, I thought you had no interest in being a duchess? To which the girl might reply that her recent experiences, as well as the time they spent together, had changed her mind. She has discovered she loves the boy and can’t live without him. Therefore marrying the boy will make her happy even if she has to be a duchess.

They join hands, walk off into the sunset and live happily ever after.

Every post I pick a book or audiobook I love and recommend it to my readers. This serves two purposes. I want to share what I’ve loved with you, and, if you click the link and buy anything over at Amazon within the next 24 hours, Amazon puts a few cents in my tip jar at no cost to you. So, if you click the link, thank you! If not, that’s okay too. I’m thrilled and honored you’ve visited my blog and read my post. :-)

Today I’d like to recommend Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. From the blurb: “Story Engineering starts with the criteria and the architecture of storytelling, the engineering and design of a story--and uses it as the basis for narrative. The greatest potential of any story is found in the way six specific aspects of storytelling combine and empower each other on the page. When rendered artfully, they become a sum in excess of their parts.”

The end!

You’ll notice that I haven’t carried through the theme from yesterday, which was intended to be a kind of blueprint for the creation of a rough draft. I do want to pick that theme back up, later.

Honestly, I’ve started doing something I should have begun years ago. I’ve started diagramming books I’ve loved. When I started writing the post on Tuesday about the structure of a romance story I began diagramming Laurell K. Hamilton’s first book, Guilty Pleasures. I LOVE Guilty Pleasures and it is fascinating laying the bones of the story bare.

I guess I never did this before because I thought it would be a bit tedious and dry; it’s anything but! And it is incredible to me—amazing—that I didn’t notice any of this before when I read the book for pleasure.

But that’s how it works, isn’t it?

The best structured stories are just so fun to read the story sucks one in. One is inside the story, the events unfolding in the mind’s eye, and one never notices what happens behind the scenes.

That it! I’ll talk to you tomorrow. I’m going to go back to writing about key scenes.

How’s your writing coming along? Myself, I’m a bit behind. Still, even if I don’t write 50,000 words this month I’m going to be happy because I’ve been able to get a considerable amount of work on my book done and that’s the main thing. :-)

Word count so far: 20,754
Word count for today: 1,100
Total words this month: 21,854


  1. I reached that mid point, everything hopeless, point yesterday and hit a wall. Just couldn't think of anything hopeless enough that was still believable. Still struggling with it today. By the way, I noticed you have 'followed' me, Karen, but you have ended up on Google+ which is dormant. Are you able to follow my blog instead?

    1. Hi Gail, followed your blog!
      That happens to me as well, not being able to think of something that feels plausible. I've found—and this might be something that only works for me—that sometimes I just have to write about something that seems implausible. When the first draft is finished, I put the manuscript away for a bit. Often, when I come back, what I've written is fine! And, if it's not, I can always change it. The right idea can take a while to find us. :-)

    2. Hi Karen. Glad you've found me. Yes, I think your suggestion is a good one and I think that is what I will have to do as I must move on. Only 13 days left!


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