Last Friday, Trish started her series about how to start a romance novel. She covered: The inciting incident, introduction to the characters, the external problem and the internal problem.
Today, she's continuing with part two of three - this week examining the areas, foreshadowing, setting and tone.
Take it away, Ms Wylie!
In a Romance novel, just as a hint of the beginning of a new life for the characters is present in the end, there is the promise of a happy outcome to their problems at the beginning of the story. In a sense this is easy because there is already an expectation from the reader that the characters will end up together. The trick is to make them doubt the outcome by throwing obstacles in the characters’ paths (occasions that remind them of the thing they fear most).
The world the characters inhabit should be glimpsed in the opening so the reader is grounded in their reality. This includes anything that can be seen, heard or perceived by the characters in the same way we would be aware of our surroundings. Once again this should be brief, the emotional involvement in the story stemming from a connection with the characters rather than the place they inhabit. Think of a stage play and it is the characters and what is happening to them that hold our attention rather than the backdrop; the scenery merely adding a sense of place.
The tone must be both clear and consistent from the beginning. Characters will remain ‘in character’ from the moment they appear on the page, with all of their actions and reactions making sense to the reader based on what they are told from the beginning. By setting a clear tone, we establish the ‘rules’ of the story, including the narrative and most importantly, the writer’s VOICE. Quite simply, a writer’s voice is the way they tell the story. Think of a Scorsese, Spielberg or Tarantino movie and they are each instantly recognisable as ‘belonging’ to the respective director. It’s exactly the same for writers, so while there may be no such thing as a ‘new’ story, the way we each tell it is as individual to us as our handwriting or the way we speak. Setting the ‘mood’ is somewhat different. As the characters continue on their journey there will be shades of dark and light, just as there are in real life. So while there may be moments of sadness and deeply felt emotion, there will also be times when there is humour or a tempting glimpse of how happy the characters will be in the end.
Pop back next Friday for the concluding blog post of the series - covering back story, theme and the hook.
Thank you, Trish!
Trish’s long-awaited book, ‘The Inconvenient Laws Of Attraction’, will be out in the UK and Ireland in December 2011.
‘Her Unexpected Baby’, is available for the first time in the USA and Canada direct from eHarlequin RIGHT NOW!
You can get it from here.
You can find out more about Trish and her books at http://www.trishwylie.com/ or follow her between deadlines on Twitter @TrishWylie