Recently a good friend Skylar West and I decided to start a podcast about writing, reading and everything to do with romance novels.
In our first episode we covered:
What make a Romance Novel
Romance stands on three points
1. The ending, HEA or HFN
2. The main plot of the story is the growing emotional/physical connection between the main characters
3. Must include at least two people and when, where, and how did they meet. Telling the story of two separate people that come together.
The primary romantic characters should meet or be introduced to the reader in the first quarter of a book. They don’t have to be together romantically that quickly but if they don’t at least meet the story is more about an individual’s journey rather than the romance itself. For the majority of romance novels they will meet and have some type of spark by the end of chapter two.
How fast should a couple connect physically?
Depending on the heat level of the romance novel this answer can vary wildly.
The higher the heat the faster the connection usually occurs. The most common in a steamy novel is for the spark to be instantaneous not instalove but perhaps insta-lust. There is a physical draw, and the reader should feel that from the moment the two characters meet. In most romances by the end of the first three chapters, there is an expectation to see a physical draw between the lead characters. Even in sweet romance there should be sparks, or an emotional bond.
A romance wouldn’t be a romance without that connection. Could you imagine a mystery novel wher the mystery doesn’t start until two-thirds of the way through the book?
What is heat level?
Heat level has two elements
1. Steam – This is the push pull of physical desire. Do they want to snuggle and hold hands or rip one another’s clothes off.
2. Explicit – What sexual activity is described on the page? Do the author close the door on the sex scene or invite you to watch?
HEA vs HFN (Happily Ever After vs Happy For Now)
HEA: Sleeping beauty is the ultimate HEA in the end, love conquers all. That can happen in a single book or a series. The reader is left with the sense that everything has been resolved and the couple has no more dragons to slay. It is often accompanied by a wedding or baby possibly in an epilogue that wraps up and small loose ends.
HFN: Is often used in series or short stories where an HEA is not believable. The reader feels like the couple has overcome their current issues and are happily paired up even if everything is not completely settled. It is the belief that the HFN could lead to the HEA eventually that leaves the reader satisfied.