Saturday, April 07, 2012

Saturday Guest- Christine Young

Attributes of Writing a Romance Novel
Christine Young

Top attributes of a romance novel that I feel are important and how I used them in Safari Moon.

Romance novels are character driven. To me the characterization of the novel is the single most important element. The next most important is the conflict. There must be internal as well as external conflict.

I spend a great deal of time developing my characters. The characters must have a life before the story. They have birthdays and anniversaries; favorite hobbies and nicknames. Several years ago I attended an inservice/workshop at the school where I worked. It taught how different mind styles affected a character's personality.

When the characters in Safari Moon were created, my intention was to set their mind styles in conflict. A minor thing but a very real beginning to their journey to find love. Nyssa is concrete sequential which means she is organized and has to know the what, when, where, how, and why of every task. To her all she does and plans is clear and precise. Solo, on the other hand, is concrete random. Solo will come up with answers before he even hears the question. He will jump back and forth between fact and theory. This ability often leaves Solo unable to explain his thinking.

These are some of the internal conflicts, which leave the characters breathless but dying to figure out the other person's point of view.

External conflicts are usually more obvious and revolve around the physical actions of the characters. They are on the surface not hidden in the mind. These conflicts can change from scene to scene but the major or elemental conflict is a common theme carried throughout the novel.

Romantic conflict is a third conflict one can find in a romance novel. They struggle to come to terms with their emotions. And raw emotions can get in the way of love scenes. When, where, why, and how they occur. Of course all three conflicts tend to merge and separate as the novel is created.

Turning points are also essential to a good romance. Every scene must have some kind of turning point. The first kiss, the moment the protagonists meet, any decision they make which will effect the outcome of the story. In the first chapter, when Solo decides to call Nyssa and ask for her help concerning his 'willing, eager and able women is an example. Their needs to be at least three major turning points as well as a black moment when it appears all will be lost.

Theme, motivation, tone and tension are other elements which I incorporate in the novel. I try to put each of these into each scene. And to keep the reader turning the pages when I write a scene, I plot to a twist. So the last sentence in the scene compels the reader to continue.

Oh, and did I forget point of view. Point of view is incredibly important to creating tension in a story. Each scene should be in only one of the protagonist's point of view. 

Safari Moon
Christine Young writing as Ann Christine
Excerpt Heat Level: 2
Book Heat Level: 2

Solo St. John, a wildlife photographer, is preparing for a trip to Alaska.  Suddenly, Solo finds women of all sorts invading his privacy, his home and his office, all cooing nonsense words and blatantly throwing themselves at him.  Solo doesn't know why, and he has no idea how to rid himself of the persistent women.  He finally decides to beg a favor of his best buddy Nyssa Harrington. 

In love with Solo for the past ten years and knowing he doesn't return her feelings Nyssa doesn't want to talk to Solo.  She knows if she accepts his phone call, she will not be able to resist the temptation to hope again.  

Solo St. John was in the middle of an erotic dream about his buddy, Nyssa Harrington, when the click of his front door shutting brought him to instant alert mode. 

Solo looked up, caught a flashing glimpse of a good deal of naked flesh; long legs, perfectly rounded derriere, and a waist he could span with his hands. The intruder's long blond hair curled around her shoulders an inch above the ties of her bikini top.

Then he saw the skunk. He blinked twice.

This woman and the skunk were not the subject of his brief and very strange dream, a fantasy that made his mind speed along at sixty in a residential zone. This was someone he had never seen before and he resented the intrusion.

"Hello," she cooed seductively from his living room. "Will you come out and play?"

The skunk stuck a black and white head around the open door to his bedroom. A second later the animal turned and lifted his tail before disappearing into the living room.

Solo was out of bed and pulling on his jeans before the count of five. Yet in that short time, the lady in question, along with the skunk that was now exploring his fireplace hearth, had taken over his living room.

The lithe, supple blond sported an expensive camera, and all the while the lady in question babbled nonsense words.

"I'm willing, able, and eager." She posed for him, a pose meant to entice.

"You're insane?" He hesitated then said to the lady, "Get that animal out of here!"

"I read the ad in the newspaper for a wildlife photographer, and I wanted to be the first one here." She smiled and tugged on a leash which was connected to the skunk. "Juniper is my pet. She's deperfumed or whatever."


He had never, to his recollection, set eyes on this woman. Frozen stock-still in his bare feet between the bedroom and the living room of his rustic forest retreat in the hills outside Sisters, Oregon, Solo St. John was completely, utterly baffled.

After all, he had placed the ad in a few of the most widely distributed papers in Oregon. That was two days ago. Yesterday, having second thoughts and knowing he didn't want to train an assistant, he pulled it. Although none of this made sense, instinctively, he knew she told the truth. The ad was the cause of this phenomenon in his cabin.

"Come here and play." Posing seductively once again, she beckoned him with one slim index finger.

Why didn't he want to play? Wouldn't any normal, warm-blooded American male dream of waking up to an almost naked blond bombshell in his living room? Wouldn't that male want to play?

Why didn't he feel turned on and excited. Why didn't he fantasize about what would happen if he obeyed? All those lush curvaceous parts on display didn't interest him in the least.

He closed his eyes for a brief count of three. No, this wasn't a dream and the slap on the face he gave himself didn't cause the vision to disappear. He still had a good view of long, shapely legs and a bust line that threatened to pop the seams of her minuscule top.

"Lord." Only now, he realized he must have left his front door unlocked. He pulled his gaze from the fiasco on his hearth and reminded himself that a gentleman didn't stare.

"Smile." She brought the camera up and clicked a sideways snapshot of him before she stepped back and captured a print of the skunk. "You did want someone who could photograph wildlife. Didn't you?"

Solo raked a hand through short, ragged blond hair he knew had begun to stand on end. He didn't need this, and he was always hard pressed to put two and two together this late at night. He was a morning person, up before dawn. Even if he'd had all his wits about him, he wouldn't know how to politely rid himself of this strange intruder and her pet skunk.

He didn't want to admit, even to himself, but it looked like she was disrobing. Stripping was a better term. All she needed were a pair of tassels and music.

As he stepped forward in an attempt to stop her, she slipped off her top and twirling it around her index finger tossed it at him. The bikini bra flew past him and missed his nose by less than an inch. The bottoms landed squarely against his chest and slid down his body to land on his bare feet. Before he could reach her, she stood in front of him, all kinds of pale pink flesh revealed and waiting for him.

Thank you for hosting Safari Moon!

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