Let’s give a big RU welcome to author Louisa Edwards! Louisa combines her love of cooking and writing romance by penning big burner stories about delectable chef heroes and heroines. Today, she talks about how pushing the boundaries can enhance your story and why there’s no tried-and-true recipe for writing romance.
Breaking the Rules
One of the most annoying misconceptions about the romance genre is that it’s formulaic—that every single romance novel essentially follows a paint-by-numbers set of guidelines that makes them a snap to write.
Four books in, I have to say, I almost wish that were true. Deadline Week would sure be easier to deal with!
Those of us who read it, write it and love it all know romance is more complex than that. Other than the fact that the story has to end with the heroine and hero living happily ever after, there really is no set formula. Romance novels transport us all over the world, through different time periods, with stories that take the kinds of unexpected twists and turns no formula could ever predict.
But…we also all know that there are a few unwritten rules when it comes to romance. Heroes and heroines are always young, fit, and gorgeous, they don’t have jobs like actor or rock star or sports celebrity, and, of course, a romance is between a hero and a heroine, exclusively. Right?
Well, not necessarily. Sometimes the real magic of romance happens when we break the rules. My first contemporary romance trilogy featured an ongoing romantic subplot between two heroes, a lanky, punk-rock chef and a photography student paying his way through college as a server. And I won’t lie—as much as I loved them, and as important as it was to me to tell their story, I was a little worried about what reader reaction might be. But you know what? To this day, 95% of my fan mail is letters from readers who adore Frankie and Jess, and want even more of them.
I’m hoping readers will fall just as hard for the boundary-pushing subplot in my new trilogy: a scorching hot, slightly boundary-pushing romance between a straight-laced French woman and a much younger man…who also happens to be a rock star famous for throwing lavish parties with fabulous food.
They’re first brought together in Too Hot to Touch to be judges of the Rising Star Chef competition, the high-stakes culinary challenge my main hero and heroine are entering, and from the moment Claire and Kane hit the page together, sparks fly, proving that a difference in age is no obstacle to passion.
Realistically, if we want to write mainstream romance to appeal to a mass audience, there are certain lines we agree to color inside, in order to get our work published and widely distributed. The world is changing, due to the advent of self-publishing—self-published authors, unconstrained by the need to fit into any mold, are beginning to make available a variety of works that were deemed “unpublishable” by New York editors.
But I believe the rules of mainstream romance can be changed over time. And subplots are a great place to push the envelope. If you abide the rules (or most of them) with your primary hero and heroine, in the secondary romance, you can introduce readers to characters and storylines that stretch their boundaries in exciting new ways…and maybe even stretch your readers’ idea of what a romance can be.
So the next time you sit down to write, throw the rules out the window! And the next time you’re looking for a new book to read, take a chance on a story that pushes your boundaries a little bit. You might just find magic!
Do you color outside the lines when you’re writing? Have you created characters that toe the line of mainstream romance?
On Friday, August 26th, Theresa Stevens joins us with her monthly column, Ask an Editor.
Bio: Louisa Edwards grew up in Virginia before moving to Manhattan to work with some of the biggest names in book publishing. She also worked as a restaurant reviewer for a small-town newspaper, a waitress at a retirement home, and behind the counter at an organic bakery before she decided to bring her love of romance and cooking together by writing contemporary romances with hot chefs for heroes! She currently lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, who, sadly, doesn’t love to cook…but makes up for it in other ways.
If you want to check out a risky romantic subplot, start with Too Hot to Touch! It hits shelves (and e-readers) on August 2nd. Louisa would love to hear what you think of Claire and Kane! Email her at Louisa@louisaedwards.com, connect with her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/LouisaEdwardsFanPage, and follow her on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/LouisaEdwards.
Look for Louisa’s new Rising Star Chef trilogy, starting with Too Hot to Touch on August 2, 2011. It will be followed by Some Like it Hot on November 29th, and Hot Under Pressure in April 2012.
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