Aspiring writers are given rules and tips and formulas and charts and character sheets and plotting methods from day one. Especially Romance writers. Because there is a certain expectation that readers have for reading a romance novel. Sure, you can label it a formula, but there are millions of ways to apply that formula. Still, is it a romance if you don’t provide certain expected points?
The first one is that your heroine has to meet her hero in the first few pages. Certainly in the first chapter. Readers want to know who they should be rooting for, and why. If your Main Characters don’t meet up until Chapter Six, you might not be writing a romance. You might have a regular ol’ novel going there. Or maybe you’re just breaking that rule. If you have a good reason for breaking it, go ahead!
Another rule is never, ever, allow a child to die in the course of the story. Yes, there can be a deceased child in the past, and that is often a great way to introduce conflict and angst for your characters. I read a paranormal romance recently where the heroine had a miscarriage, and this became a very important plot point, it let to the perfect ending for that particular story. So breaking this rule had to be done for the story to work out. And the writer is one of the best out there, so I am excited that she has a whole series following this book.
Save the Cat is not so much a rule as a way to introduce a character with a soft spot for whatever animal in involved. I know readers who will throw a book across the room if a cat, dog, horse, bird, rabbit, mongoose, etc. comes to any harm. Yet there’s a great work out there which sadly has to have the animal involved be killed. It just wouldn’t work any other way. Not as strongly and not with as much impact. I did sit and stare at the pages, stunned when the event happened, but after thinking about it, I knew the author had done the right thing. She broke a rule.
Guess what? Not all of the rules you may have heard of are actually rules! So you can break those any time. Becasue they are mostly preferences (it says here: http://www.justinmclachlan.com/1323/writing-rules-break/) and you can just prefer something else. I really dislike passive voice, but not all of it is bad. Really, you have to say was or is once in a while. And I love prologues. They give me a slice of the story before we get down to brass tacks.
Go ahead, look for more rules and break away! Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.