Monday, February 21, 2011

Ten Beats of a Romance: Part Three by Susan May Warren

Happy Manuscript Monday, dear readers. So far this month, we’ve gone over the first five beats of a romance novel. Susie's back to discuss the next two: The Kiss and The Heartbreak. You have to have both! Read on!

The Kiss and the Heartbreak*
by Susan May Warren

Let's begin today with a discussion on the different types of kisses (it's not what you think *grin*). We'll get to the heartbreak in a moment.

Beat 6: The sexual tension (the Kiss!)

This is my favorite part. (Ok, I like the dialogue leading up to it too!) But, a great romance has at least two great kisses—sometimes three. (If you’re writing for ABA, you might have more than a kiss.)

Kiss One: An introductory I-didn’t-mean-to; did-we-just-do-that? kiss
Kiss Two: An I-really-want-to-kiss-you-now-and-I’m-going-to kiss
Kiss Three: An I-love-you-and-I-mean-it kiss

If you have to, the last two can be combined.

Of course, before the First Kiss you want to build desire, an awareness of each other, an agreement that they aren’t repulsed by each other and even a hope that maybe, oh, no, really, oh, I shouldn’t think that but YES, I want to kiss him!

That often happens before the Intro kiss. But you can have an intro kiss where it takes them off guard that they then ponder later, and decide they like it. A lot.

Between the Intro kiss and the I-really-want-to-kiss-you kiss, there is wooing and sparks and some whys (we’ll get to that), until they realize their heart is engaged. And this kiss means something.

Often, after that, we might have the Black Moment, but it could also happen before this kiss and the second kiss could be combined with the end.

The Introductory kiss should occur before or at the halfway point of the book.

The second kiss occurs in the last quarter of the book. Usually.

In one of my books, my hero and heroine are pretending to be engaged. Which causes them to be in romantic situations. They have a FAKE kiss halfway through the book…that leads to real attraction.

The Second kiss occurs at the end. (unless they absolutely demand another one…! ) (which they might).

As far as kissing rules—just write the kiss you are comfortable with. I have a would-my-mother-read-this? rule and that seems to work fine for me. *grin*

Beat 7: The Breakup: The biggest WHY NOT rises to push them apart. Every romance has a Breakup—or a Black Moment. That reason why they can’t be together. Without it, we have no triumphant run into each other’s arms! We have no giant sign of happiness.

We have no conflict, tension and late-night reading!

YOU MUST HURT YOUR CHARACTERS and make them BREAK UP!! I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, really.

I know there are a few novelists who don’t want to be mean to your characters—but if you don’t, then they don’t ponder their existence, hit their knees, find the truth and change into better people. And we want better people, right?

Just say, as you’re typing…this is for your own good, I promise!!

As you’re sketching our your Black Moments/Epiphany and how to create, pick the biggest WHY NOT. It is this element that causes them to break up. (Find more on this at Book Therapy archives: The Black Moment archived posts.

In one of my books, my hero’s mission is going to get an untrained person hurt. And, he can’t fall for her, so he stages a breakup. This fight embarrasses and hurts her, and she believes all his feelings for her were just an act (like the feelings of her ex-non-boyfriend-turned-future-brother-in-law) which gets at her core issues that she’s a “leftover.” And then she does something that makes him think she can’t be trusted (his why not).

Ask: What makes your hero/heroine break up? (don’t worry, you can change it later—right now you are just brainstorming). Ideally, the breakup also be tied in with her greatest fear.

The breakup is essential to a romance, because we want true love to win. If love isn’t at stake, there is no fear of losing, no turning of pages. But, there should be a good reason for them to be together, which leads us to next week’s blog: why do they love each other?

See you next week.


*Article series first appeared on Book Therapy Voices blog in October, 2010. Used by permission.


To learn more about Susan, visit her website. Her latest release, Point of No Return, is a romantic suspense. Here's the blurb:

An American boy and a warlord's engaged daughter have disappeared—together—in an Eastern European border country. Only one man can find them in time to prevent an international meltdown—Chet Stryker. But Chet is taken aback when he realizes the boy is the nephew of Mae Lund, Chet's former flame. When Mae insists on rescuing her relative herself, Chet knows he has to protect her from the enemy on their trail. Yet can he protect himself from falling for Mae again?

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