Thursday, November 9, 2017

10 Things I learned About Writing from Romancing the Stone by Angela Ruth Strong

1. It’s okay to cry when you write. Sure, my characters are imaginary and the only reason they are in trouble is because I put them in trouble, but their feelings are as real as it gets. Their story has to touch me if it’s ever going to touch anybody else. So I let myself bawl like Joan Wilder as she types “The End.”

2. Hero and heroine must have the same goal but for two very different reasons. Jack and Joan set off to find a telephone when she’s lost in Columbia, but while her goal is to save her kidnapped sister, Jack’s goal is to make some money to buy a boat. This difference will help create the conflict needed to make their adventure exciting and unpredictable.

3. Break stereotypes. When captured by Columbians with guns, Jack says, “Write us out of this one, Joan Wilder.” At which point the Columbians get excited because they are Joan Wilder’s biggest fans. Veering away from the expected makes this scene both memorable and humorous and changes the status quo, turning Joan into the hero rather than Jack. Not only does the viewer see the Columbians differently, but Jack sees Joan differently through this turn of events.

4. Don’t be afraid to take things over the top. I’ve never been afraid of this. I’m usually wondering if I’ve gone too far. But then I watch a movie like this one where nobody is ever simply talking over coffee in a coffee shop. Even the first kiss comes in the midst of dancing and lively music and colorful lanterns. And that’s one of the reasons it often gets voted as “best first kiss.”

5. Chemistry is everything. Chemistry is the other reason the kiss between Jack and Joan is memorable. But you don’t have to be writing romance for your characters to zing dialog back and forth and feed off each other’s energy and become more themselves around each other than around anyone else. Even Danny DeVito yelling at “Ira” brings the story to life.

6. Dialog should reveal character. For example, who could forget the time Jack chopped the heels off Joan’s shoes with a machete? She complains, “Those were Italian,” and he counters, “Now they’re practical.” Their values are displayed in a witty way.

7. Humor lightens up a dark story. Sure there are drugs and kidnapping and guns in Romancing the Stone, but it’s all in fun. Viewers aren’t on the edge of their seat with fear but with laughter. They get a break from reality with an adventure that includes awkward landings after sliding into muddy ravines and screaming as the heroine swings on a vine. It can help viewers learn to laugh at their own problems, as well.

8. Heroine finds her strength. While Joan thinks she needs the guy to save her, she’s really the one to save him, and through learning to work together, they not only obtain both their goals but become better people in the process. In contrast to the books Joan wrote where the hero rode to her rescue, she pretty much killed the bad guy single handedly. Her life becomes better than a romance novel.

9. Tie the ending to the beginning. If you never noticed, the boat Jack gets at the end of the story is named after the heroine of the story Joan is writing about in the beginning. I love doing this as an author. I tie it all up and also include what could be considered inside jokes with the reader—things they will only get if they were paying attention. Or things that will want to make them read it all over again.

10. There are no new ideas under the sun. Okay, King Solomon said this first, but Romancing the Stone is a good example of this. When it released, many claimed it was a knockoff of Indiana Jones, which had been produced first, but in fact, the script had been written five years before Raiders of the Lost Ark released. No matter what I write, it’s probably been done before, but I can still use my own voice to make it fresh and fun and memorable and relevant.

Bonus: Don’t let anyone stop you from believing in yourself. The author of the book Romancing the Stone quit writing when a college professor agreed to only pass her if she gave up her passion. The film’s director lost a job directing another film because the studio thought Romancing the Stone was going to be a flop. They were both considered failures for a time, but they did what they loved anyway and found an audience who loved it as well.

Raised in the West Indies, Jacqueline James is on the verge of becoming a modern day princess until the prince hires a P.I. to do a background check and discovers her father is a fugitive from the States. Determined not to let her fairy tale fall apart, Jacqueline hires the P.I. to help her prove her father's innocence. 

When former police officer Beau Ryan's wife's murderer was acquitted, he left Miami on what would have been their anniversary cruise, planning never to return. It's his unexpected soft spot for Jacqueline that has him swallowing down the pain to face his past.

Together they elude press, bounty hunters, and the Miami P.D., searching for the truth needed to free Jacqueline to marry a monarch. Will Beau be able to save the woman he loves this time around? And if so, how will being her knight in shining armor compare with a proposal from Prince Charming?

Angela Ruth Strong studied journalism at the University of Oregon and published her first novel, Love Finds You in Sun Valley, Idaho, in 2010. With movie producers interested in her book, she's rereleased it as part of a new series titled Resort to Love, and she's excited to be writing for Love Inspired Suspense, as well. Though if you like a little comedy with your adventure, you'll love her latest release, The Princess and the P.I. This Idaho Top Author and Cascade Award winner also started IDAhope Writers to encourage other aspiring authors. She currently lives in Idaho with her husband and three teenagers where she teaches yoga and works as a ticket agent for an airline when not writing. She'd love to have you visit her at