Writing Romance: A Word About Sex

Hello Campers,
Last month I promised to take a side trip here and discuss – ahem – sex.

Is sex necessary in a romance novel? That’s a huge question. Before I move into the real discussion, I’ll point out that my romances do not have sex in them. That is a personal decision I made, and I’m not here to get preachy in any way. I fully realize that this decision will result in some folks not buying or liking my books. Disclaimer done.

In preparation for this post, I googled “sex in romance novels.” The first hit was a Goodreads discussion titled “How Important is Sex in a Romance Novel?” It’s an interesting read. There’s everything from “super important” with points deducted if there is not sex, to folks who skip the sex scenes altogether, to one guy who says “Any good Romance story must include the points of love lust, sex & the aftermath, the sweaty bodies, the stained sheets or the unconventional romp in the park.”

Most said that it depends on the characters. That may or may not be true. It may completely depend on the target market.

Once upon a time, I wrote a novel for an erotica publisher. I didn’t enjoy writing it, and on the 1-5 flame rating system, it got a 1. I didn’t write for them again. It wasn’t my forte. Another two-book “series” I wrote – before my change of heart – did contain sex, though it wasn’t a main focus of either story. I so love those two stories. Recently I went back to the first one to see if I could take the sex out. What I found out: sex changes everything. But you likely already knew that. If I took the sex out of that book, I’d have to go about setting up dominoes that were knocked down by that act.

What this means, though – and I think it’s a positive – is that that sex scene was integral to the story. It was not just obligatory.

That being said, I’m glad there’s a romance market for every reader and every writer. (What I’d like to see is a rating system – but that might be just me.)

Let’s look at some of the submission guidelines for various Harlequin brands.

DARE
• The heat level is explicit and graphic. The hero and heroine have a powerful sexual and emotional connection.
• We’re looking for authors who have a distinct, memorable voice and write stories with a high level of sexual tension as well as graphic sex.

DESIRE
• Sizzling sensual tension between the hero and heroine.
• Sexual language that leans more euphemistic and romantic rather than explicit.

PRESENTS
• A hero who will command and seduce. There's nothing in the world his powerful authority and money can't buy…except the love of a woman strong enough to tame him!
• High sensuality and sky-rocketing sexual tension to quicken your pulse.

HEARTWARMING
• Plots unfold in a wholesome style and voice that excludes explicit sex or nudity, premarital sex, profanity, or graphic depictions of violence: references to violent incidents or premarital sex in the past are acceptable if they contribute to character development.
• Physical interactions (i.e. kissing/hugging) should emphasize emotional tenderness rather than sexual desire or sensuality: low level of sexual tension; characters should not make love unless they are married.

The inspirational imprints that have a “mandatory faith element” and no premarital sex.

As you can see, the HOT value of each of these imprints is different. So your decision on sex with these imprints is a market-based one. That may not be true for other publishers. Check submission guidelines for your target publisher.

Obviously, if you’re self-published, the decision is entirely yours. But you will still be targeting readers. That, of course, may not be your focus when writing your novel. It will be more about what you like to write – what you like to read. Let me assure you, then, that there is a market for every SIZZLE level out there. Write the book of your heart.

Your readers will find you.

Okay, enough sex talk. Next month we’re back to our outline, and we'll tackle the MIDPOINT.

Until then, BiC-HoK: Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard.

Cheers, Jax

Writing Romance: Getting to Midpoint

Hello Campers! Are we back from holiday vacation yet? No, are we REALLY back from holiday vacation? Big confession – I forgot my deadline last week for this column. Rude awakening, that. Many thanks to Rachel for not beating me! Now I’m REALLY back.

Remember at the beginning of this series, we talked about the very basis of the three-act structure: Get your hero up a tree, throw rocks at him, and get him out of the tree. Now that we’ve crossed over into Act 2, it’s rock throwing time. But recall, last month we also said: until the Midpoint, the hero and heroine are confronted by “tests, allies, and enemies.” And up until that Midpoint, the hero and heroine are still trying to live their lives with their old pre-romance ways. So, going back to our rock throwing: up until Midpoint, our hero and heroine are dodging rocks individually. At Midpoint, they’ll team up and work together to dodge rocks.

We also pointed out that Act 1 = first quarter of the book; Act 2 = second and third quarters of the book; and Act 3 = last quarter of the book. In a 300-page book, Act 2 takes 150 pages. And getting to the Midpoint takes 75 pages. It’s the time when, according to Jami Gold, “the protagonists react to the new desire, but suffer from one step forward and two steps back.”

Susan May Warren, in her book How to Write a Brilliant Romance, says that Act 2 is made up of wooing, sparks, and sexual tension. Of course, the devil is in the details of the three of those, depending on your subgenre. Wooing looks different in a historical romance than it does in a contemporary suspense romance. And wooing may not mean what you think it means. It could mean small compliments, small gestures, or flowers and dating. But remember, H&H are still operating as separate individuals and maybe still thinking they can get back to the status quo they left.

Along with the wooing, there’s the sizzle. By this, Susan doesn’t mean sexual sizzle. She means conflict. During this time, the hero and heroine have goals that are at odds, and that causes conflict. Or, they have similar goals but their approach is at odds. At odds is key during this phase of the romance. Susan writes about having them fight and fight some more. I’m not sure I agree. Fights are fine, but I don’t see arguments as being a way to fill these pages. But you do some homework – read through the second quarter of your favorite books and see what goes on there.

Then there’s sexual tension. This is a critical ingredient, and how you do it depends, again, on the subgenre and how much sex you want in the book. But remember that sexual tension doesn’t automatically mean sex. Susan further states that this is the building of awareness and desire and the realization that they are definitely not repulsed by each other – even though they may want to be.

Next month, we’re going to chase a rabbit before we return to the second half of Act 2 – we’re going to discuss sex.

Until then, keep studying romance books and movies, taking notes, and sharing your aha moments. And don’t forget BiC-HoK – Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard.

Writing Romance: Crossing into Act Two

Welcome, Campers.
Last month we approached the turning point that launches our duo into Act Two.

By the end of Act One, your characters will likely have stated - either in their heads or actually out loud - that they want nothing to do with the other, nothing to do with a relationship with the other. No way, no how. But the final plot point of this act will not give them that choice. It will make it impossible for them to walk away. Not until. . . So at the end of this piece, your hero and heroine are completely “up a tree” with no way of escape.

In Hero’s Journey language, we’ve established the ordinary world of our hero and heroine. We’ve sent them a call to adventure when they meet each other. They’ve said NO NO NO - the Refusal. And sometimes they’ve met with a mentor or friend that has nudged them into the adventure.

And, at the end of Act One, they’ve begrudgingly Crossed the Threshold.

According to Jami Gold's Beat Sheet - which we’ve been following as a loose outline - in Act Two, “the protagonists react to the new desire, but suffer from one step forward and two steps back.”

As you can see in this beat sheet, Act Two is sandwiched between Pinch Point 1 and Pinch Point 2. Act Two is usually half the book and divided in half itself with an important Midpoint.

Up until that Midpoint, the hero and heroine are confronted by “tests, allies, and enemies.”  And up until that Midpoint, the hero and heroine are still trying to live their lives with their old pre-romance ways. They may give lip-service to working together, might even try to work together. But when the rubber meets the road, they’re working alone. In a way, they’re trying to get back to their ordinary world unscathed. Have they got a surprise coming.

An Ordeal at the Midpoint will force them to admit that the road they’re on doesn’t go back to that ordinary world. Something big has changed and they move forward through more challenges, learning to approach life differently: together. Sometimes this moment is capped with The Kiss.

At the end of Act Two comes another turning point. This one will drive a huge obstacle right through their relationship. Often, it leads to a breakup. And then it’s on to the last quarter of the book in Act Three.

Next month, we’ll get into the nitty-gritty of getting your couple to that Midpoint.

Your homework: get out those romance movies. See if you can map the story with the information you have right now.

Oh, and BiC-HoK - Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard.  (And Merry Christmas)

Writing Romance – the End of the Beginning

Welcome again, Campers.

Last month, we talked about the inciting incident in a romance novel. And if you’ve been following along, you know that our framework for this series of articles is Jami Gold’s Beat Sheet for Romance (found here). We’re sticking to the three act structure for these articles but, as I’ve said before, you don’t have to stick to it like glue.

There’s an old adage about three act structure that in Act One, you get your hero up a tree. In Act Two, you throw rocks at him. And in Act Three, you get him out of the tree.

After the inciting incident comes the end of the beginning. As Jami states: The end of the beginning is when the hero and heroine are forced by external plotting to spend more time together and start making decisions that reflect their desire for each other.

This could mean several things. First, the external circumstances are pushing them together and they are making decisions to stop that from happening. Or, as the external circumstances push them together, they make decisions from a desire to force that to happen more.

In this section, developments arise that raise the stakes and cause the hero and heroine to reinforce their goals. Often this sets them at odds with each other or at emotional odds with their goals. This turning point is what thrusts the story into Act Two.

This turning point completely changes their relationship. It’s a wrench in the gears thing. Enter the main conflict between your hero and heroine - the thing that’s going to force them apart. It might be new information. It might be new orders from a boss. It might be the entrance of an old flame. Truly, it’s the moment when these two people realize that this is not going to be a cake walk. And usually they make this realization separately, in their own minds and hearts.

In Hero’s Journey language, this turning point takes the characters out of their normal world and thrusts them into the journey - a journey from which they can never go home. Even if they do “go home,” things there will never be the same.

By the end of Act One, your characters will likely have stated - either in their heads or actually out loud - that they want nothing to do with the other, nothing to do with a relationship with the other. No way, no how. But the final plot point of this Act will not give them that choice. It will make it impossible for them to walk away. Not until. . . So at the end of this piece, your hero and heroine are completely “up a tree” with no way of escape.

Until next month, your homework is to watch a few chick flicks and figure out where this happens (hint: in a movie, look a third of the way in) and how the writer accomplishes this. Feel free to post your insights. Or, as an alternative, share some of these “points” from a favorite book. Even yours.

Next month, we’ll get into Act Two.
Of course, don’t forget: BiCHoK - Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard.

Writing Romance: The Inciting Incident

Last month, we compared and contrasted WANT vs. NEED. Again, we’re using Jami Gold’s beat sheet as a basis for these articles. This month, we’re moving on to the Inciting Incident.

If you research “inciting incident,” you’ll find that most definitions include the idea of thrusting the protagonist(s) forward into the main action of the story. It’s the event that hooks both the readers and the characters. Note: The term is most often used in the Hero's Journey plotting.  In the beat sheet it says, “Give a glimpse of how right the characters could be for each other (Essence), but they’re not ready yet (identity)."

In a romance, this is usually the first time the hero and heroine cross paths, the first time they meet. It is generally found in the middle of Act One.

This scene can be a reflection or bookend to the Final Image/Resolution of the story. It can happen in the same place, or use similar words. Note: How much fun is it to actually see that Final Image that was used in the beginning and see how perfect this pair of lovers is for each other? If you’re thinking about doing the reflection/bookend thing, feel free to write both scenes right now. That doesn’t mean that last scene is set in stone. It probably isn’t.

Remember, this scene is all about the possibilities. Why should these two be together? What attracts them? Why might they want to fall in love?

I hate, hate, hate to throw this monkey wrench in here. But I have to. Since we’re using Jami’s beat sheet, I’m sticking with the point-by-point within it. But don’t get me wrong. It is not the ONLY way. How many of your favorite romance novels have the inciting incident be volatile and negative? Before they get out of the room, these two detest each other? That’s certainly a valid “inciting incident” as well. Then, they have a mountain to overcome right off the bat.

But let’s say you do it Jami’s way. Does that mean there’s no mountain? Well, shoot, no. There has to be a mountain. It just comes a bit after that first meeting, that first inciting incident. After they’ve met and smiled at each other and left that place with that warm, fuzzy feeling. After they’ve maybe even smiled for the rest of the day and fantasized about that perfect person.

It won’t be long until they find out who that person is - the guy that holds the mortgage to the ranch - the girl that got the job he wanted. Conflict! But for now, there’s that amazing moment in the coffee shop when they are perfect for each other. The realization that crashes the dream is so much sweeter then.

This inciting incident will be a scene you want to work hard to get right. Whose Point-of-View should it be in? What will the characters remember from this moment? The lighting? The music that’s playing? What he’s wearing? Her perfume? It’s important to get the details right. The takeaways for each character.

Craft this scene. Make it sing. Is that easy? Not really. But who told you writing a great book was easy?

Oh, and by the way, you don’t have to get it right the first time. You can write that scene and keep going - as a matter of fact, you should. If you get hung up with your inner editor making that scene perfect the first time through, you may never get the book written. Just know that it’s an important scene to get right.

Your homework is to take a few favorites off your keeper shelf and study the “inciting incident.”

Until next month - remember, Campers, BIC-HOK. Butt in chair, hands on keyboard.

Jax

 

WANT vs NEED

Last month we took a step back from Boy meets Girl to focus on some preliminary work. Although you can certainly throw your Hero and Heroine together on the first page, it may be better to show them apart first.

Then, when Boy Meets Girl, you’ll have the opportunity for SOMETHING to catch your characters attention - and that SOMETHING will directly relate to what is missing in that characters life. Just be careful not to be TOO obvious about it.

Remember, your hero and heroine go into this story ready for love. Even if they don’t know it. Love is what they NEED, not necessarily what they want. If you asked the hero and heroine on page one if they’re looking for love, they would categorically deny it. Might even say HECK NO! I never want to love again. (Oooh, backstory.)

But in that first meeting, you can give the reader a glimpse into why these two are perfect for each other. Which means you have to know all that before you start writing.

If you look at the beat sheet I introduced last month (http://jamigold.com/2012/11/write-romance-get-your-beat-sheet-here/) you’ll see that the very first thing listed is the “Opening Image/Hook: Opening scene or sequence of story; create empathy with characters by showing they lack for something.”

Now this lack that you introduce in the first scenes will be made up of things the character thinks he or she NEEDS. To save the ranch. To get that promotion. To fix a relationship. To attend a crucial event. You get the picture. (Quick assignment - go pick up a handful of romances on your shelf - read the first few pages and jot down the initial WANT for those characters.)

In these first scenes, you want to “introduce protagonists, hook the reader, and setup the romance conflict (foreshadowing, establishing stakes).” Does that sound daunting? It can be. But that’s why we read a lot of romance - to analyze and absorb how that’s done. And that’s why we do all that preliminary character work.

In these initial pages, you want your characters to come across as likable and to have wants that the reader can identify with. To do that, you have to know your characters. REALLY know your characters.

Why does she NEED to save the ranch? What’s in it for her. What’s behind that need/want? If you don’t allow your reader in to see the why then you won’t keep them reading, you won’t keep them caring. Most people never have a NEED to “save the ranch” - but most all of us can identify with keeping memories alive or fulfilling a responsibility that we’ve carried for a long time, or simply the need to make a living.

Are you confused by my interchangeable use of WANT and NEED? Remember, rarely does a character go into his/her story knowing what he truly needs. He knows what he thinks he needs. But that’s what the character arc is all about. The missing link in the hero’s life will be in the possession or person of the heroine and vice versa.
You’ve heard the phrase “he completes me.” Well, there it is.

A hero or heroine will likely go into the story not even guessing that there’s a huge hole in their life. One that only the “other half” will fill. That’s what the story is all about. That’s what the character arc is all about.

So, make sure you know what the true need is. But you don’t have to play that card yet. Please don’t. Simply open the H/H’s story with their normal world - skipping happily through life oblivious to what’s coming.

Make sense?

And if you’re still not sure how it’s done - keep reading great romance novels - the ones on the keeper shelf. Read them. Analyze them. Go through with the beat sheet in hand and figure out how that author did it. And don’t forget to WRITE.

Until next month - BiC HoK - Butt in Chair - Hands on Keyboard.

The Beat Sheet

As I thought about this series, I realized in retrospect that I wanted a plan.  And I wanted something for you readers to be able to follow along.  And I wanted it to be totally available.  AHA - a Beat Sheet.

If you don’t know what beat sheets are, here’s the short description:  The “beat sheet” is a way to sequence your story, using bullets instead of whole sentences or paragraphs. Very quickly, though, those bullets becomes sentences and paragraphs. And when that happens, you have an outline on your hands.  (From Storyfix.com)  You’ll find a lot of talk about beats and beat sheets in the screenwriting world.  I won’t get into it here, but it’s certainly something to check out if it sounds like gibberish to you.  I often use beat sheets to do some preliminary plot work once my character work is well in hand.

Jamie Gold is the queen of beat sheets online.  She has made a variety of them in Excel format so you can fill in your page goal and it will calculate where all your beats should come.  Obviously, this is a tool.  Don’t get stressed about having to follow it exactly.  Jamie even has one for romance.  Good information in the entire post.

Here’s why I’m sending you there.  It occurred to me as I was looking at this beat sheet that I may have jumped the gun last month with Boy Meets Girl.  Yes, Boy Meets Girl should happen in Act One, but there should probably be some preliminary scenes before that happens.  Note:  In the “olden days” of Romance, the requirement was that hero and heroine meet in the first pages of the book.  I don’t think that’s the hard and fast rule anymore.  But if the line you’re targeting wants it - give it to them.  You’ll have to weave the other preliminary stuff in as you do so or shortly after.

Alright.  So here’s why I’m making a U-turn – it’s only temporary.  It’s not because I’m requiring - or even suggesting - that you have to use this beat sheet.  But I will be using it as a guideline for this series of article.  It’s all about me 🙂

Last month we talked about Boy Meets Girl.  That event usually happens as the Inciting Incident in your plot outline.  Before that happens, you may want to introduce your reader to one or both characters and set up the romance by showing what your character is lacking - or what he (she) thinks he’s lacking.  In the opening scenes of the story, you’ll want to create empathy.  Showing what the character is lacking/longing for is a way to do that.

As an aside here, most of the time, the goal that the characters go into the story with is what they WANT but not what they NEED.  Over the course of the story, you’ll bring them through a character arc from what they thought they wanted at the beginning of the story to what they actually NEED.

In the spirit of taking that step back, I’d like to talk about WANT and NEED before we go further.  So that’s what I’ll tackle next month.

Hope you’ll forgive the blip!

Cheers, Jax

 

 

Boy… Meets… Girl

You’ve heard the old adage that a romance novel is just:

Boy Meets Girl

Boy  Loses Girl

Boy Gets Girl Back

Well, looking at that and comparing it to a three-act structure, one might actually be able to make it work.  But it does seem a bit simplistic, doesn’t it?

In Julie Beard’s Idiot’s Guide to Getting Your Romance Published, she says this:

“Romance plots are deceptive.  To the outsider; the critic, and even the reader, they seem simple.  Here’s the basic premise (and I do mean basic!):  Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl in the end.

How hard can it be to write a story that simple?  Well, I don’t mean to be discouraging, but coming up with fresh settings, characters, dialog, and conflicts within the confines of such an age-old storyline is truly challenging!  Readers know how your romance will end.  The trick is getting them to forget the end until the end.”

So, let’s talk about how your hero and heroine meet.

The possibilities are endless.  But you’ll need to make sure that they meet in a logical way FOR THEM.  They can’t meet in a Paris bistro if none of the stories take place in Paris, can they?

But they could meet through their work. Through friends.  In an elevator.  At a coffee shop.  In jail - I started to write “well, maybe not” and realized that in my military romance True Honor, Chris and Claire actually do meet in jail.

Which led me to go back to the other four books in the series.

True Valor - Nic stops to help Julie when her car runs out of gas.

True Courage - Rick and Lily “meet” on the radio when he crashes his helo and she’s working the Search and Rescue radio.

True Honor - In jail, when Chris is arrested for murder and Claire is his JAG attorney.

True Virtue - Daniel and Sophie meet on the side of a mountain during a Search and Rescue mission.

True Gallantry - Haha - Cruz and Kit - well, they meet in book two when Kit flies Cruz to the crash site.  Their story is interwoven through the series and they get their own book in the end.

More often than not, the way the hero and heroine meet is tightly woven into the plot line.  For example, Girl inherits broken down horse ranch and Boy is the hired wrangler.  Okay, cliche, I suppose. But it was off the top of my head after all.

So, what comes first as you approach your romance novel?  The plot or the meeting? Well, there’s no right answer to that question.  But let me tell you a story.

I was driving home from visiting my daughter - about an hour’s drive.  There’s a section of that road that is flat and straight and excruciatingly boring. I sorta zoned out for a moment and, when I zoned back in, for just an instant, I didn’t know where I was. My stomach clenched with panic.  And then the instant passed.  But, for the rest of the trip home, I played with the idea.  What if I hadn’t remembered?  What if I not only didn’t know where I was, but I didn’t know who I was.  By the time I got up the mountain, I had the basic premise of True Valor, including the moment that Nic and Julie met.

The point is that it can happen in any order.  Just play with ideas till something catches fire.

And you have your Boy Meets Girl.

Your homework:  pull your favorite romance off the shelf and analyze how the Boy Meets Girl moment is intertwined with the main plot. You may want to note what page that happens on as well.

You could even do this with your favorite romance movie - like Sleepless in Seattle or When Harry Met Sally or Dirty Dancing.  Feel free to share any aha moments.

 

 

 

Writing Romance – the Warrior Poet

The last romance hero archetype we’ll look at is the Warrior Poet.

The website TVTropes says this about the WP, “He's fought in a battle and is no slouch at war making, but he thinks about the purpose behind all the bloodshed and philosophizes on the meaning of life and death.

Remember the last line of Braveheart?   "They fought like warrior-poets. They fought like Scotsmen. And won their freedom."

This hero archetype isn’t just broody, though he may be broody - he isn’t your Theta or Delta.  He’s a warrior, but not your Alpha.  He’s genuine and courteous, but not your Beta.

The WP is fighting for something bigger than himself.

Here are some more examples from TVTropes

  • “D'Artagnan gets the Musketeers to like him in The Three Musketeers (1993) by tossing out a one-liner. D'Artagnan: I may not wear the tunic, but I believe I have the heart of a Musketeer.
    Porthos: Warrior.
    Aramis: Poet. “
  • Captain America - thoughtful and introspective.
  • Picard in Star Trek with “the heart of an explorer and the soul of a poet.”

Eileen Charbonneau really nails this when she states that “his roots are in the Irish Fianna, an ancient society of professional protectors of the poor and voiceless.”

She points to Robin Hood and King Arthur, and St. George.

This hero may have darkness in his past.  But he has also had light and love to show him the way.

Susan Sarah calls him the M&M Hero - crusty on the outside, soft on the inside.  She notes that he is restrained emotionally but has a deep capacity for love.  Of course, his heroine will bring that out in him, giving him a safe place to be himself.

William Wallace is often pointed to as this Warrior Poet hero.  Real quick, let’s look at his life (in the movie Braveheart, of course.)

  • A father that loves him.
  • An uncle that loves him and takes care of him when his father is killed, raising him to love books and education.
  • He comes home to build a life - take a wife - have a family.  He doesn’t want trouble.
  • He attends the wedding and, in one of my favorite moments, has his eye on Murran but when he’s interrupted by another village girl asking him to dance, he says, “Of course I will.”
  • He falls hopelessly in love with Murran and only goes to “war” when she is murdered.
  • Even though the “war” starts with her death, it becomes something much bigger.  Scotland.  Freedom.
  • This Warrior Poet makes those around him better. More courageous.  He does this with his friend Hamish, Stephen, Robert the Bruce (Unite the clans) and even Queen Isabella (“If I swear to him, then everything that I am is dead already.” And, “Every man dies, not every man really lives.”)
  • He inspired the Scots with this infamous speech

“Wallace: I AM William Wallace. And I see a whole army of my countrymen here in defiance of tyranny. You have come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What would you do without freedom? Will you fight?

Veteran soldier: Fight? Against that? No, we will run; and we will live.

Wallace: Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you'll live -- at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom!!!”

Again Susan Sarah:  “In some ways, the Warrior Poet is the most realistic of heroes, the most balanced, the most attainable and familiar sort of hero. He is everywhere, on the news every day, and living in our own homes. He has strength and gentleness, courage and hesitancy, power and tenderness. He’s fascinating, and he can live without his heroine: and therein lies a great challenge and journey for her, and the writer, and the reader too.”

Of my own heroes - I think Daniel Fraser (Book 4 of True Heroes series) is the Warrior Poet.  He’s an ex-Navy Seal - who gave up “Sealing” for the love of a woman.  He’s introspective - his team calls him Professor.  But he’s courageous, kind, and his whole being is wrapped up in helping people.

I hope you've enjoyed this look at our wonderful romance heroes archetypes.  I imagine you might be ready to jump into something more.  No more archetypes, I promise.

Until next month, remember BIC-HOK - Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard.  Scribendo disces scribere.

Writing Romance – the Delta, Theta, and Beta Heroes

Welcome back, Campers.  This month we'll look at three other types of romance heroes:  the Delta, the Theta, and the Beta heroes.  (And how about those Oxford commas!)

The Delta - the dark and dangerous. His past is so dark, so damaging, and combines with such a darker temperament that he exiles himself from society and takes on loner/outlaw status. His issues have to do with the past and how to overcome it - guilt, shame, rage, isolation versus need for love.... Delta means change, and these heroes most of all must change to be able to give and accept love freely.

Conflicts for Delta

•Guilt vs Trust

•Outlaw vs Authority

•Freedom vs Home

•Self-sufficiency vs Family

Trust/Love/Intimacy

He lets no one see inside.  Trusts no one.

 

The Theta - the wounded. Theta means both death and art. These are the wounded creators, the ones too sensitive to put on the Delta's armor, and too passionate about life to kill themselves. Their very vulnerability to life's suffering makes them creative. They can be artists or writers or healers, but

their way of dealing with pain is to create with it. The Theta's issues have to do often with the self-destructive nature of the artistic temperament--substance abuse, loneliness, the need to stay open to life without dying of the pain of it.

Conflicts for Theta

Addiction vs Pain

Art vs Life

Past vs Future

Care-taker vs Care-needer

 

Then there's the Beta, and him I define not as a wimp but more as a good-time guy. He's the open, friendly fella always willing to lend a hand or a shoulder to cry on. He likes a party and has many friends, most of whom take advantage of his good nature. His issues have to do with 'self' boundaries - care-taking, giving too much, and not planning for the morrow because today is too involving. He could be a leader but is too lazy or too busy or too uncaring to do that. Mostly he just wants to enjoy life today.

Conflicts for Beta

Commitment vs Freedom

Loyalty vs Loyalty  (friend/job/girl)

Trust vs Betrayal

(Delta expects betrayal – Beta doesn’t)

 

My favorite Beta hero - Jack (Bill Pullman), the nice younger brother, in "While You Were Sleeping"

Example: He's playing cards with his comatose brother and says, "Whoever gets the high card, gets Lucy." (No direct confrontation.)  Love this guy!

Feel free to leave comments about these heroes – your favorites – and any questions you have.

That does it for our Romance Heroes for this month.  Next month, we’ll talk about the last one.

Until then, remember BIC-HOK - Butt in Chair, Hands on Keyboard.  Scribendo disces scribere.