It’s fascinating to read about what others suggest, to learn about the “structure to success” and what makes a winning Romance novel. It didn’t take long to establish that, for me, using a How-To manual (I don’t mean a style guide for grammar and mechanics) to write, is counterintuitive, counterproductive, and frustrating. While I find the process of how others put their puzzles together, intriguing, I find it hard to believe it works. When I apply the suggested methods I get wrapped up in character grids, time lines, and collaging—all that stuff that fed directly into my first ever anxiety attack—writing takes a backseat. And then it slips under the seat with loose change and dirt the Dust Buster can’t suck up. I can’t do forced storytelling without the seven veils, dancing, and thousand and one nights.
Yes, it’s interesting to observe and discuss the process other writers use. The curiosity gave me the idea to do a comparative study where I’d write one novel with manuals and one novel without, in a year. It’s taken me 7 months to get to 65,000 word of the manual-free novel. In that same time, using the guides, novel number two has 3,000 words.
So let’s face it, I’ve sunken my teeth into a bit more chaw than I can chew and spit. Plus I hate the taste. Which mean I’m scrapping that comparative puppy.
What is it I really want to do, to accomplish? Intuition tells me to scrap the two novel idea and go where my real interest lies. There’s a dearth of heroes and heroines searching for love mid-life. The need and desire for romance does not end at 35, after divorce, or menopause. Half of all marriages end, the majority of people remarry between the ages of 40-43. The population is aging and a huge chunk of us are being left out…of Romance. The books aimed squarely at women 35+ are Relationship novels, Women’s Fiction, the what happens after I do (Hello, Harlequin Mills & Boon’s NEXT line). Romance dries up, or gets relegated to a secondary plotline or character. This is where the real idea, the actual interesting part of my thesis springs forth. This is how I can marry the How-To manual work to my premise.
While using the basic framework of those How to Write Chick Lit/ How to Write A Romance, handbooks, I’m going to focus on writing a Romance for an older audience. My theory? If it’s romantic, if it fits the bill of romance, the age won’t matter. Granted I can’t make the H&H 70 (even though recent studies prove seniors enjoy active sex lives), but I can sit them squarely in midlife and make romance the focus of the story.
Then I write, This is a single case study. Blah blah blah. The dry, academic part goes here and it pleases the committee. I get awarded an MA. The novel is picked up by a publisher, and I make my name as a “new” subgenre in Romance develops.
That’s the new plan.
Now, how do I convince my advisor it will fly?