Friday, February 14, 2014

For Valentine's Day: Writing Romance

Happy Valentine's Day!

In honor of Valentine's Day, I'm posting a few of my favorite links on writing romance. When I get stuck,   like to go to the experts:

Most of Gail Carson Levine's books have a strong romantic component. But ELLA ENCHANTED is still my favorite for its amazing last scene, a great illustration of the power of sacrifice.
On her blog, Gail Carson Levine talks about Unsappy Romance
She advises to think about your characters as jigsaw puzzles--how do they fit together?

Mette Ivie Harrison (THE PRINCESS AND THE HOUND series) says you need to make character development equal. Both characters need to grow and change. For example, in EMMA, only Emma changes, but Knightly is perfect just as he is. That, to me, is why PRIDE AND PREJUDICE is so satisfying.  : 13 Elements of Romance

I also found Book Therapy Blog's 10 Elements in a Romance 
helpful. It uses well-known romantic comedies to illustrate romantic plot elements.

Sometimes the best way to learn as a writer is to study what the books you love are doing right.

Here's a few of my favorite YA romances (to study and enjoy):

COURTSHIPS AND CURSES (Marissa Doyle): Not only is this a book about magic in the Regency period, but Sophie has one of my favorite character arcs. Stricken with a limp from polio, she must overcome her self-pity (and use her magic) with the help of her friends and Lord Woodbridge. Like all of Doyle's books, this one is so rich in description and language that you feel like you're reading a book from that period.

BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS (Shannon Hale):  I love how Shannon Hale often has her characters connect through humor and friendship first. In BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS, Dashti is acting as Cyrano for her mistress. Amazingly,  the main characters fall in love without seeing each other for the first half of the book. Like all Hale's books, there's so much more to this book than romance. 

THE COUNTESS BELOW THE STAIRS, also know as THE SECRET COUNTESS (Eva Ibbotson): Ibbotson's YA romances have a bit of a "take me away" quality.  In this one, Anna Grazinsky is a Russian countess who takes a job as a housemaid in England to hide during the Russian revolution. Anna charms everyone in the house. When she falls for Rupert, the earl of the house, hilarity and misunderstandings ensue.

What are some of your favorite YA romances? 


  1. For reasons I don't fully understand, I've never written romance. Maybe this is why I stick to real kid-lit. But all your recommendations are stellar.

    1. I was afraid for awhile to tackle romance, but as I write some YA, it's hard to avoid. But I understand what you mean. That's one of the reasons I enjoy writing MG too.

  2. These are great recommendations, Jenni! I love Shannon Hale, and really enjoyed Marissa Doyle's books as well. I just finished reading TIMEBOUND by Rysa Walker. It is wonderful, and has a poignant romantic component.

    1. Thank you for the recommendation, Becky! I hadn't heard of TIMEBOUND, but it sounds intriguing. I'm putting it on my TBR list.