Text from May to Mandi: Romancing the Stone is on TV! YAY! Hey – do you think I can manage to write an article about it and relate it to romance novels somehow?
If Romancing the Stone comes on TV as I flick through channels you can bet I will be watching it. It is cheesy, old, and downright silly. But most importantly, it totally works. The quiet romance writer meets bad boy while trying to save her sister from men in Columbia comedy/action/romance is well, a classic! Seeing as how lately I’ve read so many books that get things wrong, that don’t finish strong, that don’t have a great story I thought this article might be a good way for me to vent a bit. Oh believe me I know writing a book – any book – takes a ton of work and is incredibly hard. Please don’t think I’m here to pick on authors!
So then, why the heck am I here? Oh yes. Romancing the Stone, and lessons that it offers romance writers. I mean heck – Joan Wilder our heroine is herself a romance novel writer! I’m sure she has some advice to give and some ideas to take away.
1. Good girls like bad boys with hearts of gold is a cliché, and has been done a million and one times. Many of the best romances I can think of use this trope, but so do some of the worst, so think real carefully before you decide to give it a go.
2. Commit to your story. I’ve read way too many books that feel very generic in the sense that they aren’t very suspenseful, deep, funny, heartwarming, action packed, dramatic, or anything else that you’d expect to find in a book. Figure out what kind of story you have to tell, and make it interesting and something that sparks a reaction. If you’re a light silly romp through the wilderness of Colombia that’s cool – make sure you keep to your description and don’t try to please everyone by also being a deeply dramatic, over the top raunchy, horror filled, mystery tale that doesn’t work for anybody because it’s trying to be too many things and doing none of them well.
3. Speaking of interesting, give me detail! From spending the night in the jungle in a plane to the tips of Jack’s new boots and the drug lord/romance novel fan this story had great detail. It set the tone, makes jokes that much funnier, helps me get to know the characters, and overall just really gets me in the story.
4. Show us flaws in your characters, it makes them more interesting and likeable! This isn’t just for comedies either.
5. Let your characters save their own asses. So often the hero rescues the damsel or the roles are reversed, but why not let characters save themselves from being stabbed or eaten by crocodiles or taken by villains now and then? It strengthens that character, and reminds us that true love or not – you always need to be capable!
6. Know when and how to close your story. Sail off into the sunset in a way that makes the reader smile, and close that book with a happy sigh. They can wish for more, want to re-read immediately (or read the next if a series of books), but the ending has got to pull things all together and rock.
So it looks like I found some advice from our world class hopeful romantic Joan Wilder to share with writers after all! Do you have some advice you’d share based on one of your favorite movies? Or perhaps you’d just like to share some of your favorite romantic movies? I’d love to hear!