Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Why Do "They" Despise Romance?

I've been blogging here about how we can change the public perception into a respect for Romance in general, and the cross-genre Romance forms in particular.

In exploring that issue, we've examined the whole publishing field and much of the screenwriting world, the writer's business model, and even the esoteric roots of human emotion.  But we still haven't solved the problem.

On a #scriptchat focused on the difference between plot and story and how you as a writer can use that difference in screenwriting, there was a quick side-exchange among writers regarding why they are not enchanted with the "romcom" or Romantic Comedy in film.

Today, you can get Romance onto the Big Screen, but usually only in comedy form.  Once upon a time, the Adventure-Romance was popular (AFRICAN QUEEN and various WWII flicks, even ROMANCING THE STONE).

Once upon a time, you could get SF onto TV only in comedy form (MY FAVORITE MARTIAN, LOST IN SPACE).  Then came STAR TREK and changed all that, and then changed what kind of SF you could get onto the Big Screen and even get Oscar attention.

We're looking for the key to how to achieve that kind of shift in audience size for a serious Romance, dramatic, and preferably mixed-genre Romance.

As I pointed out many times,TV and Big Screen are big budget and therefore involve the whole business model of the fiction delivery system -- how much it costs to make vs. how much you can reap from the audience which depends entirely on audience size.

Today Romance is stuck in a very thick-walled ghetto of small-audience-size.  It's a very big audience in the printed-book market, and huge in the e-book market, but those markets are tiny compared to TV or Film markets.

To grab those larger markets we have to look closely at what elements in Romance are turning off folks we know would love this stuff if only they didn't bounce out of it because of some surface detail that annoys or repels a wide variety of people.

Love is universal.  Romance is the state of mind in which love first becomes possible -- First Love is a kind of loss of virginity, a baptism of fire. Romance is fun - love is infinitely rewarding, the very purpose of life. How could any living being refuse exposure to that?

The truth is, I don't know.  I've been writing SF-Romance since the beginning.  Recently, a woman who had read my first award winner, UNTO ZEOR, FOREVER when it came out and just recently read it again discovered that it is (and always has been) Science Fiction Romance -- but at that time, there was no such genre. Now she's looking for more books like that. 

Here's her blog post about it.

See what you can recommend to her.

So I've been thinking about this genre for a long time.  I discussed why we love romance here:


That short post is about how the differences between mundane Romance genre and SFR or PNR mixed genre actually open the genre to vast possibilities and a truly vast audience. 

But the marketing hasn't developed the reach the material merits.

So I continue to puzzle over it.  That's why this side-exchange about romcom on #scriptchat on twitter caught my attention.


Here in the words of one of those who devised this weekly meeting on twitter, is a description of it #scriptchat.

Scriptchat was created for the purpose of bringing new and seasoned screenwriters together to learn and grow. We have two chats every Sunday. Mina Zaher (@DreamsGrafter) leads the European chat at 8pm GMT, and Jeanne Veillette Bowerman (@jeannevb) moderates the USA chat at 8pm EST. The same topic is discussed at each chat, which provides an invaluable global network of ideas and philosophies on writing. Just since last October, we have gathered close to 400 screenwriters in our little circle of world domination.

The scriptchat "treefort" consists of Jeanne, Mina, Zac Sanford (@zacsanford), Jamie Livingston (@yeah_write) and Kim Garland (@KageyNYC). The behind-the-scenes details are almost as fun as the chat itself. The team relies greatly on each other to keep topics fresh and the ideas flowing as fast as the tequila. Speaking of, there's only one scriptchat rule: Leave your ego behind and bring your tequila.

Our blog is full of incredible resources for all levels of screenwriters: www.scriptchat.com


You can read this whole #scriptchat posted as a web page here (along with links to all kinds of writer's resources.)


As you may remember, I have done a long post on "plot vs. story" on this blog.  You can find my take on the subject here:


That post is about what part of a composition is plot and what part is story -- and how theme interacts with those parts -- and how to tell the difference.  

So while I was watching these excellent writers (about I think 400 people follow #scriptchat ) explain plot and story in 140 characters or less, I saw the following exchange flow by me.

Here's how to read this layout.

The top line is the twitter handle of the person posting, then it gives the time, date and the software used to post the comment.  The items with # in front are called hashtags - you use them in a search command to sort all the comments on the thread out of the general stream of tweets.  You can then see comments by people you do not follow, and they can see your comments in the hashtagged sort. Where @ precedes a word, that word is the twitter handle of someone who is being answered.  A comment without an @ in it is an original comment others may answer.  

12:55pm, May 23 from TweetChat the whole story vs plot concept I think is why I'm not a huge rom com fan. They're all so predictable #scriptchat

12:57pm, May 23 from web @jeannevb that's what I used to think... But the MANY variations of the same thing in the Rom Com - that's what's masterful. #scriptchat

12:57pm, May 23 from web @jeannevb re rom com, that's a genre issue hon. Rom coms is one of the most prescriptive genres. #scriptchat

12:59pm, May 23 from mobile web The whole mushy sentimentalized sick inducing slushiness is why I ain't a fan of the romcom @jeannevb oh and fucking hugh grant #scriptchat

1:01pm, May 23 from TweetDeck @ambigfoot mushy predictability makes me barf ;) #scriptchat

DREAMSGRAFTER clarified thusly in a series of tweets to me (@jlichtenberg) the following day:

@JLichtenberg my point was tht rom coms are most prescriptive of genres. room for variations in other genres but >>> (@jeannevb @ambigfoot)

@JLichtenberg w/ rom coms conventions r restricted boy meets girl etc. So it's difficult to find brand new storylines (@jeannevb @ambigfoot)

@JLichtenberg In a way the genre defines the storylines unlike horror/thriller for example. (@jeannevb @ambigfoot)

@JLichtenberg That's just my perception & looking @ history of rom com, there seems to be trends to reflect society (@jeannevb @ambigfoot).

@JLichtenberg There are exceptions such as Sleepless In Seattle and You've Got Mail but >>> (@jeannevb @ambigfoot)

@JLichtenberg How many other ways can you keep boy and girl apart? (@jeannevb @ambigfoot)

@JLichtenberg Whereas thriller/horror are about emotions: thrill/fear. More scope for storylines there. (@jeannevb @ambigfoot)

@JLichtenberg Hope that helps. We shld definitely discuss genres in #scriptchat. So important re selling script. (@jeannevb @ambigfoot)

10:15am, May 24 from Web@Jonathan_Peace  @JLichtenberg Will work out w/ #scriptchat #treefort when we can do genre. (@jeannevb @zacsanford @KageyNYC @yeah_write)


So eventually we'll probably have a #scriptchat where the subject is genres.  That should be interesting.

Go back to Bang2Write's comment above - and note that a mind was changed by studying the romcom genre.

Now remember my two posts on THE HURT LOCKER, about how the Indie Film industry unleashed by tech advances in recording devices and audience building services like YouTube is changing the face of film making.



The Indies, with smaller audiences and lower budgets, are able to explore and invent genres, gather and build audiences - and today, even win major awards.  THE HURT LOCKER is very tightly focused war-drama, the story of the effect of war on one man's psyche.

Remember Blake Snyder's identification of classic film "genres" he defined in SAVE THE CAT GOES TO THE MOVIES - none of them identical to publishing genres.

http://www.blakesnyder.com/tools/ -- to find the list of genres and films that are examples of those genres get the pdf file at the top of the /tools/ page.  A glance through it will tell you all you need to know for the moment, but you really need Snyder's books if you want to learn to write blockbuster film scripts.

One thing you learn from scrutinizing that list of films divided into genres -- genre is not LIMITING, but LIBERATING

The beatsheet formula the genre formula does not limit a writer's ability to tell a story.

When you have a story in your mind that you want to tell, you want others to have as much fun with it as you are having.

Like a delicious buffet dazzles the eye with food-art and makes the mouth water, the genre formula art dazzles the emotions and raises the appetite for a repeat of a prior enjoyment, but all made new again.

Hollywood wants "the same but different" for that reason.

No two buffet displays with ice scuptures are alike, but if you've enjoyed previous buffets, the mere sight will set your stomach rumbling.

So the writer looks at the story inside the writer's mind and looks at the genres being enjoyed currently, and figures out which genre her story actually belongs to.

You don't change the story to fit the genre, you figure out what genre it is in.

They say, "write what you know" -- and this is how to apply that maxim.  Write the genre you read.

Of course, the problems then arise when the story in your head does not fit an extant genre - and you have to be one of the inventors or popularizers of that genre.

The Romance genre (along with many others) has reached a point in development where it is spinning off new sub-genres.

The cinematic RomCom, however, appears to the writers in #scriptchat to have stagnated.

The cinematic RomCom needs SFR and PNR to liberate the underlying message.

Now look at the tweet from @ambigfoot

12:59pm, May 23 from mobile web The whole mushy sentimentalized sick inducing slushiness is why I ain't a fan of the romcom @jeannevb oh and fucking hugh grant #scriptchat

That reaction is very widespread.

So we have two objections to the cinematic romcom "formula"

1. "sick slushiness"
2. Limited # of ways to keep boy and girl apart

Both of those could apply equally well to most general Romance genre print fiction today.

Indie producers with budgets under one million dollars are still looking for RomCom scripts.  A HURT LOCKER success is possible with a Romance.

But to achieve that, the two major objections "slushiness" and "cliche plot" have to be solved in a very low budget way.

One innovative line of thinking may lead one of you to solve this problem and sell such a screenplay.

The basic theme of "Romance" produces both the slushiness and plot-cliche problem.

That theme is Love Conquers All

You can't change that theme and still have a Romance genre Work.

But the theme is the source of the problem.

"Slushiness" comes from Love not having a very hard time conquering All -- the two get together, and they just fall all over each other despite themselves, and then talk about their feelings as if nothing else in the world matters, their inattentiveness generating no consequences of note.

"Plot Cliche" comes from the genre requirement that the PLOT is the sequence of events leading Boy to Girl, and thus the only possible main conflict in a Romance is "Love vs. X" where X is whatever is keeping them apart.

So the THEME is what the major portion of the potential audience objects to, but you can't change it and still have a Romance.

So what do you do?  How can you possibly popularize Romance to Big Screen proportion audiences?

Marion Zimmer Bradley taught me the solution.

The solution is to challenge the theme, doubt the thematic statement.

Most themes that work for fiction are, for most reader/viewers, unconscious assumptions about life.  They are unexamined, taken for granted, "truths" about normal reality.


The Comedy forms have always been the thin edge of the wedge into commercialization of one of those challenges to the unconscious assumptions of a culture. The romcom, stradling the line between romance and comedy has powerful dramatic potential.

Marion Zimmer Bradley taught me (most especially while I was writing UNTO ZEOR, FOREVER) to use the plot, the characters, the story, and the worldbuilding (most especially the worldbuilding) to DISPROVE THE THEME and thus examine those unconscious assumptions of my readership -- the adolescent male SF reader the publishers market my adult-female fiction to.

Illustrate, she taught me - show don't tell - the opposite of what you are trying to say. 

In this case, "LOVE CONQUERS ALL" becomes "LOVE CAN NOT CONQUER ALL." That would knock it out of the genre, so keep working.

Gene Roddenberry taught me a technique that can work for TV and film too.

Most novels state the theme as a statement, as illustrated above. But stated themes lead to cliche plots and slushy characters, and they alienate the audience segment that holds the opposite unconscious assumption, as well as the segment that disagrees consciously.

So instead of merely stating the theme, Gene Roddenberry taught that you must formulate the theme as a QUESTION, and DO NOT ANSWER THAT QUESTION.  Force the viewer to wrestle with that question, but don't tell the answer. Show the question, don't tell the answer.

All audience segments - those that agree, those that disagree, those that hold unconscious assumptions, and the undecided, will feel that their viewpoint is represented fairly.

All segments will be engaged by the question.

And here we come to what @DreamsGrafter said:

@JLichtenberg Whereas thriller/horror are about emotions: thrill/fear. More scope for storylines there. (@jeannevb @ambigfoot)

Think about that.

The signature of the horror/thriller is the hairraising QUESTION raised and never totally answered about the nature of reality and the nature of Evil, all expressed in the worldbuilding.

@DreamsGrafter was simply saying that RomCom films DO NOT ASK QUESTIONS ABOUT THE THEME.

And that's true.  In Romance genre, the theme is sacrosanct.

And that's dramatically unsatisfying, and very limiting to the writer.

Interesting drama is generated by slaying the sacred cows.

Classic Literature always bears the hallmark of being "disturbing" on some level.  A good book, a memorable book, a quotable film, will always hang on or turn on a very disturbing image, motif, character, fate.

The antidote to "slushy" is poetic-justice, very disturbing poetic justice.

The antidote to "cliche plot" is the Thematic Question.

The key to all that is worldbuilding, which I've noted in many posts is the weakest skill in the Romance Writer's toolchest.

That weakness shows up in Romance writers only when they venture into SFR or PNR where they must build a world from scratch rather than research a historical period.

"Reality" comes pre-formulated with all the pieces already illustrating (fairly screaming) LOVE CONQUERS ALL -- because it does.  Gather enough historical datapoints and you can't help but see how Intimate Relationships (and hatreds) drive historical events.

Love causes the most collosal failures as well as the most spectacular successes.  That's reality.

But when you must build a world from scratch, it's much harder to get the bits and pieces you create in your imagination to fall together into a pattern that readers/viewers will recognize as "real" while it obviously isn't.

So the temptation is to borrow this bit from here and that bit from somewhere else, and the result is that the pattern does not come clear to the reader/viewer.

Interesting and dramatically useful background bits don't always go together to make a pattern, or an artistic whole, just because they're interesting.

We must find, or train, a Romance writing circle who can worldbuild with a proficiency that allows them to pose the LOVE CONQUERS ALL theme as the greatest challenging question, the most disturbing question, a question which is not articulated anywhere in the characters, story or plot but glares at the reader/viewer from the background.

That's essentially what I did in UNTO ZEOR, FOREVER - many conflicting loves, and a price to pay for the choice, but the question is entirely within the worldbuilding.  

"After you've lost so much, are you really so very sure that love has any value in life?"

Ask some of those questions yourself, the unthinkable questions, the insufferable questions, the not-quite-sane questions.

Find the right question to disturb the quiet certainty of that majority audience out there, and you may be on the way to formulating a High Concept film that is actually a Romance.

@DreamsGrafter read a draft of this post and elaborated on how the cinematic romcom has developed over decades in terms of asking those hard questions and provided this:

- Re rom coms, this was a genre that pose thematic questions and also questioned the society around us. Looking back in history the rom coms of the 40's, 50's, 60's and 70's were defined by their decade and women's role in society. You just have to look at the difference between Katherine Hepburn and Doris Day ... very different on the surface but they both aggressively satisfied their sexual roles.

Actually, even in the 80's questions were being asked. But since the 90's and especially in this millenium, we don't have any questions. That might be more to do with women's role in society. On the surface, we don't have to fight as hard as women from previous decades. And that's why the slacker rom coms such as Knocked Up come in. Fact is we have stopped asking questions but so has music and art: apparently, the students coming out of art colleges don't aren't driven to ask questions such as Hirst or Emin.

- On a creative level, I've tried writing rom coms but they always turn out into horror. I think that's because I like to explore the darker side of human nature. But I think that's just a personal thing.


THE HURT LOCKER move over, here comes something bigger and more powerful than war and bomb-squads. 

Maybe you'll find your Thematic Question here.

Harlequinn has a new website devoted to Paranormal Romance - Once Bitten, Twice as Hungry


Jacqueline Lichtenberg
http://jacquelinelichtenberg.com -- current
http://www.simegen.com/jl/ full bio-biblio


  1. One of the problems is that by itself, romance isn't enough to generate a serious conflict. A conflict needs to be deadly serious; giant robots
    threatening to extinguish life as we know it, terrifying aliens that can creep into your home at night and eat you, killers who know where you live and are
    determined to wipe out you and your family, a fatal degenerative disease that is turning your brain to mush...

    It is conflict that drives the story. Next to these sort of world class problems, you try to stack up "I have to endure the presence of this guy whom I am
    simultaneously repelled by and attracted to" and it is small wonder that "pure" romance isn't taken seriously.

    Romance is not the story; it's a perfume that the story can wear to enhance itself. It cannot be overpowering, and it must be appropriate, blending with
    the "scent" of the main story. Love should grow out of the interactions of the individuals as they deal with the conflict. The Sime-Gen books are highly
    unusual in that the conflict itself is tightly wound up in the relationships between the characters, and those relationships are quite literally a matter of life and death.

    As a supporting element, romance is an undeniable success. It's in everything. The other day I was persuaded to sit down and watch my seven year old son's favorite movie with him. Transformers. In between giant transforming robots and exploding things and action-packed chase scenes, they made time for a romance. He hated all the "kissing stuff" but he endured it for the good parts. My husband confessed that he didn't even notice *what* the robots were
    doing when they shared the screen with Megan Fox. Romance is a secondary element in almost everything you watch on the big screen, or the little one. So is
    comedy. A truly good movie needs a blend of all these elements in order to appeal to everyone.

  2. TV loves a good series. Movies love sequels. One of the problems with romance is that it has a limited lifespan. Once you resolve the relationship, it takes a lot of work to keep it going without resorting to splitting up the lovers in a way that unravels and invalidates everything that the previous story
    had built. I think that is one of the things that can lose romance a lot of respect. In an effort to squeeze more out of the romance, it disrespects itself.

    I remember watching the sequel to Karate Kid and having a feeling of total contempt toward the romance. Just a short while ago, he was devoted to this other girl and now he's completely forgotten her and he's into this chick. Fortunately for the movie, the romance element wasn't all that important. It was used by the plot, but you always knew that it didn't matter all that much. I don't think the target audience was old enough to care one way or the other. Still, I can't help but feel that the movie lost its integrity by copping out like that.

    BTW, I'm interested in who "they" are and what you feel indicates that romance is disrespected. Not that I necessarily disagree, but I'm curious...is it because you don't see any "pure" romance movies/series out there? Or something else? And are we talking about respect for written romance, or TV/movie media? I was a little confused about which genre you were referring to.

    Here's my personal guess as to why romance isn't respected. Being desperately bored in an airport recently, I broke one of my own rules and paid full price for a romance novel. It had were-jaguars so I thought it would be interesting. I paid eight bucks for a book that was barely worth the time it took to read it. Breasts were heaving on just about every other page, I mean, seriously, you'd think they'd get sprained after a while. The paperbook romance market is so large that the market is glutted with bad writing. Recently, there have been a lot of "arcane" romances, with supernatural creatures as romantic partners instead of threat. Editors are allowing really horribly written books through because people will pay good money for the theme, regardless of the quality of the writing. Judging by what's out there and how big the market is, romance readers must not be very discriminating.

    Of course, there are desperately substandard books written for every genre. There just seem to be a higher percentage of them in romance. And with the sudden popularity of the supernatural romance, this quality control problem is creeping into the genre. Higher demand breeds lower quality. It's just a law
    of economics.

  3. Mark Worthen (nitewanderer)3:25 PM EDT

    I have to admit a real liking for the romcom subgenre as a whole -- I find it very entertaining, as I do most types of movies.

    Having said that, the formula for the genre often contains certain elements, and the one I frequently have to ignore is the "meet cute," in which our characters meet for the first time, usually either by screaming at each other or bumping into each other.

    Some movies ("Sleepless," "You've Got Mail") bypass the meet cute entirely.

    Others (most Hugh Grant films) handle it abominably. Some put a nice twist on it.

    Most, however, do not handle it well, with intelligence-insulting or merely moronic situations that I sometimes find it hard to get past.

    My personal favorite "Meet Cute" is from Serendipity. They just meet, and spend a little time together. Then separate.

  4. Francine:

    You're right about the conflict-generator in a Romance-driven plot. The only way to take the inner-angst seriously is to eliminate all external problems. (keep it in the bedroom not the boardroom)

    I treat the print and video media identically because I'm working on my own theory of what fiction is and why it's valuable.

    I call it the Fiction Delivery System - it's what's delivered that's important, not the mechanism. And I've read some pretty good print romcoms with and without vampires!

    As for "they" -- Romance readers and writers "hear" a steady roar of undifferentiated voices sneering at their most treasured pleasure. The sneer is everywhere, and it bewilders and disaffects the dedicated Romance fan.

    As a professional reviewer, I read a lot of the type of novel you picked up at the airport. The cost is why the ipad reads Kindle books now! You can read Kindle on your Blackberry - pretty soon most devices, too.

    I should discuss many of the points you've made in long, involved posts full of links. We'll see if I can get around to organizing that, but someone on Twitter asked for pointers on doing complex edits quickly, and I need to figure out how to explain that first.

    Jacqueline Lichtenberg

    ps: Thanks for noting that you had read the Sime~Gen novels!

  5. I write romance in various sub-genres. I also used to edit for several publishers. The story is always the romance between two characters who fall in love after they meet. The plot on the other hand can be anything from alien abductions complete with ufos, government conspiracies, and hybrid children, to a serial killer stalking a couple across New Mexico. I have to disagree with Francine up to a point. You can have serious conflict focused simply in the romance itself. Inter racial romances do this all the time.

    If you're a writer you are a story teller. Book, film, TV are all simply the medium the story is delivered in. The key is to know your audience and give them what they want. In romance your audience expects certain things. She's almost always looking for a few hours of escape into a fantasy world that is as far from her real life as possible. She wants the Knight-In-Shining-Armor to come sweep her off her feet. She wants the gorgeous hero with all the trimmings. The excitement of the setting, whether it's a space station in a degraded orbit about to be destroyed as it enters the atmosphere or the enemy army aout to find the resistance cell, is the icing on the cake.

    As for the were-jaguars, sounds like what Francine picked up is what they're calling erotic romance these days. The focus is the sexual relationship between the characters. In these books the sex is the story, everything else is window dressing.

    And yes there are specific formulas romance follows. I think this is why so many people despise and look down on romance. They think it is a simple thing to write within a strict, yet vague set of rules. Just plug in a hero and heroine and go. Trust me it isn't that easy.

    As far as romcom is concerned, comedy is very subjective. Cutesy almost never pulls me in, book or movie. Slapstick on the other hand, if you can pull it off the way the Three Stooges did or Carol Burnett in her early days, then you've got me. And I love a good spoof, but Lord save me from cheesy too cute done to death openings. I think humor should lay in the reactions of an ordinary person to extraordinary circumstances. By the way commercials manage to pull this off regularly without being saccharine or cute.

    I think it is the kiss of death to insult the intelligence of your audience. You can be funny without being insulting. You want to have your audience empathising with the main character even if it's a subconscious thing.

    Fiction Delivery System, I like it. Got into this a bit #scriptchat before last when they were talking about the difference between novels and scripts. I maintain the only real difference is in format. Both types of writer are still telling a story they're just doing it within the framework of their chosen delivery method.

  6. Penny:
    Thank you for the long and interesting comment.

    There is as you point out, so very much more to be said on Romance subgenres -- but just narrowing it down to the RomCom doesn't help much because COMEDY itself is a huge field, even bigger maybe than SF/F!

    Jacqueline Lichtenberg

  7. Very true. Comedy is like an entirely different world. Be fun to discuss it though.

  8. Very educational post. Thank you!

    I think I've done all that with SUGAR RUSH. Now, I just have to wait and see if I did it well enough. Four requests for Fulls and two Partials so far.

    And one wicked case of Tendonitis. Got any advice on that?

    The Theme going in was 'Achieving the Freedom to Live.' It quickly turned into 'What is courage?' and 'What is Loyalty?'

    Answer: Love. Love is the root of Courage. And Loyalty without Love is Fear.

    It's been quite a journey! Thanks for all your help through this blog and Editing Circle.

  9. KimberAn
    If you mean tendonitis from keyboarding - of course it's ergonomics of typing position.

    But I've found that emotional TENSION level (i.e. adrenalin) drives the condition.

    That's why I assign so many drills and exercises.

    Drive the techniques into the subconscious so you do them without thinking and with nonchalant confidence, without any effort or self-doubt, then use a chair and table position that doesn't strain the arms -- and change position often -- and do your BACK EXERCISES -- and you don't get tendonitis from writing novels.

    I have said often (because I've learned from friends experiences) that not only is writing a performing art - it is an ATHLETIC occupation.

    It puts the most strain on the back.

    I know a large number of writers who dropped out of the profession because of back trouble. And "guarding" the back with muscular tension will throw the arm positions off and trigger that whole painful syndrome.

    Most prolific writers know a good chiropractor.

    Jacqueline Lichtenberg

  10. Kmber An
    Did I mention - I like your theme analysis. Would definitely read that book. Keep me posted.

    Jacqueline Lichtenberg

  11. Will do, Jacqueline.

    Never thought of my hands hurting because I'm overcompensating for my back. I used to have back trouble. Interesting how it went away and now my hands hurt. Will look into it and the chiropractor. I need to learn the posture/position which works best for my own body, I reckon.

  12. KimberAn

    Oh, yes, the ergonomic typing posture is extremely idiosyncratic.


  13. Thanks again for such an informative post, Jacqueline. Naturally, I have plans for it *rubs hands together excitedly*.

    Francine, I think romance can generate serious conflict, but it doesn't necessarily mean that authors are taking advantage of such conflict to the full extent possible.

    Case in point: today I read about an author (in the comment section) who shared that a prospective agent told her to change a number of worldbuilding details in her story (the romance was set in Australia) or the agent wouldn't consider it. According to the agent, readers want their romances to be "safe."

    That mindset may be prevalent in the romance industry, which could account for the lack of intense conflict in many romances, but it doesn't represent all readers and authors. I like to think science fiction romance is one subgenre that can shake things up a bit. Okay, a lot!

    Luckily, with romance so vast, there is something for everyone. I'm all for readers who want "safe" romances to have them, as long as I can have my "unsafe" ones, LOL!

  14. Heather:

    You've got a point about Agents.

    The Agent who wanted the worldbuilding altered no doubt knew her editor clients to a T and knew exactly what product to feed them.

    The writer had a choice - make the changes, show the agent something else tamer, keep agent shopping.

    It's a Hobson's Choice when you're trying to make a living at writing rather than just expressing yourself.

    Jacqueline Lichtenberg

  15. Here's another "Beat Sheet" to use to double-check your finished product.


    Once you get the hang of "beats" you will see them in every piece of fiction.

    See my current 7 part series on EDITING for what editors look for, and try to "correct" your MS to with their editorial rewrite orders and why they do it that way.


    By the 7th entry in this series, you should be able to tell whether you are an editor or a writer. You might be surprised.

    Jacqueline Lichtenberg