Sunday, March 26, 2017

Ana Welcomes Guest Author: Ginger Monette



 Falling in Love: Plan it, Plot it, Show it—in Four Phases

 As romance novelists, it's our job to weave stories that gives readers a front row seat to watch the unfolding of a beautiful love story.

So what's the best way to show a couple moving from Hello my name is” (or even I despise you”) to You're my soulmate and I want to spend the rest of my life with you?”

Having been disappointed by numerous novels where the couple claimed to suddenly be in love” without actually falling in love,” I went on a quest to investigate this mysterious process of falling head over heels. What I discovered changed my writing.

I dissected some fifty romance novels and made notes. All the couples had hefty doses of attraction, but the most satisfying stories went beyond attraction to something deeper. They showed the characters passing through four phases that moved them step by step from “meh” (or downright hatred) to wowie-zowie he's the most wonderful person in the world.”  And each phase seemed to be characterized by distinct thought patterns—particularly if at first Prince Charming seemed to be more of a frog than a prince. Here are the stages I observed:

Acknowledgement of him:
-Acknowledges some good quality about him (talented, kind, generous, etc)
-Finds him attractive
-Hyper aware of him, or hyper critical of his shortcomings (which often signals preoccupation or a subconscious denial of admiration)
-Acknowledges an attraction, but blows it off

Appreciation of his good qualities:
-Defends his character while not necessarily liking him
-Is genuinely thankful for a good quality
-Beginning to warm towards him
-Not so judgmental towards him
-More willing to consider his opinion on a matter

Admiration:
-Takes his advice
-Imitates quality or action of his
-Admits her initial criticism or objections were exaggerated or biased
-Curiosity grows—willing to spend more time in his company
-Acknowledges similar values or mutual interests
-Finds she is thinking (fondly) of him more and more

Adoration
-Openly acknowledges her love/warm feelings for him
-Desires to be in his company
-Thinks he is wonderful
-Thinks he is perfect match
-Misses him painfully when he is gone
-Thinks about him constantly

So how did this awareness of stages change my writing? In my novel Darcy's Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes, I kept these stages and behaviours in mind as I crafted scenes. They became an outline of sorts that I wove with compelling action, mystery, suspense, and historical detail. When my characters (Jane Austen's iconic Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet) are reunited at a WWI field hospital, Elizabeth is none too happy to encounter Darcy. And although she disdains him, I had her acknowledge that he is handsome and there is something between them. This cracks the door to romance and gets readers rooting for the couple.

Then, I moved her into the appreciation stage by having her surprise herself by praising and defending Darcy to a colleague. After she directly benefits from his wise leadership, she comes to appreciate him, even though she still doesn't like him. Readers can feel her slowly warming towards him and eagerly turn pages to find out how the couple will sort out the baggage between them.

As truths of Darcy's past are dramatically revealed and she comes to understand him better, I have her admit that her initial criticisms were misplaced. Now, with a softened heart, she's able to look at him more objectively. Then I set up an ah-ha moment where she realizes they both share a similar deep-seated insecurity which turns her reservations about him into empathy. Now that her appreciation has turned to admiration, her feelings are almost there! And readers are waiting with bated breath to find out what it will take for him to fully win her heart.

I gave him some scenes that show off his admirable qualities, so not only does she find herself attracted to him, she admires his leadership, work ethic, and drive. Then I purposely played up the things they have in common and showed her enjoying his company. In short, I showed them building a relationship. Finally, after they share a heroic act and laugh over a tent whipping in the wind, she realizes that in fact she adores him. 

Intentionally crafting scenes that follow this four-stage progression of romance enables readers to sense her falling in love, so it's no surprise when she finally declares it. I think a lot of romance authors make the mistake of never showing the characters moving beyond physical attraction and chemistry. It's not easy! But to write a fulfilling romance, the characters need to interact on a deep level and share common interests. Readers should see the couple building a relationship and hear their internal dialog as their thoughts and feelings evolve.

Using this four step model, I think Darcy's Hope has succeeded in providing readers a deep sense of satisfaction as they watch the heroine's tiny bud of acknowledgement open into appreciation, then expand with admiration, and finally blossom into full adoration.

What challenges do you face showing a couple falling in love?


Ginger Monette

 Winner of Char/Meck Library's 2015 “Picture This” grand prize, Ginger Monette lives with her family in Charlotte, North Carolina. When she’s not writing historical romance, she enjoys dancing on the treadmill, watching period dramas, public speaking, and reading—a full-length novel every Sunday afternoon.



Downton Abbey Meets Pride & Prejudice in The Darcy's Hope Saga!

Escape to the era of Downton Abbey and experience all the drama of World War 1 alongside Jane Austen's iconic Elizabeth Bennet & Fitzwilliam Darcy. You'll watch their tender love unfold as they learn to work together and reconcile their differences at a field hospital only miles from the Front. When injury and espionage separate the couple, Darcy is crushed. But Donwell Abbey holds a secret that just might change everything.

“…a stellar example of fine Austenesque literature. …an exceptionally moving story complete with a compelling plot, danger, mystery, action, introspection, vivid detail, and an emotionally wrought romance.” ~Austenesque Reviews

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Author: Ginger Monette

Email: SperoBooks@gmail.com

Website: GingerMonette.com


Goodreads:  here or www.goodreads.com/book/show/30773439-darcy-s-hope-beauty-from-ashes?from_search=true

Video trailer Beauty from Ashes link is here or https://youtu.be/px2fUiZdpGI?t=3s

Audio excerpt Beauty from Ashes link is here. or https://youtu.be/705kuktdk9M

Romance sizzle rating: mild. Clean story with minor language, and some war scenes.

Purchase Links:

            -Darcy’s Hope Beauty from Ashes: Universal link for all retailers. https://books2read.com/u/47kXOj  
            -Amazon USA :  http://bit.ly/2cy01KFBlogTourAmaUS

            -Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey:  Universal link for all retailers. https://www.books2read.com/u/3GMPaK
            -Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M6A76CZ/

***** 90% of reviews are five star!

The Darcy’s Hope Saga:
Vol 1: Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes
Vol 2: Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey

Video Trailer: youtu.be/px2fUiZdpGI?t=3s

13 comments:

  1. Thank you, Ana, for hosting me today : ) I’ve been surprised how much “strategy” is involved in crafting a good romance. Although a solid premise is the foundational start, there are many tricks like plotting the story through stages like this that can be the difference in a good romance and a great one.

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    1. After pasturing two novels, I decided I needed to write detailed plot outlines (after the detailed character descriptions) before I sit down to write. So I agree completely about the strategy. Your 4-steps are super. I will merge them with Linda Howard's Steps toward Intimacy.

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    2. Pantsering , not pasturing. Darn auto-correct.

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    3. I have plot ideas for about 7 novels. Whenever I get a good idea for one, I jot it in that story's file. Lately I've been thinking that when I get ready to write the stories, I will create a few skeleton-type outlines: one that follows the basic three act structure (I love the model here: http://www.screenwritingtricks.com/2009/04/story-elements-checklist.html ) one that follows these four steps, and one that outlines the character arc as he evolves over the course of the story (loved this article http://ocwriters.network/2017/02/14/crafting-strong-romance/ ) The outlines don't have to be fancy, just hitting some high points so the romance follows a natural progression. I think it will help spark ideas for scenes as well when I see 'gaps' that need to be filled.

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  2. Hi Ginger, welcome to HWH. That's a great observation about the steps to characters falling in love. You're right, I think authors do sometimes rush the process, forgetting that readers can't see inside their heads. You've simplified it, though, so it's crystal clear. Love the time period you're writing in--can't wait to read your books. Thanks again for visiting!

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    1. I've fallen in love with the time period too! My Darcy's Hope books set during this era are quite an adventure--full of romance but a real taste of the sobering times.

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  3. Great post! I'm going to print this out as a reference. Thank you.

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  4. Hi Ginger, What a great post! What you've said is so true, and I think it's something we all need to keep in mind. I'll be keeping this post bookmarked as a go-to during planning and revising stages. Thanks for posting this!

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  5. Excellent post, Ginger - many thanks. I shall definitely keep it for future reference :-)

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  6. Thanks for all the great comments! I've been working on another post with specific scenes types that work well for exemplifying these steps, so perhaps you'll see that in a future post : )

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  7. A fascinating post. It made me re-evaluate how I approach my own character's journey towards each other. Thank you for this.

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