Status: one chapter
Top attributes of a romance novel that I feel are important and how I used them in Safari Moon.
Romance novels are character driven. To me the characterization of the novel is the single most important element. The next most important is the conflict. There must be internal as well as external conflict.
I spend a great deal of time developing my characters. The characters must have a life before the story. They have birthdays and anniversaries; favorite hobbies and nicknames. Several years ago I attended an inservice/workshop at the school where I worked. It taught how different mind styles affected a character's personality.
When the characters in Safari Moon were created, my intention was to set their mind styles in conflict. A minor thing but a very real beginning to their journey to find love. Nyssa is concrete sequential which means she is organized and has to know the what, when, where, how, and why of every task. To her all she does and plans is clear and precise. Solo, on the other hand, is concrete random. Solo will come up with answers before he even hears the question. He will jump back and forth between fact and theory. This ability often leaves Solo unable to explain his thinking.
These are some of the internal conflicts, which leave the characters breathless but dying to figure out the other person's point of view.
External conflicts are usually more obvious and revolve around the physical actions of the characters. They are on the surface not hidden in the mind. These conflicts can change from scene to scene but the major or elemental conflict is a common theme carried throughout the novel.
Romantic conflict is a third conflict one can find in a romance novel. They struggle to come to terms with their emotions. And raw emotions can get in the way of love scenes. When, where, why, and how they occur. Of course all three conflicts tend to merge and separate as the novel is created.
Turning points are also essential to a good romance. Every scene must have some kind of turning point. The first kiss, the moment the protagonists meet, any decision they make which will effect the outcome of the story. In the first chapter, when Solo decides to call Nyssa and ask for her help concerning his 'willing, eager and able women is an example. Their needs to be at least three major turning points as well as a black moment when it appears all will be lost.
Theme, motivation, tone and tension are other elements which I incorporate in the novel. I try to put each of these into each scene. And to keep the reader turning the pages when I write a scene, I plot to a twist. So the last sentence in the scene compels the reader to continue.
Oh, and did I forget point of view. Point of view is incredibly important to creating tension in a story. Each scene should be in only one of the protagonist's point of view.