Hiatus Experiment Day 1 – Research, names, and outlining

Can I write a cheesy romance novel in two weeks? Here’s what happened on Day One:

In order to write a romance novel, some research is in order.

Rafe MacKadeSo I read a Nora Roberts book: The Return of Rafe MacKade. Nora Roberts, if you don’t know, is a zillion-selling romance author. She’s written over 200 romance books, and also writes a futuristic detective romance series under the name J.D. Robb. She’s got FIVE books coming out in 2014. So this book was great for being brief and driving home the romance formula: Boy meets Girl. Boy is great-looking, successful and used to getting whatever he wants. Girl is also great-looking (but not conceited), intelligent and headstrong. There are conflicts that keep them apart, the main one being the Girl’s internal war between wanting to be an Independent Woman and wanting to be Swept Off Her Feet caveman-style. Each gives in a little, hormones win. They live Happily Ever After. (I discovered that this is known as an HEA among fans). This particular book? Here’s my Goodreads review. “Lukewarm sex. Too many feelings.” As someone pointed out, “Isn’t it a romance book?” Yeah, yeah, yeah.

I thought I should probably watch “The Notebook,” which I’ve never seen, but apparently makes romance fans swoon. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Maybe tonight.

Of course with just two weeks to bust out a first draft, I can’t just “do research” (a classic writer stall tactic), I actually have to Get Shit Done. So here’s what I got on paper (so to speak) on Day 1:

  • Named my five main characters. Now the Girl, the Stripper, the Good Boy, the Best Friend and the Gay Friend all have appropriate romance-novel monikers.
  • Named other stuff: the strip club, the company the Girl and her friends work for, etc.
  • Took my outline (that I’d had on the back-burner) and broke it into a ten-chapter grid.
  • Wrote 700 words of Chapter One. (A bit of a fib. 500 words or so were kinda-sorta scrawled in a notebook already, but romance is about illusions, right?)
  • Crafted a schedule. Genre fiction can run around 60,000 words. If I’m going to write this in fourteen days, I need to bust out 4,282 words per day. Yikes. I’ve written that many in a day a couple times and this is meant to be an experiment, not a punishment.
  • Rethink the word count restriction. What if I don’t focus on number of words, but on getting the main story down so I can fluff it up/fill it out later? Let’s get ten chapters down and not think too hard about words.

Not bad for the first day, but I’m going to have to step up my game in a big way. I also need to ingest more romance. I’d appreciate suggestions for movies and (short) books that typify the romance genre. I’m not interested in sub-genres (paranormal, time-travel, historical, etc), just boy meets girl meets trouble and then HEA. Thanks!


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