Begin at the Beginning, and Other Useless Advice

Saw this on Reddit, with the title: There are two kinds of girls out at 2am.

Actually there are probably more than that, but two is enough for this example.

Needless to say, I am as hopelessly in love with the girl with the donut as it is possible for a sane person to be with an unknown woman in a gif. There’s just something so remarkably likable about her honesty and her sheer zest for life–or at the very least for creme-filled pastries. I particularly like the way she is just so intent and satisfied with her food, and then her adorably non-judgmental reaction to the two people making out. I mean, good for them I’m sure they’re very happy together,

but give me donut girl any day of the week.

What does this have to do with My Romance Novel? Excellent question. But first let me say hello from a short absence in which time my loopy pain meds from the hospital wore off and I’ve been in agonizing pain for several days waiting for the swelling in my ankle to go down. I don’t know if being an addict in my former life managed to suck out all my endorphins or whatever, but this crappy percocet didn’t do shit. So I’m currently sitting on about 6 hours of maybe deep sleep since Tuesday (it’s Friday now). So maybe I’m kind of coming from a weird place with the whole donut girl thing, but let’s wait and see.

This also didn’t help.

So here’s the connection:

I found this girl instantly charming and likable in a 12-second gif. How do I do that with my character Sara in the book? How do I introduce her in such a way as to immediately set her up as, maybe a mess, maybe a little weird, but ultimately very likable and someone you want to root for, and more importantly, spend the next 75k words with–that’s the number of words, about 250 pages, recommended for a romance novel. That is also, coincidentally, about the length of my latest science-fiction novel, so I know that it’s a lot of work to get there.

But let’s not concentrate on that at the moment. Instead, let’s figure out how we can introduce Sara, as quickly as possible, as the kind of character we want to see succeed in her imaginary existence. No, in fact, let’s drop the pretenses. For the purposes of what we’re doing, Sara is a living, breathing woman with everything from a health history to a social security number–even if said number is 555-55-5551 or whatever we can get away with.

Next up: Creating Sara Maincharacter



Plot and Characters, Part th’ Third

Ok, so should he have a girlfriend who is mean to him? Yeah, because she’ll be super hot and eventually he will fall for Sara because she’s amazing.

Ooh, maybe Sara and Liam become friends, and so they decide to go on a double date. Sara asks her gay friend Dirk to go with her. While they are out, Liam’s girlfriend starts having bigger and bigger problems with how well things are going between Liam and Sara. It’s the last straw when they solve a big problem in the same way that they solved some big problem in the VR experiment.

Yeah I mean, something. I dunno what this is.

So the girlfriend storms off, Dirk goes to help her, leaving Liam and Sara alone. He says he is going to walk her home. But it starts raining, so they have to rush, and as they get to her apartment, they are both drenched and it’s just MAKE OUT CITY.


And that’s pretty much it.

After that there’s kind of an epilogue where everybody ends up happy, she gets her science degree, Liam gets the book offer he was… hoping… *sob*

Maybe not that. But it will end happy. What do we think?

I think it’s great.

I’m going to start chapter 1 tonight.


Plot and Characters, Part 2…

So we’ve got Sara, who is totally into this Virtual Reality thing. She maybe has a couple of awkward encounters with Mr. Hunk Trey. Like at the water fountain where she like dribbles down her front.

Sadly this one is missing the historic Double Bubbler projector designed by Halsey Taylor

So the idea is that all these people are going to be dealing with an AI in accomplishing tasks. Sara sets up her avatar inside as a Sexy amazon warrior woman, and her AI companion is this small, dorky goblin, maybe. So it’s like an MMO and they have to do quests and that can be fun, as the AI gets more into it.


She finds that she really likes the AI, and they make a great team. And it is really good at being romantic. And for weeks this goes on, working with the AI.

I’ll help you, m’lady!

What she discovers at the end of the test is that it wasn’t an AI at all! She was paired with Liam! But she didn’t know.

And now she has to find him because he was this little scared guy all along and she understands that she can be with him.

Except he has a girlfriend, who is really mean to him,

Oh, man, okay, I think I need a break…

I guess this will be a 3 parter.

OK, On To The Plot and Characters…

All right, so for the past few days I’ve actually been thinking about just using the information I’ve got an writing the thing. That’s usually how it goes for me anyway. I can hem and haw and ponder the intricacies of my navel all I want, but until I actually get started on something I might as well be playing mumblety peg.


Yeah I don’t get it either.

So anyway, I’ve come up with the basics of a plot, and some characters, and some Tout les ROMANCE! Here goes:

Sara is a college student somewhere in the midwest. She’s smart and funny, but kind of mousy and–she thinks–unattractive to boys. She’s also not on good terms with her family, so escaping to college was a big deal in her life. So needless to say she doesn’t get a lot of help from home, and she doesn’t have anywhere to go during winter break.

So she’s broke, and lonely, and doesn’t have a whole hell of a lot going on. One day, walking around Campus, she sees a leaflet asking for people to come do a psychology experiment for pay! Ah, at last, something to help with at least some of her problems.

Hopefully not this severe.

So she goes to the address on the leaflet, and while she’s waiting, sees that there are other people there for the same thing. One of those people waiting is this Mega-hunk who she finds out is named Trey. He’s everything she wants in a man, he seems nice, and polite, and has a great butt. He’s a little bit country, a little bit rock n roll.

I know what gets the ladies going.

So the experiment, she finds out, is about Artificial Intelligence in Virtual Reality. For the next three weeks or so she will be strapped into a VR world where she is meant to interact with AIs as if they are actual people. Sara is skeptical that they will be able to fool her, but the pay is good and she’s actually kind of nerded out by the whole thing…

Actually now I’m kinda getting turned on.

Phew! OK, I’ll pick it up tomorrow for the rest of it. I need to think a bit more.

But so far what do we think?

SEX! (It has to be dealt with)

OK, so here’s the thing. When I was growing up I would see those paperback books with their heaving bosoms and their throbbing loins and I did not get it at all. I mean, at some point I had a pretty good idea of what happened when guys and gals got together and rolled around and stuff, but I didn’t think you put that in books!

I mean, if that doesn’t get you goin I don’t know what will

So again, when I was working for the library–ooh, and even earlier with one of my Mom’s Stephen King books–The Raft had a pretty hot scene that turned into horrifying terror, and I think there was a little bit of jiggery pokery in The Mist. OK, so by the time I was dealing with books on a regular basis I knew there was some smutty stuff out there, but I wasn’t prepared for:

She sank down to her knees. All the time she held him close, falling down his body like water in a shower… Her cheek lay against his pants. The material was hot, radiating the fire below… she could tell he was vast, bigger by far than she had ever known… The boxer shorts exploded into the gap in the dark blue material, stretched to the limit as they battled to contain him. It seemed that at any second they would tear apart and unleash their captive to ravage her face…

Pat Booth, Malibu, pg. 187 (by far the filthiest page)

How hot is that? “Ravage her face”?

Well, all right. I don’t know about ravaging anybody’s anything at this point, but I guess there will have to be some positive, interesting sex involved in the story if it’s gonna make the berry. Or whatever.

What do you guys think? How sexy should this be? Is it going to be Bollywood musical sexy where everyone is all good looking and writhing around but no actual lip to anything touching? Or do I go all Pat Booth and talk about “clutching his veined and throbbing appendage like a zoo technician wrangling a boa constrictor”?

Oh, haha. This is gonna be fun.

Oh, yeah, and here’s an interesting article I found on the subject.

Part 1: What is a Romance Novel?

Okay, so if I’m going to do this thing, I better do it right, because walking into it, I can see three definite problems:

  1. I’ve never written a romance novel before
  2. I’ve never really read an entire romance novel before
  3. I don’t know what a romance novel is

There are other problems too, but I think this is a good set of issues to be starting with.

Obviously, issue 1. is a pretty long term goal, because, you know once I solve that one I’m kind of done with this whole situation. Number 2. is interesting because I don’t know if I want to influence my final product with any one or two examples, especially since I’m in no position to know whether the ones I would choose would be good examples of the genre.

Do you dig me?

So that leaves us to start with Number 3.  And I know just where to go for that.


Right? Isn’t that where you go for this kind of thing? I mean, there’s no instruction manual but Moms, I’m pretty sure, are a big demographic for the romance novels. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s because of the Dads. But we’ll leave it for now, because:

I got my mom on chat and we talked about it some. Well, turns out she didn’t read that many romance novels. But then what the hell were all those books lying around the house, then? Oh, ok, she informs me that they were mostly horror novels. Like, The Stuff, and Michael Crichton craziness and Stephen King. You know, I should have known this. She was a great mother but she had very wide avenues of appropriateness when it came to the media that was around the house. Romance wasn’t it. I gotta love ya Ma, but Watership Down isn’t a “cartoon about rabbits”… I mean it is, but—


At any rate.

So I gotta go somewhere else for information on how to write a romance novel. I mean, why is it a romance novel as opposed to a story with some kissing in it? I’ll start with Wikipedia because, duh:

Although the genre is very old, the romance novel or romantic novel discussed in this article is the mass-marketversionNovels of this type of genre fiction place their primary focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people, and must have an “emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.”[1] There are many subgenres of the romance novel, including fantasyhistorical romanceparanormal fiction, and science fiction.

Hold the phone! Science Fiction!?!? I thought it had to be about pirates or Cowboys! Science fiction… jeez. Maybe this will be ok after all.

Anyway, that’s all the research I’m doing today because I’m lazy and I’m still trying to wrap my head around these ideas!

Romance Novels! How do you like that?

So, I was thinking about romance novels

Why was I thinking about romance novels? Me, a writer still in the bloom of his talent, at the cusp of a great career. Why should a man who already has two completely novels under his belt be thinking about writing what has, for good or ill, been considered kind of a low-rent deal?

Well, I’ll tell you why.

I actually find romance novels kind of fascinating. When I was in high school I got myself a very cushy high school job working at the local library. Now this was no New York Public for sure, there were no lion statues out front, in fact if I remember there was barely a parking lot.


But it was an actual library and my job was to roll around a cart and put the returned books away.

And as I was putting them away, if something looked interesting, I read a few pages. And a lot of these books were romance novels, and so I read a few pages here and there of a lot of them.

Most had some guy who was a cowboy or a knight or a pirate and some lady who was unhappy with her life and there was a lot of mostly innocent sexy stuff (Except Pat Booth. Her stuff was really dirty. I was shocked! And really turned on. I was 16, after all. A stiff breeze turned me on.).

Which leads me to now. I’m waiting for my actual book to get published (Chaos Agent: The +One Counterpoint–look for it in about forever) and I don’t really have an idea for another serious thing at the moment, so I’ve decided to write a Romance Novel. Straight up. Starting from nothing.

And you’re gonna write it with me!

That’s right! Starting tonight I’m going to start researching and writing an actual novel and then we’re gonna see how it goes me writing it with you along for the ride. Should be interesting. Maybe if anyone is interested we can take input on what happens next. I know for a fact that I get really connected to my characters…


have a feeling I’m gonna be seeing a lot more of this guy if I do my research right…

All right, anyway. I just realized I don’t know anything about anything so I’m off to do a bunch of research.