It's all about the ROMANCE!

Sorry for the late posting, but my internet has been out.
Caution: Long Post.

Historical, comtemporary, suspense, erotica, or inspirational, our genre is multifaceted, but underneath it’s all about the romance.
Girl meet guy. Sparks fly. My oh my. LOVE.
That’s what we adore about a romance novels. So let’s talk a little about how we make that spark ignite. I like to use the Five Stages of Love in my plot grid because I know both characters will move through all these stages sometime in my story, but they rarely happen for both of them at the same time.

Stage 1. ATTRACTION - a positive response to a person beyond friendship. This can further be broken down into two areas: (a) physical attraction & (b) emotional attraction.a.

Physical Attraction – the first stage of attraction, when something about a person’s physical appearance elicits a physical response in the observer. You notice that he or she has a great body, a pretty face, or a sweet tush. A spike in endorphin levels results in a heightened awareness of that person. How they smell, how they smile, how they walk.

b. Emotional Attraction - develops next if circumstances are right. After being drawn to a person physically, you find you have things in common -- hobbies, ideologies, career, education, or some other common ground – this is when the emotional attraction starts to form.Emotional attraction can also occur before a physical attraction does not. (Friends become Lovers) In this case, the bond may even be stronger between the two since no preconceived notions based on physical appearance has occurred.

Stage 2. ROMANCE - essentially an act of trying to influence or gain favor of another by lavishing attention or gifts upon them. There are two type of romance: (a) selfish romance & (b) selfless romance.
(a) Selfish Romance - occurs when you do romantic acts solely for the purpose of gaining something for yourself -- like to get gifts, to gain sexual favors, or to impress someone else.
(b) Selfless Romance - occurs when you do romantic acts for the enjoyment and pleasure of your partner. You receive your enjoyment and pleasure through their happiness.Selfish romance will quickly die out. Selfless romance will endure. Our characters always find that out.

Stage 3. PASSION - a burning desire for another person, which has grown to an intensity that can't be ignored. This is often where an emotional relationship turns into a physical relationship. The passion stage is very important. It's a plateau. From here, the relationship will fork into two roads. The couple must decide which path to take. The relationship will either burn itself out or will move onto the next stage.

Stage 4. INTIMACY - a close association with another person of the deepest nature. You share you thoughts, your feelings, your dreams. In true intimacy, there is nothing that you cannot tell this person (though our characters often hesitate because of their own deep seated fears). Intimacy can be expressed as physical or as emotional, but there must always be an emotional component. Since I write inspirational novels, there is no physical intimacy in my books therefore the emotional intimacy must be heightened. Intimacy is not a finite place. It’s a developing process that never ends. Your reader has to believe these people will stay in love for the long haul.

Stage 5. COMMITMENT - a pledge to remain true to your mate throughout good and bad times. Commitment is easy when times are good. Commitment can be extremely difficult when times are bad. It doesn’t have to be marriage, but most (not all) romance readers want to see that on the horizon.

So how do you add romance to your work?I love to learn new things.


Penny Rader said...

Thanks for sharing your Five Stages of Love, Pat. I've been looking for a checklist of sorts that I can use to chart my characters relationship, from the initial meet to the HEA.

Do you use both Selfish Romance and Selfless Romance in your stories?

You mentioned that you can't have physical intimacy in your inspirational books. Does that mean your characters can't kiss or hold hands, or would that be the extent of what you're able to show on stage?

Pat Davids said...


Oh my characters get to kiss and hold hands and admire a pair of snug fitting jeans on the opposite sex, but that's about all.

Each writer has to find a way to have their hero and heroine come to grips with normal sexual feelings without offending someone's greatgrandmother. It can be a challange.

You'll find racing pulses, shortness of breath and the heat racing through their bodies as they embrace. They can love the feel of that special person in their arms, they can even feel like lovestruck teenagers, just as in any romance, but no mention of sexual arrousal.

You'll laugh, but this is the first year we've been able to include dancing. SHOCKER, I know.

Rox Delaney said...

Somewhere, in this mess that's supposed to be an office, I have a copy of the however-many-steps of intimacy. Pat, you covered it really, really well.

I don't consciously follow those steps, but someone they get in there. I suppose my use of turning points that are often linked to conflict might someway lead me down the right path. But then I've never really thought about it enough to make it stick in my brain.

We all have our little "tricks" when it comes to growing the intimacy and the conflict. It's always interesting to find out how others do it. Thanks for sharing, Pat! I'll pay more attention in the future. :)

Penny Rader said...

I've seen Linda Howard's "12 Steps of Intimacy" (or something to that effect). Even attended a workshop she gave at a long ago RWA conference.

I do like what Pat said about the characters not necessarily being at the same stage at the same time. I'll have to play around and try mixing it up a bit.

I struggle with conflict and turning points, so I'll take all the help I can get when it comes to developing the relationships between my heroes and heroines.

Rox Delaney said...

Penny, I tend to fall back on "the hero is the last to know". It works better with alpha heroes than beta.

Reese Mobley said...

Great post, Pat. Not only is this priceless information for someone just starting their writing journey, this is a wonderful refresher course for the not-so-new writer in the rest of us. Is this something you grid out so you make sure you get it right?

Pat Davids said...

Yes, I try to grid it for each main character. I aim for the evolution of their emtional journey to take place in certain chapters. That way I know how much or how little to allow their feeling to grow in the previous chapters. They don't always do what I want. They have a tendancy to fall in love too quickly and sometimes I have to slap their hands and make them behave.

As a side note, and a bit of blatent self promotion, my current book, A Cloud of Suspicion is in stores now. Be sure and pick up a copy.

Unknown said...

Pat, as always, you are clear, precise and to the points.

I love the stages you mentioned and it's so logical!

Jeannie said...

Pat, this post is priceless. I intend to copy the Five Stages of Love and put it with my GMC and Character Charts.

Because I write fiction that crosses over two genres, it hard to know when there's enough attention being paid to the romance portion of it. I like this information you posted because it's simple and concise. It's a good way to check your plot and character involvement.

Thanks for posting this on the blog. I think it will really help me.

Joan Vincent said...

The Five stages give me a clearer grasp of what to do or look for when I do emotional outlining. Great post.