Friday, February 14, 2014

The Romance Formula

Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings trilogy), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website.

Happy Valentine's Day!

In honor of this schmoopiest of holidays, I decided to give away a copy of my friend Melanie Dickerson's The Captive Maiden. Enter on the Rafflecopter form below. USA entries only this time, please, since I have this book in my house and will be mailing it. Sorry!

I also wanted to discuss the romance formula. Not that there's only one, but, well, this one in particular is a tried and true formula that has sold billions of romance novels and will likely sell billions more. Here it is:

Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl back.

That's all there is to it. Why do you think this works so well?

My theory?

1. It introduces two characters that the reader wants to see happily matched.
2. For whatever reason, it doesn't work out---which adds conflict to the story.
3. The guy has to fight to win his girl. And most girls want our guys to be a hero---a fighter---to be the type of guy who wouldn't give up, no matter how hard things get.

And that's it. It's simple. Maybe too simple. But it sells billions of copies of books.

Why do you think this formula is so very popular?

29 comments:

  1. I think it's popular because it demonstrates that the guy cares about the girl. If they just fall in love and stuff, it's hard to tell if they actually care or if they just think they care- but if the guy loses the girl and then tries to get her back, it shows that he, at least, genuinely cares.

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    1. Because you only fight for things you care about. Good point, Sarah.

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  2. As soon as we meet the two characters we know they'll end up together, we just want to find out how.

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    1. That's true. Romance stories aren't meant to surprise the reader, but entertain them with the how.

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  3. I thing it works because we all want someone to pull for in a story, and we all want a happy ending. With this formula, we get both!

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    1. Good points, Ashley. Romance novels to deliver both those things.

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  4. Like Sarah said, it shows how much he cares. He wants to put in all the effort to get her back and be with her.
    I dont write strictly romance, but I have used it as well to define the romance in my stories.

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    1. Actions speak louder than words, especially in fiction! :-)

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  5. I have read and wrote romance, and I think it works, like other people said, you want to know how it works out. In some ways, though, I don't like reading romance because it seems like a guarantee you know how it will end...

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    1. That's true. Sometimes I've read a romance and been blah about it. But there are always stories that can surprise you. Disney surely did with Frozen. I LOVED that they surprised us with that twist. Very well done.

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  6. These are great comments! So true that everybody wants to root for the underdog, or the person who is trying but failing. I think romance is all about the chase. There have to be conflicts, but if we like the characters, we want them to be together. But the conflicts can't be solved until the end, or it will be boring! :-)

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    1. That's so true. The chase is important, but it has to last the whole book to keep readers turning those pages. Thanks for commenting, Mel! :-)

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  7. I think it's popular because everyone loves the idea of romance, and while readers want the characters to end up together in a happy relationship, the "boy loses girl" allows "real-life" issues test the devotion, making the resolution all the more satisfying. At least, that's how I feel.

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    1. That's a good point, Zara. All relationships need testing so they know they can survive the bumps that will come along. A romance novel shows them survive a test.

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  8. As Agatha Christie in Doctor Who said, "The thrill is in the chase, never in the capture." I think that's really what a romance novel is about. We want to find out how the guy and the girl get together. Sure, we meet them - but you can't just write a novel about people meeting. Actually, you can, but...

    I love romance movies. Think You've Got Mail or The Lakehouse (both good movies.) The characters only get together at the end. Then the movie ends. Everyone wants to know IF they get together, not what happens WHEN they get together. So, that makes it popular. Will they? Won't they? You know they will... But what if they don't?

    - Tabby

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    1. Love that quote! And that's so true. Pretty much all those movies end with them finally getting together.

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  9. I do love that formula! I am a sucker for a hard working man, so it never fails to rope me in! I'm also the ultimate fan of the first love. Like, when it comes to love triangles, I always fall for the first guy, again and again, every time. I think it's because he comes against that "challenge" of proving himself better than the 2nd guy, or winning her back, etc. So yeah. Great post, and thanks for the giveaway! <3

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    1. That's interesting, Sierra. I never thought about the first guy having the bigger challenge. Hmm... He really does, doesn't he?

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  10. Classic romance at its best, of course. This same formula is demonstrated by classic novelists such as Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte, and you can never go wrong with classic romance.

    And the Captive Maiden - I love that book! It's the perfect example of that formula, too :)

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    1. Yes, the formula has been working for a long, long time!

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  11. I think its like Sarah said: because we want to see that he cares. Also I think the conflict gives the reader something to root for in that we want them to get back together again and, too, I think its so popular because gives us a way to connect with the character. Most people have had that rough, emotional journey at some point in their lives and so I think it helps them to really connect with the character. Besides, who doesn't like a little drama?! :)

    HP

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    1. I love reading just a little drama. I just don't like it in real life. LOL

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  12. It's human psychology--simply put, people want to be loved and to love, and they like to see relatable characters matched up because it gives them hope that they'll find their own match. And for people who've already found true love...it just lets them relive what happened with them and their special person.

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    1. Yes! You get the dreamers who love it, and those for whom it feels nostalgic. Everyone is happy.

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  13. I guess I've never thought about it before but that is what most romance stories are like. I guess being writers, we like to make our characters struggle. When your characters break up, you get to read about them struggling. I love a good romance story that makes me scream at the characters! XD
    Thanks Jill.
    Happy Valentines Day!

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  14. That book cover is SO pretty! I want to read it now!

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  15. I laughed at your advice - not that its not true but so blunt and short :)

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  16. My first romance with my characters was well written, but ended with one of the lovers dying by the other one. Since then I have had few romances that I focus on.

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  17. In mine this girl fights for the guy, so PLOT TWIST!

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