Classic Love on Inspired Prompt

What a month we’ve had at Inspired Prompt, as our crew shared their favorite classic love stories. What makes a story classic?

Maybe it’s the prose. The beautiful poetic structure, word upon word, building a bridge between two people. No, more than a bridge, because it’s paving the way for when two become one. It’s the cry of the heart. Do you have a favorite quote from a classic romance?

We’d love for you to share it in the comments section, or find us on Facebook – on the Inspired Prompt Crew page.

Join us right here in March for a topic that grips the writer’s heart—The Emotional Highs and Lows of Writing.

Click-to-Tweet: A month of Classic Love on Inspired Prompt via @InspiredPrompt, @batowens, and @jenlhall63

Writing the Classic Love Story

By Fay Lamb

When an author tells me that they do not write romance, I laugh. Why? Because it’s exactly what I used to say. Then I realized that every story has a thread of romance. Humans, after all, crave love.

Then there are those authors who want to write a romance. Yet, they shun the classic romance formula. However, a new author writing romance without formula will struggle to publish, or if self-published will struggle to gain readership. The reason? Formula works. Look at that romantic movie channel. Readers like the formula. If not, that channel would not be so popular.

My first three novels in The Ties that Bind series are classic formula romances, one more than the others. If you are an artist who loves to color outside the lines, people will not “get” your work until you have used brilliant colors within the lines a few times.

Here are those lines that create the outer boundaries of the picture:

  • Girl meets boy
  • Girl and boy are drawn to each other
  • Conflict, either internal or external or both, keeps boy and girl apart
  • Girl and boy have an “almost” moment
  • Conflict rears its ugly head and tears them apart in a way that seems impossible for them to overcome
  • Girl and boy overcome to live happily ever after

Written out in bland terms, the formula seems pretty boring, but that’s why we write. We take the mundane and make it extraordinary. The way we color within those lines set for us is our creativity shining forth.

My most formulaic work is entitled, Libby. Here’s what is inside the lines:

  • Girl meets boy: In the story, Libby has spied her hero, Evan, in a coffee shop on several occasions. She doesn’t know his name, but attracted to him, she begins to watch for him, but she thinks no one has noticed. Her two goofy, but astute friends, Charisse and Gideon have noticed. They begin to hatch a matchmaking scheme that goes wrong at every turn. Gideon shows up one morning at the coffee shop, talks to Evan, and introduces Evan to Libby.
  • Conflict: Libby has self-esteem issues that resulted from no small incident in her life. She can’t believe that someone like Evan would ever be interested in her. Evan? He handled his traumatic past differently, and the result was rage. As he falls in love with Libby, he fears he must protect her from himself.
  • Girl and boy have an almost moment and conflict tears them apart: Evan does take Libby on a date of much importance. Libby and Evan enjoy the day. Then before they leave, Evan excuses himself. Libby misreads Evan’s actions, and she is devastated. Evan, in doing something wonderful for Libby, finds that his greatest fear has come true. He has hurt Libby.
  • Girl and boy overcome to live happily ever after: I’m not giving the story away, but let’s just say that Gideon and Charisse Tabor are the funniest and slyest matchmakers I’ve ever known.

There are other events in the story that amp up the plot and flow with the formula. For instance, there is an antagonist who separates the couple. There are funny moments and tearful ones. Those come about firmly within the formula and prove that though we are coloring within the lines, the colors we choose produce something unique for the reader. Yes, even in formula you can immerse the reader into a story that provides the depth that a movie on that romance channel never tries to reach.

Prompt: Write a classic romance. Have fun, but don’t dismiss formula until you’ve colored within the lines a few times.


Click-to-Tweet: When an author tells me that they do not write romance, I laugh. Why? Because it’s exactly what I used to say. Then I realized that every story has a thread of romance. Humans, after all, crave love.


Fay Lamb Bio

Fay Lamb is an author, an editor, and a teacher. She also loves to teach workshops for fiction writers.

Fay has contracted four series with her publisher, Write Integrity Press. Amazing Grace is a four-novel series, which includes Stalking Willow, Better than Revenge, Everybody’s Broken, and Frozen Notes all set in Western North Carolina.

Her The Ties that Bind romantic series, set in Fay’s own backyard of Central Florida, includes Charisse, Libby, and Hope, and comes to a surprising and satisfying conclusion with Delilah.

This author keeps busy. She also has two other series in the works. Her first novel in the Serenity Key series is the epic, Storms in Serenity. The other series is Mullet Harbor, a series of Christmas romances set in the Florida Everglades. Christmas Under Wraps is now available.

Fay has an adventurous spirit, which has also taken her into the arena of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook and on Goodreads. She’s also active on Twitter. Fay also invites you to visit her website and sign up for her newsletter.

 

O Romeo, How Many Are There of You?

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Love, Love, Love.

It’s floating all around us this February, and here on Inspired Prompt, the crew is looking at some of the best love stories ever written.

For me, the one that rises to the top without question is Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

Now, you might call “Foul, sweet writer. ‘Tis not a novel nor a book. You, fiendish foe.”

And I would answer, “Tis true, but no sweeter love hath any two, then Juliet and her Romeo.”

Though a tragic play, the story of Romeo and Juliet has been reproduced in books, movies, and television shows throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century, making it one of the most popular and beloved plots of Shakespeare.

A few of the more popular versions from the past of the Romeo and Juliet plotline are West Side Story, When You Were Mine, and Love Is All There Is.

More modern versions include Romeo and Juliet starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Shakespeare In Love which talks about the writing of the play, and Warm Bodies which turns the issue of the feuding families into the issue of zombies and humans.

Not to be outdone by the zombies, even the animated world has a version of this play called Gnomeo and Juliet.

Some of the best-loved TV series have also done their own take on the Romeo and Juliet plot including Still Star-Crossed, Bones, and Castle. If you watch for it, you can find it in most series at least once if not as two teenagers in love from feuding families, then the classic Hatfield and McCoy type of scenario. Where Pa would never allow it.

According to the International Movie Database, there are thirty-four movie adaptations alone of Shakespeare’s tribute to young love. What a story!

So, in true Shakespearean form, I will leave you with this thought:

“A glooming peace this morning with it brings;

The sun for sorrow will not show his head:

Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;

Some shall be pardoned and some punished:

For never was a story of more woe

Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.”

Prompt: Bernice sighed as she read over the playbill. She wanted to see Romeo and Juliet so bad she ached. It had been the last play that they had seen together.

Click-to-Tweet: #Love. It’s floating all around us this February, and here on Inspired Prompt, the crew is looking at some of the best love stories ever written. A classic look at love via @InspiredPrompt #ValentinesDay2020

Romance Writing: Older vs Younger

by Joan Deneve

I’m a true romantic at heart. Maybe it’s because I’m also a high school teacher where romance, not academics, permeates the halls and classrooms. I’m also a writer, and I get great pleasure as a casual observer of human nature to see young people in the first throes of romance. Throe, by the way, is defined by Mr. Webster as a hard or painful struggle (think labor and childbirth). I think it’s the perfect word because, believe me, the struggle is real.

Don’t get me wrong. Young love is a beautiful thing, and there’s nothing quite like it, is there? I’m serious. It’s beautiful and sweet, full of wonder, excitement, and passion. And I confess, I am often a silent cheerleader hoping most of the fledgling couples at our school will make it. Sadly, few do, and at those times, I’m quick to offer my shoulder to the young ladies and a sympathetic ear to the young men, if they want to talk. Most do because, like I said, the struggle is real, and break-ups mean broken hearts.

There is no shortage of romance stories and books aimed at Generation X, Millennials, and even Generation Z, the ones that span from young adult to the thirty-something crowd. Unfortunately, not many books are written with Baby Boomers (like me) in mind.

I get it. As a child, I viewed the relationship between my grandfather and grandmother as mutually supportive, steady, and definitely platonic. Anything else would’ve been just gross! (Actually, I had no idea what platonic meant when I was a child, but you get the idea).

I will turn sixty-five this year, the same age my grandparents would have been when I visited their house in my formative years. Now, my mirror tells me I’m old. I see wrinkles and the gray roots that signal yet another visit to the salon. But in my soul, I still feel like a teenager, and thoughts of love, romance, and passion are not gross at all. In fact…

Well, I digress! I’m here to give you five reasons why writing romance for older couples is a good idea and then offer some practical tips to help you get started.

WHY A ROMANCE WITH AN OLDER COUPLE IS A GOOD IDEA

  1. There is a shortage of books geared specifically for older couples. Yes, there are good ones out there (thank you, Nicholas Sparks) but, in my opinion, not nearly enough.
  2. There is a huge market. Older women like to read, and many of them finally have the time to do it.
  3. Sixty is the new forty. A natural by-product of society’s emphasis on health, fitness, and appearance is that men and women live longer and have more energetic lifestyles.
  4. People are lonely. More single “seniors” are re-entering the world of romance, thanks to dating websites designed for older couples.
  5. Love is ageless!

Convinced? If so, read on for some things to consider if you want to write a romance geared for an older audience.

WHAT OLDER COUPLES ARE LOOKING FOR IN A RELATIONSHIP

  1. People get lonely and want someone with whom they can talk, share the events of the day, go to a movie or out to a restaurant.
  2. Often, older people have baggage from prior relationships. People are looking for someone they can trust, and since there’s no big hurry, they often take a long time getting to know a potential mate.
  3. A great advantage to getting older is the ability to laugh at oneself and take things in stride. Shared jokes could be about something as simple as figuring out how to use a new cell phone or remembering where they left their glasses. Laughter lowers blood pressure and alleviates stress. A good laugh releases endorphins in much the same way as a good work-out but is much more fun and requires no self-discipline. 😉
  4. People who have lived long enough to know who they are and what they want enjoy being with other people whom they can relax around and not have to impress. Life is too short for drama and manipulation, and older adults know that.
  5. Yes, physical attractiveness is a plus, but true beauty is something that glows from the inside. People are drawn to beautiful souls.

Writing a romance for an older couple can be challenging but very rewarding. The goal is the same as with any romance: Make the characters believable, relatable, and likable. Create an intriguing plot and incorporate engaging dialogue, peppered with doses of humor. Provide some kind of obstacle the relationship has to overcome and tie it all together with a satisfying ending.

Interested? Try it for yourself. Write a short story about a widowed woman and a man who has never been married. (Think Matthew Cuthbert from Anne of Green Gables). They are both in their mid-sixties and live across the road from each other out in the country. A feral dog shows up that both the man and woman try to tame.

Click to tweet: Writing a romance for an older couple can be challenging but very rewarding. @joandeneve #InspiredPrompt #romance #writing


Joan Deneve

Joan Deneve teaches English in a Christian school and has a passion to help young people fall in love with Christ and equip them to become all God wants them to be. Joan shares her life with Rene’, her husband of forty-four years. Together they reside in Prattville, Alabama, a quaint city with southern charm and hospitality. Joan loves to laugh and spend quality time with family and friends.

Joan’s latest novel, Loving Brock, will be available in April from Write Integrity Press.

www.joandeneve.com


Loving Brock

For almost thirty years, Brock Whitfield served God with joy and contentment at the mission hospital he founded in Angola. When Joy Stockman joined their team as a surgical assistant, he found a woman whose zeal for God and heart for people equaled and in many ways surpassed his own. Before he knew it, his admiration and respect for her blossomed into love. After years of serving alone, Brock began to hope that God was giving him another chance to love and be loved in return.

Romance Writing: The Meet-Cute

What’s a meet-cute? A girl meets boy story…gone awry.

Meet-cute: a staple of romantic comedies; a scene in which a future romantic couple meets for the first time. [Wikipedia]


Scenario in which two individuals are brought together in some unlikely, zany, destined-to-fall-in-love-and-be-together-forever sort of way (the more unusual, the better). [Urban Dictionary]


“Meet Cute is a way to quickly introduce two characters and set up their burgeoning relationship. A meet-cute is almost always rife with awkwardness, embarrassment, and sometimes outright hostility. It’s often used in films, particularly the Romantic Comedy, due to time constraints; while on television a relationship can develop more naturally over many episodes, a movie has to get their couple set up right away to fit within 2 hours.” – TV Tropes


Introducing the meet-cute: a device most often used in romantic comedies (movies), but also in television, books, and stories. One of my all-time favorite meet-cute is found in While You Were Sleeping, when Sandra Bullock’s character meets Bill Pullman’s character for the first time. It’s awkward and funny.

They continue to butt heads and misunderstand each other through most of the movie. The scene is poignant, funny, and draws the viewer into the story. I can’t help but feel sorry for both characters, because I sense they are “destined for each other” (as in Sleepless in Seattle).

Which brings me to Sleepless in Seattle. Though they unknowingly cross paths more than once, the couple doesn’t actually meet until the final scene. The meet-cute scene is subtle. For her, it’s a radio broadcast. For him, it’s a quirky letter from a woman half a continent away. It seems impossible. The good, strong romance develops first in the viewers’ mind and heart. That’s genius writing, IMHO.

Can an author effectively use the meet-cute in writing romance meant for the novel, not the screen? [Click to Tweet]

Not only is it possible, but desirable. However, it takes skill and good comic timing. It fits best in the sub-genre: romantic comedy.

Let’s look at an example of one in Picture Perfect, a book by Janice Thompson. Hannah, a wedding photographer aiming for a high-profile wedding job, has an interview with a reporter for Texas Bride. At the end of her interview, trouble enters in the form of a rival photographer, who just happens to be, “devilishly handsome.” He also happens to be the reporter’s next appointment. After a brief introduction, Hannah looks down at her shoes and realizes she has on two completely different ones. When she glances up to find that Drew and the reporter are also gazing at her feet, her nerves take over. As Hannah rises to leave, she catches the toe of her sandal and spills coffee … in Drew’s lap.

Now, that’s a meet-cute. The main character has completely humiliated herself in front of a really good-looking, single guy. Destiny. Could it happen in real life? Absolutely, and probably has, which is why we may find it hilarious.

My mother tells the story of the time she first met my dad. She was working behind the candy counter at a local movie theater in Seattle, Washington. She noticed her best friend (who also worked there) flirting with a slightly inebriated, but very handsome young sailor. More than a little irritated with both of them, and knowing her best friend’s steady boyfriend was due at any moment, Mom stepped in and diverted the sailor’s attention. Just in time. She did such a good job of diverting his attention, he returned the next day. They were married a few weeks later, and stayed married until he died in 2007. That’s a real-life meet-cute.

If you’re a writer of romance, and want to include a meet-cute in your story, I would advise you to study from the best. Watch movies like the ones I mentioned earlier. Also, The Quiet Man, with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara is another great one. While you’re in Ireland, you can check out Leap Year, with Amy Adams and Matthew Goode. It has an excellent meet-cute.

Can you think of other meet-cute scenes in books you’ve read, or movies you’ve seen? Feel free to share those in the comments. We love to hear from our readers.


Writing Prompt: Construct a short meet-cute scene in front of a neighborhood farmer’s market. Your characters are a young college student named Anne, a young farmer named Charlie, and a boy on a bike. Have fun with it!