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?


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

Let Me Call You Sweetheart

By Tammy Trail

Valentine’s Day is just days away. Have you gotten your sweetheart a gift yet? I have done a bit of research on the history of Valentine’s Day. It is rooted in a pagan holiday that ensured fertility.

Roman Emperor, Claudius II ruled that young men in the Army were to remain unmarried. He felt that this would make single men more aggressive in the field of battle. The Emperor put a young cleric by the name of Valentine to death for secretly marrying young couples.  Valentine was later made a Saint by Pope Gelasius and given the date of February 14th to celebrate Saint Valentine.

In the 13th Century, it was synonymous with love and romance because it was believed that this was the beginning of mating season for birds.

In the 15th Century, written valentines were given to sweethearts.

In the 17th Century, valentines were exchanged between those who were smitten with one another.

In 1840, the first mass-produced valentines appeared in the United States. Valentine’s Day is the second most popular card giving occasion. It is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, France, Australia, Denmark, Italy, and Japan.

As a child, I remember my mother scouring the house for shoe boxes to be made into valentine mail boxes to decorate for my desk at school. There would be a party, of course, with lots of good treats. After school, you would open your box and read the paper gifts of admiration your classmates gave to you.

I have tried in years past to make my own valentines to give to family members and friends. Last year I made these for my grandsons.

I filled the little sack with treats. They really enjoyed getting a valentine from their Mimi!

I am already diligently looking for options for this year. You may find it just as rewarding to make your own as well. I find a great source of inspiration with Pinterest. What a treasure trove of ideas!

Whether you make your own, or buy a card for that special someone, I believe it’s a good holiday to celebrate. Who doesn’t like candy? And you will make mate, child, or friend feel important with a valentine that you especially picked out for them. You can never go wrong by making people feel loved and important.

For the writer, especially the romance writer, Valentine’s Day is a reminder of why we put words to paper. That boy meets girl stuff is what makes the story, especially when they lived happily ever after.

So, in keeping with that thought! Here is my valentine for all of you.

  1. Writing Prompt: Jessica expected a great big box of heart-shaped candy.  What she found was……..?

Click to tweet: Romance is #alive https://ctt.ec/53mP6

Isn’t It Romantic?

by Carlton HughesCandy and flowers

First things first: I am the new blogger around these parts, and, as of now, I am the only guy. Not that I’m going to blog about fixing cars (I keep the local car mechanics in business) or home repair (I can bake you some brownies and write you a blog post, but I can’t fix your sink), but I hope to give a slightly different perspective on matters of writing.

That gets me to my first subject—romance. Now, I like to think of myself as a pretty romantic guy, and, when we were dating, I did the whole flowers and candy thing for my soon-to-be-wife. Then, we were married and tried to stick to a budget, my wife dared me to ever send her flowers because they just die and there goes your money.

When I started writing Christian fiction, I went to several writers conferences and heard the same thing over and over: ROMANCE SELLS!!

Oh, great! At the time I had never read a romance novel, let alone tried to write one. I decided I needed to know the market better, so I gave in and picked up one of these books to read.

ebooks-kindle-gratisAt first I was put off by some of the wording, how the heroine “felt a tingle” each time the hero touched her hand or how “shivers” went up his spine each time she walked into the room.

And then there were “the complications.” Each time the hero and heroine seemed destined to get together, they would have a fight or a misunderstanding or a natural disaster or something like that. I was so impatient. Why can’t they just get together???

I soon realized that, if they just got together after a few pages, there would be no story. I started paying attention to the writing, the plotting, the twists and turns. I finished that first book with a new appreciation for the genre, and I moved on to others. Some I enjoyed, some I groaned all the way through. I gradually came around—and I even watch Hallmark Channel romance movies with my wife now!

What developed was an appreciation for the genre and a realization of the storytelling potential. You can have a suspenseful romance, a humorous romance, and basically a romance set against any type of backdrop.

With these things in mind, here are some prompts:

  1. Develop an unusual setting for a romance novel—maybe an unlikely locale, place of business, etc.
  2. Think of unique professions for a romantic heroine and hero.
  3. What is a complication/entanglement these characters might experience.

Have fun with it, and don’t mind me—I’ll be sitting over here watching a Hallmark movie.

Carlton HughesCarlton W. Hughes is a communications professor at Southeast Kentucky Community College and coordinates the Dual Credit Program at Harlan County High School, where he also teaches part-time. He is children’s pastor at Lynch Church of God and won the 2013 Shepherd’s Cup Award, the highest honor for children’s pastors in the Church of God denomination. Hughes is also a year-round volunteer and Relay Center Coordinator for Operation Christmas Child. As a writer, his works have been featured in numerous publications, including the books Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game and Simple Little Words. Hughes is a two-time first-place winner in the “Dramas/ Plays/Scripts” category in the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Writers Contest. He resides in Cumberland, Kentucky, and he and his wife Kathy have two sons, Noah and Ethan. He is a fan of chocolate, good books, basketball, and classic television shows like “I Love Lucy.”