Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels by Gwen Hayes by Gwen Hayes - Read Online

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Romancing the Beat - Gwen Hayes

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What makes a romance novel a romance? How do you write a kissing book?

Writing a well-structured romance isn't the same as writing any other genre-something the popular novel and screenwriting guides don't address. The romance arc is made up of its own story beats, and the external plot and theme need to be braided to the romance arc-not the other way around.

Told in conversational (and often irreverent) prose, Romancing the Beat can be read like you are sitting down to coffee with romance editor and author Gwen Hayes while she explains story structure. The way she does with her clients. Some of whom are regular inhabitants of the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.

Romancing the Beat is a recipe, not a rigid system. The beats don't care if you plot or outline before you write, or if you pants your way through the drafts and do a beat check when you're revising. Pantsers and plotters are both welcome. So sit down, grab a cuppa, and let's talk about kissing books.

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Story Structure

for Romance Novels


Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels

Copyright © 2016 by Gwen Hayes

All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

Stock art Dollar Photo club

Edited by FWS Media

First Printing, 2016



I write kissing books.

I am also a freelance editor. My clients write kissing books.

Guess what I read for fun? Kissing books.

But I also read a lot of craft books: writing, story structure, how to outline, how to write with no outline, how to write dialogue that sparkles, how to create a bomb with a bale of hay, a stick of gum, and a—okay…that I made up. (Though my job does include looking up some things that some might consider shady.) But the point is, I am forever reading books about how to do what I do only way moar better. And boy am I grateful for those books. But while I was saving the cat and sending my protagonist on a heroine’s journey and writing screenplays that sell, I noticed that while a lot of the advice was so spot on it made me excited to stop reading and start writing, something was still missing.

These structure books don’t exactly nail the romance arc.

Romance has two heroes, not one. Romance has genre expectations. Romance has story beats that need to be hit before it can be called a kissing book. But not the same ones, or exactly the same ones, as that hero saving a cat on his journey to selling a screenplay. (These are all wonderful books, by the way. I highly recommend reading Save the Cat by Blake Snyder, The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler, and Writing Screenplays that Sell by Michael Hauge.)

And so I wrote the book I needed to read. And the one I