Monday, October 12, 2020

Only One Week to go until ROSACon2020!


The clock is ticking down to ROSACon2020. Have you booked your ticket for the most exciting event online? ROSACon2020 has something for writers at every stage of their writing journey, with themed days focusing on craft, marketing, traditional publishing and self-publishing. Sign up for just one day, or sign up for the full package at

🌸 ROSAcon 2020 🌸

This year the Romance Writers of South Africa will be hosting their annual conference online for the first time. We have a stellar line up of international and local speakers as well as breakaway rooms, where you will be able to chat about various topics and participate in writing sprints. There will also be an opportunity to pitch to agents and publishers.

Speakers presenting at this year's event:

🌸 Julia Quinn (Keynote Speaker)

🌸 Nalini Singh

🌸 Skye Warren

🌸 Marie Force

🌸 Candace Havens (Keynote Speaker)

🌸 Jane Friedman

      to name but a few.

With just a week to go, if you haven't booked your spot yet, don't delay!

𝐓𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐨𝐩𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐚𝐧𝐲𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐢𝐧 𝐰𝐫𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐰𝐢𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐫𝐨𝐦𝐚𝐧𝐜𝐞 𝐠𝐞𝐧𝐫𝐞.

ROSACon2020 runs from 20-25 October.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Celebrating excellence at ROSA's online awards ceremony

Join ROSA for our annual awards ceremony at 8pm on Saturday 24 October in which we will be presenting the 2020 Imbali and Strelitzia Awards. This year's ceremony will be a live online event that is FREE to attend.

The Imbali Award is our annual award for excellence in romance writing awarded to the best published romance novel of the previous year. Awards are given in two categories: English novels and Afrikaans novels. Past English winners include Natasha Anders, Rae Rivers and Suzanne Jefferies, and past Afrikaans winners include Sophia Kapp, Didi Potgieter and Leandra Naude.

The Strelitzia Award is awarded to the best unpublished manuscript that has passed through ROSA's mentorship program. Past participants in the program who have gone on to publish their novels include winners Melissa A. Volker and Amanda Holly, as well as Dorothy Ewels and Andie Patrick.

To attend the award ceremony, register here.

Saturday, September 26, 2020

ROSACon 2020 Scholarships

Six days of bestselling authors from around the world, opportunities to pitch to international editors and agents, and a virtual cocktail party. What's not to love about ROSACon 2020?

Well maybe that price tag, especially if you've been hit hard by pandemic-related financial stress. But don't despair, because ROSA is offering a whole lot of scholarship opportunities.

Ikhwezi Scholarships

Several of our guest speakers have donated their speaker fees to create a scholarship for writers from disadvantaged communities. Four full scholarships to attend the conference will be offered. To apply, please send a motivation letter to The motivation letter should include a little about you, why you want to attend the conference, and any past writing experience you have, to help us understand your situation. 

Applicants should be: 
  • Actively pursuing a writing career 
  • Familiar with and interested in the romance genre 
  • At least 18 years of age 
  • From a marginalised or historically disadvantaged community

Partial Scholarships for Members 

Ten partial scholarships will be offered to ROSA members in need of financial assistance. These scholarships will cover one week day and one weekend day per member. To apply, please email a motivation letter to

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

ROSACon2020 - Annual Conference of Romance Writers Organisation of South Africa

2020 has been the year of the parties that weren't. Weddings canceled. Theatre shows. Dream trips. Family reunions. 

But there's one show that is going on, and it will, as usual, bring all the feels: the love, the excitement, the joy, the camaraderie, all the good stuff you know you need right now. 

Of course the party I'm talking about is The Romance Writers Organisation of South Africa's annual conference.  And you don't even have to but a plane ticket or book a hotel room. 

Because #ROSACon2020 is a virtual event, and it's open to all levels of writers.  

Wait, wait. Don't log off. We know you've done a huge amount of virtual things in 2020.  We know you might have digital fatigue. So, we have prepared a programme for #ROSACon2020 that has such an intriguing array of speakers, topics and events, it will only leave you inspired and empowered. The conference will flow from local speaker to international, from workshop to presentation, from pitch to writing sprint with space in between to relax, or fetch a coffee or network, depending on your mood. 

Are you a beginner writer?  Have you started your first manuscript ever? Or are you a fledgling? Do you have a manuscript that is ready to fly the nest? Are you already down the road, manuscripts out and about, but the road has a few potholes? Are you a seasoned writer, with contracts and bestsellers? 

Each conference day includes a writing sprint or a writing exercise to keep out reason for being in focus. But, this time, you won't be alone at your desk. Find the full program HERE

Kickstarting the conference on a high note is international guest speaker, Julia Quinn, the bestselling author of the Bridgerton historical romance novels, which is coming soon as a Netflix series. We are so excited to hear what Julia has to say in the Keynote Address on Day One.

Are you writing YA? Or a high concept novel? Then make sure it's not your turn to cook dinner on 20 October 2020 because those two genres are on the programme between 17h30 and 19h30 at #ROSACon2020.

Interested in pitching your manuscript? There are six opportunities over the course of #ROSACon2020 to pitch to editors and publishers. (You need to pre-book for these.)

What about marketing? Is that your nemesis? Then Day Two is for you. In one of the presentations, Skye Warren, bestselling author and marketing maven, will share cost effective marketing strategies that work.

Stephen King said, 'To write is human but to edit is divine.'  Editor Joanne Grant will tell you more about editing, what editors expect from authors and what authors can expect from their editors. 

How about writing romance in South Africa? Do you set your books here? Do you write Afrikaans?  If you said yes to either of those, then please join us early on Day Three to hear a number of guest speakers, including Izak de Vries, who will share data about current local book sales and marketing trends.

Indie Authors, Day Four is for you, from Cover Design to Self Publishing tips. Don't miss it. 

On Saturday, we have the wonderful experienced local writer, Elsa Winckler, sharing her wisdom at the start of the day. Later on we have a talk by New York Times Best Selling author, Shirley Jump, on scenes and sequels, and then the inimitable fountain of knowledge, Jane Friedman, will talk about the thing that plagues most writers: self doubt. 

On Saturday evening all the writers who entered the 2020 Imbali and Strelitzia Contest will be on the edge of their seats at the Awards Ceremony, when the winners will be announced. Have your bubbly ready to celebrate all our published and unpublished authors at the event. 

Sunday will include a session about writing the male point of view, and #ROSACon2020 will close with an inspiring talk by bestselling author and Entangled Managing Editor, Candace Havens. She will help us to keep on dreaming big. 

Please join us. Even if you don't write romance. Yes. You. The person in the back writing Cozy Mysteries. Or Fantasy. Or Crime. Whatever you write. There is so much to learn about the craft of writing at #ROSACon2020.

But you know what the best part is? Love is not just a genre. You will find it in this tribe. A tribe who will support you, cheer for you, push you, advise you and most of all, be kind to you, throughout your journey as a writer. 

Wouldn't you agree, in the year 2020, that this is what all of us need?

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Visualise Your Readers

When you write a novel, it is important to visualise your readers and credit them with the ability to read successfully between the lines. And often it’s not what you put in, but rather what you leave out, that matters the most. It is possible to over-explain a point or “over tell” it. Nuances are important in writing - let your readers pick up certain facts about your characters and plot without bashing them over the head with unnecessary explanations.

This is particularly relevant when it comes to dialogue. It is not necessary to say, for example:

“Peter, you are such an idiot!” Sarah cried out angrily.

The reader will get the gist of Sarah’s emotional state from what she is saying. If you have contextualised the dialogue (i.e. the reader is already aware that Sarah is speaking to Peter) you can let the piece of dialogue stand alone without the “Sarah cried out angrily” tag at the end. In other words, your readers don’t need to be spoon-fed.

How do you show your characters’ traits and personality, without falling into the trap of telling your readers what you think they should know about them? The secret is to learn to reveal things to the reader without being prescriptive about it. It’s a subtle tool of the writing trade that can take a while to learn, but it is very important to look at your writing critically to see whether you may be falling into the “telling” trap.

A good writer plunges the reader into the story’s action and doesn’t intrude on the story. But how can a writer intrude on his or her own story, you might say? Surely the story belongs to its creator? It is very tempting, as a writer, to use your novel as a platform to elaborate on certain themes that are close to your heart, but unless something moves the story along, it shouldn’t be included.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

The Six Requirements of a 2020 Heartthrob

The other day I watched Top Gun again. I was a total fan in the eighties, Tom Cruise dazzled me. But when I watched it now, I was like, PEE-YEW!
How was I ever in love with ‘Maverick’ Mitchell?  Through my 2020 lens he is a shocker.
A clue came to me via the wealth of knowledge that is all things history, Dr Glen Thompson, who put me on to the work of social and cultural historian Carol Dyhouse. She’s written a book entitled Heartthrobs, A History of Women and Desire. This book shows how change in the social position of women shapes their dreams about men.
An article on Dyhouse’s work in New Books Network explains:
“Education and wage-earning brought independence and a widening of cultural horizons. Young women in the early twentieth century showed a sustained appetite for novel-reading, cinema-going, and the dancehall. They sighed over Rudolph Valentino’s screen performances, as tango-dancer, Arab tribesman, or desert lover. Contemporary critics were sniffy about “shop-girl” taste in literature and in men, but as consumers, girls had new clout.”
For example, Dyhouse explains that in the fifties, Doctor and Nurse stories were hot stuff in romance novels. Mills & Boon could not get enough writers to keep up with the demand. Why?  Well, Dyhouse proposes that after World War 2 women were looking for security and stability at home, and who could provide better than a McDreamy Doctor?
Since we write love stories, I thought it best that we acquaint ourselves with what makes a heartthrob in fiction/movies/popular culture  in light of women’s social position TODAY and what better place to do an absolutely unscientific study than on  Facebook?
103 comments later, here he is guys. The hands down, all-time winner-by-a-country-mile, the definition of what makes a heartthrob in 2020 for women in the south of Cape Town:

Yeah baby.  The mamas like this guy. Jason Momoa.
side note: (very extremely different to Tom Cruise of 1986 right? Actually Tom Cruise of any year)
The only other person mentioned is the also-fabulous Gerard Butler.

Kinda similar to Jason? But with less muscle. And fewer votes.
Anyway, as a public service to all the potential heartthrobs out there, I analysed the unscientific data and wrote it down. Good news for the silver foxes is that Not One Respondent mentioned youth as a must. Bad news for the bossy boys however: the Alpha Male is out. While wearing a beard or being clean shaven are not  game changers, a few other things  are.  Here are the salient points, if you want to know what women dream of.  Some of the items, like #2, are astonishingly simple.
  1.  Save the planet. The most desired quality in a 2020 heartthrob is environmental advocacy. (Jason has it…OBVIOUSLY) If you’re thinking of giving the guy in your latest WIP a coffee lid, a straw or a plastic bag, think again. The ladies are not swooning over men who aren’t trying to save the planet.   ‘A man with compassion for animals, nature and the environment’ ‘Cares deeply about the planet ‘ ‘On a journey to try to save the planet.’ ‘Greenpeace activist type.’
  2. DO NOT STINK.  You would think this is basic, but I was floored by how many women’s real life experience must be malodorous enough to inform this fantasy of an odour-free man. Pongs of any kind our OUT. Breath, body and any other unmentionable smells of any kind are a non-starter.  This includes too much cologne. Also dental hygiene. Own teeth for the win. Yes. Someone took the time to type that in. So writers, include confirmation of good personal hygiene in your narrative. 
  3. Get off the couch. (It’s clear Momoa is no couch potato) A fit, outdoorsman seems  to be the bomb in 2020.  Make sure your character runs, paddles, surfs, cycles, does sports,  swims, dances or plays cricket with the kids.  
  4. Be kind and gentle, tough guy. It’s okay to be in touch with your emotions. While women want to be protected in the face of danger, they do love a heartthrob who ‘cries in movies’, is ‘kind, gentle, empathetic’ , has a ‘connection to his family’, is ‘kind to old folk/generous, demonstrative, affectionate’ and ‘humble’ FYI check out this vid where Jason is not afraid to cry, ‘his heart has always been as big as his biceps”
  5. Unplug.  I took ‘Something with a heartbeat and doesn’t sit on his phone on the couch’ as a sign that this point needed a heading of its own. ‘Doesn’t do social media’ ‘not searching or on Tinder!’ ‘Doesn’t have a tv.’ ‘ability to be present’
  6. Cook.  Every woman loves a man who cooks. And yup. You  guessed it. Aquaman cooks.

So there you have it. Bear in mind – a) my non-scientific study group was an FB Moms group so all the non-moms  might not feel the same way b) my non-scientific group all live in or near the South Peninsula in Cape Town, so the Joburgers might have another view.  Who knows, maybe they still like Tom Cruise?
Of course there is one heartthrob who had been loved by women for over two hundred years,  is time-proof and remains a heartthrob no matter what, forever and ever. You know who?
Mr Darcy, of course. And why have women loved Darcy for centuries?

  …”it has been that this man, this proud, manly man, loves Lizzie Bennet. He ardently admires and loves a spirited, fearless, funny woman, who says what she thinks, who thumbs her nose at female silence and compliance. He is not intimidated by her; he does not wish her to be less than she is.”  – Caroline Criado-Perez, The Guardian

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Two Simple Ways to Keep Writing During Crisis

Is it just me or does the world feel like it’s burning? A tad dramatic, I admit, but honestly, the current world is not the one we’re accustomed to. For example, this blog post was supposed to be about the Cape WritingRetreat, but you already know that’s been cancelled because of the Coronavirus. That’s been happening a lot. Even simple tasks we thought were reliable like going to work or to the store have been thrown into disarray. With our every routine disrupted, you might be finding it a little hard to write. At least, that’s been the case for me. So I thought I’d share how I’ve been getting words down.

One: Be Consistent
While word goals no longer have meaning to me, being consistent has taken its place. For me, it means showing up at my desk and writing. Some days that means a few hundred words; others, a few thousand. I can’t predict this. It depends entirely on my mental health, which is surprisingly unreliable during a global pandemic. But what I can predict is showing up and writing, regardless of how much I do. That, of course, can come in whatever form you need it to come in. Scribbling down ideas regularly? Obsessively planning? Working on a project that excites you rather than what you’re ‘supposed’ to do? Just do it as consistently as you can manage.

Two: Be Kind to Yourself
This one is a major one. You’re not going to get anything done, writing or otherwise, if you aren’t kind to yourself. Usually, I’m a pretty productive person. But during this time, I’ve been struggling with even the most routine tasks. It’s wonderful if you’re still able to be productive right now, but if you’re like me, you’re going to need some self-compassion. Now is not the time to beat yourself up for not reaching whichever goals you’ve set for yourself previously. If you showed up and tried to write, that’s enough. If you’ve thought about writing, worked out a plot point, planned how you’ll be moving forward when you can write, that’s enough.

While these tips aren’t going to change your life in any way, they’re two simple ways of shifting your mindset so you can write.

But if you can’t – that’s okay, too. You are the number one priority right now. Take care of yourself; writing will be there when you’re ready.

You can find Therese Beharrie on Twitter or Facebook!

Thursday, March 12, 2020

How to Increase Suspense in Romantic Thrillers

One of my favourite romantic suspense stories is Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks.  Katie plots a life-saving escape from a violent and abusive husband and builds a new life for herself in a seaside town in North Carolina.

While Katie is trying not to fall in love with a kind and handsome storekeeper in North Carolina, the wicked husband is slowly but surely hunting her down.The reader is compelled by the fragile love story unfolding, as well as fear of what will happen if the husband finds Katie.

Merriam Webster defines a thriller as a “work of fiction or drama designed to hold the interest by the use of a high degree of intrigue, adventure, or suspense.”  Suspense is defined as the “pleasant excitement as to a decision or outcome.”

So when we write love stories that include a thriller element, we suspend some of the facts from our readers knowledge, in order to fuel excitement about the outcome. We insert a mystery, an adventure or a dash of intrigue into the story by leaving clues that raise questions in the reader’s mind, over and above the will they won’t they of the romance.

 1.     A Hook

If suspense can be described as anxious uncertainty about what will happen, then in a romantic suspense novel, we need a hook that will grab the reader’s attention early to raise questions about what will happen next.  The hook should be uncomfortable enough to it give our reader some anxiety.

Drew Graham -Unsplash

In the first chapter of Safe Haven, we find Katie waiting tables in a casual family restaurant in North Carolina, surrounded by dating couples and nice, friendly people. But in that safe environment we learn she can’t sleep, her hands shake, and she refuses a date because of a bad past experience.  She thinks back to when, for just a moment she was happy, like the dating couples.

And we’re hooked. We like Katie, but we’re worried about her.  Why do her hands shake and why can’t she sleep? Is her trauma over?  What will happen next?

2.      Plot Twists

Colton Sturgeon - Unsplash

As we go along, we insert plot twists or more surprising information that must either shock our readers or be unexpected. This keeps the momentum of the initial question going.  

In Safe Haven we are surprised to learn that Katie’s ex is a policeman, someone who should keep others safe.  Instead he is abusive, we know he is trained to kill and are terrified when he uses his police connections and resources to hunt Katie down.

It is preferable in romantic suspense to find the balance between the thriller twists and the love story.  Rather keep the suspense plot simple and have one good plot twist, surrounded by the ebb and flow of the romance. If you end up with multiple not-so-shocking plot twists, the thriller side could descend into melodrama.

 3.      Setting

Joe Beck - Unsplash

A chilling setting is another way we can increase the suspense in a story.   Think about the setting of a dark and stormy night. It is a well-known trope for a reason. Storms and darkness create the kind of mood that feeds suspense. There are many other settings that create a mood in which suspense will flourish: old castles, windswept beaches, quiet parking garages, forests, desolate mausoleums.

4.     Character Vulnerability

When it comes to your characters, think of the worst thing you can do to them, and then make it worse.  This will give your readers the anxiety you need for them to feel the suspense.

Caleb Jones - Unsplash

Expose vulnerabilities in a character so the character becomes real and worth worrying about. For example, in Safe Haven, the handsome storekeeper is also a struggling single Dad. He tries so hard and we love him for it. We really don’t want the evil husband to come and take revenge on the storekeeper and especially not his children. They are part of the storekeeper’s vulnerability and make the reader root for him. We keep reading to make sure the children are going to be fine.  The character of the storekeeper grows as he has to deal with the fact that the threat to his children’s safety comes from the jealous ex of the woman he loves.

 5.      Time limits

Another way to increase  suspense is by setting a time limit. Give your characters a limited time frame to accomplish something.  In Safe Haven, Katie has to get the storekeeper’s children out of the house before her ex-husband burns it down.  You can imagine the suspense is pretty intense.

Brooke Cagle - Unsplash

Romantic Suspense author, Sandra Brown has the following extra tips on writing romantic suspense on The Novel Suspects 

The four elements of romance that I incorporate into every book:
1. The hero and heroine must share time and space.
2. They are co-dependent, needing each other in order to survive a common threat or to overcome a shared enemy. Neither is happy about requiring the other. They’re reluctant allies.
3. Nevertheless, they desire each other. Badly.
4. They’re forbidden to each other. Something built into the plot makes it impossible for them to submit to their desire. If he’s a fireman, she needs to be an arsonist.
The Suspense
I plant a question in the reader’s mind early on. If not in the first sentence, then certainly by the end of the prologue and first chapter. I continue to plant questions and if I do it correctly, the reader isn’t even aware of the questions. But I withhold the answers for as long as possible. The first question asked is the last question answered. That “aha” is the reason for the story. It’s what makes the point of telling it.”

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

What is External and Internal Conflict?

You know that feeling when you’re reading a book and it’s perfectly enjoyable, but you can’t help but think something’s missing? Maybe this has happened in your own writing. You’re making your way through your book and you realise it doesn’t read like some of your favourite romance novels. The answer to this often lies in the conflict. Not sure what I mean? Keep reading then!

There are two types of conflict: external and internal.

External conflict is what tends to bring your characters together. Maybe the hero’s father passes away and leaves a will that dictates he must marry before he can inherit. He asks his best friend to marry him until the inheritance is his; thereafter, they can live their lives separately again (haha). Or maybe the heroine has a one-night stand, realises she’s pregnant and has to tell the man she slept with.
Basically, the external conflict is anything your characters face that comes from outside themselves.
External conflict can be linked to well-loved romance tropes, too. In my earlier examples, you can see marriages of convenience; friends-to-lovers; a surprise pregnancy; or perhaps even a secret baby.

Internal conflict, on the other hand, is what keeps your characters apart.

Internal conflict is more complicated than external conflict. It’s the emotional issues your characters have that keep them from simply being with one another. Perhaps our hero feels abandoned after his father’s death, and can’t bring himself to love someone again, lest he be hurt. Or maybe our heroine has dated a controlling man before and is terrified of it happening again. When she falls pregnant, and the hero asks her to marry him, she thinks he’s trying to control her, and she can’t accept it. Usually where your internal conflict is concerned, your characters start in one place – the place of hurt or fear – and end in another.

The journey the characters go on in the romance should dictate where that end place is.

In the above examples: the heroine shows the hero that love is worth taking the chance of being hurt for. Or the hero proves that he doesn’t want to control the heroine; only love her. The stronger the internal conflict, the more satisfying the romance. So while the external conflict is important, it’s really the internal conflict that’s king. At least in romance.

The point?

Conflict of both kinds need to appear in your romance novel. While most readers might not know what it is in so many words, they’ll definitely miss it if you don’t have it!
You can find Therese Beharrie on Twitter or Facebook!

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Being part of it: the online writing community


You have friends in every corner of the world; people as diverse as the places in which they live. You all have one thing in common: a love of writing.

Look up #WritingCommunity on Twitter and you’ll see the big picture: writers, writers everywhere! All talking about their writing, or prevaricating about writing or shouting about their books or even sometimes ‘shamelessly promoting someone else’.

It’s a big pond to play in.

But scale it down. Find a quieter corner.

What I want to share with you is my experience of belonging to a community; of gathering a group of online writing friends around you and of sharing encouragement and support.

I hang out in a small corner of the blogosphere via the wordpress platform. If you want to know about the technicalities, there’s plenty of ‘how to’ info out there on the interweb.

Way back in 2012 I set up my blogsite, purely as somewhere to store the short stories I’d written. Then, two years ago, when I started working from home doing social media stuff for a handful of clients and concentrating seriously on writing novels, as a bit of light relief, I began posting flash fiction pieces on the site.

I was pretty amazed that people took the time to read and comment… and say nice things. Suddenly I began to have a following.

And so I reciprocated. I read other people’s posts on the wordpress reader and commented on them. Before long, we had become a little community. We often write to prompt posted by someone else: a photo or a random word. We all come back and share. It’s become a virtual writing group.

Not everyone in our group aspires to be a published writer. Some do, some already are. Some just write for fun (well, I guess we all do that). Some post more frequently than others. People dip in and dip out like in any group. But there’s a hard core of folk who are always there, those I could sit down and share a coffee and a chat with, the ones I call my ‘virtual’ friends.

Within a year, I’d acquired many, many more contacts. The blog is linked to Twitter and LinkedIn, Facebook and, more recently, to Instagram. It provides me with a springboard to launch my work, and I’m selling an increasing number of my books as a result. However for me, it’s the participation and support of my virtual writing group that’s most important.

Writers are such nice people, aren’t they?

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Essence of Attraction - Part Three

In my first two posts, I outlined six important elements that create attraction between a hero and heroine in a romance novel, namely mystery, desireconfidence, unpredictability, challenge and social status.

Another crucial element when it comes to creating attraction between a couple is likeability. Now I’m not saying that the hero and heroine will necessarily like one another all the time. In most romance novels, sparks are usually flying, and it is fair to say that the hero and heroine don’t always see eye to eye on matters. But in a good romance novel, the hero and heroine will often find themselves liking each other – even if it is against their will.

Leading on from this is the idea of humour as an import aspect of attraction. In a heated discussion between the hero and heroine, what often diffuses the scene, and also adds to the likeability factor between the two characters is humour. Nothing is more likely to create a buzz between your two main characters than some humorous exchanges.

Humour and intelligence are often linked, and when two characters connect, it is because they have an appreciation for each other’s mind or way of thinking. This is a very important element of attraction because if two characters cannot connect on an intellectual level, then they’re doomed as a romantic couple… just think of Mr and Mrs Bennet in Pride and Prejudice for a telling example of a couple who were mismatched intellectually. If the heroine never catches the hero’s jokes, or she finds him an inferior intellectually, any attraction between the two will fizzle out after a while, and die.

Mr and Mrs Bennet from the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice

Now I’ll come to the final element of attraction. As it is the most obvious element, I’ve left till last. And it is... physical attraction! The hero and heroine must find each other physically attractive otherwise the relationship will never get off the ground, let alone approach anywhere near an altar.

Do you have any other aspects of attraction you’d like to add to my list? If so, please leave a comment.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

The Essence of Attraction – Part Two

In my previous post, I outlined three important elements that create attraction between a hero and heroine in a romance novel, namely mysterydesire and confidence.

Another important aspect for creating attraction between a man and a woman is unpredictability. At the beginning of a relationship the hero shouldn’t be able to predict the heroine’s behaviour, and vice versa. This generates romantic tension in a relationship, which creates an interesting dynamic between the hero and heroine. Of course, as the romance progresses the main characters will become more familiar with each other, in that they’ll start to know each other better, but this shouldn’t make them predictable.

What adds to the attraction between a man and a woman is some sort of challenge. The hero should find the heroine challenging in some way. Even if you’ve created a meek and mild heroine, something in her demeanour should challenge the hero. For instance, the hero might find it exciting to see if he can discover whether passion lurks beneath the quiet surface of the heroine; or he might try and find out why she behaves in a particular manner with certain people while behaving quite differently around him…

The heroine should also find the hero challenging – either to her ideas about love and life in general, or something in his personality should intrigue her to get to know him better.

Social status is another important aspect of attraction. This doesn’t mean that the hero must be a powerful, wealthy character, but he should be able to command some sort of respect from the people around him. It boils down to a natural authority the hero should command, to be well… a hero! A similar thing applies to a heroine – she should have aspects of her character that other people admire because think about it – if no one in the book likes and respects her, why would a reader bother to spend time with her between the covers of a book?

In my next post, I’ll continue to elaborate on this theme.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

The Essence of Attraction – Part One

When you write a romance novel, the attraction between the hero and heroine needs to crackle off the pages in order to drive the story forward. So how do you set about creating this sort of chemistry?

An important aspect of attraction is mystery… the hero and the heroine need to spend time wondering about each other. A good way to create mystery in a novel is to have short, sparkling scenes of dialogue between the hero and heroine, interspersed with scenes where the main characters reflect about their interactions with the other person. The more they wonder about each other and try and figure each other out, the more they will become attracted to each other.

Another important aspect of attraction is desire… in order to keep the desire building between the hero and heroine, you should create obstacles between them that need to be overcome. This applies particularly to the hero of a novel, because the more he has to work for the heroine, the more he will appreciate her. Heroes in romance novels are often Alpha Males, who have the world (and most women) at their feet. That’s why it’s so important for men of this ilk to work hard for the heroine because heroes who have it all need to be shaken out of their complacency if they’re ever to fall properly in love.

The third important aspect of attraction is confidence… even if you’ve created a shy, retiring female character she needs to have some element of confidence in herself if she is ever to be a believable romantic heroine. If a heroine has no self-belief, it will be hard for the reader to believe in her and her love for the hero – it’ll appear to be a wishy-washy kind of thing without form or substance. The hero also needs to portray confidence in a romantic relationship so that the heroine (and the reader!) will fall in love with him. Just as a man leads a woman when they are dancing, in the same way, a man’s confidence will either sweep a woman off her feet if it is present or cause her (and the romance) to stumble if it is not.

In my next post, I will elaborate on other important elements of attraction, which are vital for a romance to be believable.