Bookshelf | Reports | Community | KDP Select

Home » Amazon KDP Support » Voice of the Author / Publisher » Voice of the Author / Publisher

Thread: My first romance novel


Reply to this Thread Reply to this Thread Search Forum Search Forum Back to Thread List Back to Thread List

Permlink Replies: 64 - Pages: 5 [ Previous | 1 2 3 4 5 | Next ] - Last Post: Nov 9, 2017 9:48 AM Last Post By: uncle1282 Threads: [ Previous | Next ]
Moshe Ben-Or

Posts: 466
Registered: 12/28/15
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 9, 2017 8:03 PM   in response to: uncle1282 in response to: uncle1282
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
Don't try to write a romance at all. Write a hard-boiled mystery with plentiful romantic elements interspersed with the blood-and-guts action. Kill one of the characters, even. Heck, kill both. Have him shot while saving Pearl Harbor, and her jump into the waters off a cliff in despair.

By the way, why Pearl? Mobsters and German saboteurs sounds a lot more like wartime New York. The Germans even ended up wearing concrete overshoes in real life, courtesy of Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano. The mob not being known for great powers of discrimination, your leading man might kill the real German only to be killed by the mob in the belief that he is the German.

He's the brutal but oddly lovable manly man, she's the strong yet feminine womanly woman. Han Solo the way he would really be without the director making him prettier. Leia Organa with a lady browning in her garter instead of a blaster, and a stiletto up her sleeve. It's the Greatest Generation, the greatest war in history, so why not play it to the hilt?

They are destined for each other, but cruel Fate strikes them down without as much as a single decent romp between the sheets. It's all deep sighs from her, frustrated PG-13 1940s swear words from him, longing at a distance and crossed signals leading to crossed stars. Make the girls weep over the tragedy. Plenty like a good cry. There's a reason why "Trisan and Isolde" and "Romeo and Juliet" are so beloved by the fair gender. There's a reason they go gaga over "Casablanca."

Don't call it a romance novel. Market it as a mystery or historical novel. Cross-market it to the romance crowd with a separate ad campaign. This way you don't shackle yourself, you stay with what you're good at, and you open up a whole new market.
uncle1282

Posts: 1,304
Registered: 12/20/10
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 10, 2017 10:09 AM   in response to: Moshe Ben-Or in response to: Moshe Ben-Or
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
I thank all for the thoughtful replies to my question. I'm still not sure whether I have a mystery with romance or a romance with mystery. And by the way I like to use actual historical events, places, persons in my novels, so the German saboteur Roedel was arrested on the West Coast. I thought it weird that Germans were trying to interfere with ship construction outside of NY but it's true, at least in this one case. I take Roedel to another level.

Now I don't mean to disparage Romance novels. Not at all. But I'm rather uninformed as to what they MUST contain besides that HEA thing and smooching, yearning, et al. A triangle does give some element of conflict, which all stories need. I confess I've read perhaps 200 mystery/crime type novels, including all of the "Hard Case Crime" books. And my 20 Mike Angel PI novels are definitely hardboiled (I eschew the hyphen here) which take the classic fade-out at the bedroom door to a whole new level, though I've tried not to step into porno. Revision often forces me to pull back on a few scenes. I don't bring up fluids, not graphically anyway.

My aim here is to get away from hardboiled. I do have a focus on my protag coming to realize slowly which kind of woman is best for him, even after she gets misgivings when an old flame shows up on his last leg and then dies, which makes her run off. The saboteur action runs through most of the plot and follows some straightforward mystery pacing, but the women in the protag's mind aren't ever far away. How does he handle temptation by various skirts along the way? After reading Anna Karenina and Fathers and Sons, two long-winded Russian novels I've decided to move around the hero's inner thoughts and worries more than I would have in the PI series, where the hero doesn't navel stare. This man does. He fell into solving a murder while with the CCC camp in Wyoming and the reputation as a good amateur sleuth followed him, though he has no desire to do that for a living.

I do want to read a few romance novels that are popular today. The wife reads Sandra Brown and many other romance novels. She likes Maeve Benchy sp? and others too. I'm widely read though only a few romance novels, some of which would be categorized as "love stories" due to the sad endings. Again, thanks for all the advice. I'm going to let the novel gestate for a bit before deciding whether to make it #1 in a series or stand alone, and just how to revise to aim it to the right market. As a mystery it's not a thriller. Apologies to anyone who felt I disrespected the genre.
Moshe Ben-Or

Posts: 466
Registered: 12/28/15
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 10, 2017 10:50 AM   in response to: uncle1282 in response to: uncle1282
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
Remember that any novel by Tolstoy you have read in English is horribly mistranslated. In Russian, Tolstoy's novels are lengthy, but they are exciting, action-packed page-turners. As a teenager, I finished "War and Peace" in three days, cover to cover. Couldn't put it down. That's classic Tolstoy.

The action may be internal, e.g. the protagonist's inner struggle against the self in "Anna Karenina", but it is still action and it is still written in a beautiful, exciting style. The man was a true artist when it came to using language. Nabokov brings some of that kind of flavor into English with "Lolita," which was written on a bet to the effect that a Russian-style novel where most of the action is within, such as "Anna Karenina" or "Crime and Punishment," could not be written in English. But the original Tolstoy is lost in translation. The translators simply can't write well enough to translate him. They'd have to be towering literary geniuses themselves.

So there is no need to move "away from hadboiled". Nothing is as brutal as a man's struggle against himself. Nothing motivates such struggle as much as Woman, that grand Platonic ideal at the root of all man's thoughts and actions. There's a reason Genesis places the Desirable Fruit of the Forbidden Tree into the hand of Woman, and refers to Woman at the moment of creation with that brilliantly encapsulated self-contradiction: "a helper against him". The desire of Man for Woman (and vice versa) is the root of romanticism, which is much broader than the "romance" category. Approach the internal action the way you would external action, intermix the inner and the outer the way the great writers did, and you can't go wrong.
uncle1282

Posts: 1,304
Registered: 12/20/10
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 10, 2017 9:41 PM   in response to: Moshe Ben-Or in response to: Moshe Ben-Or
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
You need to stuff all that panache into a book. You're preaching to the choir, son and you aren't even listening to the tune this choir's singing: I'm not writing another hardboiled mystery. Get it?
Mrs Julia Evans

Posts: 652
Registered: 05/22/16
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 11, 2017 12:50 AM   in response to: uncle1282 in response to: uncle1282
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
uncle1282 wrote:
How does he handle temptation by various skirts along the way?

Just reading this and wondering whether it would work for your guy to have a very annoying 'conscience' that whispers in his ear (or yells in his face - your choice) keeping him from taking up all the tempting offers that come his way? You can give the 'conscience' a character of its own, as light-humoured or sinfully dark as you want it to be. On the flip side, it could be a devil on his shoulder tempting him to give in, but your guy is an upstanding fella who manages to resist. Most romance readers love a guy like that!

Just a thought. J
uncle1282

Posts: 1,304
Registered: 12/20/10
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 11, 2017 9:24 AM   in response to: Mrs Julia Evans in response to: Mrs Julia Evans
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
Thanks Julia. Yes, I have done just that, save for one mysterious platinum blonde who leads my man astray for a time. But only for a time. I'm about to read several romances my wife has nudged my way to see if there's any semblance of basics there. A Danielle Steele novel is the first up on my read pile. And I've reached a fork in the road close to 60k words and have to wait till I can see how it ends. All I know so far is that my man wins the girl at the end.

60k was the old standard for paperback mysteries in the golden age, and one that agents and publishers told me to hit, though I decided early enough (through Konrath's experience) that I wouldn't seek out a traditional deal. A great decision back in 2009 as Amazon Indies were just cranking up. Now I have a steady amount of sales and royalties monthly I wouldn't have had with a trad deal. Who knows how long those sales will continue for my first 20 novel series? Another year? decade? The books will never be out of print, which is a huge advantage for any Indie.

Thanks for your input.
Mrs Julia Evans

Posts: 652
Registered: 05/22/16
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 11, 2017 10:05 AM   in response to: uncle1282 in response to: uncle1282
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
uncle1282 wrote:
60k (words) was the old standard for paperback mysteries in the golden age.

Thank goodness times have changed or I'd be stuffed!

My shortest book was 90k, and my longest came in at 140k - the average is 120k.

I just write until the story is finished, making sure I keep up a good pace. I always aim for 100k, but it never works out that way.

As my better half always says - I just don't know when to give up! (At least, I think he's talking about my writing....)

J :)
writerbn

Posts: 5,249
Registered: 05/12/12
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 11, 2017 10:43 AM   in response to: Mrs Julia Evans in response to: Mrs Julia Evans
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
Mrs Julia Evans wrote:
My shortest book was 90k, and my longest came in at 140k - the average is 120k.
I should hire you as a ghostwriter...I struggle to get beyond 60K, at least on the first draft. I'm a very sparse writer, though--more on the Hemingway end of the spectrum than Faulkner.

It could also explain why I mostly write shorts, these days.
Mrs Julia Evans

Posts: 652
Registered: 05/22/16
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 11, 2017 11:19 AM   in response to: writerbn in response to: writerbn
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
writerbn wrote:
I should hire you as a ghostwriter...I struggle to get beyond 60K, at least on the first draft. I'm a very sparse writer, though--more on the Hemingway end of the spectrum than Faulkner.
It could also explain why I mostly write shorts, these days.

Really? I genuinely wouldn't be able to write a short story if my life depended on it. Maybe we should exchange tips!

I've had lovely fan mail from people saying that they felt like they were in the room with my characters, could picture the chair they were sitting in, and could visualise the smile on someone's face. The nice part is, they all say they love the pace of my books. There's no time to get bored, no matter how long they are.

That's great, but it comes at a cost, mostly in the amount of time it takes me to write one book. If I could write more to order, then perhaps I could be more productive in terms of numbers of books. But then if I wrote more to order, I wouldn't be enjoying it so much.

I write for fun and relaxation. Getting prescriptive about it would take some of that away.

I wrote the first series entirely for my own pleasure, before I ever decided to publish any of it. Almost 3/4 million words! If A*zon went bust tomorrow, I'd still carry on writing. I'd just send pdf's to my mailing list.

J :)
writerbn

Posts: 5,249
Registered: 05/12/12
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 11, 2017 1:25 PM   in response to: Mrs Julia Evans in response to: Mrs Julia Evans
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
Mrs Julia Evans wrote:
Really? I genuinely wouldn't be able to write a short story if my life depended on it. Maybe we should exchange tips!
I have four novels in various stages of development on the back burner(s), but shorts fit my insane work (and home) schedule much better. Plus, they pay a few bills :)

Actually, my first ever self-published book was a collection of literary short stories. It's an underappreciated art form, and in some ways harder to write than novels. Every word has to carry its weight in short fiction.
Mrs Julia Evans

Posts: 652
Registered: 05/22/16
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 11, 2017 1:50 PM   in response to: writerbn in response to: writerbn
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
I see, you're a multi-tasker! LOL

The closest I get to multitasking is when I start writing the next book while still editing the last! (I usually have a lull while a few people proof-read for me, and I HATE doing nothing!)

I doff my cap to you regarding the short stories. I always respect someone doing something I can't.

J :)
C. Gold

Posts: 517
Registered: 02/17/15
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 11, 2017 2:20 PM   in response to: Mrs Julia Evans in response to: Mrs Julia Evans
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
Never say you can't. I made that mistake on this very forum when I stated with certainty that I could never write a short story because they are too hard to nail for me and I tend to gravitate to longer stuff. My supposedly simple first novel turned out to be 102k words and I wasn't trying to be long. But then I went ahead and wrote a fun short based on a thread I read on kboards. Then the Aug 21 eclipse inspired me to write another. Now I've written one fun short and one that made three people cry (who admitted to it!). Those were both under 3k words. I'm about to write another (hopefully) in time for Halloween. And I'm super picky about short stories - they must have an emotional impact and have a proper climax. And I managed to do that, not once, but twice! So never say never and never say you can't. You just might be surprised when one simply pops out of your fingers and demands to be told.
Mrs Julia Evans

Posts: 652
Registered: 05/22/16
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 11, 2017 3:12 PM   in response to: C. Gold in response to: C. Gold
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
Lady, have you seen how much I write in my posts? LOL Yes, I know that you have. I'm completely incapable of keeping things brief. I often take more than an hour just to draft an e-mail to a friend!

My first novel (when I started writing again) was intended to be a short story I started writing because I was bored. I finished it four weeks later at 95,000 words! :)

But don't worry that I feel any anxiety about the fact. I love what I do, and my books are just as long as they need to be and no more.

Besides, my readers are used to what I give them and seem happy to be getting their money's worth. (It doesn't hurt with Kay-yu pages either. :) )

But thanks for the motivational speech. Much appreciated.

There was just one thing that puzzled me...

C. Gold wrote:
And I'm super picky about short stories - they must have an emotional impact and have a proper climax.

I didn't have you down as an author of erotica!

;) ;) J
C. Gold

Posts: 517
Registered: 02/17/15
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 11, 2017 3:19 PM   in response to: Mrs Julia Evans in response to: Mrs Julia Evans
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
AMG you naughty woman! And by the way - that reply you just wrote was short! :P :P :P
Mrs Julia Evans

Posts: 652
Registered: 05/22/16
Re: My first romance novel
Posted: Oct 11, 2017 3:23 PM   in response to: C. Gold in response to: C. Gold
Click to report abuse...   Click to reply to this thread Reply
It was short because I have to get to bed as I have work in the morning! It's close to 11.30pm here!

And this one's even shorter! Enjoy what's left of your day.

:) J

(And I'm always naughty! It's one of the fun parts of getting older! :) )
Legend
Helpful Answer
Correct Answer

Point your RSS reader here for a feed of the latest messages in all forums