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#1 of 6 Old 06-09-2009, 10:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Does anyone out there know of a site/link that shows industry standards in regards to format/structure guidelines and/or regulations? Man, I used a lot of dashes in that sentence!

I tried googling it and came up with nothing worthwhile. If I could get children to stop being terrors I'd look harder.

I NEED to know the rules/guidelines. I can't just write and deal with it later. I don't work that way. I get to hung up on making sure it's fitting some random paradigm I've created in my head if I don't know what is expected. I'd like it to be somewhat in depth but if that's not available a basic one will have to do.

I'm planning on a romance novel (NOT Harlequin-ish though) but am willing to break from that.

Also, how does everyone plan their book(s)? The anal debator in me has a very strict format when it comes to writing but I haven't written anything longer than a debate (about 5 minutes....7 if I'm on the negative ) in years so I don't know how well that will work. Do you write out characters and develop them (like a mini bio) before writing? Do you do the same with key events? Or do you just throw caution to the wind and write as it comes to you? For those who type it out, do you format your pages as you go (paragraph breaks, indents etc.) or do you do that on your first edit?

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#2 of 6 Old 06-10-2009, 12:28 AM
 
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Manuscript format is actually simple. Here's a good link on that; it's visual as well as explained in writing. It's for a short story, but everything I've read says novel manuscripts are the same. At the very least, you want 1" margins all around, 12-pt Courier New (or another fixed font, one where every letter takes up the same amount of space), and double-spaced.

For this next part, please forgive me for telling you a bunch of stuff you probably already know:

Now, if you're talking about how to write the novel itself, that's harder. There are some great books out there on writing romances; I really suggest you check one out of the library. I had one years and years and years ago wherein an author explained her EXACT formula for a novel, but I've lost it and naturally don't remember the name of the book. It was insanely regimented though; she had exactly 20 pages for each chapter, for instance.

There are certain other conventions in romance novels. These days, the main characters have to have sex. And if it's an historical, with a presumably virginal heroine (hell, even if she's widowed), she must always be surprised by the size of his manhood, and wonder if it will even fit. (Usually manhood is used, sometimes cock, but never penis. Go figure.) Lately, it seems as if the hero must also pause to gaze admiringly at the heroine's vulva (but of course you never use that word). If the heroine has been married in the past, there must have been something wrong with that marriage, even if she was widowed. (Romance novels seem to all ascribe to that "one true love" theory.) Either it was loveless, her first husband was abusive, or somehow it is revealed to be less than what it seemed. The hero and heroine must have a misunderstanding, and while it is something that is easily resolved simply by talking, they cannot ever actually do that. It seems that usually there is something that requires a physical separation of the couple at the center. The relationship is of course the central plot, but there has to be another one as well (it's no longer acceptable for Regencies to be comedies of manners, something I bemoan frequently). Bonus points if you can work in time travel and/or kilts. I am being somewhat facetious here, but only somewhat. You know most of this stuff if you regularly read romances. Personally, I'd kill for a good romance novel that broke some of the conventions.

More generically, you will have that other plot, which is built around some central conflict. Mysteries of some sort are quite common. Bonus points if the heroine's life is at risk (ok, really, bonus points if it's the hero, and the heroine DOESN'T stupidly wander into the bad guy's clutches in an attempt to save him). Of course the final denouement is going to be within a chapter of the end of the book, but before that you will have at least one, probably two or three setback(s). Where to wrap up the romance is up to you. I've read some romances where that part is settled 2/3 of the way into the novel.

I'll share my favorite resource again: Holly Lisle's Forward Motion. She covers everything. Plotting. Creating conflict. Creating characters. Writing scenes. You have most likely never heard of Holly Lisle, but she's published over thirty novels. Her World's Gate trilogy really should be required reading for anyone wanting to write urban fantasy. She manages to have a believable widow, a new romance without denigrating the first marriage, and a child who is actually a functional part of the story without being preternaturally wise.

I do some character creation beforehand, but I don't generally plot out the minutiae of various scenes.

I do not have a fill-in-the-blanks character sheet. I have a little bit of that at the top, along with a picture (in the case of my heroine, I found a model who had the right look in a book of crochet patterns; the hero comes from a recruiting ad ): I have the character's full name, nickname, DOB (& hometown), physical description, etc. Then I do some free-writing to get down what I know about the character.

I don't have anything against fill-in-the-blank character sheets. They can be really helpful if you don't know your character well.

Here's a character sheet for you, but I think Holly Lisle's is indispensable as well (because it gets into motivation):

The Epiguide.com Fiction Writer's Character Chart

Hope something there was info you can use.

Sabra: Mama to Bobbie (3/02), Linda (1/04), Esther (10/05), Marie (11/10), & Douglas (11/12)

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#3 of 6 Old 06-10-2009, 09:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks! I'm thinking I'm not writing romance then because uhhh....that's so not what I was going for. As cheesy as it is I was thinking love/romance like Nora Roberts or Jude Deveraux. Now it may have been awhile since I've read anything like that (who reads after kid 2? but I don't ever remember manhood.

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#4 of 6 Old 06-11-2009, 12:40 AM
 
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Those two authors are definitely a cut above your typical romance novelist. I do, however, think Jude Devereaux has thrown in a time-traveling highlander in a kilt once or twice.

Also, don't forget that women's fiction is very closely related to romance & often mistaken for it. Danielle Steel doesn't write romances, she writes women's fiction. The difference in her case is that her heroine usually has more than one serious relationship over the course of the book, and of course she writes the famil sagas as well. Ms. Steel is definitely one of my guilty pleasures. :

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#5 of 6 Old 06-11-2009, 06:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Mine too. I figured they would be something other than romance. I hate to say it but I like the hoochies in books....something refreshing about a woman taking charge and knocking boots whenever she wants.

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#6 of 6 Old 06-12-2009, 06:20 PM
 
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I have a copy of the "Romance Writer's Handbook" that I picked up a couple years ago after I'd taken a class from the RWA and was interested in the genre. I'd recommend it. I felt like it was a good basic guide to the structure, pacing, and plotting of a standard romance novel. There are other similar books but I picked that one because it had the best ratings & feedback on Amazon. It covered a lot of information I wouldn't have thought to ask.

Erin, mom to DD (1/06) and DS (10/09)
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