Just an observation here: I tend to write more in-depth reviews about books of virtually any genre but sweet romance. Big surprise, right? Want to know why? The genre I write in is by definition predictable.
Romance: Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl back. They live happily ever after.
Sweet Romance: All the above, plus the story must deliver warm fuzzies.
That doesn’t allow for much depth.
So, to stand out, those of us who write sweet or inspirational romance must excel in other ways. Here are a few ideas:
- Create memorable, lovable characters. Think of the movies Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan starred in, especially Sleepless in Seattle. Remember the interview Tom’s character had with the radio psychologist? Of course you do–that was what got the plot rolling. I imagine I’m not the only one who can recite almost the entire dialogue in that scene. “It was . . . magic.”
- Create clever flaws in our characters instead of dark ones. My favorite was in the movie Laws of Attraction, with Pierce Brosnan and Juliette Moore, where Juliette’s character shoves Ding-Dongs in her mouth to ease her tension and frustration.
- Create a thrilling world our readers can live in vicariously–and that doesn’t have to be climbing the Andes Mountains, although it could be. One of my favorite Hallmark movies–and since it is one of my faves, it bugs the tar out of me! that I can’t remember the name–features a New York photographer at a ranch in Wyoming. If you’ve read Give the Lady a Ride, you understand the attraction.
- Create “snap”–in another one of my favorite Hallmark movies, A Taste of Romance, Teri Polo’s character has a restaurant featuring classic French cuisine. James Patrick Stewart’s character, a former firefighter, opens a restaurant featuring firehouse favorites right next door. The pranks those two play on each other are priceless!–seriously, she takes all his eggs and hard boils them, then puts them back in the fridge. How funny is that?!
- Create an electric relationship between the main characters. A Taste of Romance, Laws of Attraction, and so many other terrific movies illustrate that electricity through snappy dialogue, pranks played–and the way the “pranked” responds, and the messes the characters get themselves into. Physical attraction comes much later. There’s always something else that develops before the physical attraction does.
Many newbies (including myself) have relied upon the touch that “sends tingles down the spine” or “sparks with electricity,” but the secret to the most memorable characters and stories is cleverness.
Clever dialogue, clever interactions between the characters–develop these, and you’ll develop a memorable Sweet Romance.