Following up Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet is Romancing The Beat by Gwen Hayes
Many a romance writer sears by this plot formula and with good reason. Hayes takes everything from Snyder’s Beat Sheet into an easy to understand guide for romance authors who write shorter stories (50k words or less) and category romance. I’ve definitely found it useful for my novella-length work.
Gwen refers to her four-part structure as a journey from hole-hearted to whole-hearted.
- Falling in love
- Retreating from love
- Fighting for love
Each of the four parts have necessary beats that must be hit. Also, I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but all of these plot formulas start from the assumption that you already know your premise and your characters. This is especially true for Romancing the Beat.
Set-up: introduce the characters, the world, the premise, and the romantic arc.
- Introduce Hero 1
- Introduce Hero 2
- Now way 1—one or both of your heroes make an argument against falling in love.
- Adhesion—this is where your trope should be introduced. It’s the plot point that keeps the hero & heroine tied together.
Falling In Love: They’re perfect for each other. We (the author) know it. The readers know it. The only ones who refuse to accept it are the characters.
- Inkling of desire.
- Deepening desire
- Maybe this time
- Midpoint of love
Retreating from love: Get ready to wreck your reader and break the hearts of your characters.
- Inkling of doubt
- Deepening doubt
- Shields Up!
Fighting for Love: In which one or both of your characters realize that they are ridiculous and/or childish asshats.
- Dark night of the soul (death of the ego)
- Wake up and smell the coffee!
- Grand gesture (Lloyd in the driveway, boombox over his head, In Your Eyes blasting so loud that Diane can’t ignore it. It doesn’t have to be THIS grand but you get the idea.)
- Whole-hearted=happily ever after/happy for now.
Like Blake Snyder’s Beat Sheet, Romancing The Beat is great for newbie romance authors because it tells you exactly what your story needs. The constraints create a structure that allows you to stretch beyond the formula in imaginative ways once you learn it. It’s a must for any romance writer’s library so definitely grab a copy!
Tomorrow we’re starting the Journeys! Fool’s, Hero’s and Writer’s.