The Rocky Road to True Love

Got through 30 pages of revision yesterday. Five hours of steady work. And then last night, I realized they were all wrong. Really wrong. Like, unfixable. In need of swift deletion. The saving grace was that I also knew exactly how to fix the scene sequence. I didn’t have the words yet, but I knew the pattern and how they would follow the romance in a way that makes sense in the overall scheme of the novel.

In writing romance, for me at least, the most difficult, delicate part of the plot is keeping the lovers apart for most of the book, and for very good reasons. No misunderstandings or coincidences or other contrived devices will work these days. They are too cliched. So it’s tough to come up with something original that also feels true. However there is one thing a romance writer can do to sort of illuminate the path, and that is track the romance.

My romance was up and down and a bit desperate near the end when I was pursuing word count instead of story content. I want my lovers to progress forward in a smoother way, a more honest and believable way. There are bumps, but the times when my characters find each other, lock into their attraction, and connect in deep soulful (I hope) ways should, every time, ratchet up the love a little more.

Looks like this: first contact, first touch, first kiss, maybe another kissing scene just to keep things interesting, and then, the scene I almost totally messed up yesterday, the very important “almost” scene. And the “almost” scene is exactly what it says. They “almost” have sex. Or as we like to say in the romance biz “make love.”

Thank stars I realized the problem in time. After the “almost” scene, it’s smooth sailing to the already finished love scene I worked on for a very long time. The editor enthusiastically approved that scene and the black moment that follows. From there it’s a short ride to resolution and happy ever after.

Were yesterday’s hours wasted? No. They showed me what was wrong and where I had to go to correct things on the rocky road to true love.


  1. Yes, for me, I have to write the entire book in a kind of shorthand like a Hollywood screenplay treatment. I get some plot and character, maybe 40 or 50K and then I have to start from the beginning again. I scrap many thousands or words and add many more thousands. Sometimes it’s tedious! But it works.


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