Romance Plot Lines

June 15, 2009 · 2 comments

in Writing Basics

Hi, LDS Publisher!

First, thank you so much for creating this site and troubling yourself with us, the plague of novice writers. [you’re welcome] I’m happy to discover your carefully channeled expertise and only just now became one of your ‘followers.’ 🙂 [thanks. I love followers.]

But I have a question. . . I’ve been thinking about romances—any love story found in any tale. I’ve been trying to categorize them because I’m currently trying to decide what type of romance I would like to emerge in my second novel. So far, I’ve tagged four scenarios that bring about any well-known love story.

1. The man and woman are from opposing spheres/worlds
2. The love is forbidden
3. There’s someone else
4. The relationship was built on a lie

Would you suggest another scenario? Or consolidate one of the four? I’ve been thinking about some of my favorite love stories and it seems like many of the most successful emerge from the first scenario. Or, my favorite option, they combine a few of the scenarios to make a more complex story. What do you think??

Thank you so much for taking the time to consider this. I didn’t know who to bounce this off of, and then I found you! You might actually know something!! [ya think?]

I found the following at Author’s Den. It’s written by Kathye Quick. You can read the full article HERE. This is a good site with pretty good info. I’m reposting an excerpt from the article here, rather than simply linking to it, because on their site it sort of all runs together in places and is hard to read.

These are her basic romance plot lines:

  • Adventure. Your heroine goes out in search of fortune motivated by someone or something to begin the adventure and needing the hero to complete the task. (Any Indiana Jones movie).
  • Pursuit. Make sure there is real danger associated with getting caught, and in fact, your hero and heroine may even get caught or almost get caught before the end. Establish the ground rules for the chase, establish the stakes and start the race with a motivating incident. (Murder on the Orient Express)
  • Rescue. The hero, heroine and “bad guy” weave a journey of pursuit, separation, confrontation and reunion. (The Princess Bride).
  • Escape. Begin the plot with the imprisonment (of person, of mind or of concept), deal with the plans for the escape and make sure that these plans are almost upset at least one time until finally comes the escape or the liberation of the heroine’s heart. (Rapunzel)
  • Underdog. The against all odds plot. (Cinderella).
  • Temptation. This plot examines the motives, needs and impulses of human nature. The hero and heroine must learn something about themselves and why it is right for them to give in (or to not give in) into the temptation. A lot of inner turmoil, a lot of emotion in this one. (Adam and Eve).
  • Change. The change usually can only be accomplished through love. (The Frog Prince).
  • Forbidden Love. The hero and heroine defy social convention and pursue their hearts, often with dangerous results. (Romeo and Juliet)
  • Sacrifice. The sacrifice is often made at a great personal cost, often with a strong moral problem at the center of the story. Make sure the reader understands why the sacrifice must be made. (Casablanca)

[End quoted material.]

I’d also add the Beauty and the Beast category, where the man seems like a rough, boorish animal, but then we discover he’s really a prince of a guy.

I personally prefer a story that weaves together a couple of different plot lines. I find them more interesting.

What else, readers? Other romance plot lines?

Also, which is your favorite?

Comments on this entry are closed.

{ 2 comments }

Mary June 15, 2009 at 11:00 am

Thank you so much for your careful consideration of my question. After reading Quick's article I realized my list of four (from differing spheres, love is forbidden, there's someone else, relationship was built on a lie) refers to the obstacle faced by the hero and heroine. But Quick's list of plot lines is invaluable too. Thank you for locating it for us. Do you know of anything written about the obstacle itself? I'm not sure why I've fixated on it so much. I guess I find it fascinating.

As for Quick's plot line list, I'm all about the final four: temptation, change, forbidden love, sacrifice. They seem to be on the more dramatic side for me, whereas the beginning of the list feels more like adventure.

Tristi Pinkston June 15, 2009 at 1:54 pm

I think combining the elements is awesome. When you do that, the plot possibilities become endless, as opposed to trying to stick with one, which could be limiting.

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