Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Themes in category romance!

I'm a proud member of Romance Writers of Australia and recently on our eloop, the very talented Fiona Lowe commented on the importance of writing to your particular line's themes but putting an emotional twist on those much-loved themes.

For example, she noted that some themes in Medical Romance are Secret Babies, Bachelor Dads, Playboy surgeons (to name but a few).

This sparked me to think about what particular themes are recurrent in Modern Heat novels.

I came up with this list, but I'm sure there are many more. Feel free to add!!

*Sex with the ex
* One Night Stands
*Hot Office Romance/Sex with the boss
*Unplanned pregnancies
*Millionaire's Mistress

In my current romance the themes are One Night Stand and Sex with the boss, but I've come upon a dilemma. A fabulous writer friend of mine was recently rejected and one of the reasons was there was too much focus on sex up front and not on the emotional conflicts between the characters.

My dilemma... how do we get past that in MH where the story begins with a ONS. In the nature of ONS's the partakers do not really get to know each other, it's all about the physical rush...

If you're an avid reader or writer of Modern Heat, I'd love to hear your take on the ONS hook and how to make sure it also ticks the emotional conflict boxes in the first few chaps!!!


Aideen said...

This is a very interesting topic, how to make a ONS into something that it's not. Because in Mod Heat land that one night stand is the merely the prelude. I think to make this work, the ONS has to be completely out of character, for at least one of our key players. Usually the heroine, we want people to like her, identify with her, not think she's some sort of slapper. Natalie Anderson's Pleasured by the Secret Millionaire is perhaps the perfect example of this dilema. The heroine, Sienna, has let quite a sheltered life due to her medical condition and we meet her at a point where she just wants to let loose! Cue one of the hottest ONS in any book I've read and you've got yourself a ONS that is followed brilliantly by an emotionally charged story. If a character is challenged to behave/act in a way that they're not used to, the reader is going to want to know why. Why now? Why him/her? What will happen when she realises he's her boss? Why has she waited almost thirty years to have her first ONS? Personally I love ONS. And not for me, I mean in a book! They're a great hook because you have to wonder where the characters can possibly go from here.


Rachael Johns said...

Ooh thanks heaps Aideen - you raise some REALLY good points! And you've reminded me of one of my fave MH's Nat's Pleasured by the Secret Millionaire!

I'm just going through my MH shelf right now trying to look for MHs with one night stands. Gonna read a few of their first few chaps and see how they make them work!

All in the name of RESEARCH of course!!

Anonymous said...

Hi there - one of the links I sometimes take a look at is the way that 'Romantic Times' Magazine lists Themes -
of course this covers ALL romance subgenres, but plenty of food for thought!
Fascinating topic. Take care, Nina

Jackie Ashenden said...

Aideen, you are fabulous. Yes, indeed, that's hit the nail on the head!

Lacey Devlin said...

Aideen said it all and I loved Nat's book as well - one of the favourites :D

Angie Peters said...

Hi Rach,
I'd like to add to Aideen's fabulous comments.
As an avid MH reader (aren't we aspiring authors always avid readers?), I love ONS romances as well.

However, for me, there has to be something preventing the heroine from jumping into bed with the hero again too soon, in order to prolong the sexual tension.

In your story, this may work perfectly, as they find out later that the hero is the heroine's boss. So that might come with lots of internal conflict for the heroine as to why she can't possibly sleep with him again.

Maybe she's been burned by a sexual relationship with a colleague in the past? Maybe she doesn't like authority figures because of something to do with her childhood? Maybe she is mortified when she finds out that he's her boss, that he may think she tends to regularly have ONS, which is not the case for whatever reason you come up with.

Whatever that *something* is that prevents your heroine from jumping back into bed with the hero, it needs to come out of the heroine's past which then feeds into the emotional conflict.

Hope I'm making sense here.
Maybe you'll get more qualified answers than mine from published MH authors on the ROMAUS loop.

Lorraine said...

It is a hard one - balancing that emotional conflict with the sexual tension.
I'm trying to see if the Cinderella theme will work for MH in another WIP. Fingers crossed...

Rachael Johns said...

Thank you thank you thank you to all for leaving such insightful comments.

Have a splitting headache from working too hard (and yes, thinking about the whole ONS thing too much) and really need sleep but just wanted to come on here and say thanks before I succomb to zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...

Janette Radevski said...

Coming in late to say love everyone's comments... feeling rather useless, nothing left to say except i'm all for the ONS...