One of the biggest challenges to writing a romance, or any book, is ensuring that you have all the important elements of a story, such as interesting characters with believable goals and problems and conflicts that put a monkey wrench into a couple’s relationship.
I’m a pantser by nature, but after learning to write from a plot, I’m hooked on setting up all the basic elements of a story so that I don’t ever get stuck and the writing goes faster. I don’t go into great detail. In fact, all my plot elements fit on a single page. Here’s what I develop plot-wise before I start writing:
Plotting for Romance Authors
Title of the Work
This can be a working title
A premise is one sentence that says who your character is, what their goal is, and the conflicts they face.
Despising Her Boss is about an unemployed single mom who is finally getting on her feet again with her new job when she walks into her boss’s office and discovers he’s her ex.
Provide important character details for your two starring characters
- Goal: What is the character trying to achieve?
- Motivation: Why is the character going after this goal? What is at stake if the goal isn’t met?
- Conflicts: What is getting in the way of the goal?
- Flaw: How does the character sabotage their own success because of beliefs or attitudes or behaviors.
Major Plot Points
ACT 1: Setup
- Opening: What’s going on to set up the inciting event (meeting)?
- Inciting Event: How do the love birds meet or meet again?
- New Path: What decisions are made that will keep the love birds in the same orbit (as opposed to never seeing each other again).
ACT 2 A/B: Confrontation
- Pinch Pt 1: What problem (conflict) arises that gets in the way of achieving the goal?
- Midpoint: What’s changed that the couple is thinking maybe a relationship will work after all?
- Pinch Pt 2: What conflict arises that makes the character(s) rethink the relationship and/or gets in the way of the goal?
- Crisis/Blackmoment: What happens that ruins everything?
ACT 3: Resolution
- Climax: The couple is apart either because they’ve given up or perhaps one is in danger.
- Resolution: Characters are miserable apart and have an epiphany about love and make a grand gesture.
- Wrap Up: Reconcile and tying up loose ends.
- HEA: New happy normal
There is still quite a bit missing from this basic plot, but all the essential elements of a story are there. From this one-page plot, you can flesh it out into a detailed chapter-by-chapter or scene-by-scene plot. Or, if you’re more of a pantster, use this basic outline to keep you focused on the important elements as you write your book.
Want a copy of this One Page Plot worksheet?
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