Saturday, January 26, 2013

The structure of a Harlequin

Amazing how easy it is to find things when you're awake. I think the reason I picked this particular book was because it's a clear example of emotional structure and the whole theme/plot thing, something I'd been working toward for a long time.

Deconstructing a Harlequin, craft wrap-up:

Not just the Greek's Wife is a great example of targeting, both of the publisher and the target audience.  Knowing who you write for and what they want is important.

And by this, I mean both the publisher and the reader. The story hits all the talking points in Harlequin's article, "How to Write a Perfect Romance" and is obviously giving the readers what they want, judging from the author's Amazon ranking as one of their top hundred (not in romance, but overall) authors.

When it comes to an emotional character-driven story, "plot" is actually the story's emotional issue. In this case, the emotions surrounding "Will or won't Chloe and Ariston say I love you to each other?" The events, or what are normally looked at as plot, are simply a way to show that. In other words, it's not about family dynasties or Greeks, or even rich people. It's simply about two people with a major issue--they can't vocalize what they feel--and you can take that and put it anywhere from Mars to Babylon, and use any events you want in whatever proportion and way you want, as long as you get that one question across in a way that satisfies the reader.

An easy way to look at it would be to take theme (love), what you want to show/talk about/prove about that theme (will or won't Chloe and Ariston say I love you to each other)  and arrange events to show that (which is your external plot). And I guess what I'm really trying to say is that there are two pieces to a Harlequin. The emotional question and the visible bits that show it.

Layering more emotions can be done easily by exploring other aspects of that same theme (will Chloe and her dad finally admit they love each other?) (does Rhea love Chloe, or is she using her?) (what will Ariston do for the love of his grandpa?) (what will Eber do for love of Dioletis Industries?) (what "did" Ariston's grandpa do for love of Chloe?) etc.

Foreshadowing and reflection are important You might not want as much, but it's an easily tweakable fix to adjust the percentages to where you want them to be.

The structure is totally use-able and probably the major reason Harlequin has been around such a long time.

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