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The Science of Writing Romance

Updated: Jul 31, 2018




Hypothesis: If elements of fictional writing are combined with vivid characters and striking conflict, then amazing chemical reactions will result.


Introduction: Writing a romance novel is a little like performing an experiment in a science class. Different combinations of fictional elements interact, allowing the author to create reactions. Emotions, conflict, and chemistry emerge on the page as the reader consumes the author's words. Like inert chemicals that combine causing a big reaction, a little ink on a page can create deeper meaning than seems possible.


Materials and Method: In Promise Me the Moon, I feature a heroine, Grace Quincy, known as "Q" to her coworkers. She's a genius level scientist-slash-engineer at the CIA, so her background in chemistry and engineering makes her specifically qualified to develop the tools, gadgets, and toys used by America's finest spies. 

The catalyst to Q is Special Agent Jayce Jackson. With a half smile and the flash of a dimple, he can effect change anywhere, but Q is most responsive when he's broken into her kitchen to fix cocktails or to make his famous Bolognese sauce. 

Add a sinister villain, Dr. Faust, creating an overarching conflict, and sprinkle in a liberal dose of comic relief from Q's coworkers, the Killer Bs, raising the concentration of the reactants.  Set the apparatus of time, place, and setting then drop a spark on the page. Soon, the elements collide, starting a chain reaction. 

Results: I analyze the outcomes with each draft and revise (and revise) until the chemistry on the page is perfect. Whether the results favor romance, comedy, suspense, or mystery, a complicated formula, unique to each story, emerges.

In Promise Me the Moon, the love relationship between Jackson and Q is important (after all, I do write romance). But equally important is Q's interactions with the Bs, her family, and her boss. Each addition changes the equation, and I constantly adjust measurements and balance results.

Conclusion: If the experiment is set up right and I am diligent in the pursuit of pure chemistry, humor becomes merrier, fear more spine-tingling, and love more twitterpating. My concoction may result in a breakthrough--the reader and writer finding irreversible covalent bonds, and building new connections through a shared story. 

It starts here, but writing is more than paper and ink. It's chemistry.

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