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Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels (How to Write Kissing Books) Paperback – April 2, 2016
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"While other writing books focus on external conflict, Romancing the Beat really brings the whole romantic picture together for romance authors. I'll never write another romance novel without my highlighted copy of Romancing the Beat on my desk."--Celia Kyle, NYT and USA Today Bestselling Author
- Publisher : CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1st edition (April 2, 2016)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 92 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1530838614
- ISBN-13 : 978-1530838615
- Item Weight : 3.52 ounces
- Dimensions : 5 x 0.21 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #37,074 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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I know I'll be keeping this one on my shelf and recommending it often.
*Not that there's anything wrong with chiseled abs or stormy eyes. Big fan of both.
I bought this "book" as a bundle deal: "You can get all three of these books for 30$" which I never had done before and I'm old enough to know better, but... seemed like a good idea. Nope. Nope, it wasn't.
This is no book. It is a term paper length document, filled with goof ball references to 80's music meant to set the tone, and fillers with the author's thoughts about something as she explains something. (Dont make me pull out more Dr. Seuss!)
She tells us this in the "Welcome" section: "I am often irreverent and quote pop culture, relying heavily on movies, Taylor Swift songs and internet memes. Reading this book is going to be like hanging out with me on Twitter". Umm. No thank you.
Later she defends herself: "See? I told you...Taylor Swift AND internet memes."
In trying to justify the $10.99 price tag on this 84 page "book" (ok 85, but THAT page is the "about the author" page), I tried to get some "free stuff" from her website. A Scrivner file that you download and fill in. It is an older file and the author hopes that it will work on your computer. If it doesn't, she apologizes and confesses that she is not tech savvy. Translated, that means you still get nothing for you $10.99 paperback or $5.99 kindle.
Frequent cop outs at chapter ends are much the same:
You're the chef, you decide.
You're the writer though. You do what you want.
Ok, well, I don't want my review to be longer than the book, so I'll stop. You get the idea...
But I do write romance myself, hence the "love" part of love-hate, and there are a few useful tools here in terms of basic romance story structure. I enjoyed her metaphor of the caduceus symbol to describe the character arcs - it is the perfect metaphor for the way the protags become increasingly more entwined as the story progresses. And I could see myself using her beat sheet when plotting out my next novel. I can easily see the way my current WIP fits and how it deviates from the standard structure, so at least I'm making more informed choices about where and how I got those required beats. Hayes does understand the romance arc at its most fundamental, for better and for worse. If the book had more content I'd probably be inclined to rate it higher.
Top reviews from other countries
This is quite a short book at a little over 10,000 words, and told in a casual, joking style, but don’t let that fool you. Hayes has obviously studied a lot of romance stories and boiled them down to the essence of everything which must be included to make a satisfying story which has “the feels”.
Most writers will at least have heard of “The Hero’s Journey”, often positioned as the archetypal story structure which underlies thousands of years of tales. This is all good, and for many stories the hero’s journey is an invaluable aid, but for romance stories it’s not such a good fit. The hero’s journey works best when there is a single protagonist, with some form of identifiable antagonist to struggle against. An enjoyable romance story, on the other hand, usually has two protagonists, each of whom has their own journey and their own obstacles to overcome. The familiar structure of a romance story has evolved over many years to be a different kind of tale. Hayes has picked this archetypal romance story apart and laid out the constituent blocks ready for us to put them back together again with our characters, settings, challenges and, ultimately, our own kind of “happy ever after.”
Some people object to these kinds of structural books, pointing out that they can be limiting, and exclude multiple types of story which don’t fit neatly into the plan. While that is true, it’s not really applicable in this case. As Hayes points out, you are free to tell any story you like, in any way you like, but if you wish to position your story as a romance, then readers will have a certain set of expectations. As much as anything, it is these expectations that Hayes lays bare for us here, so that we can make sure that the story we tell gives readers what they want, and lives up to the promise of the cover.
I found this book to be hugely practical, and all the way through I was mentally applying the approach that Hayes describes both to the romance stories I have read and enjoyed (and the ones I didn’t enjoy so much), and to my own stories. I have tried a few times to write romance, either as a standalone story or as part of something else, such as a detective story, and never been fully happy with the results. Reading this book was like chatting to a skilled mechanic about problems with my car.
I am determined to revisit some of my unsatisfactory stories, armed with the checklist from this book, and get them running as smoothly as I know they should. I will also be recommending this book to other would-be romance writers.
Whilst I don’t doubt the author at hand, this felt aimed towards those who fast publish and write commercial romance. I had also liked it to have been a little bit more in depth to justify the pricing for such a short read, that could have been written as a pdf and read for free or as a newsletter goodie.
However I did learn some things that I had not given much thought to when writing prior and that the author did well at reiterating important lessons or facts.
Whilst this didn’t work for me, I know it will work for others.
It would have been great if it explained how to weave in an external plot arc.
It also could have been more concise. The inclusion of humour added unnecessary words which you have to filter through when going back to check information.
I love the concept of a beat sheet, am totally addicted to Scrivener (a tool I had never come across) and am convinced this book will help me achieve my dream of being a published author. The recommended reading Gwen puts out there has also been invaluable, particularly GMC by Debra Dixon. I can't watch a film/TV program, or read a book without having the characters GMC screaming out at me! :-)
Thanks for such an awesome book Gwen!