You want to know how to structure your romance novel?
Not sure how to meet-cute? Are your characters Fighting For Love, when they should be Retreating from Love? Feeling a little lost? Then you need to read this book.
At a glance…
This is the gold standard for romance writers.
If you’ve spent any time hanging out in writer forums then you’ve probably already seen people talking about including ‘the beats,’ or ‘hitting the beats.’ This book is what they’re talking about. Gwen lays out a plot structure, a series of beats in a certain order, that you should incorporate into your romance.
This is starting to sound a bit formulaic, right?
You have an interesting idea for a plot, you don’t need someone else to come along to and tell you how to write your novel for you! Part of the joy of being a writer is that you get to make all those decisions. BUT the romance beats are purely for the romance part of your book. You can still have a wild and adventurous plot separate to the romance. The beats are there to make sure that the romance doesn’t get stale. If you want two characters to fall in love, then you have to follow a certain pattern or it won’t be believable.
Gwen takes all these unwritten rules of storytelling (and human nature) and crystallises them for you in an easy to understand nicely digestible way. Her book is short, easy to read and comes with 80s music recommendations to accompany each chapter and get you in the mood.
I honestly don’t have a bad word to say about this book! …However, I know that some people can get quite annoyed by the very idea that romance arcs are as unvaried as Gwen implies.
Sure, in real life, people fall in love in all sorts of ways; romance can take all sorts of forms but romance readers expect certain things. Gwen’s beats aren’t supposed to be a strait-jacket to your creativity. She is giving you a recipe, that you can add your own tropes and plot into.
The beats. If you’re a romance writer then you need this book.
Strangely enough, the bad about this book is the same as the good. Gwen only discusses romance beats. There isn’t anything else in this book; it caters to a very specific audience and if you aren’t in that audience then there really isn’t any point reading it.
Pearls of Wisdom:
People who read romance have certain things that they want from their books. You can do all sorts of interesting and imaginative things with your story, but you have to bear your audience in mind as you write; or, as Gwen puts it:
“Don’t betray your readers!”
See our other reviews here.
Looking for some inspiration?!
The bookspry team wrote a book of writing prompts and it’s available now! Weird and wacky prompts to bust you out of that rut…or to distract you from your real work.