I admit — in my BJ (before Jesus) days, I read a lot of secular romances. I read some not-so-wholesome stories. And after about 20 of them, I was bored to tears. They were all the same: boy meets girl; boy loses girl; girl gets involved with the wrong guy who treats her shamefully; boy1 rescues girl; they live happily ever after.

I am not against the happily ever after — it just didn’t seem real for me. I didn’t have that kind of romance in my life, and I didn’t know anyone else who did, either. So I stopped reading romance stories.

Even AJ (After Jesus), I avoided romance stories because the couple I did read were the same formula, except for the being treated shamefully, that is. That formula still wasn’t real for me.

And then I attended a writers conference, and the only class in a particular time slot I was even remotely interested in was “Writing Romance That Sells” by DiAnn Mills. I wasn’t really interested in writing romance; I was interested in writing a book that would sell.

So DiAnn went through the requirements of a romance:
1. Find a character no one would particularly like
2. Redeem the character
3. Put that character in a painful situation you have experienced where you were hurt and betrayed.
4. Write the opening line to the story.
5. Figure out why the hero and heroine would never fall in love and marry.
6. Figure out what makes your story different.

And I came up with a pathological liar who tries to make herself look good by making others look bad, but one of her lies rebounds to attack the only person she really cares about, an elderly widow next door, and she sees what her lies do to her and others. The hurtful scene, which really happened to me, was her boyfriend broke up with her by giving her a record album: 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover. And told her he was going back to his wife (okay, in my case, it was his previous girlfriend)

My opening line was:
Slamming the door behind her, Madison was positive of only two things: she would never come back to Lincolntown, and she would never fall in love again.

My hero (not the jerk with the record album gift) and heroine would never fall in love and marry because she wants a career, and he wants a mother for his three small children. Oh, yeah, and she says she will never fall in love again — it hurts too much.

And what makes my story different is that Madison learns that her importance is not in what she does, but in who she is in God. And she can be just as important to God changing diapers as she can climbing the corporate ladder.

When I finished the class, saw how DiAnn had tricked me into falling in love with a romantic suspense idea, I told her, “Now, this is a romance I could read. And one I could write.”

So, I haven’t written it yet, but it is on my list. I fell in love with the parts of a romance I like to write about — the tension, the truth behind the facade, and the journey towards God.

What kind of a romance could you write? Every genre has romantic elements — post your comments about your genre and how you weave romance into the plot. And if you haven’t written any romance in yet, how could you do that?

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