Prairie Fire · Writing

Thread count

What is the right amount of storylines for a romance novel?

I confess that I am seriously ignorant of the genre. I do not read romance novels, and watching ‘romantic’ movies generally drives me insane. For example: Years ago, my mother and sister asked me to watch “Sense and Sensibility” with them. I indicated that I would rather poke myself in the eye with a sharp stick than watch such a film, but they persisted. Eventually, my adoration of Alan Rickman won out, and I watched it, but secretly wondered if a viral form of laryngitis among the characters wouldn’t have improved things.

The late Richard Jeni observed that women and men like different things in movies.

I have been firmly on the men’s side of that for… Let’s see now… Ever. (Except for what he says about porn.) I watched Alien when I was twelve. Sure, I read The Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High, but found Stephen King and R. L. Stine much more to my liking.

And yet I want to write a romance novel, and I think I have an interesting enough story that I want to do right by it. But my long-honed aversion to the genre is making things difficult.

Anyone have any suggestions on what I should do?



The urge to work on my romance novel, rather than se, is getting stronger. So far, like almost any heroine, I am resisting, but my resolve is weakening.

Aisircul, my hero, is starting to take shape. So far, so good, but in my mind’s eye, his hair is black, which seems to be the standard for romance novel men. I would rather he have a different color. For one thing, given who he is, black seems a little…cliched.



That number represents four years of work on small exorcisms.

It’s silly how frustrating that is, but I do find it a bit maddening that after FOUR YEARS, during which time I have started a new career, moved, and had a third child (not in that order, mind you), I have written an average of only 10,716 words A YEAR. To draw a ridiculous comparison, Stephen King probably wrote that much before breakfast today.

And now, of course, my brain wants a break. “I want to go play with happier people!” it tells me. “Let’s work on something else!”

“No!” I tell myself. “I need to get this project done first! If I start working on something else, I might not want to return to this.”

Besides, small exorcisms, even with its grim passages, touches on a few important themes, namely letting go of the past and learning to forgive. And I’d hate to have spent this much time on this project only to let it join my figurative pile of unfinished projects.

But seriously? Four years and not even 43,000 words? Oy.