Friday, May 8, 2009

Plot, Conflict & Waiting Times


Jackie has me hooked on the Subcare (Submission Care) forum at eharlequin.com which is how I came up with my latest idea: the waiting times list. So I combed the archives of 2009 and develop a list from what is posted there, mainly to satisfy my own curiosity (did I mention I’m not so patient?) and for anyone else who’s interested because let’s face it, if you’re anything like me you post the query and would like to have the letter begging you for your full manuscript the next day, physical impossibilities aside. This way we have the option of getting all nice and worked up after a respectable waiting period just in time to get the reply back if we like ;-). You can find the waiting times I have so far under my followers on the left.

So as I developed my lil list (feel free to leave updates for it if you find it helpful) I discovered the concept of too much conflict. It fascinates me, I mean you hear about NOT ENOUGH CONFLICT rejections but have you heard of the TOO MUCH CONFLICT rejection? This led to me harassing the lovely Donna Alward who kindly took pity on me and did a series of blogs on the topic: Exciting news and some words on CONFLICT (part 1), Conflict Part 2 – When is it too much?, & Conflict 3 – Bits and Bobs.

I’m building her a temple of worship as we speak.

Did you know that the general consensus is that there are seven major storylines for all literature? This has also been extended to thirty six and reduced to three (and one) but seven is what the majority has settled on. Fascinating though this is only one of these is relevant to romance writing but it did spark my urge to list the classic romance plot lines. Of course one of these on its own does not a romance story make. We twist them and combine them until viola! You have your best seller!

These are the ones I’ve come up with so far, please let me know if you think any are missing.


  1. Accidental Pregnancy: forces hero/heroine to face their fears.
  2. Amnesia: hero or heroine has lost their memory temporarily or permanently.
  3. Beauty and the Beast: hero or heroine is physically marred.
  4. Betrayal: Heroine has intentionally hurt the hero or made a mistake in the past that has hurt the hero or vice versa.
  5. Business competitors: hero and heroine compete for high business stakes only one can win.
  6. Cinderella: rags to riches story.
  7. Class: a class difference sets a couple apart.
  8. Family feud: e.g. Romeo and Juliet.
  9. Friends to Lovers: a hero and heroine’s friendship becomes more.
  10. Kidnapping: hero kidnaps heroine or heroine kidnaps hero.
  11. Marriage of convenience: arranged/forced marriage.
  12. Masquerade: hero, heroine or both pretend to be someone else.
  13. Mistaken Identity: hero or heroine isn’t who he/she appears to be.
  14. Opposites attract: good girl/bad boy or bad girl/good boy.
  15. Secret Baby: heroine falls pregnant but doesn’t tell hero about it.
  16. Secret: hero or heroine keeps a dark secret.
  17. Stranded: hero and heroine are forced together.
  18. Twins: hero or heroine has “evil” twin, hero or heroine masquerade as twin etc.
Are there any plots you particularly like? Are there any you hate? Have I missed any?
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8 comments:

Jackie Ashenden said...

Aha, Subcare is great eh? Couldn't do without it. And Donna's posts on conflict are fab. I didn't realise about the TOO much conflict but I can see where it comes from.

Oh, and your list, add Presents at around 3 - 6 months for a partial.

Those storylines are interesting eh? I was just wondering what my current WIP is because a lot of those storylines are external conflict driven. I'm thinking mine's the secret, though it's not really a secret since the hero isn't keeping it from the heroine, she just hasn't found out yet.

Lacey Devlin said...

Thanks for the Presents waiting time Jackie!

You know I tried to think of what else your current WIP could be other than a secret and came up blank too! But it's not quite a secret is it? Maybe an unintentional secret? lol! When in doubt make something up...

Joanne Cleary said...

I love subcare too but haven't been popping in much lately. I need to sort that out! As for Donna, she is wonderful. I want to be Donna when I grow up into a 'proper' writer. Now I sound like a mad stalker.

I have never been keen on marriage of convenience stories but I must say I pretty much love them now. I've read a few really good ones in the last year and also my historical ms has that as its hook.

Suzanne said...

Yikes - some pretty long waiting times there. (Although, I have waited longer than that to have a short story rejected.) I hate waiting, even for five minutes.

Lacey Devlin said...

It's funny isn't it, that you can start off hating a storyline and end up liking them? I was a bit over the secret baby storyline for a while. It seemed every book I picked up had it worked a secret baby (or even two!) into it and I just couldn't get away lol!

The waiting times are pretty amazing for some of the lines and you have to feel for both sides don't you? I'd love to see what an editor's desk looks like. Where are they keeping all of these submissions? Is there a room for them, or do the editors vault over piles of them every morning to get to their desks?

Lorraine said...

Donna is lovely, isn't she :-)

I had to wait 6 months for a response to a partial for Modern Heat (Presents)

Lacey Devlin said...

Hi Lorraine!

Donna is fabulous! I'm pretty thrilled about the book she's currently been working on that includes an amputee. I find these men and women so awe inspiring!

Thanks for your waiting time!

Kate Hardy said...

Hi Lacey! Great list.


There's also the "accidental pregnancy makes hero/heroine face their fears" :o) (Oh, wait... that's currently tagged as "tired old cliche"...)

I'm very fond of the "opposites attract" theme. I used that in Strictly Legal - hmm, and in my current one. I also really enjoy "friends to lovers" (Hotly Bedded, Conveniently Wedded and The Consultant's Christmas Proposal).

You know the song in "Beauty and the Beast" where she says there's something in him she hadn't seen before? That really intrigues me: why we see people the way we do, and when we actually fall in love.

Re secrets - tip from my ed (gleaned from various revisions, believe me!): remember that the reader needs to be in on it fairly early on, in order to sympathise with whoever's keeping the secret and understand their motivation.