The Romance Novel Challenge

It’s February and my mind is filled with the romance novel challenge. My goal for NaNoWriMo this year is to write a romance novel.  In this blog, I’m laying down the strategy I plan to use to live up to the challenge. #romance novel #Valentine’s Day # love

The Romance Novel Challenge

We celebrate love and passion in February because Valentine’s Day falls in the middle of the month. We focus on romance and love during this time of Cupid’s haunting, but I believe there are other passions that add a spark to our lives and make our toes curl. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of romantic love. Rooster and I have been going at it hot and heavy for forty-four years. Therefore, I feel qualified to accept the romance novel challenge.

What I’m saying is there should be a portion of the month dedicated to the stuff in life which makes you jump out of bed in the morning ready to embrace the day. The thing that gets your motors running. If you don’t have a passion like that in your life, I encourage you to go out and search for it. Start with what you had fun doing when you were a kid.

The spark we enter the world with.

I believe we come into the world with a spark of creativity, and we often forget to nurture it because life gets in the way. Once you have the beginning, you can navigate your way from there. Try to remember what you liked to do when you were a kid. Did you draw pictures, or play with an erector set? Did you build giant skyscrapers with Legos?

Maybe you played a musical instrument or sang at the top of your lungs when you were alone in your room. The thing that thrilled me was filling blank notebooks with the stories I made up in my head. The ones nobody but me ever thought about.

Outside of my family and my faith, the written word is what inspired me. It might be because I came to the party late. I was thirteen before I understood how to put those squiggly lines on the page together to make words.

I wrote stories before I could read.

My frustration with learning how to read was before the education system knew a lot about kids with dyslexia. The common consensus back in the dark ages was children who couldn’t pick up on reading were slow. I must have known squiggly lines had meaning. I filled notebooks with them as part of my play.

I remember my mother asking me what I was doing. I told her I was writing my stories down so I would be able to recall them at a later time. The problem was I couldn’t decipher all those markings I made on the paper. I knew they were stories, but my memory wasn’t long enough to repeat the details.

Then one day it clicked. I remember the choice I made from the shelves of the Bookmobile was Charlotte’s Web.  I picked the book because of the picture on the cover. I’m not sure how it happened, but my brain started to make sense out of those squiggly lines on the page. I had to check the book out three times, but I managed to finish it with a fair amount of comprehension.  My next choice was A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. I discovered I could relate to the story told in this novel. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn launched my love for reading.

Why I crossed the line

It wasn’t long before I crossed the line people who fall in love with the written word often venture past. I stepped into the world of the writer. I filled notebooks full of poems and short stories since I now knew the meaning of what the squiggly lines meant. My stories could now live on past my ability to remember them. I tucked these offerings into my dresser drawer for safekeeping. I have continued the tucking in the drawer tradition into my golden years. So, I have decided to accept the romance novel challenge.

My participation in NaNoWriMo

For the past five years, I participated in NaNoWriMo. I’ve always managed to get my fifty thousand words in during November. I download the finished product onto a flash drive and tuck it in a drawer for safekeeping. I go back to work on whatever stage the latest manuscript in The Hen House series was when I left to write my NaNoWriMo novella.

In the first couple of years, my participation in the month-long writer’s fest was a real challenge. Fifty-thousand words in a month were almost too much to comprehend. In my third year, I joined a group of folks at a local library for Sunday write-ins. In the fourth year, there wasn’t much participation. I didn’t feel the group added anything to my experience. For my fifth year, I devised a personal challenge after reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula. I realized there was a large amount of vampire literature in print a writer might benefit from studying.

My strategy for the romance novel challenge

Therefore, I threw down the gauntlet and took up the challenge. I planned to read as many vampire novels as I could get my hands on in 2018. When the month of November rolled around, I would write a vampire story for NaNoWriMo.  It was an exciting journey. I read some fantastic books I would never have considered if I hadn’t taken on the challenge. I met some exciting authors along the way. It made NaNoWriMo an adventure. I was able to finish my vampire novella. I chalked it up as another win and tucked it away for later use on a flash drive.

For 2019, the romance novel will be my literary journey. I plan to read as many love stories as I can get my hands on. Rooster is excited about my new quest. He assumes he’s going to reap huge dividends because of all the steamy books I’ll be reading. It’s not like I haven’t read a romance novel before. I’m a red-blooded American woman after all. This time I’m studying what I learned with a critical eye. I started my journey with Jane Austin’s Emma. It’s the one Austin novel I’ve neglected to read. The month of February is almost over, and I’ve read Emma plus a couple of steamy Christmas romances and one with a paranormal theme.

I have learned a couple of things about this genre in my short time of the study. While other stories may have two people fall in love during the storytelling, but in the romance novel, two people coming together gets all the attention. The romance between the couple is what moves the plot forward.

What I’ve learned so far

Without the character’s love, there isn’t a story. You also know in the first few pages which are going to end up with who. The author might throw in a couple of characters to keep things interesting, but they only serve as one of those complications the couple must overcome to end up living they’re happily ever after. It is necessary for them to overcome at least three significant obstacles before they end up together. There must be a happy ending, or the reader will burn the author on the stake of a bad review. I haven’t been studying romance novels long.

Still, two-months of serious reading doesn’t make me an expert. I know I still have months of studying to do before I’m ready to tackle the genre. I’m not sure if the ingredients I mentioned make up the recipe for a steamy romance novel, but I have a feeling I’m on the right track. I know I’ll learn many things during my yearlong odyssey into the world of love and passion. I plan to spend the month of November writing a romance novel.

Still not sure about it all

I’m not sure what romance novel category I’ll attempt. I’d like for it to be a steamy mystery. I have a suspicion it will lean more toward a romantic comedy. The setting will probably be the fictitious city of Tecumseh, Indiana because I can’t seem to escape from there. Yes. It looks like there are almost as many types of romance novels as there are genres in literature. I have a feeling this 2019 NaNoWriMo adventure will be the most interesting one I’ve ever experienced. I think Rooster will become a happy man during this year I’ve decided to devote to the study of love and romance. in conclusion, the romance novel challenge is going to be my most interesting NaNoWriMo adventure yet.

Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana, who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh.  To read more of her short stories and adventures click here.

Be sure to follow Molly on Twitter!


Published by henhouselady

I am the author of Saving the Hen House. I didn't know when I started it would turn into a series. I love to ride motorcycles, the blues, my family, and going on adventures. This old hen rocks.

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