Romance writers are often reluctant to talk about formula, for fear of cheapening the genre or making something creative sound mechanical. There is, however, a cast iron formula used by every one of them, from the best to the worst, and which will never let you down whether you're writing a magazine story, a Mills and Boon novella or a full length novel....
Mills and Boon produce over 100 titles a month in a variety of ranges which range from the hospital romance to traditional historical romance to their Blaze series which is decidedly more sexually risqué. As of 2008, over 200million Mills and Boon books were sold per annum...
In 1859, Mary Anne Evans became George Eliot in order to be taken more seriously as a novelist at a time when it was believed women wrote only light romances. Today, it's male authors who adopt female pen names to be taken seriously as romance writers.
What I've realised is that sex scenes are a tricksy little problem for writers of romantic fiction. Do you go for the Full Monty and have page after page of sex in all its most graphic detail? Or should it instead be just a brief lift of the veil? And then what sort of sex are you going to go for?
It's a question as old as time: do you eat out for Valentine's Day or brave the kitchen yourself in a foolhardy attempt to impress your partner? On the one hand, if you dine out, you won't burn your kitchen down, desperately scraping ashen steak chops off the oven walls as your love weeps into her napkin.
I have always stuck to the notion of enjoying books providing the protagonist is a person that I can connect with and their sex, it appears until two weeks ago, had been one such contributing factor.
Beautiful woman, check. Long flowing dress, check. Mist-shrouded, foreboding mansion in the background, check. Welcome to
Fast forward twenty years and me and the fictious Bridget Jones once again find ourselves in similar situations. We are both widows with young children. She has two, I have three. I am fascinated that Helen Fielding has followed this storyline as, since I was widowed seven years ago, I have been amazed at how little contemporary literary reference there is to us 'young widows'.
If you watched Bridget Jones's Diary back in 2001, it wasn't entirely clear whether matters had gotten better, or worse, for
Le Grand Meaulnes is a novel best read by a man of youth and innocence, as it would be impossible for those who have become immune to life's tragedies, where the rawness of that first lost love has faded into the mists of time, to ever resonate quite so deeply and fall under its spell in such a tremendous way.