If you tuned in yesterday, you know we talked about the Breakup in writing a Romance. Why is the Breakup Important?…
After the breakup, they’re going to realize Beat 8: the Great WHY. They will, after their hearts are breaking, realize they belong together. If you’ve set up Act 2 correctly, the reader will see why they need to be together (because you will be showing us those essential scenes – covered in the Act 2 blogs). This Great Why will suddenly trump the Why Not (the reason they broke up) and convince them that they can’t live without each other.
They will also realize what is holding them back from love – their flaws. (and, perhaps, their lie). And, in order to win back the WoTD (Woman of Their Dreams), finally, they will embrace the truth. (and this goes for the heroine, also.)
Which allows them to do Beat 9: The Big Gesture/Sacrifice. The Hero or Heroine makes the Big Gesture/Sacrifice to stay together.
I often talk about finding that thing that your hero can’t do at the beginning of a book…and then showing him overcoming (because of the heroine’s love, or some truth) and doing it at the end.
So—what is the Big Gesture/Sacrifice they make at the end, for love, that they can’t do at the beginning? It might be letting go if something, or doing something brave…
In How to Lose a Guy, she quits her job and leaves, pursing something “Significant”—he goes after her. Except he’s never gone after a woman in his life (that he wanted to keep in a relationship).
Ghost of Girlfriends Past also has a pivotal moment like this: Matthew (who plays the perfect playboy, as evident in all these movies), goes after the woman he loves!
In Return to Me, the hero flies to Italy and tracks her down and she lets him listen to his wife’s heart.
Ask: What can they do at the end of the book they can’t do at the beginning?
Now you’re set up for Beat 10: Happily Ever After, in which they find the love they’ve always longed for.
How do you end well? We need to believe that the romance has changed them, forever, and made them into better people. And, to epitomize this New Man/Woman, their New Life, I try and find something that epitomizes their romance.
One of my favorite endings is in Chasing Liberty—when she goes to London and asks him for a ride—just like she did at the beginning of their romance.
Or, of course, Return to Me…him listening to her heart, and then the gorilla park dedication (and the waitress and the cook getting married! That’s the best!)
How about A Walk in the Clouds…when the fahter gives the hero the grapevine root and says to the heroine, “teach your husband how to plant it.”
The key is, they have to do something that makes us understand that the romance has impacted them, and they are better off for it.
So, there you have it, the Act 3 Huzzah ending that should make your reader curl up with your book and give a contented sigh (if they are into romance, that is!)
If you have any questions about any of these beats, I’d encourage you to search the archives under Romance.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be analyzing some of our favorite romances to recognize the beats and how the writer has put them together. If you have any topics about romance that I haven’t covered this year, I’ll be glad to answer them on the blog. Send your questions to: email@example.com
Have a wonderful thanksgiving!