Many moons ago, in the land that time forgot, when lost in thrall to my very first attempt with M&B historicals, I read Mary Wibberley, a dedicated Mills & Boon author who wrote a How To book, that surely must be a classic. To mention her name now still gives me the goose bumps; the anticipation, excitement, hope and youth all mixed together in a heady cocktail of oh-how-much-I-want to be published! Along with her marvellous advice, came the 13 rules of how romance/plot/character should evolve. I wonder if anyone else remembers them? If my memory serves me well (which could be in doubt) they went something like this;
13 step structure for romance plots
1. Heroines social identity is destroyed
2. She reacts antagonistically to hero.
3. Hero responds ambiguously to her.
4. She interprets this as sexual interest.
5. She responds to his behaviour with anger or coldness
6. Hero retaliates by punishing her
7. They are physically and/or emotionally separated
8. Hero treats heroine tenderly
9. She responds warmly to his act of tenderness
10. She reinterprets his ambiguous behaviour as the product of previous hurt
11. Hero proposes his love for/demonstrates his unwavering commitment to heroine with a supreme act of tenderness.
12. Heroine responds sexually and emotionally
13. Her identity is restored.
Hmm, pretty straightforward, I thought (then). Let's have a bash. 2011, and I'm not quite so certain!