No prizes for guessing which particular fantasy paranormal romance series I’m talking about 😉 .
This week, in between birthday and Christmas partying, I’ve been tweaking the first 50 pages of my WIP for entry into the RWA’s Golden Heart contest.
This story is very different from anything I’ve written before, and I want to make sure I don’t trip myself up on the GH deal-breakers.
In addition to assigning an overall score, first-round GH judges are asked to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the following questions:
- Does the entry contain a central love story?
- Is the resolution of the romance emotionally satisfying and optimistic?
If three judges answer ‘no’ to either question, the entry is disqualified. Which would be hugely disappointing, to say the least.
My previous GH entry was a single-title contemporary romance, so these questions weren’t really an issue. Which is probably why I didn’t pay them much attention until one of the judges in a local RWA contest pointed out that my romantic fantasy synopsis was all horses, swords and power politics. She said that if she’d read my pages as a GH entry, she’d have answered ‘no’ to both questions.
She was right. I’m still thanking my lucky stars for that judge.
I know my WIP is a romance supported by an action plot, not the other way around, so I’m confident the story itself satisfies Question One. I just have to write a new synopsis that follows the turning points of Alexis and Kierce’s relationship instead of describing their adventures. I’m still mortified I didn’t do that the first time around. For me the love story is the sine qua non of the book, so I assumed the reader would understand that without being told. I won’t make that mistake again.
I’ve been worrying about the second question, because this story is the first in a series and the romance is a very slow burn.
My current plan is for six books, and it’s not really a spoiler to say that by the end of Book Six, Alexis and Kierce will have removed all the obstacles to their Happily Ever After. Their growing emotional and physical intimacy will be the key to their success as they team up to defeat the Bad and Very Bad Guys and Save The World.
However. Six books means they have a long road to travel before they retire to the land of hearts and flowers. Alexis has been raised as a monk; she expects to return to the monastery where she will spend the rest of her life doing Useful Monkish Stuff. She’s seen plenty of fit men, but only as sparring partners. Until she meets Kierce, she has no experience of physical or emotional intimacy.
I could go on, but I don’t want to spoil all the fun. Basically here’s my question: Do you think it is okay for the resolution of Book One’s romance plot to be a kiss?
In today’s world physical intimacy is regarded as normal and healthy, and in a contemporary romance or romantic suspense it would be a surprise if the H&H did not make love. Whether the story is hot or sweet, I’d expect to read consensual sex at some point in the book. For Alexis, that experience will come much later, though I’m doing my best to foreshadow it.
For now though, a simple kiss would be hugely significant. An expression of her deepest, most secret feelings; a demonstration of emotional commitment; and a measurable waymark in the development of her romantic relationship with Kierce.
For me that would be an emotionally satisfying and optimistic conclusion to Book One.
What do you think?