The meteor, Jane, and Ted present obstacles to this goal.
Let’s look at different ways to dress up your plot skeleton.
You can add the Contemporary Romance jacket. This is defined by the time period. The obstacles to their love occur post World War II to modern day. It is often combined with, or related to, the term women’s fiction. Ted wants Sally, or Jane wants Sally. Jealousy and rivalry keep Dick from achieving his goal. The impending meteor strike adds an element of anxiety. At the final turning point, Dick saves the day and wins Sally's heart forever. Sally and/or Jane saves the day if you want to add a feminist touch.
If you add the Historical Romance mantle, it means that the obstacles to love occurred prior to World War II and may feature elements of mystery or damsel in distress. In this instance, Sally is directly threatened by Jane or Ted while the impending meteor strike provides atmosphere and heightens emotion. We learn a bit about the history of astronomy along the way, but not too much.
If you choose the Romantic Suspense trench coat, the meteor strike is a Thriller and Suspense subplot. The setting could be contemporary or historical. The couple’s relationship is tested by the race to save the planet. Will they live to love or will the meteor obliterate them? Ted is foiled. Jane is mollified. Dick and Sally live happily ever after.
If you select the Paranormal Romance cloak, one or all of your characters could be vampires, werewolves, ghosts, zombies, or witches. The focus is on the romance and the paranormal elements as the characters attempt to thwart the meteor strike. The different species may have different agendas. In the end, Dick and Sally wind up together, the normal world is saved, and they are happy about it. Except for perhaps Ted, or Jane, or Ted and Jane.
If you prefer the Science Fiction Romance jumpsuit, the setting becomes the future, perhaps on a remote lunar outpost. A rocket may circumvent the tragedy, taking out the antagonistic Ted along with the meteor, leaving Dick and Sally to love uninterrupted in their space capsule as Jane waves forlornly from the control room.
If you adopt the Romantic Fantasy cape, your story features dragons, wizards, or fairies working to repel the meteor heading for them, preferably with magic. Perhaps the near miss with the meteor was foretold in a prophecy naming Dick The Chosen One, which tests his relationship to Sally. Dick and Sally hold onto their love in the face of fantastic odds.
If you assume the Time Travel uniform, some or all of the cast must travel through time to solve the meteor strike problem. Perhaps Dick travels to the past, leaving poor Sally in the present. Will their relationship survive the distance? If Dick changes something in the past, will Sally still be in the present anxiously awaiting his return? Or will he return to find her happily (or unhappily) paired with Ted? Perhaps Jane sees her chance with Dick now that Sally is out of the way. In the end, Dick and Sally are reunited and it feels so good.
If you don the Erotic Romance robe, you’ll need to add steamy sex scenes in specific chapters. The impending meteor and Ted and Jane's interference fuel the fire. As long as they fog up the windows while fighting for their lives, you're good to go. In the end, the meteor misses and Dick and Sally wind up in bed, thankful to have dodged the celestial bullet. Ted and Jane may end up in bed together as well, even though they pretend to hate each other.
Whatever costume you choose, your romance should satisfy the reader by answering the question: “Will they or won’t they?”
The answer should be, “Yes.”
If your reader is titillated and satiated by the story’s end, they will love you for it.
Next time, we'll take the story for a Thriller ride and explore how the different sub-genres affect the trajectory.
Diana Hurwitz is the author of Story Building Blocks: The Four Layers of Conflict, Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, Story Building Blocks III: The Revision Layers, and the YA adventure series Mythikas Island. Her weekly blog, Game On: Crafting Believable Conflict explores how characters behave and misbehave. Visit DianaHurwitz.com for more information and free writing tools. You can follow her on Facebook and Twitter.