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Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels (How to Write Kissing Books Book 1)

4.43  ·  Rating details ·  1,547 ratings  ·  351 reviews
What makes a romance novel a romance? How do you write a kissing book?

Writing a well-structured romance isn’t the same as writing any other genre—something the popular novel and screenwriting guides don’t address. The romance arc is made up of its own story beats, and the external plot and theme need to be braided to the romance arc—not the other way around.

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Kindle Edition, 98 pages
Published April 19th 2016 by Gwen Hayes (first published April 2nd 2016)
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Average rating 4.43  · 
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 ·  1,547 ratings  ·  351 reviews

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Eric Plume
Aug 10, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: r-and-d
I bought this book because I'm a writer looking to expand into the romance genre, but I haven't read many books in it. I wanted some insight into how to better write romance plots. Beat didn't deliver.

Oh sure...the text was cutesy funny (I laughed several times), and the author's obsession with 80s rock tunes was endearing - I share her love of them. But at the same time I found myself wondering why I had paid money to read what in the end was an overlong blog with advertisements for the author'
Eleanore June
Jan 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Yes! a clear(ish) plot map for romance novels. I've tried to smash my stories into the framework of standard novels and it doesnt work. This should work.
The writing style is fun, if a bit flip, but I highly recommend it for burgeoning writers of Kissing Books ❤️❤️
Donna Weaver
Jun 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What makes a romance novel a romance? How do you write a kissing book?

Writing a well-structured romance isn’t the same as writing any other genre—something the popular novel and screenwriting guides don’t address. The romance arc is made up of its own story beats, and the external plot and theme need to be braided to the romance arc—not the other way around.

If you're expecting a long read, this isn't it. The description mentions it being a "recipe" book. In its simplicity
Oct 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I cannot express how much this was a life saver. It really helped me plot my Nanowrimo project, and the way the information is delivered feels like a story in itself. I literally read this in a matter of hours. I also highlighted the crap out of it. The examples that were given were really helpful because it was all relatable to a romance book. If you are wanting to write a romance book or incorporate a bit of romance into your story go ahead and pick this book because I promise you it will guid ...more
Gigi Parker
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very helpful, story structure with lots of other info.
Jul 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: e-books, i-own
I was tooling about in Twitter, as you do, when someone mentioned this book. I don’t even remember who, and I beetled off to check it out on Amazon.
“Who this book is for: Romance writers who know something is missing from their book, but are not sure where to look to find it.” (Kindle Locations 85-87)

Hmmm… well that sounds like me.
I buy it and I keep reading… and have a blinding revelation.
I’ve read a dozen books on story structure and plotting. I am currently trying to squish a romance into Sha
Kilby Blades
Aug 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a good, concise romance writing manual that delivered on its promise: to transcend other story frameworks by providing specific instruction for romance. Romance novels, indeed AREN'T structured like many other kinds of story and while other manuals (such as Save the Cat, which is a favorite of mine, and which Hayes mentions) don't mention some of the particularities that are unique to romance--Hayes certainly tackles them.

Her comments on romance formulas are helpful, if not formulaic. T
Helen Kord
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: owns-a-paperback
I've heard a lot on how useful this book is for writing romance, and as someone who's tentatively trying to write a romance story themselves, I was intrigued and decided to read this book. And it was amazing. Just reading this in public transport, I had around 15 different revelations pertaining the story I'm writing, so I can't wait to see what I come up with when I actually do sit down and plot properly. It constantly made me want to stop reading and start writing and that's something. Absolut ...more
Oct 31, 2019 rated it it was ok
This did give a solid beat sheet for a romance novel... But like many others have said, this was blog post worthy and not long enough to really be a book on the subject. I wish the explanation sections had been more than a page each and had more explanations/examples.
Sep 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This was exactly what I needed right now and this book didn't only give me a lot to work with when it comes to my own writing. It also gave me tons of inspiration. That's all you want from a book like this, right?
I really do recommend Romancing the beat if you have dreams of writing a romance or if you just need more tools for your writing.
Bree Hill
Dec 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance
Whether planning to write a romance novel of your own, or like me, and simply a lover of the genre and want to understand the mechanics that go along with the craft, I think this book is such a good resource. It is a tiny gem, just under 80 pages, but jam packed with so much information. A Game changer. It has me reading romances in a totally different way, with a lot more clarity and understanding.
Roshani Chokshi
I haven't read nearly as many craft books as I would like. But this one, recommended to me by Holly Black, is one of my new favorites. I learn the most about character development and emotional stakes from reading romance books, so it was fascinating to see those emotional beats broken down and explained. I really love that there was a template that came with the book. I used it a lot when I was working on my first romance novella, which we recently announced would be published by audible! https ...more
Renaissance Kate
Nov 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
A simple but helpful guide to writing romance! I wish it had given more in-depth examples for each beat, but otherwise this will be my go-to reference to make sure romance shines in my stories.
Reese Ryan
Oct 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Simple, straightforward, and extremely helpful.

I've had this book on my Kindle for ages and had even started it. I finally read the entire book. It's a really simple, fun read that takes an easy-to-understand and execute approach to writing a romance that hits all of the necessary beats. I love that this technique is adaptable to plotters, pantsers, and plotsers. Yet, it will also nicely complement other popular plotting methods like GMC. I highly recommend this book for both new writers and exp
Katy Upperman
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Three things I loved about ROMANCING THE BEAT...
1. Truly helpful structural tips. Both for romance writers, and those hoping to thread romance into stories of other genres.
2. Quick, easy read. Also, encouraging! Romancing the Beat left me eager to dive back in to my troublesome WiP.
3. Humorously and irreverently written. Bonus — eighties song references!
Jeanne Estridge
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A well-written book on how to write a satisfying romance.

I've been wrestling with the ending of a contemporary I've been working on for a while. Reading Romancing the Beat made me realize why it wasn't working and successfully finish the d**n book!
Elliot Cooper
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Excellent guide to story structure from a romance POV. Mostly info I already knew, but expanded on the usual structure I follow (8 point arc). Some new tools for my toolbox to help me get unstuck & in revision process.

Highly recommended for beginning writers in the romance genre.
Savannah Hendricks
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Quick read, great little book that defines what is needed to create a romance manuscript. Nothing extra, straight to the point. Almost if someone took notes at an 8 hour conference and simplified them so you are able to reference it as you outline.
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: authors, writers, editors
Shelves: romance, writing
Original review posted on the Wordy Speculations blog on September 5, 2017

Romancing the Beat is a concise book on story structure for the romance novel by author and editor Gwen Hayes, who herself confesses to loving "kissing books."

As an editor, I read a lot about writing, so when I picked up Romancing the Beat, I sat down with paper and pen, ready to take notes. What I did not expect to find was a funny little book that made me laugh out loud while still actually learning something.

I Loved It,
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Finally! A book that makes explicit the romance formula beyond the HEA. I know "formula" is a dirty word, but to my mind, genre expectations in fiction are no more constraining than the various forms in poetry. We don't think Shakespeare's sonnets were "formulaic," just because he used a recognized meter and rhyme scheme, do we? It's all about what you accomplish within the constraints of your chosen form/genre. That's where the art lives, and where the reader's enjoyment comes from.

If you're fa
Oct 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a short book and I'm going to give it a very short review. Probably my shortest yet.

To sum it up: it's good. And by "good", I mean "useful".

It's written in a very accessible language, with an easy going tone, yet that doesn't take away from the lessons. On the contrary: it feels like you are chatting with a friend or colleague you've known for a while and who you actually enjoy speaking with.

The advice is simple, but the "Why didn't I think of this?" type of simple and at the same time i
May 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, romance
Concise, practical, and funny! Lots of very useful tips and it was fun to use this structure to analyze some of my favourite romance novels.

I only postpone reading the example outline because the description of the set-up sounded exactly like my cup of tea and I want to give the novel a go (sans spoilers!) before reading the working outline of it.
Aug 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I completely loved this wry little craft book -- and as the middle section of my WIP reads "ROMANCE GOES HERE," I desperately needed it. Hayes lays out the recipe for writing a romance arc in clear, firm and personable terms, and you can read the whole book in a single sitting. Must-read.
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reference, indie
I borrowed this from a friend and knew immediately I'd need my own. Easy, well put together, and kind of fun. The story beat guide is a great check point before developmental edits begin. This is one for my read again reference shelf.
Jan 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: aspiring romance writers
Very useful. This book (and feedback from beta readers) helped me a lot in revising my draft. I recommend it to every aspiring romance writers out there.
Sep 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very useful information that's given in a pretty concise way. She gets right to the point, making it a nice, quick read.
Kellyn Roth
May 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Excellent short read for romance structure

This is an excellent short read for figuring out romance novel structure. I took tons of notes!

I'm a clean/sweet romance reader and writer, and for my friends, I'll note that this book mentions sex (just by name, though there's some talk about different steam levels and what they require for structure), LGBT+ stuff, and other things I know some people choose to avoid! I'd say 15+ or so, maybe more.
Cara Bristol
Feb 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, 2019
Excellent advice on what needs to be in a romance for it to be a compelling, page-turning read. Romancing the Beat is written in an amusing, straight-forward style that's easy to understand and follow. It's only 100 pages, so it's a like a quick tutorial. There's a link in the book that allows you to download a free worksheet to apply what you learned in the book. I should have read this years ago!
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! It's short, sweet, naughty, heartbreaking and to the point on what beats should be hit in Romance Novels. Now I am not going to be able to read them without looking for all the points the author should be hitting...and now I need to make sure my novel hits them as well!
Jan 15, 2020 added it
Read this on my Kindle during a power cut! This is a light, fun, concise guide to writing romance. The author knows her subject and is assertive with her advice, but never patronising. An enjoyable and helpful read. For new romance writers there’s a lot of meat on these bones!
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Gwen Hayes (that’s me) lives in the Pacific Northwest with her real life hero and a pack of wild beasts (two of whom she gave birth to).

She is a reader, writer, and lover of pop culture (which, other than yogurt, is the only culture she gets).

Gwen also edits kissing books.

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