A Chocoholic’s Take: Why Writing Romance is Like Chocolate.
I hear the nay-sayers. What does she mean writing romance is like chocolate? It’s quite fundamental actually. Writing romance and producing chocolate are very similar. Come on. Trust me in this.
The first thing you do in order to make chocolate is pick the beans, and then let them ferment. This is the choosing the plot and contemplating the story-line stage of writing romance. Here’s where writers decide on goals and motivations, the length of their novel, what the story arc will be...you know, all that fun pre-writing stuff. Even if you’re a pantser, which I am by-the-way, writers need a basic plot (cocoa beans) and a story line (fermenting).
The next step is processing the beans. All the stuff that can’t be made into chocolate (the story) has to be picked out. Then, the beans are dried and crushed. This is where the writer creates deep POV, develops their characters, introduces and develops conflict, and does rudimentary editing.
Okay, so now we have chocolate in its most basic form. You’d be hard pressed to recognize it though. Rough and grainy, it doesn’t resemble the yummy chocolate we’re accustomed to seeing and eating. We’re talking first draft manuscript here folks.
That’s why chocolate is run through a series of steel rollers to get a fine texture (polishing the manuscript). Think: writing, rewriting, adding and removing scenes, details, dialogue and actions.
Are we done? Of course not! Has a writer ever gone through their manuscript just once? Well, chocolate gets the same treatment. It goes through a machine that gives it a smooth texture. This is where the cocoa butter and soy lecithin get added. In romance writing, this is the critiquing, beta reading, content and copy editing brouhaha.
Naturally this smoothing process is repeated several times to give chocolate its lovely glossy look. Sound familiar? Sorta like polishing a writer’s manuscript isn’t it?
Okay, now we’ve got our smooth and creamy chocolate and a polished novel. Wait, there’s more to our chocolate is like writing romance simile.
Hey, I hear you groaning. I bet you’re one of the one-in-million people who doesn’t like chocolate, aren’t you?
We have chocolate and we have a novel. However, not all romance genres are the same. Neither is chocolate. Think about the heat levels of romances. For sweet romance—you know nothing on the page—we have white chocolate, then milk chocolate, a little semi-sweet, dark chocolate, and for the really daring, bitter sweet chocolate.
Then of course, there are personal tastes about what to include in the romance. Do you prefer creams and caramels (smooth sailing and happily-ever-afters) or nougats, nuts, and chews that offer a bit of mystery, intrigue, or danger? I say this because I broke a tooth on a nougat one time.
Now, add the subplots. A little sea salt for pirates or cayenne pepper for those sexy Arabian nights perhaps? Oh, and let’s not forget fruit for something unexpected and tantalizing. I’ve even seen bacon dipped in chocolate. I’ll let you use your imaginations for that one.
As we all know, writing romance doesn’t just mean writing a full length novel. Oh no. There are novellas, short stories, series, trilogies, sagas, articles... Romance writing can be so many things just like our delicious chocolate: hot chocolate, cakes, puddings, candy, mousse, frosting, hot fudge, ice cream—
Feel free to add your own favorites.
What happens to all of those, I ask you? They get consumed—devoured; yep, just like romances.
Speaking of devouring, did you know consuming copious quantities of chocolate leads to immense creativity? It really does. It increases blood flow to your brain, which in turn improves the gray matter’s cognitive abilities. It also helps prevent strokes, as do romance novels by offering readers a chance to relax, unwind, and de-stress. Chocolate has lovely little chemicals that make you feel good, improve your mood, and—oh, this is my favorite part—it has PEA which causes the same feeling you get when you fall in love.
That’s what writers do for you readers when they write romance. Readers’ brains get nice and happy, then releases dopamine. Ya know, the chemical released when we fall in love and that is released during an ... ahem, very chocolaty time in the bedroom?
One final tidbit for you; studies have shown that smelling chocolate makes people buy more books. No, I’m not making this up. Google it. Maybe publishers should consider scratch-and- sniff book covers or chocolate scented pages. What do you think?
I’ll be giving away one copy of my September release, The Viscount’s Vow to one lucky commenter.