SPEAKER: Linda is a member of AWSA, and is available to speak to your organization, at your conference, or as part of a workshop.
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AGENT: Linda is a an agent with Hartline Literary Agency. She would love to represent that next great American novel! She will look at nonfiction, but she LOVES FICTION--historic, suspense, romance or all of the above.

AUTHOR: Linda writes romance in all categories, but what is her fave? Suspense, and not only suspense, but SUSPENSE SEALED WITH A KISS

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Interview with Marji Laine

Hey, Marji, thanks for stopping by to talk with us. Tell, us, what drives a good romance!

Heroes Drive a Romance

I love a strong heroine in a romance. She, for the most part, shapes a well-rounded book. The plot generally stems from her conflicts. The depth of the story originates with her character arch—her values, motivations, and goals, as well as the dark moment that defines the lie she believes and the wound that must be healed.

That part is the most fun to me. I love crafting new, distinct heroines.

However, while the heroine provides the framework for the plot, the hero is the driving force of a romance. His values, motivations, or goals initiate the interaction between the two. His backstory tends to throw up the obstacles that threaten to defeat the new relationship. And ultimately, it’s his strength that develops the happily ever after – or not.

Let’s look at a few examples.

·         Pride and Prejudice: Darcy attends the “country dance” because of his station and circumstance as a guest of Bingley. His values initiate the interaction with Elizabeth Bennett, even though it has a negative result. His backstory of wealth and rank throws obstacles in the way of the budding romance. Those obstacles include his aunt, his friend’s obnoxious sister, and his arrogance when finally facing his growing feelings. Finally, his true personality appears. Though Elizabeth is drawn to him, she dares not believe his feelings remain after her rude rebuff. His perseverance is the only thing that happily resolves the situation.

·         While You Were Sleeping: This one works differently because the true plot of the story emerges from a subplot. The true romance is Jack and Lucy. His value of family drives him home at the perfect time to meet Lucy. His backstory of experience with his brother gives him cause to not trust her all that much. The other obvious obstacle was the fact that she was engaged to his own brother, so he thought. Had she been the fiancĂ©e of anyone else, he might have disregarded that relationship. But she belonged to his brother who was lying in a hospital bed. Big obstacle. Finally, when all the secrets came out, the story would have ended in sadness if not for Jack’s love for Lucy and his willingness to forgive her deception.

·         Sense and Sensibility: Edward arrives at the Dashwood home as a favor to his sister Fanny. His sense of family obligations drove him there and initiated the interaction between him and Eleanor Dashwood. His backstory of status creates the first obstacle, assuring that Eleanor would make a poor match for him. His second obstacle is the secret engagement in which he is involved with Lucy Steele. In this case, the love story is a tragedy if not for the greed of Lucy Steele. (I think Edward is a little on the weak side.) But having been granted a reprieve from marrying the vixen, he is able to return to Eleanor.

·         Romeo and Juliet: Romeo initiates the original encounter by crashing Juliet’s family party. He is taken with her and determines to have her despite the obvious obstacle that he is from a family that is a sworn enemy of Juliet’s. Add to that the murder of Juliet’s cousin, by Romeo’s hand, and there are plenty of reasons for this romance to fail. Finally, it is Romeo’s choice to commit suicide that ended the story as a tragedy. Frankly, with their lack of communication, it didn’t have a chance.

Do you agree? Think I’m all wet? Or maybe you have another story to analyze. I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject.

Speaking of heroes, A Dozen Apologies (currently posting at Write Integrity Press blog, has twelve of them. And yes, they do drive the story along! As a bonus, readers get to decide which man is the best hero. Vote today until February 8 for your favorite. The man with the most votes gets the girls. The final chapter will be chosen and only available in the Amazon e-book, but A Dozen Apologies will be free on Valentines Day!


  1. I love Sense and Sensibility. What amazes me is how these classic authors wrote all of there novels without the help of internet, crit partners from around the world, conferences, etc. Did they just have more heart or is there another reason? Anybody??? Thanks, Marji for visiting today.

  2. While you were sleeping is one of our favorite movies. Maybe it's because the hero and heroine are blue collar, but the honesty of the characters really rings true - no superficiality, no histrionics, just a huge precious factor.

    Great observations, Marji. Thanks for sharing her with us, Linda!

  3. I love Marji's blog! I go there all the time. I don't write romance (unless you count the note I gave my wife decades ago... Do you like me? Check yes or no.), but I love her Bible insights. Always a great and encouraging read. Thanks for having her on your blog!

  4. I know, right? They didn't even have spell-checker! Did they have a Thesaurus?

  5. One of my all-time favorites, too. I usually go for Sandra Bullock characters. Thanks Cuffe Sisters!

  6. Oh, Thanks for the kind words, Tom! I love writing devotions. I'll be back to my Fathoming God series next Thursday! Yea!

  7. Love this, Marji! Great points that I hadn't thought about before but can see now. So true.

    I love While You Were Sleeping. Now I just might have to watch it again and watch specifically for this. hehe. Sounds like a good excuse to me. =]

  8. I like the way you think, Patty! We may need to break out a movie today as well!

  9. Wow, excellent post! I learned a lot!

  10. Thanks so much, Karla. I love working through heroes. I even did a series about them on my own blog. Fun analysis!