Sunday, December 9, 2012

Romance by Suggestion, not Asphyxiation

Romance by Suggestion, not Asphyxiation: Carla Neggers’ Captivated

By Margaret Curtis, PhD

Carla Neggers can teach you the essentials of successful romance writing. The formula for Captivated, whirls like a waltz: 1-2-3:

One, begin with a conflicted heroine,

Two, locate an intense hero, and

Three, let the plot throw them together.

Neggers does not succeed as a genre writer, though, by concentrating just on what is commonly called “chick lit.” Her bio inside the back cover of Captivated reveals:

“She now has more than fifty books to her credit—ten of them New York Times bestsellers—and has earned raves from critics and readers alike for her unique blend of fast-paced action, suspense and romance.”

Neggers accomplishes this publishing miracle by letting her heroine act out her psychological conflict. As her heroine chases after her hero, while simultaneously trying to avoid his attention, she admits on page 82:

“Certain she had her infatuation with Richard under control, Sheridan drove out across  the Golden Gate Bridge to talk to him at his yacht, where, she assumed, he’d spent the night. But he hadn’t….”

Even this small passage reveals that the stars in her integrated adventure-suspense-romance have begun a pas de deux, a dance for two, where each circles the other, and the two act in concert because, in reality, they already function as one whole, a distinctive pair.

Setting money aside, and there’s a lot of it to set aside, of course, they perform that psychological classic: “Go away, I love you. Come here, I hate you.” Such songs resonate with every American music lover, male or female. Another favorite is “I Won’t Dance. Don’t Ask Me.”

But dance they do, for this is the pattern of opposites which attract, starting with the most famous opposites, the male and female of the human species. All the elements of Fifty Shades of Grey can be found in Captivated—except pain and a secret room and a contract for slavery. 

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