Recently I’ve been reading books in the Mills & Boon paranormal romance series. I had been hoping to submit a supernatural manuscript to M&B, but sadly it doesn’t look as if that particular series is continuing.

If you’re studying fiction writing and want to understand more about good storytelling, do try Mills & Boon. In terms of writing style, characterisation, and plot they are very well executed.

I’ve only read one M&B that didn’t quite work. The problem with it was the characters. He was a generic good guy. She was haunted by a difficult family past that defined her completely and presented all the conflict in the book.

I found her too much of a blank sheet to be interesting. She was just starting out in adult life. I didn’t give a hoot about how she felt about her family.

Presumably, romance novels have different target age groups. First love/ settling down to build a family/ in no great hurry because kids are not on the cards/ and so on. The book I didn’t enjoy might be very appealing to readers 20 years younger than me.

As we grow older our understanding of romance changes. And we may even grow wary of traditional romance motifs, such as the character who swears eternal devotion and fidelity from day 1. I mean, who does that in a healthy human relationship?

I guess shapeshifter characters enable us to write about oaths of eternal devotion without spreading unrealistic ideas about human behaviour.

Wolf-shapeshifters, for example, imprint on their mates. This is presented as a biological bond that ties the characters together permanently for good or for ill. I guess those kinds of stories appeal to readers who want a concrete guarantee that a romantic relationship will be forever.

This morning I planned out a story that surprised me with its “cynicism.” The female character is older and the tale doesn’t end in marriage due to the nature of her supernatural lover.

At first I asked myself whether I might be a bit depressed or something. Then I looked at the story again and recognised that there’s something quite nature-oriented, possibly Western Taoist, about it.

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