The Marshall Plan For Romancing Your Story

Evan Marshall, author of The Marshall Plan® for Novel Writing, explains the Marshall Plan for romancing your story.


Spring is in the air (in the Northern Hemisphere) and we want to talk romance. We have noticed a trend in fiction writing: adding a romantic subplot. Publishers tell us this technique is especially popular with readers right now.

The Marshall Plan For Romancing Your Story

We’ll take a look at it and discuss some examples in three genres: cosy mystery, mystery, and historical fiction.

  1. In cosy mystery, Karen Rose Smith, in her popular Caprice De Luca Home-Staging cosy mystery series, places romantic upheaval in Caprice’s path in Silence of the Lamps. Will Caprice finally find love? Then there’s bestseller Joanne Fluke’s Hannah Swensen cosy mystery series. For years, Hannah has not been able to make up her mind between Mike and Norman. In the latest in the series, Wedding Cake Murder, Hannah meets Ross and must decide among the three men. Whom will she marry?
  2. In the mystery category, novelist Elizabeth George made a big mistake when she married off Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley in her bestselling Inspector Lynley mystery series. Lynley had turned into a fuddy-duddy after he and Helen got married and were on the verge of becoming parents. We weren’t surprised when Elizabeth George reversed course and killed off Helen and the unborn baby. Another example of a single detective series with a romantic subplot is detective Joe Cashin in The Broken Shore by Peter Temple, set in Australia.
  3. Romance is at the core in historical fiction by Philippa Gregory (The Other Boleyn Girl, The White Queen). Kristin Hannah’s The Nightingale mixes equal parts romance and history (and also hits the trending “sisters” category). Romantic suspense in Harlequin Intrigue and Linda Howard’s Mr. Perfect mix equal parts romance and suspense.

Today, we even recommend that clients consider adding a genre-appropriate romantic subplot in hard-core thrillers. Instead of tying up the romantic subplot with the traditional sugary bow at the end, we advise showing how the couple might get together.

To sum up, a romantic subplot adds 3-D texture to your story: depth, dimension and drama. It enables you to reveal intimate character traits in your protagonist and others you might not otherwise have any way to show. It also opens the door to adding conflict, flirty dialogue, misunderstandings, mystery, twists and surprises.

by Evan Marshall

Evan is president of The Evan Marshall Agency and Indie Rights Agency, an independent literary agency based in New Jersey, USA. An expert on fiction writing, he has served as a contest judge for Wattpad. He is author of The Marshall Plan® for Novel Writing, now How To Write A Novel-The Marshall® Plan Software, co-created with Martha Jewett. Evan is the author of ten traditionally published mystery novels in the Hidden Manhattan and Jane Stuart series, called “Miss Marple lite” by Kirkus Reviews.

Posted on: 13th May 2016