Sunday, September 6, 2009

When Should the Hero & Heroine Meet?

I recently came across this blog post at Edittorrent, by Red Sage Publishing Senior Editor Alicia Rasley, regarding submitting & revisions.

Many of her points and advice are worth a look-see, especially for authors thinking of submitting their erotic futuristic romance or “ultra-sensual” SFR to Red Sage. This in particular caught my eye:

For instance, we publish a lot of speculative fiction--sf and paranormal. But it's erotica too, or primarily. Lots of sf romance can be modified or intensified to work for us, and when we get a story like that, we suggest the revisions which will make it more right for us. (No, we are not going to publish something wonderful but not right for us. That's reality.) It is not an intrusion on author authority to suggest the changes that will make the story more erotica and less standard sf.

I was at a conference once, on a panel about Beginnings, and I made a big point that I didn't want three chapters of worldbuilding before the romance gets going, that the setting information should be developed in with the story. A science fiction editor was also on the panel, and she laughed and said she DID want three chapters of worldbuilding, because that's what her readers were looking for.

The anecdote about worldbuilding vs. romance struck me as one of the conundrums of science fiction romance. However, I think we’d all agree that a good SFR doesn’t necessarily need three chapters of worldbuilding. Personally, I wouldn’t complain if it were there, but other readers might get antsy if the romance doesn’t start in the first chapter—or even the first scene.

More so than worldbuilding, the observation above made me wonder about that first meeting between hero and heroine. Catherine Asaro’s ALPHA and Wen Spencer’s ENDLESS BLUE both feature romances, but the couples don’t meet until a few chapters into each book. Made me wonder how much of a deal breaker that kind of structure is for some readers, no matter how splendid the romance. And yet there are romances of varying genres wherein the h/h meet in the first chapter, but are apart until the Happily Ever After. Is there really that much of a difference?

With that in mind, I’d like to open this up to discussion. Here are my questions:

For science fiction romance, how crucial is it for you that the hero and heroine meet in the first chapter? (I’m assuming, of course, that even if they haven’t met, the reader is spending time with either the hero or the heroine until then).

To what extent should authors follow their muses vs. craft stories according to market demands regarding that first meeting?

Joyfully yours,