I wish I had a recipe to share with you, but for the most part, the folks in our family (Grandpa included!) are big fans of the wing-it method. You peel and slice some apples, throw them into a pie crust, add butter, sugar and cinnamon and pop it into the oven. You just make it so it tastes good.
I think many would look at writing the same way. So many people try to say that romance is formulaic, that it’s all the same. Yes, we know there have to be certain ingredients (a pause here while we silently recount the criteria for a romance novel to ourselves), but it’s hardly a strict recipe. Some prefer the sweeter side, while others go a bit spicy.
The only way you’re ever going to know what “tastes good” is by reading a ton of books in the genre. What are the trends? What makes certain heroes more drool-worthy than others? What traits leave a bad taste in the mouth? What’s already been done? How can you take a theme that is popular and give it your own twist? You want to stay familiar enough to be accessible yet have a bit of a surprise element to give the book your own stamp.
Winging it doesn’t mean you’re throwing elements together without a plan. It means you’ve done enough research to know what works and what doesn’t. It means you’ve carefully studied the books on the bestseller lists, worked to identify the themes that make them so appealing, and then found a way to incorporate similar elements into your own writing, while still maintaining a unique flavor. Not exactly “as easy as pie,” but when done right, the effort will be so worthwhile.
Hope you all have a delicious Thanksgiving!