Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Romance Writers Guide To Lists

I love lists.

I love writing to do lists and checking each item off.
I love informational lists too.

The January 2009 issue of Real Simple magazine is devoted to lists. Alas, not romance and romance writer lists.

Today in Seekerville, we correct that omission.

Romance Lists

Top Ten Romantic Comedies

  1. 1.City Lights
  2. Annie Hall
  3. It Happened One Night
  4. Roman Holiday
  5. The Philadelphia Story
  6. When Harry Met Sally
  7. Adam's Rib
  8. Moonstruck
  9. Harold and Maude
  10. Sleepless In Seattle

Top Romance Classics

My list in random order.
1. Princess Bride
2. When Harry Met Sally
3. Jerry Maguire
4. Working Girl
5. Moonstruck
6. Hope Floats
7. An Affair to Remember
8. Casablanca
9. Sabrina
10. Sleepless in Seattle
11. While You Were Sleeping
12. Ghost
13. The Way We Were
14. Breakfast at Tiffany's
15. An Officer and A Gentleman
16. West Side Story
17. Top Gun
18. Becoming Jane
19. Emma
20. Pride and Prejudice
21. Out of Sight
22. The Big Easy
23. Gone With The Wind
24. The Thomas Crown Affair
25. Bull Durham

Memorable Romantic Movie Lines

Take love, multiply it by infinity and take it to the depths of forever.. and you still have only a glimpse of how I feel for you.~ Meet Joe Black

I love that you get cold when it is 71 degrees out. I love that it takes you an hour and a half to order a sandwich. I love that you get a little crinkle in your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.~ When Harry Met Sally

I love him! I love him for the man he wants to be. And I love him for the man he almost is.~Jerry Maguire

You... you complete me.~ Jerry Maguire.

Since the invention of the kiss, there have only been five kisses that were rated the most passionate, the most pure. This one left them all behind.~Princess Bride

Have you never met a woman who inspires you to love? Until your every sense is filled with her? You inhale her. You taste her. You see your unborn children in her eyes and know that your heart has at last found a home. Your life begins with her, and without her it must surely end.~Don Juan DeMarco

Well, it was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were suppose to be together... and I knew it. I knew it the very first time I touched her. It was like coming home... only to no home I'd ever known... I was just taking her hand to help her out of a car and I knew. It was like... magic. ~Sleepless in Seattle

Top 100 Romance Novels of The 20th Century
by the readers of The Romance Reader. Here are the first 20:

1. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
2. Dream Man by Linda Howard
3. It Had to Be You by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
4. McKenzie’s Mountain by Linda Howard
5. Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Devereaux
6. Flowers from the Storm by Laura Kinsale
7. The Bride by Julie Garwood
8. Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
9. Nobody’s Baby But Mine by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
10. Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer
11. Whitney, My Love by Judith McNaught
12. Naked in Death by J. D. Robb
13. Shanna by Kathleen Woodiwiss
14. Honor’s Splendor by Julie Garwood
15. Paradise by Judith McNaught
16. Almost Heaven by Judith McNaught
17. Heaven, Texas by Susan Elizabeth Phillips
18. The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen Woodiwiss
19. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
20. Born in Fire by Nora Roberts

  • Romance fiction: $1.375 billion in estimated revenue for 2007
  • Religion/inspirational: $819 million
  • Science fiction/fantasy: $700 million
  • Mystery: $650 million
  • Classic literary fiction: $466 million
The Subgenres Within The Romance Publishing Industry (as defined by RWA):

  • Contemporary Series
  • Historical
  • Inspirational
  • Novels with Strong Romantic Elements
  • Paranormal
  • Regency
  • Romantic SuspenseYoung Adult

Book Lists:

New York Times Fiction

Barnes & Noble Top 100 In Books

Publisher's Weekly Fiction Bestseller List

The RITA Awards
ECPA Bestsellers

The National INDIE Bestsellers

USA Today Bestsellers

CBA Bestseller Lists

The 20 Master Plots by Ronald B Tobias

1. Quest
2. Adventure
3. Pursuit
4. Rescue
5. Escape
6. Revenge
7. The Riddle
8. Rivalry
9. Underdog
10. Temptation
11. Metamorphosis
12. Transformation
13. Maturation
14. Love
15. Forbidden Love
16. Sacrifice
17. Discovery
18. Wretched Excess
19 & 20. Ascension and Descension

Resource Books for Writers

Goal, Motivation & Conflict by Debra Dixon

Scene & Structure by Jack Bickham

Write Tight by William Brohaugh

No More Rejections by Alice Orr

Creating Unforgetabble Characters by Linda Seger

Characters, Emotions & Viewpoint by Nancy Kress

Creating Characters by Dwight V Swain

Fiction is Folks by Robert Newton Peck

The Comic Toolbox by Joh Vorhaus

Screenplay by Sid Field

How to Tell a Story by Peter Rubie and Gary Provost

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

Plot by Anson Dibell

Writing the Novel by Lawrence Block

Making a Good Script Great by Linda Seger

Writing the Romantic Comedy by Billy Mernit

The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler

No Plot, No Problem by Chris Baty

Deep Writing by Eric Maisel

Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain

38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes by Jack Bickham

And finally, because you are my friends,
I am going to share my very own To Do List:

1. Get off Unpubbed Island

2. If I can't get off Unpubbed Island get rid of Seeker who snores

3. Buy Armani suits in charcoal so I look more like Nora

4. Practice signing my name with flair

5. See if Susan Elizabeth Phillips wants to collaborate on a book

6. Ask my grandmother to stop writing on my wall on Facebook

7. Send Crystal Laine Miller chocolate and often

8. Remind my agent who I am

9. Find high school year book photo for my Press Kit

10. Write six books


Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, Tina! I knew this was YOUR post before I even got down to your name. I'm a list lover, too -- especially checklists!

I think for favorite movies I'd add "A Holiday Affair" -- the TV-made one with David James Elliot! And "Don't Tell Her It's Me."

Oh, and I'm hoping I'M the Seeker who snores as I'd be more than happy to escape from Unpubbed Island to accommodate you. :)

Jessica said...

You're so funny! Thanks for making me smile, both with your comments and with those wonderful lists of romance stuff.
I'm totally copying that master plot list.

Tina M. Russo said...


Today is just for fun.

Adding your movies to the list Glynna.

I was going to add a list of heroes we want to be stuck on Unpubbed Island with but couldn't think of very many---are heroes disappearing?


Glynna Kaye said...

Oh, and add Will Smith's "Hitched" to the list. Another goodie.

Debra E Marvin said...

oh yes! What a treat! I love lists almost as much as I love a romantic movie or novel! Great movie quotes!
(I've been trying to think of what Rhett says to Scarlet before he carries her up the staircase.)

Thanks, Tina

My current favorite romance movie is the BBC's Persuasion. I know it was snubbed by the purists, but there are times during that movie that I think my poor little heart will break and I have to remember to take a breath.
And Captain Wentworth? sigh

Ann said...

As far as heroes ... I think we need Antonio Banderas.

And a dance band and most of the peeps from Dancing with The Stars here on the island.

Can you tell we're snowed in with below-zero windchills here?

The factoid that leaped out at me: romance dominates in sales, followed by religious/inspirational.

Tnaks for putting the lists together!

I'll put the coffee on.

Julie Lessman said...

Oh, Tina, Tina, I just LOVE your blogs!! And talk about voice!! Like Glynna, I knew IMMEDIATELY that this was written by you!

But I have to admit that my heart stopped in my chest until I finally reached the bottom of your list for Top Romance Classics and saw Gone With the Wind. Dear Lord, I hope they are not in top order!! Although having Breakfast at Tiffany's could have saved your butt on that one.

And I am afraid I am in reluctant agreement with Diana Gabaldon topping the list (should have been Margaret Mitchell, who doesn't even appear -- what's wrong with these people????). After GWTW, the Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon is the best romance I have ever read. So much so that the woman put me into depression when I hit the wall writing my book 3. I actually had to fast all Gabaldon books for six months because when I would read my stuff, I wanted to puke on the keyboard after reading hers. But, uh, I'm over it now. :)

GREAT POST, Teenster!


Julie Lessman said...


The line that Rhett says while carrying Scarlett up the staircase is, "This is one night you're not turning me out."

Sigh. What a romance. What a book. What a movie!!


Crystal Laine Miller said...

Tina, I LOVE your lists. And if sending me chocolate would help you get off Unpubbed Island, I'd have you send me some, but really, this list was so good, I copied it to my files! (So ALMOST as good as chocolate.)

And if romance is your genre, I'm your girl! (amongst other genres, but I do love a good romance.)

I would love to have a top romance inspirationals list. There are quite a few of those authors right here in Seekerville.

And who in Seekerville snores? Inquiring minds want to know!

Kimberli said...

Well that was fun. Thank you, Tina.

Doesn't Scarlet Pimpernel fall under the romance genre? I love the book and thought it was terribly romantic.

And hey, I got that "sign name with flare" down pat!

Glynna Kaye said...

Ooh, yes, Kimberli -- "The Scarlet Pimpernel." Book & the movie with Jane Seymour and Anthony Andrews!

Tina M. Russo said...

Debra! Yes I love Persuasion.

Julie here is Margaret Mitchell's To Do List:

1. Write Sequel to GWTW-->tomorrow
2. Find out if Scarlett has a separated at birth sister named Crimson-->do it tomorrow.

3. Avoid walking across the street --> tomorrow.

Janet Dean said...

What fun! Thanks for the great list of lists, Tina!

Time has come for all Seekers to leave Unpubbed Island--before someone gets hurt. May this be the year!!!!


Tina Pinson said...


boy, I like that name . . .

Reading your lists gave me an escape from the daunting list that looms before me at work. Clue: Tax season, own our own business

Several of the Romances I love were on your list. With all the others talking about how they shared their love of many of those same stories, I thought it was important to make a list as to why certain stories stay with us. I started with the following.

1. They touch us deeply
2. We can paint ourselves into the story through dreams.
3. They are timeless.
4. We understand the hero and heroine.
5. We are the character, or we'd like to be. And say all those memorable lines instead of stuttering and falling over thought. (Okay so that's kudos to the writer)
6. They transport us....

As far as a hero to be my castaway partner...
that's a tough one.

Maybe someone like Tom Selleck as Quiqley. easy to look at, and he'll protect and provide.

Who knows . . . I'd probably end up with Gilligan.

Mary Connealy said...

Love the lists.

First reaction?
The sci-fi fantasy numbers? of $700 million? Erase J.K. Rowling and those Twilight books and that number drops to about $57.92

Vince said...

Hi Tina:

Thanks for your lists. I’ve read many of the books you recommend and I have one more suggestion. It’s my favorite Romance Writing book.

“Kate Walker’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance”, Kate Walker, Second Edition, Studymates, c. 2008 , 265

This book is ideal for both beginners and published authors. Every aspect of the romance novel is covered and each chapter ends with a set of questions which act as a checklist for your work. These questions are like having an expert right there going over your work.

I don’t like the title to this book, however, because it makes it seem like it is just a little pamphlet featuring a checklist. Actually, this is a very comprehensive book about writing romance and would make an ideal textbook for teaching a college course.

BTW, I’m not related to Kate Walker but I admire her because she actually practices what she teachers in her writing book. It’s a great learning tool to read this book at the same time you are reading a Kate Walker romance. If you do this, you should get a lot of “Oh, that’s what she is talking about!” experiences.



Mary Connealy said...

Okay, now I've got a list to books to read. I've read about half of them already and they're good ones. Thought, to me, several aren't the best work those authors have done.

Patricia W. said...

Good lists, Tina.

By "get rid of", did you mean "replace" or "do away with"? This is not a crime or suspense fiction site, so I'll give you the benefit of the doubt. :>)

Julie Lessman said...

Grin, Tina, love the list for Margaret Mitchell!! Thanks, sweetie. :)


Tina M. Russo said...

ha ha Patricia..I meant I am going to get them sold so I can get some sleep.

Vince..that books sounds great..adding it my Amazon wish list.

Tina M. Russo said...


See I wanted to put Tom Selleck but does anyone appreciate him the way he should really be appreciated??

Gina Welborn said...

I won't comment on the lists...other than to say they were interesting and just like Tina to share.

Julie, just between you and me, I fell asleep during the first half of GWTW. And any book that makes me have to read it aloud so I can figure out the dialect isn't a book for me. Uggh. Oh, don't take my dislike of the movie personally. I have, upon more than one occasion, fallen asleep in church.

Anyhoo, Tina, thanks for the lists. I'm going to request several of the books from the library. Cool thing about our local library is they have a Drive-thru window. I just drive up and collect my books. Fantabulous!

Plus I need to mark which CoW (Craft of Writing) books I have and which I need to get.

Gina Welborn said...

Okay, I've given it some thought and I'm going to comment on the lists. Sorta. Not all because some are factual and can't be disputed. :-)

I cool with lists.

In fact, I have a "To Do" list next to my computer. I've done half of the 19 things on the list. Granted, it's taken me two days to do them, but at least I've gotten them done. Oddly, most aren't the necessary things. Drat.

Okay, back to lists.

A "To Do" list is a non-emotionally involved thing. Laundry must be done whether I want to do it or not.

A "To Do" list is also an evolving thing. I can choose to potty train the toddler this week, or I can put it off another year. The world won't end if I delay the task. Although my mom would probably quit sending me the not-so-subtle hints if I potty-trained the critter soon.

A "Top Ten/Twenty/Etc" List is...well, emotionally involved as well as evolving. Lists change because people change. However, if I had to chose one adjective to describe a Top XX List, I'd say they're always completely biased.

Sure the AFI choses CITY LIGHTS as the most romantic movie, but is it? Seriously, how many people have seen the movie? For some unknown reason, the folks at AFI think that movie is the most romantic one of all time. Seriously doubtful. Really. If it was such a romantic movie, then why have only 1 out of a 1000 people seen it.

In this week's "Entertainment Weekly" is an article on the Oscars. The reporter(s) evaluated Best Picture and the acting winners for four different years (5 yrs ago, 10, 15, and 20). He/they evaluated the winners and did a poll among Academy members to see if the same movies/actors would win. Not all did. Pretty fascinating. Poor Gwynth Paltrow. She, deservingly so, lost her Oscar to Cate Blanchett.

Clearly, time has not proven the lasting power of the work.

I've seen many of the movies on Tina's Top Romantic Comedies list. Most of those were years ago. I wonder if who I am at 38 would find them just as romantic as who I was at 20.

(Let me take a moment to give Tina a standing O for not putting the utterly stupid PRETTY WOMAN on the list.)

In the case of WORKING GIRL, I can say yes because I saw it about a year ago and still like the movie despite Melanie Griffith's blonde afro and the gratitious scene of her vacuuming while going bra-less.

WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING moves up my list ever time I see it.

Might I add Adam Sandler's MR. DEEDS, 50 FIRST DATES, and the every funny THE WEDDING SINGER. Not to mention BEAUTY AND THE BEAST and WALL-E.

Anyhoo, back to my point.

A "Top Ten" list is fun to read, but when reading them, we should keep in mind they are completely biased. And that's fine.

I personally thought OUTLANDER was as much a snooze-fest as GWTW. Doesn't mean I'm not romantic. Could mean I'm overly picky. (Note to self: Add "quite being so overly picky" to 2009 To Do list.)

While I highly enjoyed KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOR by Jude D, I thought WHITNEY, MY LOVE by Judith McNaught was fan-freakin'-awful crapfest. The story takes forever to begin. Then, near the end, hero rapes the heroine and she forgives him as if it's no big deal. He'd obviously been understress and she had, after all, pushed him to it, so how could she fault him? I found very little redeeming virtues in the hero, while the heroine was insipid pee-brain self-absorbed chit.

Sometimes I think books repeatedly make Top Ten lists on reputation...not careful examination.

The book that probably deserves to be at the top of the list is FLOWERS IN THE STORM by Laura Kinsale. If you haven't read it, do so. My only ilk with the story is that the leads seem to react to eveything that happens instead of being proactive with individual story goals. Still, an emotionally powerful story.

I'd say just my 2 cents, but my word verification is qutor.

So I'll say...

Just my quarter of cents.

Gina Welborn said...

Lemme add something else.

Top Ten/Twenty/Etc List should be fun, should encourage conversation and debate.

What is it about your favorite movies and books that make them your favorite, that lead you to watch or read them over and over again?

My husband has been wanting to watch DARK KNIGHT again, but our oldest son refuses to watch it again. He says we saw it at an IMAX theatre. Seeing it on the small screen won't be the same and he doesn't want to ruin his memories.

Maybe I should watch GWTW again. Isn't it time I ruin that movie experience? Could be now that I'm older I'd enjoy the movie more.

What about a list of our favorite Romantic Suspenses?

Bourne Identity
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Romancing the Stone

One of my favorite romances isn't even a romance.

Monsters, Inc.

First, forget the "heroine" Boo is only 3-yrs-old, look at the emotional arc of the "hero" Sully. The love he felt for her changed him as a monster and changed his goals as a...well, monster. His love was never selfish. I cry everytime I see the movie. My kids think I'm nutso.

Missy Tippens said...

Oh, I knew it was Tina as soon as I started reading! I always know. Tina, my girl, even while publishing novels, you need to be writing columns for newspapers or magazines! You have a perfect voice for it.

I loved your lists. And I especially loved your very own to-do list. :) But I think you accidentally left me off there. Just add me in with Crystal for the chocolate. :)

Missy Tippens said...

By the way, has anyone done much with the 20 master plots? I'd be interested to see how you used it. I own the book but haven't studied it yet.


Tina Pinson said...

I digress probably, but continuing Gina's thought . . .

What about "Where the Red Fern Grows"

As for MR. Selleck on the island with me. I think it is his character qualities that are a draw.
He seems
Sure of himself without being overly arrogant or hung up on himself.

the kind of prince we'd all like our hero to reach once he's gone through his beast faze perhaps

Audra Harders said...

LOL, I'll need to find my high school picture and use that, too : ) Great lists, Tina. Although I have to say, I'm disappointed that *You've Got Mail* didn't make any of the lists. It's right up there with Sleepless In Seattle!

Thanks for the grins today, T!

Anne Barton said...

Tina, you're sooo funny. Especially your to do list. And I love that your grandmother has a Facebook and writes on your wall. :)

You (and your Nana) rock!

Tina M. Russo said...

Tom Hanks was too bloated in You've Got Mail.

But I do love the movie!!

Tina M. Russo said...

Gina, we have discussed this before in therapy. You need to stop holding back and really share your innermost thoughts.

Here's a toast to insipid, too stupid to live heroines!!

Patty Wysong said...

I'm a list person, too, the big draw back is that I lose my lists as I drag them here-there-and-yonder in my rush to be able to cross things off. LoL. And Tina, I'll vote for Tom Selleck!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

You missed one of my favorites: A Walk in The Clouds.

Susan :)

Anonymous said...

i loved your lists. my personal favorite romance line from a film is as follows:

"you're everything i never knew i always wanted"
from Fools Rush In


Vince said...

Hi Tina:

You did great. Reading these posts has been really fun. I needed something funny like this today with business the way it is

My favorite line is from Superman.

Lois Lane is falling from a high rise building when Superman catches her in mid-air and says, “Don’t worry I’ve got you.”

She says, “Yea, but who’s got you?”

It’s like she wasn’t prepared to suspend disbelief like everyone else in the movie was.

My all time favorite Romantic movie (Romantic as opposed to Romance) is:

Elvira Madigan

It would be hard to film a more beautiful movie.


Tina M. Russo said...


Vince, I will have to check out your movie.

Oh, great line from Fools Rush In!!!

Sandra Leesmith said...

Loved the lists Tina. The 20 plots always blows me away. Are there really ONLY 20. And how many ways can we find those twenty?


Cheryl Wyatt said...

COOL! I (being OCD) LOVE lists!


Alexandra said...

You forgot Somewhere in Time. It's my all-time favorite...could watch it over and over (and have on occasions)

The Scarlet Pimpernel...the Anthony Andews/Jane Seymour version is the one-and-only best one...

A Room with a View (the one with Maggie Smith and Judi Dench and Denholm Elliot...) No one had that one on there either.

I was glad to see West Side Story and Princess Bride on there, though.

Love your lists!!! And loved 20 Master Plots. Great book...get brainstorming ideas just reading it.