Writing a Mills & Boon novel – Part 3: Losing the plot

Guess what… I’ve written a chapter. A WHOLE chapter. I know. What happens? Well, nothing, obviously. There are no actual plots in Mills & Boon. Basically how it works is this:

It starts with a woman who meets a man. So far, so good. Of course, she initially hates him and thinks he hates her and to be fair he definitely acts as though he does, barely speaking to her and spending the rest of the time glowering and looking muscular. It goes on and on for pages about how beastly he is but somehow, despite all the glowering, she manages to fall in love with him. (There’s also usually a point when he has to swing by his gorgeous rustic farmhouse on the Amalfi coast and since she’s in the car or whatever, she might as well pop in too. This is what I like to call the Pemberley Moment.)

So then it goes on and on about how she can’t believe she’s managed to fall in love with someone so unsuitable even though it’s clearly because he’s got a massive wad and eyes that burn like cinders on a summer’s eve. And he starts to realise he might not be totally antithetic to her which is, like, so out of character for him and he has a bit of a meltdown about it and accuses her of something she hasn’t done. Such as getting seagulls to crap all over his Ferrari.

Now, here’s the annoying part. For some reason, instead of going “Er… no I didn’t. What the freaking hell are you on, Mister?” and just setting him straight there and then, she hangs her head and peers up at him from beneath thick eyelashes, matted with tears, and says “Well, of course you would think that.” So then they have to argue about it for about three chapters and it totally exposes the fire and chemistry between them and after a while it stops really being about seagull shit and generally becomes a metaphor for their passion.

But in the end he admits he loves her and amazingly it transpires he never hated her at all. Well, maybe a bit at the beginning but only because he had her all wrong and he’s super sorry about that now, of course. Though why didn’t she just say she didn’t have magical bird-whispering skills to begin with? And they laugh, and the whole thing just seems so silly now that they’re in love and who really cares about a 360 Modena anyway when you have the joy of making her smile and seeing that tiny dimple in her left cheek?

[I think a part of me just died inside.]

So it turns out he can love and actually he’s a very caring person generally, it’s just that she didn’t see that side of him before because… I don’t know, she’s a complete fuckhead, I suppose. I mean, she’s spent two to three weeks more or less solely in his company but somehow she completely misses any hint of this cool, funny, nice-guy side. Possibly he’s got a personality disorder. Or she has. It’s hard to say. Anyway, after that all there can possibly be left to do is to get married and/or have babies. The End.

P.S. I am not joking, this is what happens in every single Mills & Boon novel. There are subtle variations, of course and that’s where the fun really starts…


Next up: Writing a Mills & Boon novel – Part 4: Getting into character


Writing a Mills & Boon novel – Part 1: How hard can it be?

Writing a Mills & Boon novel – Part 2: Isn’t it supposed to be sexy?


3 thoughts on “Writing a Mills & Boon novel – Part 3: Losing the plot

  1. This is already so much better than mills and boon… incidentally, my A-Level English teacher did her undergrad dissertation on mills and boon. she also decided to read it aloud to our class two weeks before our a-level exam. Apparently that was more important/interesting than… you know… Shakespeare.

    • Two weeks is ages. You probably needed a break. Hate to say it but a lot more people read Mills & Boon than read Shakespeare. If we’re talking cultural importance then I might have to go with your English teacher on this one.

      As it happens, I have been thinking for some time that ‘pregnancy as happy ending’ (a very Mills & Boonian device) would make an interesting thesis…

  2. Pingback: Writing a Mills & Boon novel – The first draft « Francesca Da Rimini


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