This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. PJ will be awarding an eBook copy of “Thin Ice” to one commenter at each stop and a $25 Amazon or BN GC to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour. To see the other stops on the tour, click on the tour banner above.

5-10 musts every story/romance should have
I LOVE this topic. Thanks for having me here today.

Every story/romance should have the following:

1) Romance! I know; I’m cheating. But one of the most compelling parts of any story is the relationships the main character has with others. How our heroine deals with family, friends, co-workers, and even pets shows us so much about their personality and can make us love or hate them, root for them, or toss the book aside. For me, the most revealing traits come out when you drop a character into the middle of a potential love relationship. All of their hopes, dreams, fears, and flaws rise to the surface, forcing them to face who they are down deep. When I read a good romance, I fall in love right along with the characters, and I get to relive all those firsts that made my heart go pitter-patter.

2) Conflict! Without conflict—that thing both internally and externally that keeps your character from getting what they want—there is no story. We turn the page to see how our hero/heroine will fight through whatever road blocks they encounter on their way to reaching their goal of a happily ever after end. Conflict is king!

3) Drama! I don’t know about you, but I love watching a good drama unfold—as long as it’s in someone else’s life, LOL. Stories that evoke emotion are fraught with ups and downs that draw a reader into the story as if they are on the same roller coaster ride of angst our hero/heroine is dealing with. In order to care about her/his plight, we need to be sucked into the story and invested in seeing them come through it.

4) Action! There’s nothing that keeps me reading like a good fight scene, explosion, or life and death situation. I love it when words on a page make my heart race and have me sitting on the edge of my seat waiting to see how our hero/heroine will make it out of whatever danger they are in. I’ll note here that action scenes are as fun to write as they are to read.

5) Tension! You might think this is the same as conflict or action, but I’m talking about the tension that develops between characters who are conflicted emotionally about opening their heart to someone. Falling in love is a dangerous business. It’s great to watch the slow build of a relationship, with steamy scenes that escalate in intensity, heartbreaking disappointments when the relationship is thrown a curve, and the resolution that inevitably happens that allows the hero and heroine to find each other in the end. I might add that sexual tension doesn’t always have to lead to sex to be satisfying. I write YA, so there is lots of sexual tension between my characters, but I don’t have them consummate the relationship unless it’s integral to the story.

6) Villain! There has to be something or someone standing in the way of our hero/heroine’s happiness, and it can’t just be about their fear of commitment. Villains are like the spice you add to the recipe to make the flavor pop. A good villain gives our hero/heroine common ground. They have to team up to overcome some great evil, which just makes our characters that much more noble and appealing. It also adds an element of danger and a chance for our main characters to come to each other’s rescue, showing them and us how much they really mean to each other. Villains need to be formidable adversaries, though, or they are just a foil on the page.

7) Redemption! As part of our character arc, we want to see growth from the beginning to the end of a story. Our characters start with some fatal flaw that holds them back and will inevitably lead them to a dark moment when they have to face their failure and own up to mistakes. I think this is one of the most integral parts to creating believable characters. If they are perfect, it’s impossible to identify with them or care about their struggles. But once they’ve overcome that flaw, we can stand beside them with a sense of pride and satisfaction, knowing that there is also hope and a chance for our own redemption.

8) Humor! I love it when an author interjects some humor into a story just at the perfect moment. It gives the reader a break from those intense moments that evoke fear, longing, sadness, or even tears. To have a fully satisfying platter of emotion, you can’t forget about dessert, which for me includes a good laugh.

9) Lesson! This is especially true in YA literature, but even in adult fiction, I expect to come out learning something valuable from the story. If my character has not gained some wisdom or knowledge, I feel a bit cheated. Growth is about learning from life and putting that experience to good use in becoming a better human being. Characters who don’t grow are uninteresting for me, and I find it harder to care about their story.

10) HEA! Every story, in my opinion, needs a happily (or at least a hopefully) ever after ending. I mean seriously—without that, what’s the point?

About the Author:

I knew I would be a writer someday when I was a little girl sitting on my grandpa’s knee and telling him stories that he would help me put on paper. By the time I entered kindergarten I could already read and write, and I couldn’t wait to look up new words every morning in the ginormous Webster’s Dictionary that sat in the book case at the bottom of our stairs. I would get on the bus and ask my friends, “Do you know what pulchritudinous means?” Between that and challenging the boys to push-up contests at the bus stop, I mostly sat alone on those bus rides to school. But that just meant I had more time to make up stories.

I went on to many other endeavors in life, including the world of figure skating, and later, earning a black belt in martial arts. Though I was a mom at seventeen, I did manage to finish school and somehow made it through college, earning a degree as a Physical Therapy Assistant. After nineteen years, two sons, a divorce, and some fairly lean years, I found that it’s true what they say about life beginning at forty. It was about that time when I reunited with the love of my life and worked my way to owning my own business as a Massage Therapist, Personal Trainer, and Yoga Instructor—all of my favorite things. To make my bliss complete, I moved out to the Berkshires and found my muse waiting for me there amongst the lilacs and humming birds.

I now write Extraordinary Stories of an Average Teenage Life in order to share hope with others, especially teens, that no matter how tough life gets, there is always a bright spot waiting just around the corner. My published books include the award winning YA Novels, HEAVEN IS FOR HEROES, ON THIN ICE, and SAVAGE CINDERELLA, available through Amazon and B&N Booksellers.

Find PJ online at

Amazon Author Central

In the year 2057, in a post-apocalyptic world where a global shift threatens the remainder of the population with extinction, sixteen-year-old genetically enhanced Lily Charmichael has more immediate problems. Her uncle is dying of cancer and her healing abilities are ineffective against the blood ties that bind them. In order to find a cure, Lily must leave the protection of her quiet town and journey into the trading city of Albany, all while avoiding the Industry, an agency that would like nothing better than to study and exploit her abilities.

Seventeen-year-old Will Callahan has been searching for his father since severe storms blasted through the Midwest, killing his mother and sister. When he learns that his father may be in the city, he catches a ride with Lily, a girl who has come to his rescue more than once. As the two embark on a dangerous journey, the attraction between them grows. But the secrets Will’s keeping could put her in far more danger than traveling to the city with him, and if he was any kind of man, he would have told her to run the minute she found him.


  1. Thank you for hosting PJ today.

  2. Thanks so much for having me today. I loved coming up with this top ten list. I hope your readers enjoy it! I’d love to hear what others think about what makes a story. Did I miss anything?

  3. All so important. I love a touch of humor in my reads.


  4. Laughter makes the world a better place, doesn’t it, Mary? I love romantic comedies by writers like Kristan Higgins who can make me laugh and cry simultaneously.

  5. My husband makes me laugh every day. Love a guy with a sense of humor.

  6. I love the list, thank you for sharing. Laughter is very important and it is also very good for you.

  7. Absolutely, Roxy! If not for the laughter, the tears would take over, right? Thanks for stopping in Roxy and Kit!

  8. Laughter does make everything better. I love laughter.
    debby236 at gmail dot com

  9. Thanks for the comment, Deb. That’s the consensus–laughter is the best medicine and a necessary ingredient to a good romance, both on and off the page.

  10. PJ~

    Very accurate list. And I agree, you hafta have a little humor even with a serious topic. It makes the story more human IMO.

  11. I agree with your musts. YES, I want drama and tension. Without them, it would be kind of boring. And I must have some humor–a sassy heroine and a hero who can laugh at himself and crazy situations. I like quick, funny banter between the characters.
    catherinelee100 at gmail dot com

  12. Pretty much what everyone else said. Love some humor mixed in with my tension. 🙂 Great list, PJ!

  13. Thanks for chiming in, @Lynda,@Catherine, and @Stacey.

  14. Thanks for having PJ with you today. I love action and humor in my stories.

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