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The Director's Chair Issue #41 – Jan. 7, 2004 (55 Story Elements for Writing Romance)

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January 7, 2004          Scene 5 – Take 1

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1.  Introduction
2.  Action-Cut-Print!
3.  Feature Article – 55 Story Elements for Writing Romance
4.  Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
5.  Quote of the Month
6.  Out Takes – Movie Cliches: Money
7.  Share This Ezine
8.  Suggestions & Comments
9.  Subscribe & Unsubscribe Information
10. Copyright Information


Welcome to Issue #41 of The Director’s Chair (January 7, 2004).

1) There was no December 2003 issue

2) THE FEATURE ARTICLE – 55 Story Elements for Writing Romance

3) VOLUNTEERS NEEDED – If you would like to contribute articles,
tips, links of interest, industry news, interviews, special event
dates or other resources to The Director’s Chair please email:



Peter D. Marshall

2. ACTION-CUT-PRINT! –  A Website for Filmmakers

If you are a Film or TV Director; a working professional who
wants to Direct; a film student who wants to learn more about
Directing; or a “student of film” who just wants to know more
about Filmmaking from the pros, Action-Cut-Print! is for you!

Take a moment now to visit http://www.actioncutprint.com where
you will find over 1200 Online Resources for Filmmakers, a Film
and TV Bookstore and Film Directing Workshops.

3. FEATURE ARTICLE – 55 Story Elements for Writing Romance

Over the years, I have accumulated many elements and concepts for
writing a romance script or novel. I have taken these elements
from countless books and articles. The following is a collection
of 55 elements to help you write a romance script or novel.

1. sexual love is one of the great romantic themes along with

2. the mythic element in romance is vital

3. romance stories should contain symbolic representation of
good and evil

4. romance is written primarily to entertain: it absorbs the
reader into experiences which are otherwise unattainable – it
oversteps the limits by which life is normally bounded

5. travel motifs: the traveler represents the evolving unity
of experience – as he passes through an “exterior environment”,
he undergoes an “inner development”

6. the individual spirit in conflict with society – a society
which the individual may reject but cannot escape for he depends
upon it for his very existence as a human being

7. absorbed with the ideal of romance (it has an element of
prophecy) it remakes the world in the image of desire

8. the force of the subconscious: it thrives on allegory and
dream to involve what is mythic within our own world

9. two primary impulses: to imitate daily life/to transcend
daily life

10. the modern story is preoccupied with representing and
interpreting a known world (concentrates on “actual”

11. the modern romance story is preoccupied with making
apparent the hidden dreams of the known world (concentrates on
“ideal” possibilities)

12. romance stories are always concerned with the fulfillment
of desires; especially desires which cannot find controlled
expression within a society

13. romance explores the fertile darkness beneath the surface
of personality

14. it affords intimacy with what is obscure in all of us

15. it concentrates intently upon certain themes until they
have taken fire and seem to be the flame of life itself

16. the ideal world (society) is shown in imaginative
perfection which can never be attained in life

17. it thrives on psychic responsibilities; it shows us the

18. love and adventure are presented through a ritualized code
of conduct

19. combat is not the central crisis; the emphasis is on
various forms of love

20. two universal impulses in romance fiction – aspiring
towards the ideal and accepting authority

21. two characters need each other to interpret the world

22. the illusions of life can end only with death because they
inform all our perceptions

23. it explores the fertile darkness beneath the surface of
personality. It affords intimacy with what is obscure in us

24. the world is preoccupied with complex moral issues, acted
out by characters living according to a conscious code of conduct

25. they instruct us on our own world even while they allow us
to escape from it

26. it tells stories of the heart in search of love and
adventures of the heart

27. a view of life as an individual seeking and journeying.
From a “man lost in a crowd” to “the spiritual growth of the
individual in a newly discovered area of freedom”

28. the inward quest: a man must get to know himself

29. it contains a great sense of common’ objective (ideal) It
is at once universal and quite individual

30. heroes of romance seek solitude for the exercise of their
essential virtue

31. romance stories contain individual moments of great
dramatic intensity

32. repetition with variation – an unequaled means of
heightening drama

33. the psychological situation: the conflict is within the
lovers’ hearts, not inside them. The story consists in revealing
the world of duties, scruples, and delicate hesitations which is
the essence of love

34. reason is inconsistent with the dictates of love – reason
does not reach the heart

35. the subtle balance between the two duties (the dictates of
reason/the dictates of love) is what motivates both the hero’s
hesitation and his action

36. in writing romance, the urge is not merely to move and
impress, but to understand

37. romance stories depend on the proper working upon the
unpredictable nature of chivalric combats and the equal chances
for victory and defeat

38. in tragic love, the protagonist dies

39. question: what is the source and symbol of eternal love?

40. question: what event keeps the lovers apart?

41. tragedy does not exist where a sinner is justly punished

42. emotions show a sense of futility of the noblest endeavor
in face of the uncontrollable forces which govern man’s destiny

43. the tragic doom is deepened by the shadows which destiny
casts upon the whole range of human life

44. the tragic hero: he must be of high standing; he must
oppose some conflicting force (external or internal); he should
have a tragic flaw ( an excess of a certain character trait);
this flaw leads to his downfall and, because of his status, the
downfall of others

45. the central view of all Romantic artists: growth/

46. romantic stories give great importance to individualism,
to human relatedness, to discrimination, to passion

47. the effect is to alleviate our concerns for individual
characters while enmeshing us more completely into their world

48. the impulse to idealize/the impulse to imitate

49. the subjectivism of romance has become the common artistic
attitude (the remote and exotic are harbored in each of us)

50. a romance story maintains an emotional tone of the
narrative and that the final catastrophe emerges, not out of an
articulated casual scheme, but with heightened intensity, out of
a series of logically unconnected but emotionally significant
events and situations

51. contemporary morals or properties do not dictate the
structure and composition of the romance

52. the moral basis of human existence, disturbed and
threatened, is capable of being redeemed from hate and chaos.
That redemption occurs, not from the state or the church, but in
the ideal love of two young people for each other

53. hints of tragedy help to increase the suspense (and irony)
of the story

54. a romantic tragedy, like Romeo and Juliet, can end on a
note of hope – the lives of the lovers are burnt up, but the end
of the story is optimistic: the tragedy has left things better
than they were at the start of the story

55. in Romeo and Juliet, the lovers suffered, but the intent
of the suffering was a more transformation caused by the power of
ideal love, which may or may not have been fulfilled in sexual


To read back issues of The Director’s Chair, visit:


“Hate to shatter your ego, but this ain’t the first time I’ve had
a gun pointed at me.”

Samuel L. Jackson, “Pulp Fiction”

6. OUT TAKES – Movie Cliches: Money

– Gangster’s Briefcases either contain weapons or banknotes.
No one ever got coins at a robbery.

– Briefcases are designed to hold exactly three rows of
banknotes. As if it had power by itself money likes to be sorted
in nice packs and rows, even if it had been thrown into the
briefcase ba a terrified cashier at a bank.

– When you use a movie taxi don’t ever give any change.
Drivers won’t know what to do with it. Just say “thank you” when
you pay a bill, reach into your pocket without looking, take out
whatever note is in it – it will just fit.

– Same is true in restaurants. Checks are always designed to
be 15 percent under the sum the male customer has in his hands


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Peter D. Marshall
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