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Perfect on Paper: How to use a Plot Device


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Amazon.com: Perfect on Paper: A Novel: 9781250769787: Gonzales, Sophie:  BooksElevate the mundane with an expertly-crafted plot device!

I suppose it's no secret how much I enjoy a good romcom. If an author can make me laugh while also providing some of the romantic warm and fuzzies, then here, take my money!

But the problem is that romance is heavily trodden ground. It's incredibly hard to find something that hasn't been done a thousand times, and better. In the game of publishing statistics, the odds of writing a novel romance (pun intended) are against you.

Enter: plot devices.

Perfect on Paper by Sophie Gonzales has a lot of tropey elements. The story revolves around sassy and smart Darcy Phillips who is blackmailed into helping sexy Australian Brougham get his ex-girlfriend back. What follows is a sort of love-square, where Darcy is in love with her best friend and Brougham is in love with his ex-girlfriend and shenanigans ensue that keep both of them from who they want, only to have them fall in love with each other instead. It's got LGBT representation and the intriguing backdrop of an expensive private school for spice.

But what really makes this teen romcom stand out is Darcy's side-business of answering anonymous letters from her fellow classmates and helping them solve their problems.

As a plot device, this works exceedingly well to elevate what would have been a ho-hum story of missed timing into a tense and interesting drama. Not only do Darcy's misadventures in giving advice add complexity to the tale, they also provide opportunities for characterization, heightened stakes as you wonder whether or not she'll get caught, a compelling backstory that could come between her and her love interest, and a reason for the whole story to kick off (Brougham discovering Darcy's secret and threatening to expose her unless she helps him).

It might sound like a simple fix, and it is! But so many writers would stop at the first level, building a handful of engaging protagonists in loving detail without considering what will make them stand out in a crowded market. Your writing can be gorgeous, your heroes sympathetic and funny, your setting amazing.

But sometimes (often) that's not enough.

So give your novel that extra something. Who knows? Maybe it's all you need to go from querying trenches to bestseller success!

Have you considered a plot device? What are you using to elevate your story?

Let us know in the comments!

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