Contemporary Romance "Family Series" Plot Template
Template: 29 pages long, 13,000 words
Projected book length: 75,000 words*
Number of Chapters: 22*
Number of Scenes: 48
*Can be adjusted by adding or removing scenes. Most chapters have multiple scenes.
Contemporary Romance "Family Series" Plot Template
Title: This varies a lot in contemporary romance. The key is to make sure that you use some kind of naming convention that will work across multiple books in a series. I recommend coming up with a list of book titles for the series before you publish the first book. You don’t want to publish it then realize that your naming convention is going to severely limit you. Look at Amazon’s top 100 Contemporary Romance list to get title ideas.
Series Name: <Family name or Interesting Location>
- Always, always write in a series. This plot template can be used for a stand-alone, but it’s intended as a contemporary romance series starter.
- Series name can be the family’s last name or the name of the location in which all of the books will be set.
o E.g. The Hamilton Series; Love in Napa; Love Harbor; etc.
<First Last Name> (FMC)
- She loves her body, faults and all. She’s not ashamed of her sexuality.
- Her life is a mess at the beginning of the book.
- She feels like she’s not important, unlovable, and permanently damaged in some way.
- She is afraid of love because she’s had bad experiences with it in the past.
- Falling in love would mean giving up control of her life to someone else.
o E.g. If she falls in love, she could lose her identity and forget who she is as a person.
o Generally younger than the hero, but they can be the same age. Older woman, younger man doesn’t sell nearly as well.
<First Last Name> (MMC) - NOTE - You'll get his entire character breakdown in the template.
o Almost all of your secondary characters in each book will be family members.
o One sibling should have a prominent part in this book because they will become the main character of the next book in the series. Do this with every book in the series. Dangle that carrot for your readers so that they will want to read the next sibling’s story.
o Don’t try to introduce a ton of information about anyone else in the family. It gets way too confusing. Briefly mention all family members, but don’t bring multiple family members into multiple scenes. Try to stick to the main character of the next book in the series.
o Before you start this book, figure out who all of the siblings are. Ages, names, jobs, hobbies, etc. I highly recommend starting a series bible immediately so that you can keep everyone straight. Trust me, by book 7, you won’t remember anyone’s eye color or incidents from their past.
o These make good sounding boards for the MCs.
o Don’t add too many side characters because the reader already needs to keep track of who’s who with the siblings.
NOTE - You'll get 22 complete chapters in the final plot template. Most chapters have multiple scenes. There are a total of 48 scenes. You could easily change the chapter breaks to make more chapters.
Scene 1 – MMC POV
Goal – Celebrate something with his amazing family.
Complications – Introduce hero and his whole family at a positive family event like a close family member’s birthday party, a non-sibling’s wedding, etc. The number of siblings you introduce will determine your series length, so choose 6 or more if you want a long-running series. Introduce the hero’s interesting job (E.g. Movie star, winery owner, photographer, firefighter, professional athlete, etc.). The family really loves each other. There are some slight family rivalries, but overall, it’s full of love and support. Explain the family dynamic via dialogue between the siblings and parents. Which sibling is the oldest? What do they all do as hobbies? Is anyone married? (Ideally, only the parents will be married because you want all of the siblings single so that they can have their own books. Their parents should want to see them get married so that they can be as happy as they are.) All of the siblings should have unique and interesting jobs because they will become the hero/heroines of the other books in the series.
Emphasize how much the hero loves his family. He will do anything for them. His parents and siblings are 100% dedicated to each other. This is the ideal family. Heavy on love, light on drama. You won’t encounter any psychopathic siblings or neurotic parents.
Choice – This is a low conflict scene. Keep the choice simple and set up the meeting between the hero and heroine.
Consequences – The hero makes a choice and runs into the heroine. The heroine is in some kind of trouble, but the hero doesn’t realize the full extent yet. He has an instant attraction to her. He offers to help her, but she refuses. (E.g. He’s at a wedding and the heroine is having a fight with her date. He steps in and offers to get her a drink. E.g. He’s driving home from the wedding and the FMC is on the side of the road sitting in her broken-down car.)
POV character’s feelings – Happy to be with his family. Concerned about the heroine.
Scene 2 – FMC POV
Goal – Run away from her train wreck of a life.
Complication – She’s running away from her life for some reason. (E.g. Trying to escape her abusive ex-husband; she just got fired from her job and doesn’t know what to do next; etc.) She doesn’t tell the hero that she’s running away from her life. She’s lost (either literally, or figuratively) and alone. She’s filled with fear about her future. She’s wary of the hero. She’s not sure if she can trust him, but she’s attracted to his steady strength and good looks. He seems sincere.
Choice – Can she trust him enough to take his temporary offer of help?
Consequences – He convinces her to accept his help. She hopes she’s making the right choice. (E.g. She’s stranded on the side of the road. He offers to drive her to the nearest gas station. E.g. She’s at the wedding in the middle of a fight with her date, hero asks if he can get her a drink, she decides to go with him.)
POV Character’s Feelings – Her life is in turmoil and she doesn’t want to accept help from anyone because of her internal flaw. (E.g. She’s fiercely independent and doesn’t want a man’s help because her mother always relied on men to save her. She doesn’t want to go down the same path. E.g. She’s running from an abusive ex and the last think she needs is to get involved with another man.)
Scene 1 - MMC POV
Goal – Find out the heroine’s story.
Complication – He’s relieved that she finally accepted his help. He makes a grand gesture which shows that he’s willing to sacrifice something for her. (E.g. She’s soaking wet, standing in the rain on the side of the road. He lets her get into his car and get mud all over it.) He does something that indicates that he’s wealthy, but he’s not obvious about it. This is subtle. (E.g. Drives a sports car. Pulls out his Amex Black credit card, etc.) He tries to get more information from her about her situation, but she refuses to discuss it.
Choice – Should he push her to find out her backstory?
Consequences – He decides to let it go and just help her. It’s what his mother would want him to do. He learned how to be a “knight in shining armor” from his family. The heroine wants him to do the bare minimum to help her, but he wants to do more. She’s intriguing, sexy, and he’s instantly attracted to her. He’s not ready to walk away from her yet, so he does something to keep her in his life. (E.g. He’s driving her back to town, but she wants to stay in a crappy motel. His house is down the road, so he overrides her protests and decides to take her to his house.) He can’t understand why he’s so drawn to her, but he needs to find out more about her. She may have lied to him already about her situation to make it appear less dire than it really is. He senses this and wants to help her. She’s mad because she doesn’t want any additional help from him. (E.g. She definitely doesn’t want to stay at this guy’s house. She doesn’t even know him.) To make her feel more comfortable, he talks about his family. They also have some flirtatious banter. The instant attraction between them in palpable. Even though her situation is dire, she maintains a sense of humor, which he finds super attractive.
POV Character’s Feelings – He wants to protect her the way he would protect his family. It’s really important in contemporary family series romance to bring up family as much as possible, even if it’s only a couple of sentences. It’s the basis of the subgenre. He longs for her trust. He’s used to having his family trust him 100%, so having someone not trust him is a new feeling and it makes him very uncomfortable.
Scene 1 – FMC POV
Goal – Figure out what she’s going to do next now that her life is in shambles.
Complication – She’s given time alone, which allows her to reflect on her situation. Give the readers more of her backstory, but not all of it. (E.g. Age, occupation, previous living location or current living situation.) You’re going to piece it out over the course of the book.
Choice – What should she do next? She’s been running from her life up until this point.
Consequences – For the first time in a long time, she feels safe with someone—the hero. She’s attracted to hero, but really hates that she’s attracted to him. She hasn’t had sex in a long time, but she wonders what it would be like to be with the hero. However, she’s not ready to fully trust him yet. She can’t trust anyone but herself because of past experiences she’s had with people. She thinks she might be able to trust him, and a part of her wants to trust him, but she’s just not ready yet. She reflects back on her last relationship. Her ex did something that made her feel like less of a woman. (E.g. He mocked her natural sensuality. He told her she was fat. Etc.) She doesn’t think the hero will make her feel the same way. She does something super embarrassing and the hero catches her doing it. (E.g. She fantasizes about having sex with him and he catches her masturbating. E.g. She sneaks into the kitchen and is spooning peanut butter straight from the jar into her mouth.) She’s horrified that he caught her.
POV Character’s Feelings – Worried about her life. Angry or sad because of aspects of her past. Super embarrassed at the end.
Scene 1 - FMC POV
Goal – Use her attraction to the hero to avoid thinking about her messed up life.
Complication(s) – She’s super embarrassed that he just caught her. He explains that he came to see her because he was worried about her. He does something nice for her. He’s sweet and sexy at the same time. However, he did barge in on her or was somewhere private where she thought she’d be alone.
Choice – Should she be afraid or annoyed because he barged in?
Consequences – She’s not irritated or afraid of him. His love for his family is what makes her trust him. If she doesn’t know already, she finds out that he had the opportunity to spend the night with another woman, but he turned the other woman down after he met the FMC. The sparks between them are sizzling hot. He could take advantage of her right not, but he doesn’t. He’s being a gentleman, unlike her ex (boyfriend, husband, lovers) who used to take whatever he (they) wanted, when he (they) wanted it.
POV Character's Feelings – She loves his self-control. In her experience, it’s rare in a man.
Scene 2 – MMC POV
Goal – Make her laugh.
Complication – She’s the sexiest woman he’s ever seen, but he also sees the pain in her eyes. He wants to make her laugh.
Choice – Should he, or should he just walk away?
Consequences – He should walk away, but he can’t. He’s already enchanted by her. He says things that make her laugh. He wants to kiss her, but not in a ravishing way, he wants to gently kiss her. He realizes that he needs to earn her kiss, not just take it. He decides that he wants more than just sex, he wants her heart.
POV Character’s Feelings – Completely enchanted by her. He’s never met anyone so sweet and sexy at the same time.
NOTE - You'll get 22 complete chapters in the final plot template.