Fiction Couples Don’t Date – By Donnell Bell

Donnell and Coach

Hi Everyone! Cynthia D’Alba here. Thank you to Jeanette Murray for giving up her spot today so I could invite Donnell Bell. I’ve “known” Donnell for a number of years through shared loops and shared friends. She is the epitome of the “never give up” spirit. She’s written for years and just had her first book (The Past Came Hunting) released from Bell Bridge Books. So you’re assignment for today is: 1) read her guest blog below; 2) answer her question at the end; 3) follow one of the links at the bottom to buy this wonderful mystery.  Oh and 4) Sign up for our newsletter —————–>

Take it away, Donnell!

When I first started writing romance I didn’t have a clue how to go about it.  I’m married to a chemical engineer, and that in itself, should explain why I write romance in the first place.

Personally, though, there were some rules that seemed odd to me:  1) Get your hero and heroine together immediately (in my first book, my h/h met in chapter eight).   2) Children in fiction should be seen but not heard, and they should be young enough not to interfere with the romance plot, and, 3) couples don’t date.

Sad to say, I’ve broken all of these rules at one time or another.  Still, the rule that made the least sense to me was rule number 3.  Couples don’t date.  Perhaps that’s why we see so many books opening with the hero and heroine having known each other before, or a story starts out with a catastrophe and the hero and heroine have to take off on the run.  Both of these scenarios, by the way, work perfectly when a secret baby’s involved, which adheres to rule number 2 — because children in fiction should be seen but not heard, and babies are definitely young.

But no way should your protagonists date, because dating involves chitchat, and chitchat will slow your story.

In my debut novel, THE PAST CAME HUNTING, my protagonists Lt. Joe Crandall and MelanieNorris go on a date.  (But their conversation is hardly irrelevant in my opinion.)  I needed a scene to advance the story, and while I could have had them hash things out in the parking lot, I’m a rebel at heart and my protagonists wanted to eat 🙂

“Let me take you to dinner.  I tell you everything I know.  There’s been a development.  No more secrets.”

            Summoning what was left of her depleted inner strength, Mel said, “Some place quiet.  No crowds.”

            They took Joe’s car to a little Italian bistro up the road.  It was a strip mall, and Mel had eaten there once with her co-workers.  During the lunch hour, the place was packed.  The winter night told a completely different story.  She and Joe were the only customers.  Cops generally sit with the backs to the wall, and Joe was no exception.  Somehow, knowing he watched over her made her feel better.  Or maybe it was the eggplant parmigiana, or the glass of wine.

            She listened as he softened his baritone voice.  In the dim of the quiet restaurant, with its red and white checkered tablecloth and the Italian music turned low, she fantasized for a moment what it would be like for him to whisper sweet nothings or make plans for later between them.  Instead he told her about a newspaper article, a dead corrections officer and the uncooperative Cañon City Police.  From there, he explained that he’d arranged the little tête-a-tête with Simon, and with nothing to go on but bad vibes and morbid curiosity, Joe wasn’t about to scare her.

            Little by little, her brain and her heart accepted his explanation.  Joe reached for her hand across the table.  This time, she didn’t draw back.  She held it, smoothed her fingers over a callus, and for the first time in two days, she felt happy.  Though wouldn’t it have been nice for him to whisper sweet nothings or to plan something for later?

            There are so many terrific romances where the hero and heroine meet on page one, and they take off to save the world, mainly because of the couples don’t date rule.  All kidding aside, I love these stories with their incredible pacing.  But I’m curious.

Have you heard of the “couples don’t date” rule?  And do your couples date in your novels?   I’d love to hear how you set up your stories.  I’ll give an ARC of THE PAST CAME HUNTING to one commenter who sets me straight.

Donnell Ann Bell is a two-time Golden Heart Finalist.  Her debut novel THE PAST CAME HUNTING was released September 19th, 2011 from Bell Bridge Books.   To learn more about Bell Bridge Books check out or Donnell, you can visit her website at  

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