Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Rules for Writing Scottish Romances

Came across these Rules for Writing Scottish Romances over at Gabrielle Campbell's blog, The Lost Fort, third post down. Well worth a visit to read some of the comments as well!!

There are quite a few of these going around, and many of them are very entertaining. You can find links to more of these at Sarah Cuthbertson's blog. She has several sets of rules, and/or links on her blog. I also really liked the medieval ones.

Rules for Writing Scottish Romances

1) The hero is always depicted as Highland chief (complete with kilt and basket hilt sword usually - and wrongly - called claymore), even if he lives in the Lowlands.

2) The heroine is always English.

3) She's described as feisty; often red haired.

4) The bad guy is her father/brother/betrothed.

5) The heroine, in most cases abducted by the hero, first hates him and sees him a savage but soon can't resist his alpha maleness (her betrothed is a whimp, after all) and falls in lurve. Of course, she goes over to the Scottish side at that point. A bit angsting is ok, but not too much. This is a romance, not a psychological portrait of a woman torn by opposite allegiances.

6) The hero is in lurve with the English girl since he met her at a ball he attended in disguise to spy on the English.

7) If the English characters (except the heroine) are keen on getting more money, it's always greed.

8) If the Scottish hero is keen on getting money, it's to help his clansmen to buy cattle, or sometimes to restore his ancient seat which the English destroyed.

9) The hero says "Ye ken, lassie," a lot.

10) If the hero drinks a lot of whisky, it's alpha male-y, if the English do it, it's depraved and a sign of inherent weakness.

11) The Campbells are the only Scottish clan that is bad.

12) There can be a clan feud, but it has to be ended in order to fight the English. Except if it involves the Campbells because those are bad (see 11).

13) The Scots win the decisive battle despite they're outnumbered five to one and fight with swords against muskets. This is achieved by the famous downhill charge.

14) There must be at least one scene where the hero shows the heroine the beauty of his country by dragging her along over mountains and stones, though heather and moor, until he finds a river where he can catch some salmon with his bare hands. Romantic dinner ensues.

15) Never bother about the differences between pre- and post-Culloden Scotland, even if you mention Culloden as example for the badness of the English.


16) The hero must at some point deliver a speech stuffed with platitudes about the greatness and braveness of the Scots from the times of their mysterious selkie ancestor onwards (and never mention Normans or Vikings in the family trees), and list a number of vile English kings that tried to unjustly suppress the Scots.

17) Bonus points if you can manage that speech while the hero stands in chains in front of his English captors. He will of course get flogged for such an insult, and the heroine has a chance to escape with him.

18) The hero has a trusted sidekick who hates the Sassenach girl until she manages to save his life.

19) The heroine can ride in a man's saddle. She also has a favourite horse, preferably some breed that would never be able to find footing on highland mountains if this were not a romance.

20) The hero is able to swim across any loch in the depth of winter without getting a cold. While escaping several salvas of arrows or bullets.


  1. Gabriele's fame spreads! Are Scottish romances big in Australia? I have to admit I only heard of them via Gabriele, though the film Braveheart fits the Rules pretty well.

  2. I don't know about in the country as a whole but they are big with me, ever since reading the first Outlander book by Diana Gabaldon. Since then I have read a fair few Scottish romances...lots of fun!

  3. Ohh, Marg put in the matching kilted Scot. :)

    Carla, I read some when I stayed in Scotland. I had finished my own books, the TV program was worse than boring, and my landlady had a shelf of books from Nigel Tranter to romances, which she admitted to being a guilty pleasure. And I've read the first three and a half of Gabaldon's books (she got too long winded after that).

  4. Oh my gosh! You got me laughing so hard. It's so true, all of it. And I've only read the Outlander series!

  5. I wonder why people think of reading romance as a 'guilty' pleasure? Why is it not just a pleasure? Any thoughts?

  6. I wonder if it is because it is a genre that is almost exclusively female in it's readership, unlike things like fantasy, or crime.

    Anyone else have any theories?