Much of what I know about the elements of a story come from my time as a professional opera singer. Full of passion and angst and hopeless love, singing a role was like slipping into someone else's skin and living their lifetime in the space of a few hours. I was drawn to the larger than life heroes and heroines, to the depth of their emotion and to the lengths they were willing to go to win their lover. An opera has all the elements of a romance novel -- a hero and heroine who are made for each other, but for some reason cannot be together. It chronicles their attempt to thwart fate, to defy family, society, even the unreasonable gods, in order to find happiness with each other and all expressed in heart-stoppingly beautiful music.
Unfortunately for the operatic heroine, she usually dies of consumption in a frigid Parisian garrett just as the hero finally comes to his senses. In a romance, my heroines get to keep the guy and live! What a nice change!
My husband is of Norwegian descent -- a black viking with dark hair and eyes. He always tells me that his unusual coloring is the result of his ancestors raiding the coasts of Europe and taking the dark haired women back to the fjords with them. He assures me the women were all glad to go.