Tuesday, February 11, 2020

The Key To Writing Romance

This is one of those genres where authors either do it great, or they are just plain awful. Writing romance is really tough, so those of you who think it's not "real fiction", I dare you to try writing GOOD ROMANCE sometime.

I started thinking about this after seeing some posts in the last couple of days. One post was talking about how to write great sex scenes. The other was a post with a quote about an upcoming book that frankly showed me there is a lot to be learned about writing great romance.

Let me start with the book quote first. I was sort of shocked too because this is an author that I know from the past has written some great things. Maybe this quote was designed to stir things up? I don't know. The think that I took from this however, was the language, and something I see so many authors do in their romance novels.

There is this assumption that to truly be a great romance author, the language has to be harsh and almost crude. This also connects to that post about the sex scenes. For some reason, people feel that describing the romance like a piece of trashy porn is the way to go. Describing male anatomy like something you put on a bathroom wall is not what makes a true romance.

In the case of the article and how to write great sex scenes, the emphasis was again on words we use and the way we describe things. This author went on and on about the dialogue between the characters in the middle of the sex scene. Hmmmm? Not sure if that is what people are thinking at that time.

So, what is the key to a great romance? It all comes back to the definition of a romance novel. This is a story of a relationship. We are watching two characters from nothing to something by the end of the book. We are watching all of those difficult relationship issues we all face when we meet someone new and we think there might be something there. We follow how those characters deal with the common conflicts involved in any relationship we have with another person. We read about the relationship between those characters on the page and connect their life and live that life with them in our own relationship. We see that this fictional relationship is truthfully a very real relationship.

And yes, I highlighted those words for a reason.

Romance novels are relationship novels. These are stories that do not put the external conflicts in the forefront. These are not stories that are just a bunch of words to get to the sex scenes. These are not stories that put political and social issues at the forefront, and, oh by the way, the hero and heroine get together in the end and live happily ever after. These are stories about people. These are stories where the dialogue and emotions are real and very authentic. These are stories that are just like you and me. These are stories about people who really could be our neighbors and friends. Going over the top and missing the relationship part is simply not a romance novel.

In all honesty, one of the top reasons I reject stories is the fact that the story is not about a romance and the characters, plot and story are so manufactured, it really does come across as fake.

As you look at the story you are writing today, ask yourself, what is the story really about? If you focus on things other than the hero and heroine getting together, you probably are not writing a romance but writing a story that happens to have characters getting together.

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