Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Got Romance?

Last week I mentioned using humor in writing, and this week I'm focusing on ROMANCE. You know, the hand-holding, smooch-swapping, swoon-inducing parts of a story or novel.

It's true that in general, females read more than males; statistics prove it. There's also no denying the popularity of straight-out romance novels, whether mainstream, erotic (bodice-rippers), or Christian-themed. I admit that in college I read Harlequin romances, although then they were probably more tame than nowadays. You may know the formulaic plot: girl meets guy, girl hates guy for varying (and often superficial) reasons, girl falls for guy against her will, girl adores guy until it's finally mutual, and then they live happily ever after.

Despite that formula, I had a friend who actually read the END of romance novels to make sure they ended happily, before she'd read the books!

There are also books or stories where the romance is not the whole plot, but a subplot. The percentage of romance subplot varies from book to book. Paranormal romance novels take romance a step further by combining two genres, weaving a tale of romance between a character and a paranormal being. A girl falls in love with a fairy king or a fallen angel or a ghost or a werewolf or a vampire or a merman or a goblin king…etc. TWILIGHT by Stephenie Meyer is of course a famous example, as is SHIVER by Maggie Stiefvater. Not to mention FALLEN and HUSH, HUSH.

In my own writing, I tend to include at least some romance, because I'm writing YA. When I was a teen, that was one of my favorite parts of a novel (was it yours?). The fun part of writing and developing characters is their interactions with each other, and quite often that works naturally into a romance.

Writing romantic scenes can be challenging. There is a risk of sounding melodramatic, cheesy, sappy, or even ridiculous. That first moment the hands touch, the first time a couple kisses--it can all be overdone as the electric tingles run down the arms, the lips press firmly together, and the arms clasp around each other's backs.

Ah, exquisitely true love! Um…yeah.

Especially be aware (and beware) of adverbs while writing romantic scenes. They not only Tell instead of show, they often give the prose a distant or melodramatic flair. Don't wax too poetic in these spots--especially if your prose or voice isn't that way during the rest of the novel. And don't strain too hard to be original, so much that you perform outrageous literary feats with your metaphors and similes. Often, simpler is better. It's a tough balance between too much attention or description, and not enough. Sometimes I write my rough drafts and cringe when I return to them!

Have you ever written a straight-out, pure romance book?
Do you feel confident writing romantic scenes into your novel or story?
On a scale of 1 to 10 (1=lowest), how important do you feel romance is in a novel?
Do you think it's more important to include romance in a YA/teen novel, compared to an adult novel?

Come back next Wednesday: BOOK AND CRITIQUE GIVEAWAYS!!


  1. I've never been able to write pure romance. Even as a teen, when I was writing my first "real" romance, it got hugely political with the fantasy world I set it in and loooots of external conflict (fighting and battles and things I still find myself drawn to writing lol). But that doesn't meant I don't enjoy reading a great romance :D

  2. Romance tends to weave itself into my books, but I'm not one for tingly, happily-ever-after, mushy, love at first sight stuff. My experience with romance is that it never behaves the way I'd like it to. It only comes after a lot of hard work and broken hearts. So, that's how I write it.

  3. I Heart Romance!

    I think, as an inspy writer, that romance is very important! Because the greatest romance we have is with our Savior! I love to slip that in under the radar. :)

    I love books that aren't romance,too.

    Great tips on the cheesy-ness! I hate that.

  4. Romance is important but not always necessary.

    Love the tips on cheesy!

  5. Great post. Wonderful tips. I think romance adds that extra special ingredient, especially in YA novels. It often helps the reader get to know other sides of the characters, which is always fun.

  6. I love writing romance! And if there's a romantic element in any other type of story, I find it adds extra sizzle. That said, I'm very picky about the romances I read. if nothing else, that business of guy and girl pretending to hate each other while having endless sex really bothers me. It's a lot better if there're outside reasons forcing them apart, or if they're together yet have other problems to face...

  7. The romance side of a story is not my strong point, but I do love reading it as a sub-plot. I'm not as big a fan of it as the main plot though. I have been thinking about this lately and I do think a touch of romance is important in a YA novel.

  8. I couldn't imagine writing a book without romance, but I prefer to keep it as a subplot. Same deal with the books I read.

  9. I'm always afraid of reading cliches for those particular scenes, so I love it when it's done well!

  10. Great post!

    NO, I could never write a straight romance. *sigh* My super powers aren't that stellar. However, I do agree that NO story is complete without at least some element of romance--especially YA. Okay, I've read a few, but most of them were Middle Grade. Until I hit my thirties I was driven by plot, character and excitement. Now I admit that the primary element I watch for is romance. Why must we ever grow up? I personally thing romance is such a part of the human condition that it should exist in some form or another in any novel--otherwise you risk losing an element of reality.


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