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Writing Romance

             I was supposed to do a post on Romance a long time ago, but anyway, when I say romance, I don’t mean the genre. I mean romance between characters in general in all genres. Now I don’t call this area my specialty, but I have done a little romance here and there before, receiving generally good reviews on it.

            So the question becomes what is romance? I couldn’t define that if I wanted to because people have very different definitions of what love and romance is, and I’m not here to start a philosophical debate, but I do know what makes a romance work in a novel. Intimacy.

            No. I don’t mean physical intimacy although sex is a stage of intimacy. I mean intimacy in the form of small quiet moments between two characters that make a real impact on their emotional state and the emotional state of the reader. In other words if, I can get the reader to say “aww” or to squeal in excitement at the scene without saying it was too mushy gushy, I’ve done my job.

            Intimacy doesn't mean these elaborate and open declarations of love either, even though that can be included. It’s the little moments that seem insignificant that make the romance, at least to me. A lot of kissing and passion gets old and is not the basis for a healthy relationship, even if that’s where it starts, and even though it helps in a relationship.

            It’s the moments where no words are needed to explain why the girl reaches over to grasp the boy’s hand. The moments where the normally stoic character opens up to talk about something that shatters his normal stoic demeanor, the moment where one or both persons are willing to open themselves up and make themselves emotionally vulnerable.

            And that’s what really makes a romance, the willingness of the ones involved in the romance to become emotionally vulnerable. It doesn’t have to be obvious. The way a character makes themselves emotionally vulnerable depends on the character and the way the writer wants it portrayed. For instance, for a normally quiet or not really talkative character, doing more talking with one person than anyone else may be a vulnerability to them. For the normally cheerful character, being less cheerful and showing that even they get sad or angry or frustrated may be the vulnerability.

            And sometimes a peck on the lips is the only physical contact that needed to get the point across. That’s not to say that hot borderline erotic scenes (or outright) aren’t okay, but some writers aren’t comfortable writing them. I’m one of them. So there are alternatives to writing romance that don’t involve physical intimacy. So don’t be intimidated by romance if you come to a point that you want to write a romance but don’t know how. There are many ways to write romance, because in the end, romance is about the strong chemistry, emotional bond, and close companionship of two characters. Actually, it's kind of like writing a close friendship, but a little closer.

          In the end, it all falls to the style of the writer, but I just wanted to shatter the misconception that to write a romance, kisses, hugs, and sex, are needed. If it's not something you're comfortable with, they are more ways to make a romance.

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April Plummer said...

Great post, and you make a good point. Romance comes in many, many forms. In real life, my husband and I probably don't portray our love and intimacy the same way you and yours do. That has to come across in the writing too. And intimacy is sometimes something very hard to write. To SHOW the reader. Because so often, intimacy occurs during the silent, still moments.