Writing romance is, in my view, a much underrated pastime. I read, and write, all kinds of genres, but most of all I love writing romance. For me, there is nothing like the satisfaction of dragging your hero and heroine kicking and screaming through the trials and tribulations of a tempestuous relationship to arrive at their very own personal Happy Ever After.
Occasionally, I try to persuade my friends who write in other genres to give romance a go (and what better time than the month with Valentine’s Day to do that?) only to meet with what seems to me some rather odd objections.
These are some of the most common observations, and my responses:
I can’t write sex scenes. My Mum/daughter/boss might read them.
I said “writing romance”, not “writing erotica”. If you are truly terrified of writing the naughty bits, then don’t. There is a huge market for sweet, inspirational and Christian romance. Or, if that strikes you as too dull, write the most outrageous thing you can think of and publish it… under a pseudonym.
I can’t write romance. I’m single / happily married / going through a divorce.
Can you imagine a would-be crime writer avoiding the genre because they were not a murderer, or a wannabe science fiction writer giving up because they do not live on another planet? For some reason, people who would never make this mistake about other genres frequently fall into the trap of assuming that romance writers can only write from real-life experience.
While we all draw on feelings we have experienced, part of the fun of writing romance – as with all fiction writing – is stepping outside the limitations of one’s own everyday existence and imagining something entirely different.
Aren’t romance stories boring and formulaic?
It is true, the basic outline of a romance story is pretty predictable. Boy meets girl, loses girl, wins girl back and lives happily ever after. (Of course, that is assuming it is a traditional heterosexual romance – boy meets boy or girl meets girl are also valid options). But within that basic shape there are a million variations.
Would you write contemporary, historical or paranormal? Funny, down-to-earth or even tragic? Many of the most successful stories of all time have been love stories, from Romeo and Juliet right through to The Time Traveler’s Wife.
Even if you do not intend writing romance, read some to get a feeling for the way the dynamics of a strong relationship can drive a story. And who knows? You may never write for Harlequin, but a good romance might be just the extra bit of color your action adventure or literary memoir needs.