I would hope by now that you’ve figured out that I, and my writing partner Casey, are primarily romance writers. If this comes as a shock to you, you’re truly beyond help and probably should just stop reading here.
While I can’t speak for Casey, I can tell you that I didn’t start out to write romance. Actually, I didn’t start out to write anything in particular. I just started writing.
That may sound stupid but it’s the way my mind works. Casey will tell you that I’m a story teller. We both are actually. Our stories start the same way and we write the same way. So, I guess I’m really speaking for both of us.
Seeing What’s Not There (Or, is it really?)
We see something; a person in the waiting area at the airport, an apple hanging on a tree, a mangey underfed horse, a cute girl at the pool, a dolphin porpoising off in the distance and it sparks a story idea.
The idea becomes a note in our notebook.
The note becomes several notes.
Several notes become a topic for one or more of our discussions.
Our discussions become a story line.
The story line begins to form as a plot.
The plot thickens! (Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)
But then, something happens. We sway the story line or plot into a romance based theme.
Why? Well, first and foremost because we’re both romantics at heart; in our beliefs and our attitudes.
We’re dreamers. We’re emotional. We love people, new and different things. We see the beauty in things that other people often don’t see. And, quite often we notice things others just walk past, not seeing or paying any attention to them.
Two other things we have in common is: We detest violence but we cherish friendship and all the things it encompasses; belief, understanding, love, compassion and support.
All that perhaps makes us true romantics and unique as writers. Or, at least we think so.
Molds and Formulas
Why? Because our stories don’t fit into the formulas that writers, especially romance writers, are told to use.
According to the formulas:
Our stories are too Happy. Our characters smile too much. They hug too much. They laugh too much. Not enough drama and the dramas we add in are not sensational enough, with too little commotion, turmoil and crisis. Oh, and our dramas don’t last long enough.
In short, we don’t fit the mold.
In all honesty, neither of us ever have. We’re unique. We were born this way.
And, all those things we put into our stories? That’s us. We laugh too much. We smile too much. We hug too much. And we cry too. We’re there for each other and encourage each other. We turn our dramas into lessons to learn from, commotion and turmoil into things that disappear when faced with your best friend standing next to you.
Most of all, we trust and support one another. No matter what.
So, why shouldn’t our characters do that?
But, What about your Readers?
Ah yes. Writing for your readers. We don’t do that either.
I think we both started out doing that. Why? Because that’s what we were told.
But we quickly learned it didn’t work. At least, not for us. We tried to make our characters appeal to everyone, but they weren’t real. They came across as phony. Their interactions unnatural.
Worse yet, we tried not to offend anyone. Soon realizing the only way to do that is to not write.
So, we made our characters like us. They speak like us, or people we know. They ask dumb questions and spit out dumb answers. They tease each other and poke fun at one another. They curse but are aware of the feelings of others around them, sometimes. They screw up and hurt each other’s feelings but then apologize.
For the most part, we let our characters have fun. To love life. To learn. To grow. To build relationships and friendships and cherish them.
Hey, we need some drama here! And Sex!
(Ha, bet you thought there was going to be a sexy picture here. Actually there was but I can’t find it.)
Yes, life in our stories is not boring. We do throw in drama and surprises, a bit of violence, if called for, and even (sex) too.
Ah yes, Sex. When it comes to sex in our stories, we both believe that less is better and that provoking the readers mind to fill in the unsaid (unwritten) is better than anything you’re ever going to be able to write.
We’ve never discussed this next part so, I’ll keep it strictly as my opinion. What I’ve noticed is that books that have steamy, no holds barred sex scenes, pretty much have no story. Or at least, one that’s going to hold your attention.
Nor, do I know of many people, single or married, who can afford to spend day after day and night after night in bed making mad passionate love or plain old raw sex. Either of which moves books like that from stories to simply porn.
As for violence, yes, there’s some in our stories, just as there’s some in real life. But we try to leave the heavy violence and dark stuff to the thriller and mystery writers.
What our characters don’t do (most of the time)
Okay, so there has to be some drama.
But we try not to have our characters hit one another unless we’ve made them really evil or it’s in self-defense or in defense of someone they love and are protecting.
They seldom intentionally demean one another. Yes, there are hurt feelings but hey, this is romance, where jealousy abounds but we try to tone down the malicious stuff.
Actually, the more I think about it, these are not hard and fast rules.
But seriously, no heavy hitting or dark stuff. Unless it’s magic related or vampires are involved. Then all bets are off.
And so, there you have it. Our formulaless guide for writing Romance
Do you use formulas? Or, do you shun them like us? Perhaps something in between?
We’d love your opinion so, let us know.