Judging from your comments here and those over at Cassie Clare’s lj the following are what you look for in a romance:
- external obstacles
- geek love
- painful misunderstandings
- Gender-bending mistaken identity
- super competence
- equal partners
- witty banter
- wish fulfillment
- little things
- choosing happiness
- Character development
- lots of witty banter
- no internal thoughts
- verbal sex
- unrequited love
- undying love
- enemies in love
- slow, lengthy build ups
- best friends falling for each other
- lots and lots of witty banter
i just love this list! Makes me so happy. I agree with almost everything on it (especially gender-bending mistaken identity These Old Shades I go weak!). Thanks, everyone. Your comments were witty, thought provoking and wonderful.
So why was I asking?
Because I’ve never written a romance.
I’ve never started a book and known that one of the major plot arcs was going to be about people falling in love. But since so many of my favourite books are that way (Pride and Prejudice, too many Heyers and Kinsales to name, The Mountain is Young, Whalen Turner’s Attolia trilogy etc etc) I thought it might be fun to try my hand at it. But I soon realised that I’m really not sure how to do it on purpose. It also rapidly became clear that it’s much much much harder than it looks.
Also of that list above there are two that don’t work for me:
- wish fulfillment
Don’t get me wrong I was once very much into them. I loved Heathcliff! Bad boy love of any kind! But the Angel/’Buffy romance wound up just annoying me. Angel’s broodingness caused my eyes to roll. He was a WW. A whingeing wanker. Blerk.
I also used to adore heaps of books that were basically that ultimate wish fulfillment: the Mary Sue. But they don’t work for me anymore. Could be that I’m too grizzled and cynical to believe it now. The world is way more complicated than that and often when people get what they want it doesn’t make them happy.
Yet I know wish fulfillment books and brooding heroes work very powerfully for any number of readers.
So I’m struggling with the whole writing about people falling in love thing and was looking for some advice. And what you’ve given me is lots of ideas and a long list of books to check out as well as to reread (like The Master and Margarita which strangely I never thought of as a romance. When I think of that book I think of cats walking upright smoking cigars and demons floating in and out of windows. How dumb am I?) It was wonderful to see how many of your favourites are also my favourites.
It’s obvious, isn’t it? The way to learn how to do any new kind of writing is to figure out how other folks do it. Der!
So, Julia Quinn, you reckon? Or Jennifer Weiner? Or Jo Leigh? Which is the best of their books?
And again thank you so much, everyone, for all your responses. Vastly entertaining and useful. And extra thanks to Diana and Cassie (who are both pretty bloody good at the romance thing) for sending so many smart folk my way. I owe youse all one.