Monday, February 14, 2011

Romance and A little Fiction

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d write a post about romance in fiction. I suck at doing it; in fact, I get all woozy thinking about it. Hold on a second, I have to sit down.

Okay, I’m good.

Anyway, romance in fiction . . . I generally like a smattering of the love stuff in most of the things I read, but as long as it isn’t too flowery or too heated right off.

Love and romance permeate our lives through our spouses or our kids. When writers grab their shovels and pile on the problems for their characters, a sense of love intensifies the stakes. The MC has something more to lose, even if it is just a possibility of love.

I like when the writer prolongs the kiss for as long as possible without making the story painful. Too soon and I lose interest in the relationship, too long and I’m frustrated (not in the cold shower way) because I feel used by the writer.

I remember reading a certain YA novel about a beautiful undead dude in love with a clumsy girl who liked to eat a whole lot of scrambled eggs. This book had me screaming for them to “do it” already and it wasn’t because I wanted them to. I had enough. I grew so tired of the MC’s constant longing for her sparkly boyfriend. She grated on my nerves even before all the lust, but her melodramatic desires just made her seem weak and whiny.

Conflict is key in fiction; it is the most important thing and why we turn the page. Add emotion to that and we have a story. I think Jessica James did a good job explaining this further in her article “Secrets to Writing an Old-Fashioned Romance Novel”

“These [conflict and emotion] are really the two main ingredients of any novel, but they are crucial to the success of a romance novel. Love at first sight may happen in fairy tales, but the slow, often unintended, progression of a relationship is what engages a reader emotionally in a story. When the two main characters are at odds, when they must overcome obstacles that are often inadvertently caused by their own misunderstandings, the conflict created causes the reader to become engaged.”

Because I’m not the smooshy lovey-dovey kind of girl, I tend to like characters who are more reluctant giving it up to the utterly handsome stranger with his blazing blues. I like resistance. I like women who are smart but fallible. They make mistakes, and they struggle to find their way back on track. So don’t pull me along. Let me linger, let me wonder, let me hope for change.

How important is romance in the books you read? Do you like intensity? Have you ever found yourself let down by a love story?


E.J. Wesley said...

I'm with you on the 'smart but fallible' women. Hermione Granger is one of my all time faves, mostly because she was brilliant but flawed. Also a fan of Sookie Stackhouse for similar reasons.

Fellow Crusader,


henya said...

I'm with you also. Don't care for the mooshy stuff. I tend to go at it slowly, leave more for the imagination.

Des said...

Have to say The Outlander was my fav for romantic stories. Ones that take too long drive me insane. I don't like it TOO mooshy though.

Elisabeth Hirsch said...

I love imagining people who don't eat scrambled eggs and are in love LOL!

Angela Scott said...

You just won the Stylish Blogger Award! Stop by my website to check it out
(read the end)

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, man--you and I are on the exact same page where romance is concerned... I like it sprinkled lightly or as a subplot, for the most part, but I definitely want characters to be strong in their own right. None of this phony 'he completes me and I am no longer a spineless loser' thing... Nice assessment!

Zan Marie said...

Hi Diana, I'm paying a return visit from the Shade of the Cherry Tree and you know I don't like slow starts. Add prolonged getting to know yous to the list. ; )

J.L. Campbell said...

I enjoy romance novels. I like lots of conflict and strong characters. If letdown comes it's usually from novellas, some of which suffer from lightning fast action due to the word count limit.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

Great post! I'm a sucker for a great romance. I'm a YA fan all the way though. :) Fellow crusader here! It's nice to meet you!