Romances, so many types but what makes them work?

cinque-terreWorking on my re-write for Unexpected Obsession has conjured up some questions particularly when it comes to the ‘romantic scenes.” It surprised me how much I was noticing whilst I made changes. Love stories are so much more than boy meets girl. For the narrative to keep our attention the author has to put in the time and have a plan. What exactly did I want from my characters emotionally?  What exactly will their physical relationship show? Will it reflect the feelings the way it should?  Last blog I touched on the fact that adding sex to the scene for the sake of it didn’t work.  There has to be more.  I agree but agreeing and doing are two separate things.  Reading while I do my re-writing certainly brings that home.  Let’s face it, everything we do, has its degree of difficulty.

Edwina Shaw in her article entitled Writing the body: beyond the five senses says that when “we write about our characters experiencing emotions, we need to find a way to inhabit their bodies to make their emotional responses feel real.” Edwina says whilst writing a crime scene she threw herself around the room weeping and carrying on in a way that a character in fear for their life might do. It sounds a bit bizarre but it makes sense, doesn’t it? I wish it didn’t.  The truth is that feeling, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching is necessary to make us feel part of the action, to have us become involved.  We may not need all of those things at one time but we need them as readers to be able to relate to what we as writers create.

Thinking about scenes I was reminded of something my youngest daughter said quite a few months ago.  I quote: “Mum, this is all imagination and not real life?” At the time I laughed.  I thought it hilarious that she went all “daughterly moral” on me.  Now I wonder if it meant I had been believable, or perhaps not so believable.  I guess I have to wait to find out.  And no, I am not going to answer that question in this blog or any other.  Experience and imagination blend together for that touch of realism but it doesn’t mean you have to have every single experience firsthand.  As writers though we have to continually bear in mind the importance of creating that emotional and physical reality because the visceral experience is what connects the reader to the work in front of them.

I decided to give my audience a chance to comment by sharing the following teaser.  Choosing this served a dual purpose for me.  I have used the dreaded double negative, and I have done it twice.  It should bode for some interesting discussion, at least I hope so. I was also hoping in this scene to create a connection to the deeper thoughts of my female lead, and a little insight into Nico.  Please feel free to comment.  I could use the help as this is a hard road full of pitfalls and holes. No, they are not the same thing.  Pitfalls happen because we don’t think enough so we stumble; holes because we think too much and dig out too much dirt.  If you think the sentence you just read doesn’t make sense then write to me.  Write to me anyway.

 

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Her arms had moved to rest on the dresser. They helped hold her upright when her legs lost that ability at the sheer decadence of his pleasure in her.  It gave him maximum access causing her insides to tighten around him and turn his breathing to a raggedness that pleased her no end.  It also drew her into a lust driven dimension, one she knew was so much more than either one of them had bargained for.  She couldn’t, not look, at their reflection. She couldn’t, not watch him, even through deliberate narrowed eyelids to thwart his arrogance a little.

  The other thing coming up often, as I sit at my desk, is the word genre.  I mean I thought I was writing a romance. I am but what kind?  It might seem a strange statement but actually, it is very pertinent.  Every book has a category and this category, allows the reader a smoother access to their needs.  Once upon a time this would have seemed easy but these days, trust me it isn’t.  Marie Lavender wrote a very interesting blog in March giving us a seemingly never-ending list, proving these days, we have romance genres coming out of our ears.  Let’s see, we have contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, science-fiction, multi-cultural, new adult, and young adult to mention a few. Heaven help us if we leave out the HEA, better known as the happy ever after although these days, happy for now, is acceptable.

For the emerging writing this is quite daunting without considering the sub-genres gathering force as we speak to find the courage to meet on the battle-field of cross-genring.  I know it’s not a real word but give me a break, I am making a point.  Historical romances can have vampires just as the contemporary romance can time-travel.  As Marie says, ‘rules will always exist, but in the sense of romance, the sky is the limit.”  It actually leaves us, the romantics of this world, in a very good place.  After all variety can be a wonderful thing.

For now, you will have to put up with my foray into Contemporary Romance as I find my feet.  I’m sure a sub-genre exists in there, somewhere.  Perhaps a multi-cultural bent.  He is Italian and our girl is born and raised in Australia giving her a different edge on lots of things. Maybe I can worry about it when I get the re-writes done.

Ci sentiamo alla prossima,

Barb

Heathcliff and Barbie Dolls

barbie-1565718__180Writing is an emotional minefield and even at this late stage of my manuscript I am thinking, considering and weighing up my choices, so that I am better able to deal with the repercussions of what I do.  However, because of circumstantial restrictions my approach to publishing has been a little left-field and I would hate for my readers to suffer because of it. You see in my process I have worked with some incredibly talented people who are not professionals in the normal publishing world sense. Nevertheless they have had a professional approach and are knowledgeable people.

Even so I faltered for a few moments and lost confidence, until that is, I remembered some things. One was a recent a blog I read in reedsy.com and the other was a childhood memory centred on Barbie dolls. In Reedsy Paul Lucas, a literary agent, made the following comment: Since many self-published authors enjoy closer access to their fans, it makes self-sustaining success more achievable.

I don’t know how far I can go but I do know I love the idea of closer access to readers; in fact it is the singularly most important thing that drives me.  I have to trust in them to tell me what I have missed and they have to know I am working hard to learn all I can, and that I will act on their suggestions. The alternative is to stop and wait for something that may never be within my grasp. I can’t do that. So this post I thought I might share how I continue to learn drawing on both past and current events.

I have an obsessive fascination about the reasons people are inspired to write, and read constantly on this topic. Marie Lavender has a blog I enjoy where author to author interviews come up regularly leading me down some interesting thought paths.  For instance I found Vivienne Vincent, a newcomer to the scene and author of Dandelions had some interesting insights into male leads.

dartmoor-246881__180Vivienne believes thereare no Rhett Butlers and Darcys in real life. Only Heathcliffs.” She adds “I remember reading Wuthering Heights when I was young. I had read Pride and Prejudice and Gone with the Wind before. Even though I don’t think I fell in love with Heathcliff the way I fell for Darcy and Rhett, Heathcliff was far more intriguing… So I wanted to create a character that is flawed but has the ability to fall in love and improve himself. “

 I think the truth is more Heathcliffs exist than the straightforward heroic Darcys and Rhetts because we want it that way. Imagine someone loving us enough to want to change for us, how exciting and how terribly romantic? Isn’t this why as readers we drool over bad boys, and why as writers we create them?  I thought a lot about this when creating my male lead.

clark-gable-399715__180I like Darcy, full of himself and his place in life, and kind and fiercely loyal underneath all that.  Is it so bad to be proper?  And more to the point isn’t it just as exciting when someone like that falls and falls hard?  Rhett on the other hand impresses in a different way.  His strength of character is both mentally and sexually challenging. The more I considered this the more I felt I was missing something and somehow this was connected to Wuthering Heights.

As much as I adore the tortured enthrallment Heathcliff has for Cathy, it is Haerton that that holds me spellbound once I close the pages of the book.  Falling for Catherine has him change but his worship of Heathcliffe, a man who has not always treated him kindly, never wavers.  Wrongly or rightly his loyalty is absolute, and it is Catherine that has to bend and accept this if she is to be with him.

My character Nico is a difficult person with set ideas; his brooder personality demands control. I couldn’t have a doormat as his female lead even if the flawed character improving himself for his woman is appealing. It seems only fair the less flawed character shows herself to be big enough to make concessions as the young Catherine does in Wuthering Heights.  It is not about giving in; it is about relationships containing two people.  If you love someone, even something, you find ways to deal, ways to make things work that many would term a compromise.

I am from a migrant background.  Consequently we had very little as children yet somehow for my seventh birthday my parents bought me a Barbie doll. My excitement waned very quickly on realising how limited Barbie was in wardrobe choices. I was totally fixated on Barbie having adventures and one dress didn’t cut it. I knew I couldn’t say anything as I didn’t want to disappoint my parents.  They had gained so much pleasure in buying me something I wanted.  I must have sat on my bed for hours reflecting on how to solve my dilemma.

My mother did a lot of sewing, both by hand and on a very basic model sewing machine. It was a way of saving on expenses. I began collecting scraps of fabric she had discarded.  I began watching every little thing she did. By my eighth birthday Barbie had an outfit for every occasion but the piece de resistance was a skiing ensemble.  I had begged my mother to find some fur and I had made a hooded jacket, a type of leggings and trimmed the hood with white fur and then made Barbie fur boots.

clothes-1297720__180 Bent paddle pop sticks covered in Cadbury’s chocolate silver foil wrappers made excellent skis.  I salvaged match-stick boxes to glue together to make a dressing table, scavenged any larger boxes I could find to make tables, chairs and even a wardrobe.  A doll house from my parents was out of the question so I created my own.  Why not, I had the furniture?

Was everything as good a quality as it could have been? I was seven when I started so perhaps not but I got better as I got older.  I begged my Mother to buy me magazines with patterns, nagged her and my aunties to give me sewing lessons, and finally nagged my Ma (what I called her) enough to let me use her machine.  Along the way I got so much input from people that even when I became self-sufficient I loved running things past them.  There are always ways to improve things. Home-made can be outstanding at times.  Ask anyone still alive (lol Ma) who had ever tasted her bottled tomato sauces.

Compromise always sounds like someone is giving in.  I see it as finding a way to make things work that costs us nothing but time and effort. If the commitment is real the process irons out the creases very easily.

Alla prossima,

Barb