Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Falling in Love with Romance

I don’t bill myself as a romance writer, so it’s a little confounding that “Kiss and Tell – How to write a Romance” by Susan May Warren could seduce me into reading how to write better romance.

I knew there was a formula to it, but I didn’t really realize how knowledge of the different parts could strengthen other genres, such as sci-fi, fantasy, suspense, or my women’s fiction which often carries a romantic undercurrent or even a subplot with romantic relationship.

Many of the ingredients for a romance are quite expected. The boy must meet the girl. They each must be vulnerable to romance, even if, especially if, they don’t think they are ready. Specific reasons must exist that deem they belong together. Of course, that would all be rather uninteresting if something or someone didn’t also conspire to keep them apart. It only follows that situations happen that throw them together and create that desperately euphoric and confusing state of love, also known as wooing.

This is much like shifting the dry ingredients of a cake. (If you’re an action-oriented person insert: mixing the inert ingredients of an explosive formula.) What comes next is the delicate balance that stirs things up and makes things happen. Think eggs, water, oil and vanilla, if you’re going with the cake analogy. Things get gloppy and gooey and thick and yummy. (Action buffs, think nitrate oxide and detonators…)

Dialogue should sizzle with romantic tension. Romantic tension should lead to physical connection – no, not that, I’m talking about a kiss. Just enough to get a ten-year-old to cover the eyes and say, “Is there going to be a lot of kissing in this?” Immediately follow this with a big breakup that feels like the Titanic hitting the iceberg.

Finally, problems are resolved, healing takes place, the reason they belong together shines through like a sunbeam piercing storm clouds. Hear the music playing? A sigh and a sense of satisfaction should follow, if you’ve done it correctly. If not, you’re apt to say, “not as good as a Twinkie” or “Where’s the Pop-Bang? Why didn’t the earth move? Is that It?”

Just as sitting under an expert’s tutelage can teach you how to bake a better cake—and think how many, different kinds of cake there are—or train you to be the next McGyver, reading “Kiss and Tell” can help you craft a better romance, a better sci-fi, a better fantasy, a better women’s fiction. I highly recommend it.

Mary Allen stays busy training her “big galoot” GWP when she isn’t writing and selling poetry, performing at Arts in the Park, producing press releases, blogging on Hoosier Ink and The Barn Door, chasing a three-year-old Grand, developing devotionals on Face Book Poet And Writer Mary Allen or dreaming up catchy future titles such as “Diary of a Late-life Curmudgeon”. 

Until next month,

                                            Mary Allen

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