Story Stuff: R Is For Romance

This isn’t just about romance books, so don’t leave, other genre writers!

Everyone back?

Good.

R

We are talking romance in our series today, but not about the romance category in the bookstore. We’re talking about writing romance in general, because most stories have a romantic subplot, at least.

I’m generally not a fan of the romance genre (in literature or cinema). My mom is, and she makes me watch her new favorite RomComs every time I go to her house to visit. The last three had the same plot: rich girl goes to rustic place and falls for rustic guy. And in each case, the girl goes from super uptight to seeing the error of her ways upon falling for rustic guy.

Kissing GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Mom didn’t appreciate me pointing that out.

Anyway, even though romance stories aren’t what I seek to pass the time, I don’t mind reading or writing romantic pieces in other works. The desire to find love is part of everyone’s real-life story, so it makes sense for it to be in our fictional stories as well.

And it’s kinda tough to write (at least it is for me). You have to capture all the gushy feelings, the butterflies, the anticipation, and write all of that in addition to the physical stuff in a way that isn’t nauseating or accidentally funny. Mess it up, and your line could end up on a list of bad romance lines (like this one, where #3 is “Beatrice was on him like a piranha on a corn dog.”)

Movie GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Take writing a kissing scene. The mechanics of a passionate kiss are gross, if you think about it. You can’t talk about what lips and tongues are doing (this is why we close our eyes). You have to be able to capture the whole experience – the soft lips, the breathing, the excitement, and perhaps the anticipation of more. And if there’s more than one kiss in the story, you have to write it a different way each time.

Love

Credit: shakespearequotesonlove.blogspot.com

So how do you go about writing good romance? Romance stories are typically the top sellers, so even if you write something different, there are many places where you can reference romantic scenes that are done well. This is what I’ve had to do in writing my romantic subplots – that, and having a critique partner who writes romance is also helpful.

And maybe let your RomCom-loving mom read your stuff, even if it might be embarrassing.

Do you enjoy reading and/or writing romantic elements?

 

15 thoughts on “Story Stuff: R Is For Romance

  1. Pingback: Blogging From A to Z Challenge – Theme Reveal! | Allison Maruska

  2. Romance is a part of a bigger story or it is nothing.

    Focus on the kiss, and what you want from it. What you, the writer as reader, would want to see. Choreography.

    Then focus on the details. Soft, warm, wet – whatever.

    Then focus on the overall scene, to make the kiss a part of your word painting – important but part of a bigger picture.

    Somebody once said we eat first with our eyes. In kissing and romance, we make love first with our brains. Engage the brain and the rest will follow, but when it’s finished what people will remember is the kiss – and not all the work you did that went into everything before it and around it. And that’s good. That’s what you want.

    Take your time. What takes an hour to write takes seconds to read. Make your romance linger.

    Here’s an example from Poggibonsi.

    She moved closer to me, the way she’d done on the train, sliding her hand up and down the lapel of her suitcoat. “What you’re interested in?”
    I just watched, trying to stay focused. “Well, there’s a lot to look at.”
    “I understand.” She rested her hand on her thigh. “We should get started.”
    My face felt flush. “We really should. I—I should probably sit down. Over here. On a chair.”
    She watched me, purring. “Mm hmm.”
    “And you should probably come—I mean, you should probably go down. Sit down. Sit—”
    “Where?”
    My breath left me. “Anywhere you want.”
    She leaned on the table, right next to me. Her legs brushed up against mine. “Here?”
    “Um, okay that . . . that’s gonna get in the way of the . . . Julietta.”
    “Si?”
    “We have a lot of . . . work to get to.”
    “Hard work?”
    “So hard.” I swallowed. “And, uh, I think it’s best if we fuckus—focus. Focus on—on . . . um . . . work! Focus on work.”
    She batted her big green eyes at me, whispering. “Mike?”
    A tiny jolt of electricity ran through me when she spoke my name. “Yes?”
    She put her fingers to my shoulder. “Do you think I’m pretty?”
    “God, yes.” I cleared my throat. Her fingers toyed with the edge of my collar. “I mean, you’re very professional. That’s what I meant.” I watched her out of the corner of my eye. “And attractive. You have a great ass. Assistant. Great assistant. You’re a . . . great one. Of those.”
    She slid her hand down my arm “Do you like me?”
    I nodded. “I like you soooooo much.” I could barely get the words out. My voice didn’t remember how to work.
    She cocked her head, letting her hair fall over her shoulder. “Would you like to kiss me?”
    “Would I!” My mouth fell open. “Would I?” My breath caught in my throat. “Is that what you’re asking? I’ve got wood. I mean, I would. Wouldn’t.” She was inches from my face. “I mean, I wouldn’t want to break, uh, any rules. Of business. That we have. Our companies. Both here in America or back in, um, in . . . back where you live.”
    She slipped off her jacket, a black lace bra shining right through the red blouse.
    Poggibonsi.
    “Now, Julietta, there are a lot of reasons why we shouldn’t, you know, do that. If you give me a minute, I’ll think of some.” I took a deep breath, letting it out slowly. “There are, um . . . uh, um . . . rules. About this sort of stuff. I could get fired.”
    She leaned over, putting her face close to mine. “What if I kiss you?”
    I leaned back. “Uh, the on-the-cheek Italian greeting thing? A little peck of gratitude? I think that’s okay . . . local customs.”
    “No.”
    “No . . .” I swallowed. “No?”
    She shook her head slowly, never breaking eye contact. “No.” She slid her finger under my chin. “What if I kiss you, not on the cheek?”
    I blinked. If I had been wearing glasses, they would have been steamed up by now. “Oh, not on the cheek? That—that—that would depend on um, which country—”
    She pressed her lips to mine.
    She held me there, moving slowly, tasting me, her lips warm and soft, electrifying me to my very soul before pulling back and looking at me with those big beautiful green eyes.
    I managed a hoarse whisper. “That, I’m pretty sure, would be against the rules.”
    “Pretty sure? But not positive?” She kissed me again, deeper, sliding her hands up my arms, pressing her body into mine.
    I gasped. “That was definitely over the line.”
    She smiled, her beautiful face practically touching mine. She nuzzled my ear, whispering. “So you are in trouble now?”
    “You have no idea.” I nodded. “Well, maybe one more. To be absolutely sure.”

    Liked by 2 people

      • Hmm. Not long – to write. I had it my head and I just visualized it and wrote what I imagined.

        I knew My head how that first kiss between them would happen. I wanted him to be Mr. Sauve, suddenly awkward and stuttering, and her just smooth and full of attitude.

        So I would say it took about an hour.

        Possibly less. And how much I thought about it before I wrote it? Not long either but I knew what I wanted. It’s easy to write when that’s the case.

        Overall, it’s a very simple kiss – or two. And it’s a very simple scene.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. “You have to be able to capture the whole experience – the soft lips, the breathing, the excitement, and perhaps the anticipation of more. And if there’s more than one kiss in the story, you have to write it a different way each time.”

    THIS!

    I’m writing my first (I hope) novel and it has a romantic subplot. And it is difficult to write. Treading the fine line between anatomy lesson and cheese.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. All my stories have some romantic elements though they’re more on the clean side. I also like it when stories have a romantic subplot/element.

    I’m writing first romance, which has spanned into a series and a spin-off thanks to my muse. I’m a little over a half into the manuscript and coming up to my first bedroom scene (already did the first kiss scene).

    Been reading a lot of romance, both for pleasure and to gain knowledge about a kiss and bedroom scene done right. Still my greatest fear is that I’ll still end up writing a hot, corny, cliche mess.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Romance. sigh. There’s always something. Even in The Martian or the Joe Ledger series. Romance rears it’s complicated head.
    For me the romance part just sneaks in. The characters just make their own calls on that. Where I get bogged down is in how much of the rated R or rated X part to show before the fade to black. Each genre has it’s own stylistic requirements. Do you break those? Conform to them?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I’m purposely trying to write a little more romance into some of my stories, mostly because I’m so damn terrible at it. IRL, I’m one of those cynical (I would even say, bitter) people who hates RomComs, the cliché tropes many romance plots can conform to, and the general stereotyped tones of romance/love stories (everybody is attractive, love conquers all, the female MC will be “the one” to change a bad boy, and the male MC will endear himself to the frosty female love interest thereby melting her icy exterior and exposing her caring, soft core).

    Maybe because of this, I tend to write more M/M romance in my fiction than M/F (though I do have an M/F romance plot in one of my WIPs… the woman is a human and the man is a fairy, so I’m not sure if that counts :P) and am interested in stories which explore unconventional relationships (ie, between humans and aliens—and I’m thinking human-like bipedal aliens, here, not giant green tentacled space-monsters—or between polygamous partners).

    I love reading a romantic element when it’s done well and when I can cheerlead both parties towards the eventual goal of becoming An Item. For this to happen, I have to like and respect both characters as individual people and be able to envision them complementing each other (or having a feisty but run relationship) as a couple. I also like the “will they/won’t they” tension, rather than knowing straight from the first chapter that these two people are MEANT to be together because the writer deemed it so (or that’s the whole raison d’etre for the book).

    Whew, I have more to say about romance than I thought! 😮

    Liked by 1 person

    • The man is a fairy! Love it. 😆

      I like your unique approach to romance. The reason I don’t favor RomComs is the tropes are so tired (but I guess they wouldn’t keep making them if they didn’t make money).

      Like

      • They definitely make a lot of money. One of my problems is, I don’t like most of the actors/actresses who star in them. I think the only RomCom-style movie I’ve seen and actually enjoyed to the point that I would watch it multiple times is Ten Things I Hate About You, but I’m not sure it really fits as a RomCom anyway as it features a fairly young cast and is about the trials and tribulations of high school as much as it’s about romance. And the comedy isn’t as slapstick as average RomComs.

        Like

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