Young Writers Society

Home » Forums » Resources » Writing Tips

Too Darn Hot

Post a reply
User avatar
531 Reviews


Gender: Female
Points: 8606
Reviews: 531
Sun Dec 10, 2006 9:03 pm
Caligula's Launderette says...



Too Darn Hot
or Musings on Romance


The first misconception I have found about the romance genre is that people think it's all about sex, purple prose, and heaving bodices. Which can be a satifying read for some, but I choose to leave those bodice rippers on the rack in the store for others. So if romance isn't about those things, what is it? Well, truth be told, at the center it is just like any other novel - conflict. In romance there are usually three different types - external, internal, or a mix of both.

External Conflict - She's Jewish, He's a nazi (Summer of My German Soldier)

Internal Conflict - "Your character’s internal conflict should exist with or without the hero or heroine. That is to say if your hero’s internal conflict is that he believes all people expect the worst of him, then this is his internal conflict even if he never meets the heroine. What makes the heroine integral to his conflict is that she’s the reason he decides to change and overcome this belief."

SUBTLETY

I have probably said this a hundred times before, but refrain from making everything known. Keep some things hidden. Subtlety works especially in romance.

A PRIORI

No matter what you think, your characters are not a blank slate, they will always bring something into the story. They will bring their issues, predujidices. Remember that, especially involving romance. In my string of romantic shorts beginning with Mercy, my male protagonist is extremely fearful of losing people, so he overreacts when his girlfriend doens't come home. Things like that are good, and juicy, and cause some good ol' tension.

BEAUTY IS ONLY SKIN DEEP

In most bodice rippers I have read, the woman is always smart and beautiful, and the man is always devilishly handsome. GACK! Stop perpetuating the steroetype. Romance doesn't have to be between two heavenly beautiful people. Look at your own experiences and draw from that.

STEREOTYPICALLY SPEAKING

Speaking of stereotypes, there is one I'd dearly like to get rid of. This idea in many, (I said many, but not all), that a woman needs a man to be fufilled. Another one, I like to bash in, is this idea that most heroine's in romance take that a. they have met the love of their life, b. true love. It seems in countless books I read, true love rears it's head. You don't have to have true love to have romance.

STICK-NOTE: Don't use purple prose, hokey euphemisms, words or phrases that make you, the writer, uncomfortable. Don't let your characters get swept away like they're riding on a cloud of your purple prose.

HUMOR

Use it. For example:

he felt his breath against her lips and
she waited with her heart beating in her throat as his mouth moved closer and
closer until...

He sneezed.

She jumped back and blinked in disbelief. Her mouth dropped open
and all she could do was gape. He looked completely stunned and
mortified. He couldn't believe it, he sneezed! He actually, honest to
goodness, in the middle of a romantic moment, sneezed on the poor girl!

"This will give her a favorable impression of you as a lover, you
great fool," he muttered to himself. Mentally, he bent over and planted a
swift kick to his bum.

"I-I-I'm sorry," he stammered, cursing himself silently, "this
really is quite-er-well..."

Her eyes grew wide and sparkled with moisture.

"Oh great, you bloody sod," he thought, "you ruined it for her. Now
she's going to cry."

Her shoulders started to tremble and then to Archie's astonishment,
she laughed. She held one arm across her stomach and the other gripped
Archie's upper arm.

"Oh...my...God," she gasped, wiping the tears from her eyes, "I...oh,
heavens!"

He stared at her as if she had gone stark raving mad, then
suddenly the absurdity of the situation struck him as well. He gave a light
chuckle before breaking into a full throated laugh. The garden rang out with
their peels of merriment, as they held each other upright.

"I. Think. I. Could. Fall. In. Love. With. You..." He struggled to
get out and pulled her closer.


STICKY-NOTES ON CLICHED PLOTS

#1 - If I see another plot formed on the girl hates boy, boy seduces girl, girl loves boy triangle, I will scream, and/or tear it to shreads.

#2 - Opposites attract, this is not always the case. Most relationship form because people have something in common.

And to end this little ditty, a quote by Nora Roberts:

"In the hard boiled league, try the Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett. This is first and foremost a detective novel, one of the best film noirs ever produced. But there is a whiff of romance as Sam Spade falls for the mystery woman -- a woman, who in the end he must not only give up, but turn in. One of Sam's last lines to his love -- and naturally I hear Bogart speaking to Mary Astor -- goes like this: 'I'm going to send you over. The chances are you'd get off with life. That means you'll be out in 27 years. You're an angel. I'll wait for you. If they hand you, I'll always remember you.' That's romance."
Fraser: Stop stealing the blanket.
[Diefenbaker whines]
Fraser: You're an Arctic Wolf, for God's sake.
(Due South)

Hatter: Do I need a reason to help a pretty girl in a very wet dress? (Alice)

Got YWS?




User avatar
915 Reviews


Gender: Male
Points: 650
Reviews: 915
Sun Dec 10, 2006 9:57 pm
Incandescence says...



CL--


Just a thought: people come together because they have a common enemy. I share the same taste in nuts as many, many people do; that doesn't mean we have any potential to become friends or whatever. If, on the other hand, there is somebody else struggling against the institution of higher education, then there is a much, much greater chance of my befriending them. I think this is true of most people.

The vast majority of love stories I read here and elsewhere seem to be lacking this fundamental idea.


Best,
Brad
"If I have not seen as far as others, it is because giants were standing on my shoulders." -Hal Abelson




User avatar
3670 Reviews


Gender: Female
Points: 2141
Reviews: 3670
Sun Dec 10, 2006 10:14 pm
Snoink says...



Hahaha... don't we love beautiful people who hate each other but end up falling in love? :D

No, but you're right. Fun stuff! Though I suddenly want to critique your story... XD
Ubi caritas est vera, Deus ibi est.

"The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly." ~ Richard Bach

Moth and Myth <- My comic! :D




User avatar
531 Reviews


Gender: Female
Points: 8606
Reviews: 531
Sun Dec 10, 2006 10:27 pm
Caligula's Launderette says...



Incandescence wrote:Just a thought: people come together because they have a common enemy. I share the same taste in nuts as many, many people do; that doesn't mean we have any potential to become friends or whatever. If, on the other hand, there is somebody else struggling against the institution of higher education, then there is a much, much greater chance of my befriending them. I think this is true of most people.


Brad - Hmm, maybe I wasn't clear enough on things in common building friendship, I love how you explained it though. I am tempted to snag 'common enemy' for my next ramble.

Snoink - *snicker snicker* :D

Dude, did I just use the term hokey? Sweeet!

Cheerios,
CL
Fraser: Stop stealing the blanket.
[Diefenbaker whines]
Fraser: You're an Arctic Wolf, for God's sake.
(Due South)

Hatter: Do I need a reason to help a pretty girl in a very wet dress? (Alice)

Got YWS?




User avatar
1258 Reviews


Gender: Female
Points: 5850
Reviews: 1258
Mon Dec 11, 2006 4:20 am
Sam says...



Darn you, CL! You're so...thorough!

Hehe...some great tips here, even for other genres. *cough* (The beauty thing...)
Graffiti is the most passionate form of literature there is.

- Demetri Martin




User avatar
443 Reviews


Gender: Female
Points: 8194
Reviews: 443
Mon Dec 11, 2006 7:02 pm
Poor Imp says...



Good tips all around--along with Brad's interjection. ^_^

And I'll take Snoink's remark with sarcasm...
ex umbris et imaginibus in veritatem




User avatar
2058 Reviews


Gender: Male
Points: 32645
Reviews: 2058
Fri Dec 22, 2006 4:02 pm
Emerson says...



ah, I felt like reading this little advice 'cause my new story is looming on romance, though not very strongly...

Maltese Falcon is an amazing movie (I love Bogart!) and I just 'mooched' the book :-D So I liked that comment.

Definitely good tips, and I laughed while reading!
“It's necessary to have wished for death in order to know how good it is to live.”
― Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo




User avatar
241 Reviews


Gender: Female
Points: 850
Reviews: 241
Thu Sep 13, 2007 2:58 am
lyrical_sunshine says...



sexless romances are so very sweet. i actually think the best example of completely sexless romance is the Twilight series. of course, i don't have very many points of reference, cuz i don't really like romance, but i thought Twilight was pretty well done. although it is the cliche beautiful girl and hot guy. (*coughItshouldhavebeenJacobcough*)

anyway.
“We’re still here,” he says, his voice cold, his hands shaking. “We know how to be invisible, how to play dead. But at the end of the day, we are still here.” ~Dax

Teacher: "What do we do with adjectives in Spanish?"
S: "We eat them!"




User avatar
76 Reviews


Gender: Male
Points: 276
Reviews: 76
Fri Sep 14, 2007 4:01 am
KingKamor says...



*Takes random notes*

So far, my own romance has avoided all but a few of the points that you've made. Hurray for me. =3

Good rant, I must say. Good job. =D
"I think it goes until it's done."
"Don't we all."




User avatar
241 Reviews


Gender: Female
Points: 850
Reviews: 241
Sat Sep 15, 2007 8:32 pm
lyrical_sunshine says...



wow! a guy who writes romance! i'm very impressed. :D
“We’re still here,” he says, his voice cold, his hands shaking. “We know how to be invisible, how to play dead. But at the end of the day, we are still here.” ~Dax

Teacher: "What do we do with adjectives in Spanish?"
S: "We eat them!"




User avatar
115 Reviews


Gender: Male
Points: 650
Reviews: 115
Sat Sep 15, 2007 8:40 pm
Icaruss says...



I've written romantic stories, but they're mostly pretty crude. You know, not mushy-mushy stuff, but things about phillandering, and failed romances, or one night flings, or guys... who feel guilty about doing certain things. I wrote a story which won some awards about a guy who is not happy in a relationship, but can't let go of the girl, becasue she's so pretty and everybody's so envious, and he just doesn't want to lose that. That's the sort of romantic stories I write. Right now I'm writing a Western, and the romantic element is a pretty big part of it but again... it's really crude stuff. Not sexual. I mean, I try never to write sex scenes because they're just plain uncomfortable to the reader, and are not really important unless you wanna make a point. Much important is what comes before, and after a steamy scene. The closest thing to a sex scene I've written is a conversation that begins with an orgasm, and ends with the guy slapping the girl around.

But writing dialogue between a girl and a boy, I think I do it pretty well. Because many times people will just throw things like "You're so beautiful" and "You make me happy" all the time, and it doesn't ring true. Half of life is about saying things you don't really mean, or things that mean something else, and that's how you have fun writing romance.
there are many problems in our times
but none of them are mine




User avatar
1159 Reviews


Gender: Female
Points: 730
Reviews: 1159
Sat Sep 15, 2007 8:44 pm
Twit says...



I'll keep these in mind if I ever write a romance... :D I once vowed that none of my characters would ever have romantic attatchments, and while I still avoid romance, I'm finding that it *does* have its place. :mrgreen:
"Tv makes sense. It has logic, structure, rules, and likeable leading men. In life, we have this."


#TNT




User avatar
125 Reviews


Gender: Female
Points: 650
Reviews: 125
Sat Sep 15, 2007 10:21 pm
PerforatedxHearts says...



ditto, snoink. XD

yeah, well, maybe you should post this in quizilla. the ladies and gentlemen over there haven't quite gotten it. I was thinking about writing a story subtly titled "OHMYGOSH This Isn't a Cliche Romance?!?! |Chapter 1|" or something.

Seriously, though. It takes a good touch with romance to not write something cliche or overly mushy.

Take Ted DekKer's books, "Red; Black; White". He's good at action and suspense and everything, but when it comes to some romance in the last book of the trilogy "White", damnnn. It's so...so...'I can't leave you! I can't do this! I love you too much...' he cried. That type of thing.
"Video games don't affect kids. If Pacman had affected us as kids, we'd all be running around in darkened rooms, munching magic pills, and listening to repetitive electronic music." --anonymous/banner.




User avatar
241 Reviews


Gender: Female
Points: 850
Reviews: 241
Sun Sep 16, 2007 9:40 pm
lyrical_sunshine says...



i don't like writing romances, but sometimes my characters rebel and develop deep affection for each other. it sucks, because then the whole plot of the story has to change just to accommodate their feelings. *scowls* and I'm too nice of a person to make them hate each other.
“We’re still here,” he says, his voice cold, his hands shaking. “We know how to be invisible, how to play dead. But at the end of the day, we are still here.” ~Dax

Teacher: "What do we do with adjectives in Spanish?"
S: "We eat them!"




User avatar
76 Reviews


Gender: Male
Points: 276
Reviews: 76
Tue Sep 18, 2007 6:33 am
KingKamor says...



The main characters' relationship in mine is based on a sudden shift in lifestyle for one of them... but the girl kind of hates him at the beginning, so I lose points right off the bat, sadly enough. Although, there are hints of her liking him about three pages after meeting/hating him. =P

I kind of wanna know what everyone else has, so I'll check out everyone's romances, just for fun. <.< >.>
"I think it goes until it's done."
"Don't we all."