Writing Readable Romance

Writing romance scenes is possibly one of my biggest weaknesses as a writer. So this blog entry is not a “how to” by any stretch of the imagination. This is more of a “come commiserate with me” moment.

The ironic thing is that romance books were my first love when it comes to what I prefer to read. My mom had an entire bookshelf filled with them and I was introduced early.  For the longest time I didn’t really think that the romance and paranormal genres could blend all that well. Boy howdy was I wrong about that.  There are a ton of excellent paranormal romance stories out there that prove these genres can mix very well. And what could be better than a mix of my two favorite genres.

I am still developing my techniques for dealing with the romance scenes.  These tend to be my favorite scenes in books that I read, but I find that writing them – or more specifically writing them without a ton of cheese – is much harder than I anticipated.  Given how much romance I read, you would think that I have a plethora of material in my head to pull from. But nope. Somehow when I get to writing these scenes I draw a blank.

Here are my top 3 mistakes in writing romance (so far – I’m sure I’ll find more) and how I’ve learned from them:

1. Forgetting to set the scene
I have found that romantic scenes are much easier to write if you can picture them actually happening. Part of this is leading in to a believable scene, and making the scene something that would inspire passion. In this, I find that it does help to draw from some personal experience. But all those romance novels do help as well as I’ve gone back to read my favorite scenes and figure out what it was about them that I liked and try to build on those ideas.

2. Jumping into the relationship too fast
When I start my book I know exactly what relationship my characters are going to have (even several books out). Unfortunately this makes it too easy for me to skip the “setting up the connection between the characters” build up that is necessary. I jump right in to “insta-love.”  Luckily I have my awesome editor Wendy to help me catch this mistake and go back and build some connection first. Believe it or not, in writing the “connection” scenes I actually felt my characters grow closer together. Perhaps a life lesson that the connection is potentially more important than the passion.

3. Who am I writing for?
Since I write YA – young adult – there is a very fine line to walk with how close to the racy edge you get. I originally tried to keep the idea of “my dad and my father-in-law are going to read this” in the back of my mind.  But I found that thought somehow sucked all the passion right out of my writing. Go figure. So now I’m writing romance with two thoughts in mind. My first thought is “What would I like to read in these scenes?” I tend to prefer pretty hot n’ heavy stuff, so I write the scenes first with that. Then I think, “What would I want my daughter to read when she gets older?” I then go back through the scene with that in mind and rework it from that point of view, although I’m very careful to try to still keep the original feel to the scene.

I’m still developing my methods for writing romance, and hope that I’ll continue to get better and so will my writing. You’ll have to be the judge when Blue Violet comes out soon!

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