Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Writing Romance can be Revealing ...

I never expected writing a Mills and Boon romance to be a journey of self discovery. I expected it to be lots of things: fun, exciting, time consuming and yes, I'm going to admit it, quite easy (rolls on floor laughing hysterically). But I didn't think it was going to be an experience that taught me something startling about myself. That came as a surprise. 

One of the big misconceptions people have about category romance is that it's a "light read" and therefore it doesn't go that deep. In fact deep is exactly where it does go, right to the heart of what the characters are thinking and feeling. To know a character's innermost thoughts, the writer must know exactly who that character is and what makes them tick. And in order to do that, it goes without saying really that the writer must be a thinking, feeling person themselves, who is probably quite in touch with their own emotions.  

Over the past week, while I've been fleshing out the characters of my hero and heroine, Gauis and Samhaira, I realised I'd shied away from going into their adult emotional make-up. Samhaira was a little girl thoughout the piece of writing I'd done so far, so any feelings the hero and heroine had for each other in the beginning stages were tender, rather than romantic in nature. Getting them past that stage has been a real stumbling block for me, but finally, I've done it. I now know why they are attracted to one another as adults and how intense and all-consuming those feelings of attraction and love actually are.

Getting it all worked out took me on a real journey, right back in time to the occasions I've had similar feelings, and even back into my teenage daydreams where I always fell in love with what I imagined the boy to be like, not what he actually was like! Some of that imagined ideal man, I' ve put into Gaius, and I make no apologies for it. Romantic fiction is not real life, and nor is it supposed to be.  But isn't it funny how over the course of real life, along with all its difficulties and disappointments you can bury some of your hopes and dreams as you go, and stop daring to even aspire to having a romantic relationship. My own relationship, like most people's, I suspect, has not always been an easy one. Mostly it has been damned hard work, and sometimes there has been disappointment and heartbreak.

Yet we love one another, and we are together, and before creating my characters this week, I admit I had no idea at all how unromantic I have become. In fact, I think I am the most unromantic person I know. I wonder if my husband's noticed? Maybe I should book us a table at a candlelit restaurant this weekend? What do you think? I think we'll give "talking about feelings" a miss, but a special restaurant might be a start ...

Wish me luck!


  1. What a lovely post :-) Entering the M&B changed me in a way I didnt expect it to as well.

    Enjoy your meal :-)

  2. Get that table booked! Ten years of marriage and one child later I greet the very very occasional flowers with "What's wrong? What have you done?" Writing romance is a good reminder that anything worth having needs a bit of hard work...

  3. What a lovely post!

    Discovering more about yourself as you're writing is always a bonus. Keep going :) And have a nice romantic meal with your husband!

  4. I hope you do book that table, go on, surprise him. I think most long term relationships/marriages have little elements of the romance we look for in a Mills and Boon but only sporadically and of course the romance has to jostle with all the other demands of work, children, paying the bills etc. That's the joy of M&B none of those extraneous, trying, boring, every day things feature. Everything is condensed in one massive hit of the excitement and feverishness that we have all experienced but only occasionally and often only at the beginning of a relationship. I'm sure you're as romantic as the next person - it's just finding time to fit the romance in to real life that's difficult!

  5. Sophia --
    Yes they are far harder and you do end up putting a bit of yourself into the writing. You need to be able to identify with the characters.

    Did you see that Jessica Hart is running a writing course at the University of York? She does live in York...If you haven't heard her speak, she is v good.

  6. Thank you for the encouragement ladies re. going and booking the table! I've decided to go for it, and have somewhere in mind - more on that a little later, if I can confirm it!

    Cara, it's an interesting thing to ponder - exactly how a M&B romance is different from real life and which aspects of that fictional romance and passion do crop up in real relationships - the authors have to take their inspiration from somewhere after all! I'm always really interested when so many writers will credit their own partner/husband with having inspired them to write their hero, or describe him as their real-life hero. I always want to ask how? why? what's he like?!!

    Michelle, yes I have indeed and and I'm going to be signing up for her course beginning in January. Really excited about it! :-)