How Not to Write a Romance as Cheesy as a Strong Limburger

To start, I should say that the Book that Amanda and I are writing is not a romance. What is it? I’m not tellin’! But it’s not a romance. That said, at some point, the plot does touch on the theme.

Julie Campbell writer - Romance writingI happen to like a good romance. But that’s just it: I like a good romance. Those are rare. So much of the romance that occurs in fiction is cheesy and rather nauseating to me. It frustrates me when I find myself trapped in a story with sappy, schmaltzy goo oozing from the page in front of me.

But, like everything else in writing – or any other art form for that matter – there is no specific structure or template that can be followed to ensure that the romance that is woven into a story will be beautiful, touching, and/or passionate and not single-dimensional, frustrating, out of character, and cheesy enough to cause the bile to rise.

I love the romantic points in the Book. But I love the Book and I love its characters.  How bias am I? I know how badly I wanted some of them to discover one another. I know that Amanda finds certain pairs to be more than a little appealing, too. How do we know that we didn’t force the characters together?  How strong is that bias and how much is it influencing the story’s development?

My hope is that because this story has two writers, not just one, then at least one of us will have been able to cling to reality (or at least the reality we established within our fictitious world) enough at any given time to make sure that the romantic elements of the story actually work. I don’t want to avoid romance in the story for the sake of avoiding it, but I don’t want to make it happen just so that there is a romantic element to the story, either.

The next issue that I’m facing in terms of romance in the story is timing. It is easy to become swept away in a case of “love at first sight”, but there’s also something to be said about allowing a love to build between two people before they really realize it or admit it to themselves, others, or each other.  Which works best within the plot of the Book and for the individual characters?  It’s more difficult to figure out than I thought.

I find that some authors deliberately place barriers in the way of romances. This can to contribute to a story in a way that it makes me antsy to find out if the couple (or potential couple) will find their way back to one another. I wonder if they’ll ever be able to get together. While this can be a fantastic technique, it must be done delicately. Otherwise, it’s easy to see right through the author’s deliberate efforts to keep me, the reader, interested, and I am drawn out of the story and into frustration toward the author for putting me through it all in the first place (naturally, all authors are writing directly to me, so I take it personally when they do this ;)).

Equally, when two characters are thrown together too soon, I don’t tend to feel as deeply about their relationship. I may still like the characters, but I don’t connect with the romance between them because it was handed to them too easily (characters need to work as hard as authors for my approval ;)).

After all of this – and mountains of other – analysis and research to try to make sure that the romantic moments are expressed properly within the Book, I’ve come to a very important decision. Love isn’t something that can be decided upon. If I want it to be “real”, among the characters in the Book, then they will just need to go with it as it happens, just like the rest of us! Those elements of the story are going to have to stay as they were when they were originally written. That’s how the romance “really” happened and I can’t do any more about it than I could to change the way a romance has occurred within my own life.  The heart wants what it wants! ♥

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “How Not to Write a Romance as Cheesy as a Strong Limburger

  1. Cathryn

    “The heart wants what it wants.” — Is that Pascal speaking?

    Like

  2. Cathryn

    Okay, so Pascal says “The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of” and Woody Allen says “The heart wants what it wants.” I still prefer Pascal as your inspiration! (cackle cackle)

    Like

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