Why Writing Romance Is Harder Than It Sounds
Romance Author Faye Hall explains that writing romance can often be a tough experience.
Romance stories have been around almost since humans first learned to write. Some people love them. Other’s consider them not to be ‘real writing’ at all. As a romance author myself, I’ve heard it all and my usual response is quite simple – “It’s not as easy to write as you’d think.”
For starters there is more to write than just a simple love story. I mean, you can’t just have two random people throwing themselves at each other and confessing their undying love for each other on the first page. That would never do. As a writer, it is our job to create a story, something that involves the reader in the lives of our characters, making you feel the very same emotions coursing through the veins of those we’ve created. One of those emotions is tension, and it is far more important than you might think. Granted, usually in a romance story there is a guaranteed happily ever after, or happily ever after for now ending, but it can’t just be handed to the reader or else they’d stop reading on page two.
So what is tension? It’s quite basically all those events we try to avoid in real life but thrive to read in a book. As for the events themselves, they depend on the time and era a writers books are set. The books I write are historical, so they are set in the time of etiquette bound restrictions. Even after writing for so many years, I still love this era and believe it helps create the suspense my characters need. Real life lovers in the 1800s faced so many challenges just to be together and I’ve tried to put pieces of this reality in each of my books. In Heart of Stone, a young Irish woman is forced into slavery in Australia and finds herself in the arms of a handsome man on the docks when she is trying to flee her captor. An unlikely scenario? More truth than we’d like to admit and the struggle these two lovers faced is more truth than fiction. And what better way to create the build up to an undying romance than to use real events that happened in both my country and, in some of my books, my own family history. The truth of the matter is, most of the characters I write about are forced through scandals most of us would rather avoid, but they were the struggles so many of our ancestors faced, no matter what country they settled in.
How hot is too hot?
Throughout my career, the biggest struggle I’ve found in my writing is the ‘heat level’ of my books. I’ve been told the passion in my stories is unrealistic and that women in the Victorian era didn’t surrender their virginity so willingly and without concern to pregnancy. I’ve also been told that stories of heroines forced into an abusive marriage and falling in love with another, kinder man is morally wrong. But why is it? It happened. Slave girls forced to marry their captors didn’t miraculously fall in love with them and make them into kinder better men. Or in the case of my new release Wrath and Mercy, the heroine was a business transaction despite the fact she still loved a man she’d been forced to leave back in England. Maybe these topics are controversial, but I see them as giving a voice to our ancestors and showing the struggle they went through to be with the ones they loved. Of course what I write is fiction, but there’s a little piece of actual history in each of my books.
Finding a romantic balance
And despite what some may want to think, women back in history weren’t always as guarded and prudish as we’d like to believe. They had the same emotions and desires as women do now. I do have to tread carefully though with regards to how ‘romantic’ I make my books. I mean
Heat levels in romance books
So next time you walk into a book store, or are browsing new releases on Amazon, and you come across romance novels, spare a thought to the authors and the struggle and heartache that goes into our work. Like all authors, we love what we do, but as I said at the beginning of the article, it’s easier than it sounds to write a good love story.
I guess the reality of romance is difficult to quantify. In real life what is it women want from a relationship? Roses and flattery? Or honesty and the latest all singing all dancing toaster? And although sex sells I always feel at the end of the day, baboons do it so where do we draw the line at reading about it?