It’s February14th so let’s talk romance books. Despite being the most popular genre, I know they aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. In fact, I never set out to write one so it’s slightly ironic that the first book I got published was a romance.
Writing romances has taught me a lot about writing in general, and one important aspect in particular, and that’s without emotion, you don’t have a story…well, maybe you do, but not a great one.
If you’re one of my students and you’re reading this, you’re probably thinking, here she goes with that emotion thing again.
I tell them about it over and over again because had I known the role it plays in a great story, I would have been published sooner.
We read books for many reasons. For fiction, it’s mostly the entertainment and escapism element that keeps us hooked. We’re taken to far-away places, to lands we might never visit, meet people we’ll never (or sometimes hope, we never meet), in real life. Hours pass and we’ve been in this make believe world that once only existed in a writer’s mind. It’s fun but it’s also something else.
It’s an emotional experience.
I remember as a child reading Enid Blyton’s Secret Five books and turning the pages, my heart beating faster as I wondered if these children would escape the danger they found themselves in. Reading The Great Gatsby and being drawn into the world of Jay and Daisy and the 1920s. Feeling sad, falling in love, laughing out loud. These authors played with my emotions and dared me to try and put their books down for just an hour.
We’re readers before we’re writers so why does it take us so long to figure out the magic ingredient to a good book? Well maybe you’ve already figured it out or maybe you haven’t and it’s the reason you’re getting rejection letters.
Read your work and be brutally honest with yourself.
What do you feel after you’ve read it?
If it’s nothing then go back to the drawing board and think about how you can change things and make it more emotional.
I’m not talking soap opera drama or let’s all have a good cry. But think about how you feel when it’s one of those days when nothing goes right. Or you lose a job, someone close to you dies. Some careless driver backs into your new car. One thing we have in common with our characters is that bad things happen to us…good ones too. When you’re writing put them in similar situations and let the reader know what they’re thinking and feeling as they experience the life you’ve created for them.
Give it a try next time you’re working on your second edit and I know you won’t be disappointed.
Whether you like romance books or not, Happy Valentine’s Day.