Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Christmas is and has been for quite awhile a time of celebration.  One focused on family and the connections and care we have with other people.  It's a great time of year for a romance to occur, flourish or move to the next level (there's a lot of marriage proposals around Christmas I think, I wonder if guys get off the hook for buying presents if the buy the ring and give a proposal?  Lol, with how expensive those rings can get I wouldn't blame them!)

Anyway, I just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas, and all my best wishes to a wonderful, prosperous new year.

Regular blog posts will resume as off next week.  Hope you've enjoyed the holidays!

Thursday, December 20, 2012


It snowed here a couple days ago.  I'm always of a mixed mind about those things.  I love watching snow fall when I'm safely tucked up at home with everything I need (including my husband lol!) but I hate driving in it overall.

Snow seems to be one of those strange things that, despite the frustration of driving in it, there is something utterly magical about watching this massive, fat, white flakes flutter down from the sky like lazy bits of cotton.  When they start to stick there's a sense of dread that the roads are going to be really terrible, or something along those lines, but there's also magic in it.  It covers the world and turns it white.  It changes things so quickly and so completely in that short time.  It's one things to see the changing of the seasons and there's a certain type of magic in that too.  I think part of it though, is that very speed that makes it so magical.  The world is made new in a matter of hours.

Weather's an interesting thing in novels, it can be a portent of things to come like in Shakespeare, it can create the most heartbreaking or most romantic atmosphere.  Snow in particular seems to be a wonderful thing for romantic moments.  I believe this is because of the inherent romance we attach to the idea of snow, especially in places that don't get it often (I imagine that people on the east coast or even further north than I am might not think quite so romantically about snow, but you never know).

Consider that the next time you're writing something.  Weather can really set the mood or can destroy it if you're not careful in what and how you create it.  Snow is beautiful and magical but can be a blizzard, or even a whiteout.  There's at least one horror movie and a few murder mysteries that use the whiteout idea to create a tiny, tense environment.  The weather is also reflecting the violence of the coming situation in that sense.  IN a romance sense, you would have a gently falling snow create a soft, romantic mood, perhaps covering over the problems or the past or what have you.  It still has to be believable of course, we don't usually want snow in July unless there's a reason for it to be there!  Not everyday has to be one type of weather, but if you change it randomly with no purpose you could lose a vital aspect that enhances your story very, very subtly.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


This is an interesting issue that I've been struggling with for awhile now.  A lot of the romances that I've read as source material have the main characters having sex.  A lot of the ones that seem to do the best also have sex in them somewhere.  As I've said in previous posts, we seem to think romance and sex are inextricably linked.

There's nothing wrong with sex.  It's a good thing, it's a gift that God has given us in our lives and most particularly in building our marriages.  If I'm writing a romance and I want it to be from God's perspective do I leave those things out on principle?  Do I say that adding sex makes it immediately "erotica" instead of romance (which I think actually means there's more sex than there is the rest of the story) or do I say one or two scenes for good reason are okay?

We know that 'sex sells', we hear it and see it everywhere we look in advertising (although admittedly you have to sometimes wonder which gender it's actually selling to), often in film and in books as well.  There's a sense that in our society sex is immortalized, in fact as I write this I'm betting that I get a record number of hits this week, just because I changed my title.  But is sex really needed in a romance and as a christian should I be allowing myself to put it in there.

I'll be honest, I'm still struggling with this issue as I write the romance novel.  I usually look at movies or books and come away thinking "well that was completely gratuitous" or unneeded, or any other word saying that scene didn't have to be in the movie and really did nothing for it.  Often the writer/director/producer could have easily cut it and that works for books as well.  In fact in some cases it might have been better if the scene had been cut.

So I started to ask myself, is there any situation where a movie, or a book absolutely need to have that sex scene in there?  I bounced back and forth for awhile, feeling like I didn't want to say no, but I didn't know why.  Eventually I surprised myself with the conclusion that I came to.

Sex is a part of life, it's a part that we immortalize in poetry, song, prose, and film.  It's precious and special and we abuse it, devalue it, overuse it, cheapen it and in doing so do the same things to ourselves.  But it's still a part of us on a deep, intimate level.  It's something that will continue, whether we talk about it or not, and I believe that books are, at their core, a reflection of the human condition, whatever genre they are.  So romances that have sex in them reflect what we ourselves tend to do in romance, we say it's okay and we have sex.  Or we're married and we have sex, or whatever, we like to have sex.  I don't think it's something you can entirely remove from a story that is inherently about two people.  But I think whatever scene is chosen to stay in the book or to go into the book should be integral to the story.  That scene needs to have reason for being shown in detail.  If it doesn't, why wasn't it cut?  In fantasy novels (I love writing these) we're often told to take out the scenes that don't matter, the ones that don't move the story along.  So if I apply this same thought to romances a lot of the sex scenes that are in them could easily be taken out.  This isn't true for all of them though.

Like everything else in writing, the purpose of every scene should be clear to the author, even if it's not to the reader.  You need to know what's going to happen down the line.  I also think that since writing reflects real life, there's never going to be a day where we get away from the issues surrounding it because we as a people like sex too much.  Even if it's just talking about it (yeah, I'm included in that, it's fun to talk about things that either make people uncomfortable or is a little bit taboo).  But that doesn't mean each scene should be considered for its merit on the rest of the novel too!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The "friend" line

Often in the romantic genre there is this idea of the best 'friend'.  Usually the person is of the opposite gender of the main protagonist and will fill the role of 'perfect love' at some point.  Now you can usually tell pretty quickly if that's the type of romance something is going to be because there's usually a best friend of the same gender when the love interest is going to be someone else and this is not what is used.

I find the 'friend' line an interesting one.  There are times where you wish your best friend was interested in you, at least I know there was for me.  Then there were times where my best friend was interested in me except one kiss convinced me I did not see him that way.  We have this tendency to want to be with someone who is also our best friend.  I think it's why so often we start out as wanting to be 'friends' first.  (at least from the woman's perspective, don't know about you guys.)  We want someone who understands us the way a best friend does and loves us both in spite of and because of our faults.  It's a good thing.  But why then do we tend to overlook people in that 'friend' zone?

Honestly?  It seems to usually be because there was no chemistry to begin with, especially when the friendship was formed far before 'chemistry' existed within such young children.  Now this can be because we haven't thought of a person that way for whatever reason, usually because they've just always been there and it never occurred to use to change our views from that really young age.  Sometimes it's because one or the other just isn't attracted to the person (and yes it happens, it's not supposed to be an insult even though it's hard.  Not everyone clicks that way, even if they want to.)  There's nothing wrong with either person at that point, but it just doesn't work.

An interesting example of the 'friend' zone with one wanting more and the other not seeing it right away is P.S. I Love You.  Very sad movie, one of my favourites, despite a certain actor I'm not very fond of, but very well done movie.  Watch it and watch the development of the 'friend' relationship.  *spoilers to follow* It clearly demonstrates the differences between the female protagonist and the initial male who comforts her after she *spoiler* loses her husband.  Eventually the 'friend' demands attention from her and they kiss, but they are both relieved in that when they do kiss it does nothing for either of them.  That's a happy way to do it, as is the kiss where it means something for both of them.  The sad ones happen when something happens for one, but not the other, which isn't as common but does occasionally come up in books and film to create heartache to fill for one or the other.  It can be useful.

The 'friend' zone isn't all that scary a zone to be in if you can handle the uncertainty it can cause.  It can also be a fascinating relationship to tackle when you're writing something.  Just keep in mind that the 'friend' zone for the person who continues to like the other when it's uneven makes both uncomfortable more than likely.  At least it does if the main protagonist is aware of the other person's feelings, and especially if they were genuinely friends.  Friendship isn't something we like to give up easily when there's no really good reason.  Seeing someone else in pain doesn't make it easy on a person, that's for sure.  And there's so many fun ways to throw things off and up and it's always fun to not have them kiss, just to have someone reject the friend only to later realize that they really were attracted to them after all.  It leads to some interesting and fun dynamics.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Little Things Lovers Do

There are many things that might constitute as "romantic".  With a feeling that is highly dependent on the people involved that is no surprise.  Are there things that we idolize to some extent that are thought to be particularly romantic or is it all about the people involved, the atmosphere of a moment and the feelings between the two people?

Cuddling, hand holding, the first kiss.  These are all things that I've seen in movies or read in books that are labeled "romances" that would be considered to be 'romantic'.  I'm curious as to how 'romantic' sex actually is but for a lot of romance books (and movies though they don't always show it) it seems to be right up there as a culmination of the romance, if not a direct part of the romance itself.  Sex is an intimate, therefore romantic thing.  So then perhaps we can also describe romance as intimacy.

We can have an intimate conversation, go on an intimate walk together (albeit hand holding is often popular at that juncture), perform an activity together.  Is skydiving intimate though?  Or rock climbing?  This is where the idea of 'intimacy' or romance is narrowed down to a person to person choice.  For a person who loves rock climbing it might be the ideal way to spend time with a loved one.  For the person who despises rock climbing the activity would be far from it.  So perhaps it is in the atmosphere of the place as well as the combination of what constitutes as "intimate" that makes us tack something as romantic.

Dark lighting in a cozy bedroom, candles flickering around a room, moonlight brushing skin, a soft rain shower with a gazebo... all of these things can be utilized to set the mood and are often seen as "romantic" even if the person seeing them wouldn't really want any of it in real life (which is where the idea of fantasy comes in I expect).  But if these things are always considered romantic why aren't they always used?  or do we just make fun of them as cliches at this point?  Maybe it's not something like the setting, the people or the actions of those people.  Maybe it's not the intimacy either.

Romance is hard to capture.  In so many ways that is part of its charm.  It's unique to the individual, but shared by all.  We can easily place ourselves in the seat of the heroine (and yes, this is often a female thing, but I expect men can do something similar if the character was written well enough for them), and we throw ourselves to the wind, knowing that the hero will catch us and bring us safely to the end, whatever that end is.  (Most romances are not also tragedies  but there are a few notable ones, Anthony and Cleopatra for instance, or Romeo and Juliet.  Notice they're not as popular in new books these days.  At least not that I've found, please link me a few if they are!)

In the end romance is a part of humanity.  We romance ourselves with what we write which is a reflection of what I think we all really want.  We want closeness, bonds, a person to understand us and as a result we want to share life and romance with that person.  We want it to mean something to both of us, not just ourselves, not just the other.  We want to love beyond what we thought we were capable of and do something more than we could ever do alone.  Even better, we want someone to share that with.  A shame that some people fall so in love with the feeling of romance that they cannot see past it to the rich, fullness that love is.  A shame even more when that romance dies in the face of a marriage and a love that goes into a deeper relationship.  Romance should live in love and love in romance.  We're already partway there, so why can't we go further?  Perhaps that's why we love romance so much, it gives us hope that it is still out there, that, perhaps someday, we might even catch some for ourselves.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Ease of Words - Novel Update

One of the hardest things about writing a novel is to keep at it, even when it's driving you nuts.  I recently had the problem of my story spiraling out of control.  I was going at a good pace, was writing huge amounts everyday and was getting closer and closer to the finish.  Only to realize I had really overestimated how much I was putting into each scene and how long each scene would be (or how short since they were mostly too long).  Worse, I realized that for the romance genre the novel I was writing was going to end up waaaaay too huge for what it was.

Now the problem I ran into was that the things I wanted to do were not supported by the earlier story AND I had put too many characters in.  This is fixed easily enough by taking the characters out and by removing those scenes that are basically repetitive but I also realized I had not taken the time to build enough into the story.  Now with this "rewrite" which is basically me going through and adding scenes from the male protagonist's point of view to balance the female protagonist's point of view and taking out the other character's POVs that really didn't need to be in there I'm feeling much better about the novel as a whole, but man is it tiring.

Don't ever let anyone tell you writing a novel is easy.  Yes, you're sitting there and you're typing and physically it might not be very active or very 'hard' in that sense but you do use a lot of your energy and your mental faculties trying to remember every little detail you need.  You also have to really focus your mind so that you can get done the amount you want to get done.  Add to that the ache that you can get in your hands (hah, and you thought there was NO physicality to this) while you're typing because you don't have exactly the right setup for your keyboard to relieve hand strain as much as possible in typing.  If you're like me and you're a very particular temperature person (I need my hands to be a particular temperature, if they get too cold my typing speed drops significantly to the point where I can no longer continue typing because I can't feel where the keys are.)  then the location you choose is desperately important.  You need to know how it's going to fluctuate in temperature and if you can control it or not.  I'm writing today at a Starbucks and they love, LOVE keeping the air conditioning on despite the wickedly cold winter days that are happening outside.  Fortunately I've thought to dress warmly and to sit with my computer in my lap.  Strangely enough this is helping keep my hands warm enough to type comfortably.

The music and the people make it more difficult for me to concentrate as I'm outside of the quiet of my house but it's a trade off since I don't have the easy access to games that I usually have at home.  The sound is a lot easier to combat too since I found Songza and realized that I could pump classical into the back of my head to block out most of the intrusions and to help me focus.  The music is not always ideal for my writing since I sometimes find it distracting, but Songza certainly does have some wonderful playlists to help with that and I've found it a valuable tool in the writing process.  It takes me a bit to get everything set up the way I want it, but once it's there whooo man I can write a lot.

Find your groove, pay attention to what you're doing and to how well you can write in any given situation.  Notice what your distractions are and try to minimize them, then focus, sit down and write.  It's the only way you're ever going to get it done, even if that means rewriting a lot earlier than you expected.  Don't worry, you can do it.  Ironically I am also coming to understand that a wonderful way to increase your stamina (mental and otherwise) is to keep yourself at a high enough fitness level that the marathons of writing don't actually harm you too badly.  A healthy body really is a healthy mind and I do suggest at least trying to keep both in balance, it does seem to help with the writing part.

All in all the writing is slow, but is moving steadily and ideally I'll be able to figure out how to make them move more than one day a week at this pace.  Find your own rhythm, everyone's is different, and play to that.  By paying attention to things that help you focus you'll at least stand a chance of being able to reach the optimal focusing zone.

Good luck and God Bless!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Romancing the Reader

There are a great many books in the romance category. They are even on the bestseller lists. This isn't really surprising if you think about it. Romance, perhaps more than most genres is about the reader almost as much as it is about the characters.

In a fantasy (which is ironic I know as we use that word far too often) it's more about the situation, it's about the characters and what's going on with them.  In a romance yeah, the characters are important but you're appealing much more directly to the romantic sense of the person reading it.  Not every romance will be for every romance reader and in many ways you have to sell the idea of what romance is to the reader.  One of the reasons that Fifty Shades of Grey is likely so popular is because, despite the BDSM nature of the book, the author sells the concept to the readers.  She convinces you that it's actually quite romantic by utilizing the concepts of not only romance, but of the relationship surrounding romance.

One of the best ways to 'sell' a romance to someone is by making rounded and believable characters that you can fall in love with.  Usually the best ones are flawed and a part of the romance is not only loving those flaws but inspiring each other to improve beyond the flaws into a better person than you would have been without the person who inspired you.  More so in romance than in any other category this kind of theme is explored.  Which in many ways makes our obsession with women loving the "bad boy" and wanting to "change" their men, suddenly make sense.

Think about it, who better to inspire to be a better person than the 'bad boy with a past'?  Someone who might have had something bad happen to them and then made bad choices as a result.  He's not actually unlovable  but he might think he is (or in some cases she's the bad girl who needs reform) because of his past.  She provides the unending love that accepts him for who is his and what he's done and by doing so inspires him to be better.  It's positive change in a positive way inspired by love and in so many ways this reflects the real world.

There's a dark side to this of course, there are those who don't want to change.  Often the heroine in these kinds of novels gets pulled down into what he does because he doesn't want to change.  He likes the darkness in who he is and doesn't really care if he's accepted or not and takes great pleasure in causing her to fall into disgrace with him, usually because he doesn't really think he can be redeemed.  This theme or themes like them are often used with fantasy/romance mixes because it allowed the protagonist to be the one to see the light again and realize how they want to be independent of the other character (again, these actually work for males or females).

What I think really makes it a romance instead of a fantasy or a literary fiction style is how you're convincing the reader what is really romantic about the story and that the romance in the story is worth focusing on.  Convince your reader of that and you can do pretty much whatever you want in terms of 'romance'.  Just because that purple alien is a weird size and has a tube for a mouth doesn't mean he (or she) isn't worth loving, but you're going to have to work dang hard to convince me that me as a human would want to have anything to do with it in a romantic (or sexual) sense.  And though romance often verges into the realms of what really should be erotica (add sexual descriptions and technically you've already wandered into that realm), if the feelings are there and presented well enough because you've set up the situation and wooed your reader into the romance the characters are feeling (read two purple aliens with tubes instead of mouths instead of making one a human for instance, the characters can understand each other and I can disbelieve that I'm not a purple alien for long enough to enjoy it), and into the world those characters are a part of and you've got a believable romance.

You've got to remember that a believable story isn't about things that actually happened. In romance stories more than most.  It's about presenting those things in a way that is believable to the reader.  If you've ever had someone go 'that could never really happen' to something you've written directly from life you'll know what i"m talking about.  (Happens more frequently than most people would expect, guess it's best not to write what you know in every sense...)  So plan your romances, make them believable and stretch the foundations of what we will believe by doing something different but by drawing the reader into it.  There's few better ways that I can think of to draw a reader in and really make them believe that the romance you're selling them is one they want to buy.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Importance of Sisters

Although most of romance is about the boy and the girl, there is an incredibly important role in the form of the sister or friends of the main female protagonist.  Without this important person, no matter what happens with the protagonist, we are unable to see a different view or side to the whole situation. We are without the often wise voice of those who can see the situation clearly because they are outside of it.  Yet frequently there is a secondary storyline going on with the friends as well as with the male protagonist.

Sometimes they are after the same man. Sometimes they just aren't getting along or there is some older rivalry between the two of them. Its hard to say what the relationship is going to be, but without it the story is paler in comparison.

Where would either of them be without that friendship? The wrong guy is usually the one who gets picked when that sage advice from a external source is missed. It doesn't only have to revolve around a guy either. It could reflect family relations, other friends, heartbreaking events. Even how the protagonist sees her friend can tell you a lot about the protagonist herself. How they talk together, what they talk about, what she thinks in the privacy of her own head that you as the reader get to share by picking up the story.

Often this friend role is also the one that moves the story along. She is the one that talks to the guy on the protagonist's behalf, or she is the one to spur her on to talk to the guy or to do something about the situation herself. Without this important role the story would often end much earlier and much more tragically than they typically would.  Even Juliet had her nurse to help her seen her Romeo. Too bad she didn't have more sense to share or Romeo and Juliet might have had a much better chance of ending up as a triumphant love story instead of the devastating tragedy that it became.

Choose a character to serve your purposes well in this regard. You want a character that will see the story you want to its end, if you aren't careful these characters can be the ones to send you careening off into strange directions you didn't plan on.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Happiest Day of Your Life

I've noticed an interesting trend.  It's not really a new one in a way.  I mean if you think about it it's been a myth for a long time that the wedding day is the 'happiest day of a woman's life'.  We put a lot into that day.  We've got the flowers, the look, the dress, the ring, the food, the cake (yes that's different than the food believe me), the wedding party, the parents, the in-laws  the family, the guest list, the seating arrangement, the entertainment, the style, the colour... the list goes on.  Seriously, it's insane how much time and effort goes into that one day.

I've been thinking about why romance dies when we get married and I think part of it has to do with the whole 'happiest day in my life' sensation around weddings.  They're definitely sensationalized far past what they used to be.  You bet they're a celebration and yup, they should be pretty darn happy, but here's the thing.  When it comes down to it, it's only one day.  So what if those flowers aren't just right?  Who cares if you gain a pound or two and your dress is a little tight or you go the other way and it's loose?  There are so many things that can (and probably will) go wrong with something as highly coordinated and detailed as we have made weddings to be.

They're also stressful.  Few people talk about it, you've got two families, possibly meeting each other for the first time ever who have to get along.  You've got internal clashes, feuds or general dislike in the individual families already and if you're lucky to have families that already know and like each other, so much the easier for you, but most people don't.  You're trying to make sure everyone gets along and everything goes exactly right and on top of it all you're hoping that the person who will be standing across from you saying their vows is the right person for you because otherwise you might be going through all of this just to end up apart from the person you think you love.

Assuming you've got the perfect vision and you're somehow able to make that vision come true right down to the tiniest detail and the miraculous happens and everything also turns out right, you might have a perfect day.  Here's the fun part, none of that makes it the happiest day of your life.

Surprised?  We hype up the connection of two people before marriage in the romance genre.  It's the fun, heart pounding part of a romance.  It's the part that culminates in either sex (which is a popular end result in secular romances) or marriage (which does seem to be more popular with Christian romances).  Here's the thing, quite frequently in both cases, that's where the story ends.  Even in fairy tales that's all anyone ever really talks about.  That's fine and dandy, I've mentioned before the idea that it's boring once you're together in a 'romance' sense.  Ironically though I find that it has nothing to do with making that day happy.  If we were to judge wedding days as an ending, nothing going on after it it would be a wonderful culmination of all things finally coming together.

Here's the best part.  My husband and I went to a wedding this weekend, we just caught the last little bit when the couple was dancing.  I was standing with my hubby at the back of the hall, his arms around me and mine around his and I looked up at him and thought, "The day I married you was the happiest day of my life."

Cliche right?  Yes and no.  People say it was the happiest day of their life, but they never explain the complexities of what it means when they feel it.  When I felt that it was the happiest day of my life it was a thought and a feeling that had hundreds of little moments embedded in them.  It was every moment we fought and then made up, making our marriage stronger.  It was every touch, caress and kiss that told me he loved me from the moment we were married forward.  It was rolling over in bed and finding him there and being so pleased and happy to do so that warm fuzzy feelings fill you.  It was going out and doing things together, staying home and hanging out, it was cooking together, making meals for each other or surprising each other with something to tell the other person that they'd been thought of and were loved.  That one tiny thought had all these things wrapped up in it and was so poorly expressed by that too oft heard phrase.

Why the wedding day?  Well that was the day that our lives were officially and permanently joined together for the rest of our lives.  It was the day a commitment was made, that the things felt were made real and that we promised to work at our relationship forever.  To be together until death did us part in all things.  Meeting him was the first step, it was great and wonderful and I'll tell you about it in a different post maybe, but it was still uncertain, fraught with difficulty because nothing was sure.  The day we got married things became sure and I don't care if you want to throw divorce stats at me (go ahead, I've heard most of them) because I know two things without doubt.

1. Regardless of what happens in our lives that might take us apart, the day that we got married, for better or worse our lives were joined.  Even if (and I do pray that it doesn't) something were to happen that pulled us apart, our lives would still in many ways be joined.  In part because of the experiences we shared and would continue to share and in part because once joined with a person like that you can never really be rid of them, even if it's only in your mind.  Divorce is just the words on paper.  It doesn't take the other person out of that place in you that will always be theirs.

2. Marriages are not the end to romance.  They're not the end to the adventure at all, they're only opening another chapter in our lives together.  No matter what adventures we go on, no matter where life takes us, I know that so many things that I have shared and will share will be with him.  I want them to be with him and I will work with every ounce of my being to make sure that this marriage works out, exactly as I trust him to do as my partner and best friend.  I know we'll face hard times and we already have, but so long as we make sure that we always continue to get to know each other in all facets and accept each other as fully as is capable for two separate beings to do?  Well, that's pretty dang close to a happily ever after if you ask me.

It might not be much fun for readers in a book to read about people who always work things out, but I think we've done ourselves a disservice by only reading and only writing romances that talk about the 'first stage' of romance.  What might we be missing by devaluing a deeper stage of love and romance that would carry us through not only the first stages of relationship leading to marriage, but through that day and beyond?

The happiest day of your life doesn't have to be just a day, but you can attribute a lifetime of happiness as a result of one action.  I have with my husband and I strive to grow and to love him more every day and to never forget that he is worth every moment of my time and effort to love and romance as much as he does for me.  It's worth the effort and I will happily spend the rest of my life making certain that my wedding day was indeed the happiest decision I've ever made in my life.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Write What You Know, When You Don't Know.

"Write what you know."  You've heard it, I've heard it.  Really, anyone who writes has probably heard it.  There's something to be said about writing what you know, it definitely makes things easier.

I've been working on the romance, I've gotten some headway into it.  Not much mind, but some and it took my mom passing me a book entitled "Changes that Heal" to make me realize why I was having such a hard time.  It's a wonderful book for everyone to read regardless, but one of my characters is supposed to be a church counselor so he can help one of the main characters partway through.  I'm a writer and an actor primarily though I do a lot of other things as well, I am not a psychological based person.  I took general studies, I have a degree in it with a minor in English.  I know about a LOT of things as a result, but somehow I still managed to come across a character whose profession I don't know enough about to write comfortably.

It turns vague and indirect, I don't have those vital details that really make a scene or that make characters that live on in your heart long after the story's over.

It's amazing how important those details can become.  Here's the best part about being a writer though, if you don't know enough you can research to learn more!  Yay!  If you're finding that a character, situation or plot is feeling uncertain or you just can't quite make it work, take a look not only at the details of the scene you're writing but the feeling while you're writing it.  You might just need to research a little more information or in the case of fantasy, create a little more thorough detail to get that firm grip of the scenes or characters that need more dimension.

So don't be lazy, the internet's a wonderful place and has a lot of answers and if you can't find them there, take advantage of libraries while they still exist!  If you think of it you can even email or get in touch with an expert.  Often, especially if you're respectful, they're happy to talk with you about your book.  Give them a thanks on the thanks page though, that's just good practice and they did help, so praise where praise is due.

We're not limited to what we know but to write what we don't know we need to learn it well enough to fake it.  We're writers, we're capable of wearing a great many hats.  Don't feel limited just because you don't yet KNOW something.  Life too short to let that stop you these days!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Terms of Endearment

I have read a book recently that has made me completely reconsider my thoughts on the "romance" genre.  Well okay, not completely, but enough to feel like it.  (Sorry for the late post... My internet kicked out partway through writing this post on Tuesday so guess what didn't get posted Wednesday...)

Romance is essentially about relationships.  It's traditionally about a guy and a girl because that's traditional romance and curiously enough while I'm sure there are other types out there it's not been until more recently that those things are explored (take 50 shades for instance, though technically it's still about a guy and a girl...).

Life is also about relationships.  The ones we have, the ones we want, the ones we don't understand and the ones we think we understand too much about.  So that explains to me more clearly then why Romance has been and will likely continue to be such a popular genre.

The only problem I have about the whole "romance" genre is that in every book I've read so far (and please excuse the generalization as I have by no means read the WHOLE genre), it's always about the beginning.  That first flush of a crush or that gut wrenching pull of lust that makes you want to get to know another person.  (Don't pretend, at least some of them are way more about satisfying lust than meeting a love.)

Why is it that we believe once we have anything more permanent, like say marriage, romance is dead?  Is it just that the initial flush is the fun part with lots of conflict so the rest is a lot harder to write?  Or is 'romance' the way we see it literally ONLY the first part of the relationship?

If that's so wow.  Romance is a really narrow genre for something that is so incredibly popular.  But maybe that makes sense.  With certain publishing houses taking such a strict view on what makes a romance it was going to go one of two ways, either it would remain very strict or it would bust out of its restrictions, but it seems to be happy with its walls.

There's a little change in terms of bleed over into different genres (fantasy or sci-fi for instance make great carriers for expanding the story outside of just the girl and boy), but it's easy to tell a "romance" story vs a "fantasy" story in what seems like 90% of the books that I have come across that contain both.  If the story focuses heavily on the relationship between boy and girl?  Yeah, it's a romance set in a fantasy setting.  If it focuses on the events going on around the boy and girl?  It's a fantasy with possible romantic elements, but really, it's just a fantasy because that's what we call it.

Romance is that peculiar blend between what we want for our romances and the genuine reflection of what goes on in some people's lives.  Not everyone's sadly, but some and it maybe serves to give hope for those that don't quite have it or inspiration to people that want it.

All in all I would never have expected it when I was younger, but Romance teaches us just as much as any type of story, it just depends on what you want to learn about.  In this case?  Relationships.  I wonder when the genre will officially spiral out of their traditional boundaries?  I wonder too if even when it does, if it should to the extent that we are capable of.  I wonder how far relationships will change as a reflection to what's in the genre instead of the genre changing to be a reflection of what's in the world.

It'll be interesting to watch at least.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Apologies and Plans

First off, sorry this post is late.  My home internet connection has decided it no longer likes my computer, though it seems fine with everyone else's and this is the first chance I've had to get online in order to post this, so apologies for anyone who was looking for this post yesterday when it didn't show up.

Second.  For the next several blog posts I've decided to do another theme.  Since I'm currently working on a romance story I thought it would be fun to post some musing about the genre and about different things that I am observing while I am working on it.  Particularly in relation to fantasy as that is the genre that up to this point I have usually spent more time writing and reading.  I intend to do several book reviews and possibly a comparison between different types/styles/sub-genres of the romance genre.  I want to take a look into not only what we seem to think romance is but also as an extension to look into the kinds of characters that we usually want to see in our romances.  This may also slide into some looks into what we want to perceive as beautiful in relation to our romances.  For instance in film there is a very strong emphasis on the way that women look and are perceived as beautiful, but I have noticed that in terms of romance novels the main male character is often emphasized to particular looks in the same way women are in film.  Go figure eh?  It's one of the things I'll write about in the coming weeks and look more into.

Sorry the post is so short this week, Next week's will be done early and time posted for an early release so even if I can't get to my computer it should post automatically.  It's just too bad I didn't do it for this week!

God Bless.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Picking up the Threads

So it's been quite a while since my last blog post.  Partly because I have had no idea what to write and partly because I was considering where I wanted to go and what I wanted to do.  Not only with my life in general but with my writing in particular.  It's been a very long year of soul searching, praying and thinking.

I have a problem.  I want to write but I feel more and more lately that I am really terrible at it.  (No, that is not intended to garner sympathy from anyone, that is simply a statement of fact).  Now before you go and tell me you're sure I'm wonderful (not that I mind being told that) let me explain why I say it.  I'm creative, very, very creative.  I can and have created multiple worlds in incredible detail, from the wide expanse of the continents that fill it to the tiniest bug crawling along whatever leaf I've decided to add into that area.  I have folders, notes, books filled with ideas, with creations with histories with whatever else my mind has come up with.  I have written by myself 3 novels that do not satisfy me and I have written with a very close friend of mine something close to 20 more.  Has any of this ever seen the light of day?  No.  I'm not even a bad editor, I know what a story needs and I have a very good memory to prove why something doesn't make sense.  I also see how things fit together.  I am in many ways drawn toward writing and the puzzles of figuring out the story behind it.

But where I feel I fail and where I have found myself struggling, perhaps as all writers struggle from what I've been reading, is in sitting down to write that first blasted draft.

I had a new idea.  I wanted to get away from Fantasy for awhile because I was so deeply into the world I had created and the hundreds of ideas around it that I couldn't stop creating long enough to sit still and write.  (Screw writer's block, since keeping track of them I realize my biggest problem is staying to one freaking idea instead of not having any.)  So I decided to try a genre that I had absolutely no experience in because I had an idea.

So what did I realize?  A lot of things actually.  For starters, I LOVE having a plan and as much as I love having that plan I adore changing it as I go along.  I used to think i hated having an outline, let alone a detailed one that went through scene by scene (and yeah, that's SCENE, not CHAPTER, they vary in length.)  In a lot of ways I've found that it keeps my creativity from spiraling out of control and running off without me (this happens a lot, at least to me, and no one ever talks about it in any book about writing I've read, they always talk about blocks, not run-away fright trains of ideas >.<).  I've even had to go so far of adding folders with quick notes for any new ideas that do NOT fit into the novel I'm working on.  The plan has helped keep me on track to an extent (read, I'm 180 pages into the novel) but I've realized yet again that I've managed to spiral out of control even trying to keep it tightly paced and focused on only TWO characters.

Did I mention it was a Romance that I'm working on?  It's hard, I've been doing research, reading books I never thought I would enjoy (but surprisingly I am).  It has brought new layers, new ideas (and unfortunately and fortunately, new worlds) to my life and my writing but it has also brought me up and down.  Right now, today, as I am writing this is a peculiarly twisted day where I am both up and down.  I have somehow managed to write characters strongly enough that they developed and ran away with the story and I didn't notice until I was more than halfway through (blasted things that they are).  Now I'm stuck.  Do I go back and edit or do I keep writing but adjust things as I go.

I have been trying desperately to convince myself to just keep writing and to fix things later but I realize I really can't do that.  If it's a small thing sure, but honestly I'm starting to realize that with certain things (writing being one of them) I'm a closet perfectionist and I HATE it with a passion when things do not make sense in a story, my own included. And when I make a major change part way through... well... let's just say I'm not very good at trying to continue knowing how much editing I'm going to have to do later to make it make sense.  I'm a first draft kind of girl and I LIKE it that way.  (Don't worry, I still expect to have to edit but if I don't have to make major changes to the story I like it better that way.)

So I decided to blog about it and put some thoughts down.  The number of views I have had since I went on hiatus is absolutely shocking to me so thank you for bearing with me.  I intend to continue blogging and slowly get back into it.  We'll start with once a week as I don't want it to overtake my writing like it did last time and due to the presence of film and acting in my life I already have enough competing for my attention.  So welcome back and I hope to be a help to other authors looking to not only write their books but maybe help you figure out how to unblock that creative flow, or to build a damn to direct the flow of ideas, whatever may be.  Or really, just to be one more voice in the hundreds that think they're important enough for someone else to want to read.  lol!

God Bless.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Long Pauses

I've been thinking alot lately and been feeling up and down like I"ve been on a roller coaster.  Life's like that sometimes isn't it?  Even when the roller coaster isn't because of epic travels or important, world altering situations that you're in it can be hard.  That roller coaster is part of why I haven't been posting blog posts as frequently as I originally intended.  The other part of that is Christmas... It's a peculiar time of year Christmas.  Usually I want to think of it as this wonderful magical time of year where family gets together and enjoys time with each other, where nothing can go wrong and blessings pour out on every person it touches.

Most of the time that's not what happens.  Family gets together sure, but there's the same old feuds there were last year unless you've already fixed them.  They might get hidden behind pretty blouses or new ties but they're still there and they sit and fester if they're not dealt with.  Sometimes they even come out around everyone else and hopefully they'll at least get fixed when they do but who knows what's really going to happen when Cousin Jill smacks Cousin Joe right?

It occurs to me now as I write this that as much as it may not be entirely a bad thing that Christmas is so full of conflicts for everyone except for the children (and even then).  At least not for a writer.  Especially not one who has spent a great deal of time learning to pay attention (as per my previous post series about acting and writing).  Think about it, that subtle interplay among your family could easily be extrapolated to display the intricate intrigues of a court in a world that doesn't even know your family exists.  Be careful of course to learn the forms but don't take precise situations.  Last thing you'd want is to let your family read it and have them recognize the conflict!  Still, it's a learning experience.  It's just a very busy one.

Hope you all had an awesome Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!