Wednesday, November 28, 2012
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
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
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
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.