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.