Monday, May 19, 2014

Why Romance Makes Me Laugh

"Don't make me drop my Kindle!"
Wow. The last time I wrote about writing was way back in FEBRUARY. Sheesh! This blog has been loaded with Insecure Writers Support Group posts, cover reveals, author publication announcements, A-Z Challenge, and other "stuff."

So it feels good to share a little about the world of writing with you all, finally.

I'm up to my ears in editing Shadow Warrior and working with my editor. And this books is a big first step for me. Why? It's because my story has some romantic elements in it. I won't lie. It's been a struggle, but then again, whenever you venture outside your comfort zone, it's always going to be a struggle.

I've never considered myself an overly romantic, sentimental person. Nor am I a cold fish.There are studies that show that men who read fiction tend to relate to other people better. And I do consider myself to have a pretty good emotional quotient for a dude.

But as I've been working on improving the romantic elements in my book, I have some interesting observations to share with you as I've been going through this process.

1) When I write romantic scenes, I laugh. Out loud. At myself. My brain goes from being an intelligent 41 year old to an awkward 14 year old . I feel like I don't know what I'm doing, but I give it my best. Afterwards, I look at what I've written, and I have to laugh at how absurd it is.

2) Thank God my editor is a woman. I need some female perspective (always have), and I'm thankful for my female editors and critique partners. Otherwise, my books would be filled with women who act like men.

3) Writing about a budding relationship between two young people takes me back to my own youth. I try my best to capture all that anxiety and fear, mixed with ecstasy and idealism.  I also think about some of the big mistakes I made as a young adult. Ouch.

4) I actually enjoy exploring romance as a way to deepen characterization. It's a very profound way to make your characters become more real. Now, I'm not a romance writer. I'm very much a plot-driven kinda guy. But romance is such a great new dimension that I really like. Yeah. Go figure.

5) Strong women are awesome. I don't like the idea of having a strong female character that suddenly becomes a stumbling idiot whenever some hunky guy is around. I like strong, intelligent, independent women in the books that I read. So I will make sure to include that in my own writing.

6) Love is a powerful motivator. Whether a book is a Western, sci-fi, action, or is a pretty awesome reason for your main character to keep going. We put our characters through hell, and love is definitely one thing that will drive your characters to reach their goals no matter how bad they're suffering.

So having romantic elements in my book has been a great experience. I feel like I'm stretching myself, striving to be a better writer. I think it's important to challenge yourself in order to grow - no matter what you're pursuing. I'm not a very good romance writer.

In fact, a lot of what I write is laughable. So, yeah, I'm no Nicholas Sparks.

But I hope to be a better Jay Noel.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

All valid points. (And I can relate to the first one!)
Love is such an important aspect of life. It has to happen sometime and everyone can relate.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Love #5.

And I laughed out loud about going from 41 to 14 in a matter of moments. Happens to me every day. :)

Madeline @ The Shellshank Redemption

Melanie Schulz said...

I have a hard time writing young love, too, mainly because I haven't been there for a while (the young part) so what I did was dig out my old journals from when my husband and I first met. That brought back a lot of it for me.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Having an editor who's a woman is a good idea. I let my husband look over my stories to make sure I was getting the guy parts right.

DEZMOND said...

It's funny that only a week ago I've read a post from a female blogger who complained that people ridicule and mock romance novels :)
I like romance but not the cheap one... I like it when it is heartwarming and uplifting and optimistic

Jay Noel said...

Alex: The laughter is good medicine for bad writing!

Madeline: I lost count of how many books I've read where the female main character's IQ seems to drop the moment she encounter a good looking guy.

Melanie: That's a great idea. Makes me wish I had kept a journal.

Diane: You said "guy parts." See how juvenile I am?

Dez: me too!

Pat Dilloway said...

I find Nicholas Sparks pretty laughable. I read 3-4 of his books and they were all terrible.

Carol Kilgore said...

Good for you!

Robin said...

I think it is fabulous that you are stepping outside of your comfort zone with your writing. Every time we add new elements the writing improves. Yeah, you may have hits and misses, but so is life. That is why editors and CPs and revisions are so important.

Pk Hrezo said...

Jay I know just what you mean about never posting on writing anymore. I miss blogging on stuff I want to blog about. It's becoming too commercial.
I can see how you'd feel that way about romance. It's more of a female area--altho Nic Sparks does it well. You just have to find the right degree that works for you. I prefer all stories I read to have a little romance. Doesn't have to, but it makes it fun and there's something so fascinating about romantic tension before a couple gets together.

I love your new cover btw!

Jay Noel said...

Pat: You did better than me. I read 2 of his books.

Carol: Thanks!

Robin: Lots of misses, but it's still fun.

PK: Yes. The romantic tension adds another layer to my writing. That's exactly what I love. And thank you!

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

Can I confess that I laughed through much of Legends of the Fall? The girl I was with at the time was so mortified. I felt bad about that. But it was just so cheesy.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Love scenes are sooooo hard to write. They pain me, but I believe they are necessary to a well rounded story. I'm sure you did an awesome job on writing the mushy stuff.

cleemckenzie said...

You made me laugh twice out loud: "Don't make me drop my Kindle." and "My books would be filled with women who acted like men." I'm always afraid my guys will be more feminine than masculine. I need a male crit partner. :-)

Keep up the good work and good luck with your books. They look great.

Jay Noel said...

Michael: I thought the first have of "Legends" was pretty good. That second half was a stinker.

Elizabeth: Yes. Love scenes kinda remind me of fight scenes - need tension and choreography, and of course....emotion.

Lee: Yes, I think female writers also need to seek out some help in getting a little male perspective. I know I rely on my female betas and my editors!

mooderino said...

Romance often gets a bad rap (often deserved) for being cheesy and superficial, but genuine emotion where there's stuff at stake and yet a refusal to walk away is the stuff of great stories, and love is the epitome of that feeling. Powerful stuff.

Moody Writing

Stephanie K said...

I'll let you in on a little secret. Writing romance scenes are awkward for every writer at some point, even the ones who make a career of it. Or so I'm convinced.
Great perspective, especially coming from a guy. Huge thumbs up to you!

Lyle S Tanner said...

I have the same problem with romance. Granted, even the stuff I read that people say is really good sounds hilariously cheesy to me, so when I sit down and try to write romance, it never goes well.

Gina Gao said...

These are all really great points! And having a different point of view is always important!

G. B. Miller said...

Most of what I write covers #5, which of course makes things just that more difficult. You should've seen what I had to go through with my commercial debut, from asking pointed personal questions of my female coworkers to asking pointed questions of my blog readers, and everyone else in between.

Father Nature's Corner

Teresa Powell Coltrin said...

I laughed reading your post. It was humorous, but so true. It's difficult to get any feeling out of our heads on onto paper. With romance comes tension, and tension is often funny.

Emily R. King said...

I feel cheesy sometimes too, Jay. But some people love sappy! I do....

Crystal Collier said...

LOL. Romance and cheese go together, that's why I write both. ;) Honestly, I think romance is one of those areas you could study for forever and still not get it right. In truth, I think as long as it feels true to life (cheesy or not), you're good to go.

M Pax said...

lol Crystal.

I work very hard to get more emotion into my characters. It's one of the last layers I slap on and something I had to work at to improve. Romance gets tricky because different stories have different lines. Right now I'm writing more of a PG. But I think it's a good exercise, because I have to express intimacy in ways that don't step over that line. I think it'll actually enhance my stories that step over the line.

River Fairchild said...

Writing romance (or any emotion) is difficult. And cringe-worthy. And laughable. :D Kudos to you for venturing out there. I have a hard time with "guy parts" too, plus I laughed at Diane's comment so I have a 14 year old boy channeling through me somewhere.

Maurice Mitchell said...

I can't imagine writing a romance because it's such a deeply personal thing. It sounds like you have a good system and editor Jay.

The Desert Rocks & Intangible Hearts said...

Romance?? And I thought it was strictly steampunk?? When do I get my copy!! Can't wait to read it!

Loni Townsend said...

When I write romance, I can't help but poke a little fun here and there during the whole endeavor. But that's how I am with life too. Dramatic stares make me burst out laughing, and sappy lines make me roll my eyes. I can handle a bit of steam, but then I turn into the awkward 14 year old too.

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