The deeper I get into writing this novel (Fearless, that is), the more I wonder whether I can really call this thing a “romance novel.”
I think that the drama of human relationships is what I do best in my writing. At least, it’s what I enjoy the most when I write. Of course, I have fun with humour and description and word-play (perhaps too much, at times), but what really resonates with me in stories are the connections that occur between people. Many of these connections deal with love and sexuality, because they’re adults, and because it’s what I’ve found fascinating in my own adult relationships…not to mention, it can be just plain titillating to read (and write!) that stuff. But then I read something that made me rethink myself.
“The Red Pen of Doom” by @speechwriterguy is a fine weblog about writing in general, whether it’s journalistic, fiction, or typing in a blog. I genuinely recommend it, because it approaches the craft of writing with honesty and humour…which you need in spades in this game. (It’s far more entertaining than most of our ramblings or even finer works, certainly more informative than this place I use to get down ideas in the middle of the early morning.)
Anyway, one of the articles at “The Red Pen of Doom” has to do with romance novels. It’s a funny, witty piece about how they are, in actuality, a love song to the male of the species. Go and read it here; I’ll wait. And read the comments, too, because that’s what’s driven me to post this.
Now that you’ve got that little pearl of wisdom about what romance novels are really about, and what romance novelists think of their own genre, let me get back to my dilemma.
Since the beginning – since I first imagined that moment when Ross is sitting on the beach and looking out over the water he trusts more than anything, promising himself that no woman is worth the heartbreak he’s suffered at the hands of the last two…but then, of course, falls for pretty little Amber, who nearly breaks his heart in another way – I’ve called Fearless a romance novel. But, now, after reading that article and those comments, I’m just not certain I can count this story among that number.
Like the stories I’ve always enjoyed, Ross’s story is about love, and lust, and learning, and strength of heart and purpose, and finding the wherewithal within oneself to be better, not for any reason save for the sake of the person you love. It has romantic elements, yes (and plenty of them, both tender and smuffy), and the hero gets to become, over the course of the story, a real hero. Not quite the kilt-wearing, sword-swinging kind, but the kind who’s willing to stay when things get ugly, and to fight, too, when fighting means not giving up.
But is it a romance story? I just don’t know any longer.
It is still the story that I want to tell. It is still the beautiful bit of heartache that I want to share, not only to show my friends that I can write more than the terrible werewolf porn I wrote as an angsty university student, but because these people mean something to me. Because they’re a part of me, I guess. I don’t need to write novels for a living or go on talk shows to discuss the origins of my ideas or any of that. I just want this one story to share; I want this one story to be good. After that, I’ll happily go back to playing in the pond of Doctor Who fan fiction or whatever.
But I do want this story out there. And now, I don’t know where it should go. If you have any insight, please let me know? (And, before you ask: No, I won’t put a sword in Ross’s hand. That’s for another story.)