christinex1001: (Default)
...or even those of you who just read something vaguely romance-ish from time to time.

Awhile back [ profile] suburbanbeatnik made a comment while reading the first draft of my steampunk romance to the effect that romance novels don't usually introduce a male character who's not the love interest before you actually meet the "real" love interest. I just realized that I've done the same thing in the fantasy romance I'm writing right now. Does this sort of thing bother you? Do you need to imprint on the "real" hero first, or are you all right with a little obfuscation as long as the heroine ends up with the hero eventually?

(BTW, these aren't love triangles in the technical sense, although there is some interest between the heroine and the secondary character.)

I'm just curious as to whether this is a romance convention I need to follow, or whether I should just say screw it and go ahead with what I've written already. I could take out the earlier arrival of these characters if I have to, but some of the later stuff might not make as much sense or have as much impact. Frankly, I would think the reader would be able to figure out who was going to get the eventual HEA based on the cover art and back cover blurb, but maybe that just me. :-P

Also, sort of related but not really: Any good recommendations for fantasy romance? Like, real alternate-world fantasy romance, not paranormal romance or urban fantasy. I tried searching in "fantasy romance" at Amazon and all I got was page after page of vampire/demon/were stuff, complete with the requisite man-titty. Bo-ring.
christinex1001: (Default)
There's this great post over at Smart Bitches where they discuss the "insta-fuck" and its growing popularity in romance, and then ask their readers whether they like this plot device or whether it's something that turns them off. People weighed in pro and con, but it seemed as if the majority actually viewed it as a turnoff.

This leads me to wonder whence comes all this push to have the hero and heroine jump in the sack before they even know each other's names. Does it come from the editors? The agents? The writers themselves? Because it doesn't seem as if most of the readers who visit SBTB really enjoy it all that much. That's not to say that they don't enjoy a well-written, steamy sex scene. They would just prefer those scenes to come after they've had a chance to get to know the couple involved, enjoy the buildup of romantic tension, and wonder whether the hero and heroine are actually going to get it together or not. I think the commenter "Sandra" put it very well: "I am sick and tired of porn being marketed as romance.  I don’t object to porn when its marketed as such.  But ‘romance’ is supposed to be about relationships."

I don't think anyone will call me a prude. I have been known to write a sex scene or two myself. But I agree that this rush to have people hop into bed in romance novels is interfering with the one thing I like about reading (and writing) romance -- the slow burn, the increasing sexual tension between two interesting people. If they're already in bed by page 10, I'm disinclined to care too much about where it goes from there. Or maybe I'm just feeling defensive because I do tend to write the old-fashioned sort of romance -- you know, the one where they don't have sex until the end, or at the very least until more than halfway through the story.

Your mileage may vary, of course.


Sep. 26th, 2008 10:49 am
christinex1001: (Default)
Just finished the contemporary I was working on, despite being most heinously cock-blocked yesterday. (Seriously, I was in the home stretch, maybe another 500 words or so to go, and then Erik's friend Dave shows up to look at the motorcycle. Unfortunately, he brought his [sort of] girlfriend along, who got dumped on me to entertain while the guys went out riding. I was ready to KILL someone.)

So anyway, it's done, at a shade under 89,000 words. I think that's a pretty good length for a romance. It'll probably end up being a little over 90K by the time I'm done with the rewrite; I know there's some stuff I want to go back in and add. But at least the first draft is DONE, and I can let it marinate for a few months before I go back and do the first edit.

I'm proud of myself for this one. Got it done despite living through the Summer That Ate My Brain. Writing a novel in less than six months while working full-time isn't an easy feat.

Tonight it's champagne! And hopefully sangria, if I can convince Erik to go back to Claremont and try out that Spanish restaurant we just found there. Fingers crossed.

And now I can go back to Quality of Mercy. ;-)

christinex1001: (Default)
Woo, I haven't posted in a while, have I? Probably just Too. Damn. Tired. Work is seriously sucking my will to live. I hear rumors that I am going to be moved out of the Pit of Hell (aka the Teen Center), but frankly, until my manager comes up to me and tells me to pack my bags, I'm not getting my hopes up. I've been screwed over too many times in the past.

However, I've been plugging away at the writing -- I've kept going with the contemporary I'm working on (I'm about 40K in), did a bunch of editing on Sympathy (I'm about  halfway through at this point), have been reading agents' and writers' blogs in an attempt to get more in touch with the insanity of the publishing world.

I also decided that since I'm trying to write romance, I should probably do a bit of research and actually, you know, read some.

Erik and I were at the mall this past weekend, and we went by a Borders outlet. I thought, Perfect opportunity! Discount books! I'd been schlepping around a few romance-oriented sites, so I'd gotten a little better acquainted with the names of several authors who seemed to be universally liked. I couldn't remember exact title recommendations, but I figured that should be OK. I got a Julie Garwood, a Julia Quinn, and a Nora Roberts (oh, and Cell by Stephen King, ' zombies AND King? Count me in!).

Since I'm writing a contemporary, I figured I'd start with the Julie Garwood novel, Shadow Dance. It was actually contemporary romantic suspense, but still fine for my purposes. Or so I thought.

I should have done my research. Turns out the book was panned by quite a few people, and I could see why. A romance that felt perfunctory, huge plot holes, characters who seemed flat, implausible situations...oy. And the head-hopping! Jesus H. Christ, I thought I was going to get a whiplash from getting flung from one character's p.o.v. to another, almost paragraph by paragraph. But because I almost always finish everything I start, no matter how bad (the notable exception is Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which is not the fault of bad writing but characters I so didn't give a crap about that I knew I couldn't plow through another 400 pages of it, no matter how lauded the book might be), somehow I managed to finish Shadow Dance. I set it aside and plan to donate it to the Friends of the Library. If they're lucky they might be able to get a buck out of it.

Bloodied but unbowed, I decided to move on to the Nora Roberts book, Honest Illusions, after I got home from work today. La Nora seems to be just about universally loved, so I figured this would be a healing experience.


Now, I will admit that her prose is lovely, much more the sort of thing that appeals to me than what I found in Ms. Garwood's book. But what did I find?

More head-hopping! Again, from paragraph to paragraph. And sometimes involving more than two characters in one scene!

I struggled through two chapters and then put the book down. I don't know whether I'll be able to get through it or not.

What's the deal here? I really haven't encountered this phenomenon in the F&SF I've read -- is complete disregard for the current (and preferred, as far as I can tell) convention of a tight (limited) third person p.o.v. just fine in the romance field? I've got no problems with using the p.o.v. of more than one character in a novel, but please, can we stick with one person in each scene at least (I know one p.o.v. per chapter is probably too much to ask, and heck, I haven't always done it, esp. in my Star Wars fics). Is this funky omniscient p.o.v. de rigueur for romance, and I just didn't get the memo?

Guess I'll try the Julia Quinn tomorrow -- and I have a sneaking suspicion that the first instance of head-hopping is going to make that book hit the wall even harder than Billy Budd did when I was forced to read that P.O.S. back in high school....

Good thing I didn't pay full retail for any of this stuff. :-(
christinex1001: (Default)
I'm finding it somewhat amusing that although I write a ton of romance (or drama/adventure types of stories with very strong romantic elements), I really haven't read much "conventional" romance. I grew up reading historical romances and romantic suspense (Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, etc.) in addition to all the fantasy/sci-fi I devoured during junior high and high school, but straight-out romance pretty much bored me. Probably I read more of it when I was freelancing for a small publisher last summer than I have in my entire life (and boy, was it...unimpressive). Anyway....

My question relates to point of view. It seems that quite a few of the romance novels out there today tend to switch p.o.v. between the heroine and her love interest. I can see how in some cases that might work, but sometimes I don't really want to know what the guy is thinking. My own writing isn't much help here, since I've been all over the map -- straight first person (the Sarah-in-Middle-Earth stuff), alternating close third person (Dust of Empire/Empty Crowns), alternating first and third (No Return, The Overlooked), and close third person focusing on only one character (the Miele/Boba Fett fics, Quality of Mercy).

But what do you prefer? Or do you care, as long as you find the story involving? I'm about to start the second chapter of the book I just began working on (which is in close third person), and that would be a logical place to switch p.o.v. to the MMC (male main character). However, he's one of those rather "opaque" types I like to write so much, and I'm worried that seeing things from his p.o.v. would take away some of the mystery and tension.

Any advice? You guys have always been great at feedback, so your thoughts would be especially helpful. Thanks!


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