Romance is Hard

I love reading love stories. There’s something captivating about watching two people fall for each other and fight to be together, even if it means battling their own insecurities in the meantime. A good love story can improve my opinion of a mediocre book if it’s handled the right way, and a great love story can make me a lifelong fan of an author or their work. (Here’s looking at you, Rainbow Rowell.)

That said, I have to confess that I’ve avoided writing love stories for years. Not because I hate them, or because my novels haven’t needed them. In fact, I’d planned to include major romantic subplots in both the series I’d begun with The Recruited and my first stab at a new adult novel. But neither of those subplots were ever fully developed, or integrated effectively into the over-arching plot, which is why I ended up scrapping them. The subplots and the stories, that is.

I know there are plenty of writers out there who excel at writing romance, but I am not one of them. It’s HARD for me, in a way that writing fight scenes and angst and good narration never has been. And I think the reason it’s hard is because of how well you have to know both halves of your character couples before you can accurately portray them falling in love with each other. You have to go deep–not just into the bright, beautiful parts of their personalities, but their ugly, jealous, resentful sides as well.

I recognize that you can make this exact same argument about writing long-term friendships, or close sibling relationships, or relationships between kids and their parents, but there’s something about romance that’s different. Maybe it’s that love stories are still so incredibly idealized, or that romance outsells every other major genre in book publishing. Maybe it’s that most of us are desperate to believe in the notion of happily-ever-after, and we all want to get invested in characters seeking their own fairy tale endings. I have no real way to know, and I could write another three blog posts theorizing if I had more time.

Instead, I’ll be sitting back down at my computer, trying to strengthen my drafting muscles on a new WIP that is–you guessed it–a love story. Wish me luck!

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