Monday, June 8, 2009

How Do I Love Thee, Blog Chain? Let Me Count The Ways...

Sandra picked the topic this time. I’m going near the end and feel like all the good answers have been taken. Especially by Michelle who was up right before me. I just know Annie will have something equally impressive to say tomorrow.

So here’s the topic, and it’s one of my faves: Romance. Ahhh, romance. What work of fiction is complete without it? I mean, seriously. Okay, okay, I’ve read some books lately that don’t have a smidgen of a relationship in them. At least not a romantic one. To me, literature is all about relationships and there is none better than the romantic one. Sandra asked a lot of questions, so I’ll break them down for you in my now infamous fake interview format.

SUA: Do you write romantic relationships in your books?
EJ: Yes. Even when I try not to, I still do. In fact my NaNo novel (Elemental Hunger for those of you keeping track) has this on the front page (I wrote it by hand): THIS IS A DYSTOPIAN NOVEL WITH NO ROMANCE. Yes, it’s in all caps. Pen even.

Yes, there is romance. A lot. I just couldn’t help it! I’m either a huge sucker for romance or a complete wimp when it comes to disciplining my characters. You choose.

SUA: If so, what do you do to show the attraction between your characters?
EJ:
Uh, they’re hot and stuff. LOL. Just kidding. I don’t mind my characters being uber-hawt and all that, but I’m sort of drawn to regular people. In Elemental Hunger, I say this about the male MC (Adam), through the female MC’s (Gabby) POV: “He had the pinched, unhealthy look of someone who hadn’t eaten a decent meal in days.”

It’s not all about how rockin’ hot Adam is (and he is, just wait a few chapters, he has this wicked cool tattoo…). It’s about the protection he offers to Gabby. He’s something she needs desperately to survive. Like air. How romantic is that? I mean, come on.

I’m not sure I answered this question, so let me have another swing at it. I try to show the attraction between them as realistically as possible, so that the reader can see that romance is not all about looks. This may be lame, but I think one of the most romantic things is how comfortable each person is with the other in complete silence. That speaks a lot for me. When I’m with the one I love, we don’t have to be speaking or doing anything. We’re happy just because we’re in the same room with each other. I try to infuse that into my relationships, because it’s real for me.

SUA: What problems do your characters encounter?
EJ:
As many as humanly possible. No, really. That’s what makes great fiction, so I try to torment them to the point that they just cannot go on. This is usually where I paint myself into a corner and I have to delete, but whatever. I’m not afraid of the delete key. I’ve done some (what I hope are) nasty things. For example:
  • I imply that Jag is Vi’s brother. And she’s been kissing him.
  • That tattoo I was telling you about? Yeah, it transmits locations and Adam can’t touch Gabby unless he wants to broadcast where she is for the bad guys. That complicates the romantic side of things.
  • I make one of them betray the other. It’s usually for something the betrayer can’t control, but the betrayee doesn’t know that, and there’s this huge thing. Trust is a big deal in relationships, so if you can break that down and toss it out the window, that causes quite the dent in the romance. Of course, then you have to build it back up…. Isn’t writing fun?

SUA: What qualities do you think make a romantic relationship work in fiction?
EJ: The same things that make romantic relationships work in real life. Thrills, chills and automobiles. I mean, didn’t you always want to go out with the guy with the smokin’ car that made your skin tingle when he touched you? Yeah, me too. Never happened. Le sigh. But that’s why I’m a writer! I can make it happen for those living in my head. Man, they have such a good life in there.

I’m gonna skip the fictional couples to save myself the embarrassment points.

So, how do you feel about romance? Do you write it in your novels? Is it hard to write? Easy? Natural? How do you make it work?

12 comments:

christinefonseca said...

Awesome post Elana. No romance in EH...yeah, THAT WORKED (LOL)!!! And I love you bullet points regarding the rough things you put your characters through...queen of torture you are;D.
Great job!

Icy Roses said...

Romance is hard! But yes, I like reading and writing things with at least a bit of the lovey-dovey stuff in it. Not straight-up romance, but there needs to be A Couple. Of course, the hard thing is making a relationship, but then keeping the two people apart for as long as possible. Unlike real life, you want them to be separated until the end so then the readers can have their "ahhh" moment. I hate authors who do exactly what I'm describing because it leaves me begging at their feet for a romantic conclusion, but hey. It works.

Rofl at the poster. :-)

Sandra said...

I'm with you in that romance isn't all about looks. Looks are nice, but they can only get you so far in a relationship.

Michelle McLean said...

ditto Christine on the bullet points - you have some awesome conflict :D The betrayal bit always works very well; I think I've used that in both of my books to some degree. Like you said, trust is a huge deal in relationships, so if you can shake that up, you've got instant conflict with tons of potential :)

B.J. Anderson said...

Haha, I'm such a sucker for the romance as well. It slips in, without me noticing, and then someone will point it out during a reading. Sigh. I'm a romantic at heart. Great interview!!

Lisa and Laura said...

I think romance is difficult to write, especially in YA, because in order for it to feel authentic you have to be able to translate that adolescent obessing, longing, and worshiping onto the page. B

ut the thing is when YA romance is done right you are in that car with the boy you've been writing notes with your besties about for the past three years and he may or may not kiss you goodbye and you think you might just explode into a million pieces over the sheer possibility of the situation. And who doesn't love remembering that?

Danyelle said...

I like stories (and write stories) that have romantic elements, but I don't enjoy reading solely romance. It's as hard as the characters make it. :D

Eric said...

Romance is difficult for me to write, probably because I'm guy (though that's an easy copout). Seriously though, I don't know why I have difficulty. Maybe it's because I want to be sure to keep everything respectful while still being deeply emotional. Gauging where the line is that plunges a story into erotica (or just plain bad romantic writing) is a struggle for sure.

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Yeah - I love where you talk about the characters not just being drawn to each other's amazing hotness. The older I get the more I find myself getting tired of heroines with flowing red locks of hair, emerald green eyes, and waist so small that he wrap one hand around it.

Annie Louden said...

Maybe if on your next book your write: THIS IS A NOVEL WITH ALL ROMANCE, you'll come out with an unromantic book.

I need practice with painting myself into a corner via problems. I make everything too easy for my characters, which I guess is a different kind of corner.

Kat Harris said...

I imply that Jag is Vi’s brother. And she’s been kissing him.
That tattoo I was telling you about? Yeah, it transmits locations and Adam can’t touch Gabby unless he wants to broadcast where she is for the bad guys. That complicates the romantic side of things.
I make one of them betray the other. It’s usually for something the betrayer can’t control, but the betrayee doesn’t know that, and there’s this huge thing. Trust is a big deal in relationships, so if you can break that down and toss it out the window, that causes quite the dent in the romance. Of course, then you have to build it back up…. Isn’t writing fun?


Oh you are mean! The second point here really proves it. That's just . . . genius. Wow.

I love it.

Carolyn Kaufman said...

Stories bore me if they don't have romance. Seriously. No romance = Carolyn bored. So I have to include SOME romancey stuff!

Good grief, my word is biolowim.

See Elana's recent blog posts

Recent Posts Widget