I love romance, and no, I never pretended I didn’t. I never rolled my eyes at the genre or tried to improve other people’s opinions of me if they got all judgy about what I was reading. Here’s the thing, I read. I read a lot. I grew up reading my grandmother’s Harlequins from Penny Jordan to Carole Mortimer to Nora Roberts to Kay Hooper and many, many more. I would raft with Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain and I shipped Tom and Huck with Becky (yes, I was that girl.) I ran wild with Trixie Belden solving mysteries and had fingers and toes crossed that Jim would ask her out. I cheered when Honey and Brian went on their first date.
In Junior High, I ventured to other worlds with Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. I was torn between wanting Kitiara and Tanis Half-Elven to find love and later, I kept my fingers and toes crossed that someone would love Raistlin enough to help him discover a different path.
In 1980, Leia told Han “I love you” and he said “I know,” then he was frozen in carbonite. In the same film, Darth Vader told Luke he was his father. The movie traumatized me, ripped my heart out and tap danced on it leaving me to want more and more. I could not wait for Return of the Jedi–I needed closure and I needed to see the love between these characters resolved in some ways.
Whether it’s the love between brothers (Raistlin and Caramon or Han and Luke), love between lovers (see above) or love between friends…the organic nature of those relationships had me reaching for book after book, film after film, and television show after television show.
Romance is important to every kind of storytelling because it’s at the heart of who we are. Humans crave connections — we want to be close to other people — so whether we’re fighting an empire a few hundred galaxies away, journeying through Stargates, riding magical horses that can speak or fighting dragons on the wring — we can all relate to romance, to the hunger for love, human companionship, touch and passion.
Whether I’m writing Marines, wolves, Chance books or Soulgirls, Bromance is a lot of fun to explore. Some of my favorite relationships in books and film are Bromances–Gibbs and Tony on NCIS, Jack and Daniel (Stargate SG-1), Alaric and Damon (Vampire Diaries), Oliver and Diggle (Arrow), and yes, Barry and Dr. Wells (Flash) and many, many more.
First Love to Best Love to Life Long Love
Writing any kind of romance whether it’s a friendship, a brotherhood, a first love or a soul deep paring, it’s filled with reward. I know characters aren’t perfect, yet they can achieve a level of perfection in the eyes of their significant other or in the eyes of those around them.
Everyone is beautiful to someone who loves them whether they fit some model of “physical” perfection or whether they obey “social conventions” of normal. Love is not love which alters when it alterations find. This quote from Shakespeare sums it up for me neatly, loving the whole person or in my case, the whole character is far more preferable than he or she is so perfect who could not love them?
Keeping it Organic
Bearing in mind all I’ve said above, what I love most about writing romance is the journey from first meeting to first kiss to first realization of affection to declaration of love. Rarely is “insta-love” as appealing to me because love isn’t a powder to be added to a cup with some hot water, mixed then sipped. It’s more a tea, boiled and steeped until it reaches the right perfection–sometimes you have to add lemon and honey other times milk and sugar.
The best love stories happen on their own as characters get to know each other, explore the world through each other’s eyes and learn something. Love shouldn’t alter a person, or try to alter them, but love can inspire you to be more, to let people in, to reveal a softer side others may not be privy to. Love should invite you to take the journey because it’s about how you got there not just the roses and wine at the end.
Besides…the only way to find happily ever after is to discover happily on the way, and be willing to work for that happily forever–after.
Yeah, but that’s me. What is your favorite kind of love story?