Sunday, February 14, 2010

Love, love love....

First of all, before I get started with this post, let me explain I grew up a pseudo-tomboy.

This means I was always a girly-girl, but one of those awkward teenagers who hated to be TEASED TO DEATH by older siblings if I did anything girly - like reading romance novels, watching romance movies, writing romances...!

If you remember that scene from Ben Hurr where Judah and Messala are having a happy reminiscent gabfest. They shouted, "Up Mars! Down Eros!" <- That was the attitude I took through my teens, even when guys started to look interesting and one finally convinced me to go out with him. Along the way I grew more confident in my skin and stopped caring what other people thought.

So it isn't that ironic that my female characters all seem to have that same awkward beginning. Because I know what it feels like to hide your emotions if they are too embarrassing. =)

When they meet The Guy for the first time, they generally turn into Saturn with defensive (I know it is just dust held in place by the planet's gravity, but I like to pretend they are like a shield) rings all the way around. This means they become like Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice, and don't recognize the fact that the guy has been flirting with them for half the book. Or they become like Belle from Beauty and the Beast, and keep refusing the guy's advances because the relationship would be TOO COMPLICATED to deal with.

My guy characters - sometimes are the same way. Or they are as clueless as Darcy from Pride and Prejudice and have no idea how much trouble they are getting into as they begin to harbor feelings for the untouchable female character. By the time they realize that the female character is going turn into Julia Roberts and do a Runaway Bride routine, they have already gone 300 miles down a one way road.

Marbles is a good example of this. The female character has already experienced a failed relationship with her boyfriend and is anti-men as a result. When the guy character first makes his appearance, there is an immediate and obvious physical attraction between the two of them. It is something he acknowledges right away and is willing to act on, but not exactly with any permanent intentions. She KNOWS that is the case, which probably makes him just as bad as her failed boyfriend, but ten times worse. So she goes into defensive mode and fights to keep her 'weakness' from growing. The guy sees right through her and thinks she's hilariously naive and prudish while she fights 'nature'. It is all a game until he actually starts to care for her and realizes that making her love him isn't enough to win her over. Which freaks him out. :P

Or sometimes I have guys who feel that immediate attraction and know exactly where it will lead, and willfully commit to either winning over the female character, or simply learning to live without her.

Gladiitor is probably a good example. The main guy character first sees the female character at a vulnerable moment and falls for her. But she is not interested in him that way, or anyone - partly, because she is that self-absorbed and ambitious. Every time he thinks he's gotten through to her and drew a like response from her, he sees her shrug the moment off as something that made her feel too vulnerable and uncomfortable, painful even.

A while ago, I read a complaint from another person about romances, and why they don't read them. It had to do with the characters angsting after each other the entire novel. The consensus was that the couple should jump into bed and get it over with. And here I was going - AAACK!!!

In real life, the sweetest and most natural romances are the ideal ones. There are exceptions, but the general rule is if you are fighting all the time and not communicating while dating, it will get worse when you are married.

But when I'm reading a book... um. I actually prefer lots of conflict, even after or while the characters battle the hormones. Think about why so many of us are obsessed with reading Pride and Prejudice, or watching the A&E version. There isn't ANY kissing in the book. The most that the characters touch one another is during the dances, and even there it is little more than holding hands for a few minutes.

I'm sure the craze isn't all about Colin Firth jumping in the lake and walking up to his house all sogged.

Well, even if it WERE about CF, you must admit that P&P would be a completely different novel altogether if it went this way:

Bingley points Elizabeth out to Darcy, suggests that Darcy dance with her. Darcy takes a look and immediately trots over to ask Elizabeth to dance with him. During the dance he avidly compliments her and expresses his admiration. During the next dance, they duck out onto a balcony (or closet) for a snogging session. Ten minutes later, he introduces himself to Mr. Bennett and asks for Elizabeth's hand. Elizabeth stands next to him blushing and mentally counting all of the trinkets she'll buy as Mrs. Darcy, mistress of Pemberley.


Fine. I'm not denying I've seen books like that.

If there is anyone out there, what's your opinion?

If you are writing a romance - what is your favorite part to write? Do you prefer to have the realization/consumation (could be also first kiss if you're writing a 'sweet romance') early in the book, or would you rather spend the entire book building up the tension?

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