An Ode to the Hopeless Romantic

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By Suzanne Williams

I am becoming a hopeless romantic, and I thought that’d never happen to me. You see, I am the girl who watches all the guy movies, the ones with car chases and explosions, gory battle scenes where heads get lopped off. I’m the one who says, “I love that!” when at the end of the movie the good guy decimates the bad guy entirely.

Chick flick? Puh-lease. You can’t get me to watch them. What’s the purpose of a movie where the entire plot is “Will he get with her or not?” No, I need action. I want to be on the edge of my seat, gripping the couch cushion. Well, to a point. There was this one movie where the good guy just couldn’t get his act together until the last scene. I didn’t care for that so much. But I think you get my point.

Yet here I am a year into writing fiction and I, lover of suspense and action, am writing romance novels. Whodathunkit? It’s funny really because it fell in my lap all at once, and I truthfully didn’t see it coming. I had this idea for a novel with a war theme. I ran it by a friend who said, “Write it.” Trouble was it had a distinctly romance theme, and I didn’t know beans about writing romance. For that matter, I didn’t know beans about writing fiction. Two chapters into the story that became painfully evident.

So I did what I always do when up against a wall, I began to study. Now, there are two forms of study a writer does. The first is reading articles on how to write. I’ve read tons of those and have bookmarked them all for future reference. The second form is reading. Reading is by far one of the most important things any writer can do to learn their craft. And not simply reading the good novels, but also the bad ones. Of course, you don’t know until you begin to read it if it’s good or bad, but it’s in the reading you start to see story structure, plot  lines, and all the nuances of what works or fails more clearly.

One of the worst books I read taught me the most about what not to do. The further into it I got the more I knew what I wanted to avoid in my own writing. Another book I read more recently partially succeeded. It had a great storyline and believable characters. However, the author made some minor mistakes that if corrected would have greatly improved the story. I learned from that book as well. But I think the best thing about reading is when I find a real gem. That’s the book I would never have read except I wanted to know if the author could pull it off.

My most recent gem is “Descended” by Dana Pratola. I’ve never been a paranormal romance fan. There’s something weird about semi-human/supernatural beings falling in love when I still struggle with the “falling in love” part in humans alone. Yet she did something in this novel that I was not expecting. She made me believe. I was sucked in from page one and believed every word she’d written. This despite my brain’s need for facts and truth (I’m a history nut). Somehow through her words, I threw out all my concrete knowledge of life and said, “Yeah, this could happen. I can see it.”

I asked myself afterward why that was. What did she do that other authors had failed to do? And the answer came down to two things. One, she made paranormal romance Christian, clean, and morally right. I didn’t think that was possible. Two, the attraction between the characters was as much physical as it was in their heart. I have a distinct problem with romance novels where “he” is looking for a “wife” as if she’s a vase of flowers.

And while I’m on the subject, I also have a problem with a romance novel where the physical overtakes what’s in the heart. Now, I’m sorry folks, but sex (yes, I said the “s” word) is not the end all in a relationship. As a Christian, love and marriage, commitment and the uniting of two hearts, comes first. There isn’t any other way to write a good romance novel because the physical soon fades away, and then you’re left with what?

I’m enjoying my foray into fiction – loving it, in fact – and I like to think it’s making me a more well-rounded writer because I know now what I like to write about and how I like to write it. I can write it better, and I understand what I’m doing more often than not. I’ve also made great writer friends, met some wonderful, supportive readers, and expanded my bookshelves incredibly. But most of all, I’ve become a hopeless romantic. I see now the value of, “Will he get with her?” And to me that’s worth more than words.

But don’t expect me to give up my action movies.

MISSING. The story of three generations of one family tied together through love, loss, and war.

Adele Davis’ husband, John, went missing in action in Vietnam. Five years later, she meets Stephen Sanders and falls in love. Yet should love again? Or does she dishonor her husband’s memory?

Amos and Elizabeth Sanders’ son, Andrew, left home to fight with the Union Army in the Civil War. But he never returned. A strange series of events returns him to them along with something far greater.

Doug and Molly Sanders both have secrets. What happened to him when he parachuted into France on D-Day? And what happened to her? Will their secrets destroy them both?

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4 Comments

  1. Great article, Suzanne, and I can’t agree more. Reading is the best way to learn how to write. And I’m honored and humbled to be included in your studies =-D

    Reply
  2. Wonderful observation! The “romance” part of my romance was one of the hardest things for me to work through. Because, as you said, the physical reaction to a kiss is so much more than the physical response. It’s what it means to the person, what it portends for her future with the guy. I don’t need a how-to manual for sex which I think so much of “romance” books have turned into. Too often those people aren’t in love, they’re in lust.

    Reply
    • I agree. One of my favorite secular authors even said there is no need to describe anything. On the other hand, don’t make it two-dimensional either. A man who is marrying a woman does desire her.

      Reply

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