Me & Romance

Romance, generally speaking, is just Not My Thing. I don’t go to the Romance section of the book store, or the video store. If the back of a book I pick up talks about unyielding desires or some such, I put it back down. Telling me how hot a character is doesn’t interest me in the story. And that’s fine. We all have our different tastes. The problem, though, the really big problem, is that I keep writing it.

Let me explain that I have no problem with romance as an idea. People falling in (and out) of love can make for a very interesting story. I like plenty of stories with romantic elements in them, and root for certain characters to get together (I flat out fanboy squeed when Buffy and Spike kissed the first time). And I like honest to goodness romances like Princess Bride and Beauty and the Beast. Every single one of my novels has some romance in it. That I’m not surprised about.

What surprised me was that last year I found myself writing a full on Paranormal Romance. There was just no pretending it was anything else. Then I wrote a Paranormal Romance short story, and another, and now I’m writing another. Which brings me to another weird thing: when I try to write romance, I fail. I wrote a story for a contest a while back. Got it critiqued, edited, had it ready to go weeks before the deadline. But I didn’t send it in, because I just didn’t like the story. That’s why I put down Chains, my current story, a while back. I was trying to write a romance, to fit it into this narrow, wrong view I had of romance, and it only took a few pages before I didn’t like it. When I try to write romance, I think too much about the market, where it might fit, whether a publisher might not like it because of this little part, and that’s besides worrying if my writing is any good at all.

So how do I end up with all these romance stories? I take two interesting characters, usually put them in an interesting setting, and have them fall in lurrve. “But, Devin!” you say, “You just described a romance story!” Yes, I did. But I need to trick my brain into thinking about it as a story, and letting the story be what it wants to be instead of hemming it in with all these wacky ideas of what I think “romance” as a genre is.

The story needs to be written first, the labels can come later. If it happens to be about people falling in love, so be it. I like writing those stories. And I probably like Romance more than I think I do. It wouldn’t be the first time I was wrong about something.

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