Monday, June 24, 2013

Why I Don't Write Love Stories

If you've read my books you may have noticed that there isn't really a strong romantic theme in them. I've been asked why this is before and here's my answer. Any writer knows that if you want to become popular one of the fastest and easiest ways to do this is to write romance. It's a huge market. HUGE. The love triangle, the happily ever after, the fears and doubts that another person doesn't feels the same. All of these make a romance interesting and keep readers wanting more.

But despite my knowing this I've hesitated to write it myself. Not because I think romance is too fluffy, or unrealistic (although that might depend a bit on the book), but because it's something I haven't experienced myself. I take great pride in writing out of my own life experiences or using elements of my understanding of reality to flavor my works. Even if they are exactly the same, for instance I have never been in prison, but I have been stuck in a room for days with only some books I've already read and a deck of cards. While they are not the same physically, the feelings for both are. I've eaten a chunk of bread after a roach crawled out of the loaf I tore it from. I don't know if I'd ever eat bread with a roach still in it, but I know what it's like to be hungry and not care what was crawling on my food.

There is truth to the saying that writers should write what they know, because by doing this they can make what they write come to life. It's a saying I learned before I really considered writing as a career and in my teen years I even made a list of what I could write about based on what I know. It was a bit depressing. My list of things I could write about was pretty small and definitely not exciting.

But what that saying does not mean, something I've learned over the years, is that you have to murder someone to write about a killer. There is always an element to which writers pull from similar experiences to describe things in a way that is realistic. Like the prison thing. If I write about that I pull on my own experience, imagine what it would be like to be in the prison my character is in and then combine the two.

However, with romance there is this mental wall for me. Romance is not just about describe the way cold water feels on your feet after they've been burnt in the scorching sun. It's a combination of feelings from a relationship between two people. And relationships cannot be faked. If they are the reader can't connect and it will seem contrived. There are some aspects of romance I could write about. I know what it's like to have a crush, to like and possibly even love a guy, but I don't know what it feels like when a guy loves me. I could fake it. I've read enough romance to steal the experience from others, but I don't want to do that. I would only be relying on my imagination which would make the end result taste a bit off, a bit stale. It would not ring true to reality. One day I expect to be able to write romance--I even have the book ideas ready, but until then I'll have to wait.

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