Friday, January 28, 2011

Romance vs. Reality

Hi all, I am a new blogger here at Nocturnal Nights and will be posting on the 28th of each month about writing romances in the genres of fantasy, paranormal, historical, mythology, and whatever else comes to mind.

A little about me: I write Celtic romances for Awe-Struck, Freya's Bower and Noble Romance. My lifelong passion for Celtic mythology and storytelling inspired me to write novels with fierce warriors, bold women and otherworldly creatures. I also edit for a small press publisher. 
My current home is Arizona with my husband and two dogs. Three of my favorite things are men in kilts, sunrises and anything dipped in chocolate.

I look forward to getting to know the other authors and readers at NN. Now, on to my post for today:

Writing romance can be tricky, at least for me, when it comes to deciding how far to take the fantasy and where to draw the line at reality. Usually when I tell someone I write romances, I either get a snicker or a big smile. The big smile almost always comes from a man. And I understand why some people snicker at romance authors—some romances are trite and too ridiculous to be believable. But what makes a romance trite and ridiculous to some is appealing to romance readers. They yearn to escape from reality by reading about a hero and heroine that fall in love, and despite obstacles, have a happy ever after or happy for now ending.

The trick is to find that balance between romantic fantasy and gritty reality to write a compelling romance. How does a romance author write a romance that isn’t too realistic or too unbelievable?

I thought about this when I saw a commercial for the online dating site called Zoosk. With sexy music playing, two half-dressed lovers run to each other in the bedroom and smack heads, then the woman bumps her head on the bed frame and they fall over a chair. Not the ideal romance scene, but in real life romantic moments aren’t perfect. I try to bring some of that realism into my sex scenes. In one book my hero and heroine break the bed frame. This adds some humor and realism to the romance. Moments like that can also reveal something about the characters, how they act in an embarrassing situation. 

I also avoid using purple prose, especially in my sex scenes. (Purple prose is a term of literary criticism used to describe passages written in prose so overly extravagant, ornate, or flowery as to break the flow and draw attention to itself). Every author should avoid the purple prose lure.

Another way to prevent a romance from being ridiculous is to avoid writing situations that are too unbelievable and can cause readers to roll their eyes. The one that bugs me the most is the virgin heroine who feels no pain and climaxes with ease her very first time having intercourse. No way. And this comes from experience. 

By keeping a balance between fantasy and reality, a romance can be convincing without losing the romantic fantasy aspect for the reader. After all, imperfect characters are more interesting and they can still have their happy ending.

Kelley Heckart
'Timeless tales of romance, conflict & magic' Check out my long hair hotties!

1 comment:

Tabitha Blake said...

So true as romance writers we walk a fine line between too realistic and too outrageous. Too realistic and you lose the fantasy but to outrageous and the reader shakes their head. We have to learn balance between the two. Great blog.