Don’t sigh and roll your eyes. I’m serious. The romance genre gets a bad rap. Want to write stronger emotional scenes? Read romance. Want to understand body language like it’s nobody’s business? Read romance. Want to master emotional nuance? Read romance. Want to build a strong emotional vocabulary? Read Romance
Romance novels are chock full of emotional conflict, and we know that these emotional conflicts stem from the beliefs that the characters hold. (Sound familiar?)
In my own writing, I always seem to struggle with the degree of emotion. Either my characters are calm and in control or extremely angry, sad or happy. What I have to master is emotional degrees. (My term here) Most people don’t just flip out at the slightest provocation, they may simmer or stew, maybe even let it go. If a person repeatedly pushes their buttons, they may become irritated but not truly angry. Sometimes it takes a build up of repeated slights until a person feels insulted, then we land in angry territory.
I know in writing we are allowed to dramatize the characters and that many characters may do or say things in a book that we would never do or say in real life. I get that. But a false emotional response always stands out in a book. She said what?
How many romance novels have I read? A lot. And I’m still learning from them. Yes, I get sucked right in. How many times can I read about falling in love? A billion. Ahhh, the first meeting, the awareness, the chemistry, the banter, the anticipation, the trepidation, the chances taken, the risk, the fear, the payoff. Over and over again I read these stories in different settings with different social mores. Why?
Because falling in love is a fabulous hope-filled experience. It’s something we yearn to feel again. Its a rollercoaster of sensation that for a brief sparkling time, coats the world in rose colored glasses. A skilled author will have the butterflies in your stomach fluttering and your heart skipping a beat right along with the characters’.
But hard to execute. Try it. It ain’t easy, my friends.
So now I read romance with an eye toward emotional execution. I want my characters emotional responses to ring true. Romance authors are great at executing a full range of emotional responses, not just the ones that have to do with falling in love.
And, oh yeah, if you want to see how internal monologue effectively drives a story…you know what I’m going to say…read romance.
I hope as a writer you won’t write off the romance genre as a waste of time. There are many incredible authors and many categories to choose from; suspense, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, paranormal, historical, etc. (and their sub-genres)
Give these books a chance, if you haven’t already. You may learn something and enjoy yourself along the way.