I look at Amazon's bestseller list, and it makes me wish I could write romance novels. Romance novels are huge. For a while, I was seriously trying to write one myself. I even wrote an outline and a few chapters. But there's just one problem: I hate romance novels.
I know it offends some people to say I hate romance, but I'll bet everyone has a genre they hate - sci-fi, western, action, you name it. So I don't mean to belittle the genre. I'm just talking about my personal feelings. And my personal feeling is I don't like it. I don't even like romantic movies. I just don't get it.
The biggest problem was, I had no idea how to write for the target audience: women. I know what makes a woman attractive to a man, but as a straight male, I don't know what attracts women to men, besides the obvious of tall, muscular, and handsome. When I got to the part where I described the hero, I had to ask my wife for help. "What would she notice first in a hot guy?" "Eyes." "Okay, what are sexy eyes like? What's a sexy color for eyes? How would she look at his body? Would she be attracted to his arms? Stomach? Butt? What if he's wearing a suit? How would he be attractive and buff if she can't see his body?" When he introduced himself, I thought, "What's a sexy way for him to introduce himself? 'Hello?' 'My name is...?' 'Hey, there?'"Every word I wrote, I kept thinking, "Is this romantic? What's a romantic thing for this guy to say? If I have him say this, is that a turn off? Would this make the hero unlikable?"
I have to say I learned a lot trying to write romance, though. I have a lot more respect for romance authors than I did before. I used to think romance was easy: girl meets boy, girl loses boy, girl gets boy back. But in reading up on romance, and trying to form a plot, I realized it's not that simple. It's hard coming up with reasons why they don't just get together, and are kept apart for a novel-length story. Best advice I read was to figure out why falling in love is the worst thing that could happen to the hero/heroine right now, and build the story around that. I've also never been interested in the emotional lives of my characters, but I discovered romance is all about emotions. It forced me to try to delve deeper into the character's minds and hearts to find a story, which I think is useful.
Eventually I decided to give up. I didn't think it was turning out well, mainly because of my dislike of romance. I imagined what someone who hated science fiction would write if they tried to write science fiction: crap. In my future work, I'll probably put in a romantic subplot, because I think it will add depth to the story. But I don't think I'll ever write an entire story about romance. My genre is adventure and sci-fi. But I still look at the bestseller lists and wish I could get me some o' that.
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