Tuesday, March 09, 2010

The Character Connection

I read this book over the Christmas holidays. It was so good I had to read it again and just finished last night. I couldn't get the imagery out of my mind and needed to bring that feeling into myself again. That feeling that a really wonderful book gives you--of touching imagery through words that have been spun like the finest, smoothest, most tempting silk. Poetry for the soul is this book.

And now I'm inspired. Not to write about teenage wolves (because obviously it's already been done the very best way that it can) but to write something that makes me feel the same way.

It's tough sometimes to be deep and relevant when writing romance. It seems as if the opposite should be true because romance is supposed to be about the heart, what lies between two people as they travel a road of discovery. But more and more I'm finding that there are so many other expectations for a romance novel that it sometimes feels like the soul of it gets lost somewhere between the fantastic hooks, sustaining conflict, alpha heroes and evil blood-sucking fiends.

I actually talk about this a lot, but I think it's important. When we're writing, we have to remember the balance. It's not easy, because it takes effort and you have to be able to dig deep. When you think you've reached that one emotion that will bring a tear or a tender smile to your reader's eyes, dig deeper still. Dig until you cry. Dig until they're your emotions on the page. Balance can be achieved with a stronger emphasis on the emotional experience.

Sure, I like a kick ass knife fight and I enjoy a good end-of-the-world scene as much as the next person, but behind those things, there needs to be a careful, compelling reason for the story, whether I'm reading it or writing it. I want to feel a connection. Don't we all? Isn't that the reason for what we do in all the many areas of our lives?

Whether you're a reader or a writer, do you have a favourite genre? What do you remember the most in the books that stay with you the longest? The interesting plot twists? The feeling they leave you with?

(Photo:  By Antonio Canova (Italian, 1757–1822) (Mak Thorpe (1997)) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons)


ParaGoddess Press said...

You have no idea how relevant this post is for me, right now. I'm in the midst of having a new cover designed for a forthcoming release and my message to the designer (that I don't want a half naked guy on the cover) is currently being weighed against what is expected in the romance genre.

But my writing has never been straight romance. It has romance in it, yes. And some of my books have some fairly intense passion or straight up sex, yes. But at the core is the story - and if it is one without substance, I can't sign my name to it.

Thanks hon - you confirmed my belief that I have to advocate for a different cover. Not a "better" cover --- a different, more appropriate, cover.

Blessings tonight and always.
Moonbeams and Luv ~
Jo Lynne Valerie

Shelley Munro said...

Paranormal romance probably has an edge for me. It's the combination of world building and characterization. I like my characters well-rounded and to jump off the page because they feel so alive. Great post, JK. I like the picture too.