Romance, passion, and lust: three things that I have never lacked on a personal level but three things that my writing has lacked over the years. Sure I've talked about love and have described characters having intercourse but it was always very technical. Part of me thinks that the good little Christian school girl in... hahahaha. Sorry I couldn't even finish that sentence I was laughing so hard. Point is, I always have had trouble getting those feelings that I have had over the years out onto the paper. Instead I lived in the safe bubble of showing characters interacting up until the passionate moments and the skipping to the next scene.
What I was missing was a great opportunity for character developement. There's room for the reader to learn even more about the character from the interactions they have with others. Rylie is a great example of this. In Summer's Hollow she has this notion that she is a freak so she ignores most advancements from the boys around her. Then when she meets that boy that makes her heart race and he in turn likes her back, she goes a little crazy for him. Upon the first draft of SH there was no passion between them. Sure they kissed, held hands, exchanged looks but that was pretty much it. I was stuck inside that comfortable bubble.
Now that bubble has been popped and I have been flung outside of my comfort zone. You won't see Rylie having sex with her love interest but the passion is definitely there. She may be that good, yet somewhat on the freak side, farm girl but like any other teenage girl whose hormones are flying, there is that spark between her and the boy in question.
This was not an easy thing to acheive. In fact the past month since I paused the release date for SH I have been in research mode. I have been reading books that I would've otherwise never picked up. Hell, I even raided my mom's drug store romance novel collection for some inspiration. Dare I mention I actually enjoyed a Nora Roberts book? My mom has never been prouder. See I am still that dark, cynical writer with these characters who may not be the most romantic but at least now I know how romance could be. In fact I am working on a new series (not sure what I'm going to do with it) with a character who is much different than what I've written before.
Her name is Jessica Lamb and she is a high school student who has had to grow up very fast because of her parents' tragic death. They were these great humanitarians who traveled the world, helping those who were in need. Jess strives to fill her parents' shoes while trying to still be a normal teenager. Now I know she does sound along the lines of what I've written before but her twist is that she happens to be a hopeless romantic. She wants to find that true love and along the way falls into many different relationships that turn out less than great. She's also the first bisexual character that I've explored (not counting Morgan from Deal with the Devil) and I'm excited to get to know her better in the process of practicing my romance writing. It is very different to me to write these stories that have no ounce of the occult or supernatural in them but I'm adapting.
This of course is just a side project and I'm not sure if I will actually publish any of the works. If anything I will post some excerpts on my writing blog A Pen and a Piece of Mind to showcase this side project. Don't worry though I'm still working on Summer's Hollow and it's still slated to come out towards the end of the summer. These little side projects are just ways for me to practice my writing while getting to learn more about another characters. For me all my characters are like friends that I am meeting for the first time. This morning for instance I decided to have coffee with Rylie by writing a completely new scene for SH. It was great to get to know her better and see a different side to her that somehow was stuck inside my brain.
Romance still isn't my favorite thing to write but I can no longer just ignore it and hope it goes away. I still put my dark and humorous twist on romance but it's much better than it used to be. I will no longer tip toe around the kiss leaving the reader wanting more. Instead I'm going to be as in your face as I can be with what is going on in my characters' love lives. I can also promise some of it might get a little... scandalous.