Saturday, April 28, 2012

Writing the Romantic Moments of the Romance

Everyone who has ever read a romance novel or any novel involving intimacy between characters wonders how the writer creates these moments.  Are they based on something that they have done?  Are the characters based on real people?  What is real and what is made up?  This is yet another question that my husband asked me.  "How do you come up with the kissing stuff?"

Okay, so before I answer the question about the intimacy, I will address the character question.  (Always keep them waiting for more.)  Do I base my characters on real people?  For the most part no, though there are certainly times when I draw from different people whether it's a phrase they use, or a personality quirk, or something that I enjoy about them.  Though it's still a representation of them, not the real person. 

All of the men in my stories, angels or mortals, are based on a type of person that I want to write about.  Some are heroes, some are bad guys, but they are all characters that I personally find interesting.  I try to make my bad guys truly mean and crazed, while my heroes are flawed yet redeemable.  That's just what I enjoy.  Each angel has their own personality and quirks, the same with the mortals.  All of the angels are weighed down by darkness which gives me a broader canvas to use.  My mortals have had rough lives that adds an extra layer to them.  I love all of my characters for different reasons.  My bad boys are funny or sarcastic, yet can pull a gut wrenching moment out of nowhere.  My mortals struggle to get beyond their past experiences and make serious choices about their future.

Once I know who my characters are and what their personalities are, then I can decide how they will deal with intimacy.  I want my characters to be intimate in ways that their personalities would allow.  That's not to say that the quiet guy is the sweet and sensitive type, it means that they will approach a woman in the way they have always wanted to.  If they are timid, they may express themselves more fully with someone that they love while behind closed doors.  I try and define their intimate encounters based on what I know about them.

Writing a romance that is heavy on storyline and character motivation sometimes causes problems when it comes to finding time for intimacy.  There is so much going on that you have to find a way to isolate the characters from the action and the people who want to kill them to give them time to express their desire for each other.  You try and make it plausible, but sometimes you have to bite the bullet and pull them out of the story even though they should be running for their lives or fighting back.  Given that it's a romance, you have to find time to add that aspect to your story and let me tell you, it's not always easy.

Okay, now the good stuff.  How do I come up with the kissing and hugging parts?  As I have said, I try to let those moments be defined by the characters.  I imagine what it would take for a character to satisfy their wants and needs.  Sometimes they prefer being tender and meaningful, other times they fully intend on rocking someone's world.  I also have to figure out where they are most comfortable being intimate with someone.  I have one character who prefers to be out in the open for anyone to to see him.  I have another who starts off tender and shy, but embraced his darker side as the excitement builds.  Another was abused and had no control over the situation so he enjoys being in control. 

Have I drawn on my personal experiences to create the intimate sections?  Sure.  I have used moments that I have experienced, good and bad, but mostly I try to figure out what the character would enjoy.  For example, my Angel of Death relies on his eyes to focus his power and see into a person's soul to figure out how best to tempt them to commit murder or suicide.  No one likes looking him in the eyes.  When my characters finally get together, they lock eyes the entire time which brings a level of intimacy for both characters.  She can look death in the eye without flinching and Death can look at someone in a positive way. 

As a romance writer I also get to explore things that I have never experienced.  Instead of trying to be intimate while the kids are screaming, the dogs are jumping on the bed and worrying about getting up on time, I can imagine a place and setting where the characters are alone and have enough time to do everything they want to do, without distraction.  I am also allowed to do things I would never do for a variety of reasons.  Characters in romance novels don't tire out as easily, don't get cold in the shower when the water isn't hitting them and don't have to worry about certain times of the month.  It's a fantasy world where people shrug off the reality of the world and do what the have always dreamed of doing.  Do I really want to stand in a freezing castle and be intimate?  No, not without a space heater, but my characters find it thrilling to be caught.  So as you can see, I try and let my imagination go to the places that I'm not will or able to go.

While I enjoy writing about the "good stuff", I spend more time writing about the story, the plot, the characters, and the character motivations.  Truth be known, I only spend about 5-10% of my time writing about the "good stuff" because I'm busy filling in the space between the intimate parts.  I  want to be able to create an interesting story where people happen to fall in love with each other and can express their feelings for each other. 

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