Romance: The Love of Writing About Love

romantic picture with kissing silhouettes of two people with long hair

I love romance. Love it, love it, love it. Nothing satisfies me more than getting to the end of a well-written lesfic romance, closing the book (or switching off the Kindle), and breathing out that deep sigh of bliss over the delightful journey I’ve just taken. There is something incredibly special about two women—regardless of their situation in life, their past, their colour, their sexual identity—finding in each other something so profound that it alters their lives in the most wonderful of ways.

Every time I read such a book, I am in awe of the story-crafting that has been employed by the author to elicit such a reaction in me. How did they know which exact words to write, in that exact order, to make my heart beat just that little bit faster, and my stomach do that kind of tightening thing it does when I’m getting the “feels”?

You know what I mean, right? That indefinable combination of emotion and physical response to a scene that has you tingling with joy at what those two characters are sharing. It’s a good dose of empathy (if you’ve been there yourself), maybe envy (if you haven’t), a definite dollop of awwww, a hint of arousal, and an all-round deep satisfaction that you just cannot explain.

And here’s the thing: I’ve discovered I can make that happen for myself by writing romance. Who knew? With the power of hindsight, I think I was under the impression that if I was writing a romance, I’d get so caught up in the writing itself that the emotion would be lost on me. I’d be conveying it on paper but it somehow wouldn’t touch me, as the author, even though I would hope it would touch the reader.

Wow, was I wrong. I’ve given myself the “feels” on a number of occasions when the scene I’m writing has my two characters experiencing all that they’ve wanted in a partnership. I’ve cried, laughed, and come over all squishy, as I call it, and sat back from my desk with a huge smile on my face. Bringing to life that level of emotion for imaginary people, whether my words will be read by anyone else or not, feels amazing. I’ve conjured these women out of my imagination and given them lives, emotions, passions—and then brought them together in 70,000 words of completely made-up scenes and events to allow them to find each other and bring each other love and happiness. It sounds a bit barmy, really, when you step back from it and look at it objectively. But that’s the beauty and wonder of writing—it all starts with that imagination.

So, is writing romance easy, then, I hear you ask? Hell, no. Are you crazy? I certainly do not profess to be an expert, and maybe those authors who’ve been doing it for a lot longer than I have would disagree, but I think writing a romance is just as difficult as writing any other genre. Possibly even more difficult, given that a significant proportion of a romance involves writing about, and conveying with absolute authenticity, feelings and emotions. I imagine—as I haven’t ventured into that genre yet—that writing an action/thriller novel is difficult from a more technical standpoint. You’d have to make sure the fight scenes were realistic and believable, that what the heroine was doing was feasible, etc.

With romance, you rarely have such distractions. It’s all about the hearts of your characters, and diving deep into their histories, their hopes, their fears. At the same time, you don’t want to overdo the angst and bring the reader into a total downer where all they want to do is throw the book (or Kindle) across the room in despair. It’s a fine line, and that’s where some of the best in the business get it just right. Being able to take us, as readers, into the mind of a woman who’s just met someone who sets her pulse racing, and for us, as readers, to feel that, is highly skilful writing.

Romance, when it’s done right, is so beautifully easy to read and lose oneself in, and I, for one, will be adding many more titles to my ever-growing collection of lesfic romance this year. Hm, the trouble is, which one should I start with…?

A.L. Brooks currently resides in London, although over the years she has lived in places as far afield as Aberdeen and Australia. She has just published her second book, Dark Horse, with Ylva.

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