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  1. penhobby
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    penhobby Contributing Member

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    Giving up on the love story

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by penhobby, Aug 12, 2008.

    What is love? Most stay away from it as though it were the plague. Its clichéd, it’s been done, it’s boring.

    I will be honest, most love stories depict the five minute meet and greet and sex at the end. but what happens after that? Where does it go?

    Marriage...real marriage is a trial and test of the human emotion of love at its fullest.

    So you fall in love and get married and you have some kids, but eventually you grow apart. Typically, it's time for a divorce.

    But flip that emotional coin and say suddenly your loved one is sick...no dying. Everything changes, and you see your partner in love as they truly are, as they have always been.

    Now…finally, you see them the way they were always meant to be seen. You fall in love again, but this time is different… scarier, because now, they have the pieces of your soul. Pieces you can never take back again.

    Years pass and marriage vows begin to take on a whole new meaning, as you hold your loved ones head over the toilet while they vomit. But instead of revulsion, there is the need to fight back those tears of helplessness, of fear.

    There are hospital visits and medication that make them deathly ill, but it’s not all bad. There are moments, simple moments. Maybe you are watching TV and something funny happens and you turn and look at each other and smile. You don’t have to talk, not anymore, because every feeling is shared already, through a single look.

    And then there is that moment of death, that moment where your soul is ripped apart. It is over. Do you go on? or do you follow? Who can truly answer such a question, unless they have been there?

    Romance is not a dead genre, so don't give up on it. We just need to search harder and look deeper, and then tell the story the way it is meant to be told. This is what a love story should be.
     
  2. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    Nicely said, but romance still bores me for certain reasons inexplicable. I'll gladly read a romance if someone can write a romance not a romance.
     
  3. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    You know what. Romance is changing. I was looking at a romance novel the other day about a vampire, werewolf hunter who is have witch and can decide wether to kill her latest mark or marry him.

    I flipped through and it was cool because she was cutting a lot of throats and kicking butt
     
  4. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Some old clichés never lose their wisdom . . . "Art imitates life." Perhaps, modern day romance writers would be well served to employ this old expression as a guide in their story crafting.

    As you mentioned, "love" changes dramatically over the years. Juvenile love between newly weds lacks the life experience that transforms love into a thing with depth beyond words.

    For example, a few years ago, my wife's mother had terminal cancer. I built a suite onto the back of my home so she could live with us in her last days. My wife broke into tears of appreciation and told me how much she loved me for this effort.

    Then, not long after her mother died, my wife had a medical crisis and lost her ability to walk. It looked like a possible stroke or aneurysm. I rushed her to the emergency room, picked her up like I did when we I was young, and carried her to the ER doors.

    It was late at night and the doors were locked for security. I gently tapped the door with the toe of my shoe while holding my now unconscious wife in my arms. Some stupid nurse waived for me to go around to the front entrance to the hospital. (Later they told me that they can't see through the glare on the doors at night and she assumed I was just another hospital staff member knocking at their doors to save a few steps going to work in the hospital.)

    I knew the doors had emergency break-away hinges required by fire laws, and I'm a pretty big man, so I just kicked the center of the doors hard. They flew open. The ER staff then saw I had a critical patient in my arms and responded quickly. Everything turned out okay with my wife.

    What does this have to do with romance? Several days later, she walked up to me, out of the blue, and took me into her arms. Through tears, she told me how she felt safe in my arms that night and that she knew, from my actions, how I felt about her.

    These things were not "romance", yet their impact on my marriage far exceeds the "love" generated by a box of chocolates or fresh flowers.

    You're right Penhobby. Romance as it is expressed in most grocery store novels has little relationship to the real life tests that measure and strengthen both love and romance. Course, I'm just an old hard SOB so I'm not very "romantic". LOL
     
  5. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    I completely agree penhobby. It seems like love is just a throw-away joke in most of the books I read now.

    Wow, NaCl. That's really powerful. Im glad your wife is all right now.
     
  6. penhobby
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    penhobby Contributing Member

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    I am a fan of vampire romance as well. (Christine Feehan, Sherilyn Kenyon to name a couple.) I call them my fluff books, because they take my mind off of my life. In fact I picked up a Feehan book during my husband’s last transplant and it did take my mind off of it. Yes they have their uses.

    But what I am referring to is the real story of love. The beauty and the heart breaking pain of love. This has been on my mind for a while, because of a story I posted in romance a while back, of a woman dealing with her emotional fears of losing her husband in death.

    One of the comments I received stunned me. He said it was well written, but didn't see it as a romance. I started thinking about it, and wondered about people’s perceptions of love. What does it really mean to love someone? Too not just be that person's lover, but their best friend as well. I'm sorry to say, but I don’t think the average person truly understands what love is. To most, it's just a word.

    ---Sorry I wrote another novel.
     
  7. CDRW
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    CDRW Contributing Member Contributor

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    Mabey it has to do with peoples expectation of the story, rather than the word. I know that whenever I look at the covers of the books in the romance section I don't think mature love. I think porn for women. Needless to say, I've never picked one up and read it.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The romance publishers typically have very rigid formulas for genre submissions, from what I've read. Is it any wonder that the stories have become rather stale within that framework?
     
  9. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    I love your word selection Cog ("stale") because it applies not only to the romance novel industry but to much of fiction today.

    Formulaic writing, IMHO, is the greatest threat to the book publishing industry. By this common practice, publishing companies stifle creativity and reduce the number of "new" writers entering the marketplace. Yes, I realize it's not about literature but about profitability. For me, the most creative and exciting books in the past twenty years came from "new" authors . . . people like JK Rowling and Tom Clancy.
     
  10. TwinPanther13
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    TwinPanther13 Contributing Member

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    NaCl is my hero from now on.

    As far as love goes, I do not read romance novels but i believe in romance. In the short story I just finished it is about loosing love and letting go while at the same time I hope it is kick but sci-fi.

    The basic story goes that a man died for a woman he loved but whose heart he had broken. The man she would eventually marry could have saved her but his "love" the not push past the fear of his own demise to protect her.

    Flash forward 15 years and the man who died comes back from the dead. The woman he loves is now being abused by the other guy who also has a daughter with her.

    She has kicked him out the house fell in love with another man who loves her and my guy shows up 15 years in the future. He wants to be with her but she does not want him she has grown past him. He still saves her life again and disappears in the night.

    The sad thing is that she knows this man who has come back from the dead loves her more then any one ever will. That is an indisputable fact. Yet her heart is closed to him now and he loves her enough to let her go.

    My romance is depressing right.
     
  11. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    When I read your synopsis, I flashed ahead to an alternate ending.

    Your female protagonist deeply appreciates his character for letting go and she gets on with her life. On her way to pick up her daughter from soccer practice, an SUV driven by a teenager on a cell phone crushes your female's small hybrid. This scene ends without telling the reader the outcome.

    The scene changes to a hospital room where a man, the male protagonist, lays in a hospital bed in his last hours of heart failure. He contracted viral cardiomyopathy. . .a death sentence without a heart transplant. His doctor approaches his bed, "I have some good news for you. We have a heart!"
     
  12. Still Life
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    Still Life Active Member

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    If you were to write that exact same scenario in - say - Japanese, Korean, or Chinese, people would automatically say, " Romance." No questions asked. The Japanese, Korean and Chinese exploit the whole terminal illness romance theme. They've explored almost every single illness, and have run out of ideas. One Cantonese show I flipped through had a girl who used to be an artist who couldn't move two fingers on her right hand (her drawing hand) and was so depressed, she fell ill. Not terminal, but you get the gist ;/ But there are some very wonderfully executed stories as well.

    For example, Beautiful Life --> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beautiful_Life_%28television_series%29

    I believe most do know what love is. From my experience with meeting older women (and high school friends) who are avid romance readers, I believe that a part of them is well aware that these sorts of romances don't exist in reality, because they are in - or have been - in relationships themselves. I guess it's a form of escapism.

    Nora Roberts sums up the genre, saying "The books are about the celebration of falling in love and emotion and commitment, and all of those things we really want."
    Or should I say, all those things we want but don't exist? ;)
     
  13. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    As a writer of those stale books that are held in such disdain, may I point out one thing we are doing right. We are reaching an audience. They may not be to everyone's taste, but they sell well.

    In one of my research trips where I hang out in the romance section of the bookstore and talk to readers I had an interesting conversation. I was playing devil's advocate about the formulaic drivel and I was informed I was dissing her mac and cheese. It may not be word perfect, but she basically said, "Sometimes I like mac and cheese -- not the homemade kind with shredded cheddar and browned in the oven, but the stuff in the blue box with the neon orange powder."

    Lots of women read the romance novels at the end of a day when they have gotten the kids up and off to school, got themselves ready for work, gone to work, picked up the dry cleaning and a load of groceries on the way home, made dinner, cleaned house, gotten the kids to soccer/ballet practice, done a load of laundry, gotten the kids into bed, etc. They want escape. They have a snootful of reality, they want the fantasy, the seduction, the world that is nicer than the one they live in. They want the beautiful heroine who has a glamorous, interesting job. They don't want to plow through symbolism and themes and depressing reality.

    Romance novels are "Calgon, take me away" books. It may not be highbrow, fine literature, but it is reaching an audience.

    *Stepping off soapbox now* Sorry for the rant.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Rose, you're dead on right. These books do sell, in the same way that cookie-cutter TV sitcoms and reality shows prosper. They are the non-nutritive bonbons that keep revenue rolling in to the companies that keep them rolling out.

    With the publishers, you probably can fine ones, if you dig deeper, who are looking for more literary romance offerings, the kinds the genre publishers won't trouble to read past the point that they deviate from the template. And face it - if someone wants to break into the writing market, genre publishers are very probably a good bet. As long as you can write decent characters and follow the roadmap, and have the basics of writing down, you can probably serve up something they will accept more easily than you can sell a deeper, more creative piece.

    You can give them exactly what they are looking for, because they tell you right up front what the criteria are.

    That's not to say you don't have to shine next to your competition, but you aren't stuck with guessing cold what will appeal to whomever evaluates your manuscript in the publishing house you submit to.

    You may want to use a pen name though, if you wish to submit to more challenging markets later. My guess is that being seen as a successful romance author (or other genre market writer) could in some cases carry a stigma you'd want to leave behind. At the very least, you would have a choice whether to carry thgat notoriety/fame.
     
  15. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    I use 2 pen names for the romance novels and 2 more for the niche erotica.

    Neither of those genres are my personal favorite, but I am quite fond of the money.

    "Hi, my name's Rosalinda and I'm a proud sellout."
     
  16. Still Life
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    Still Life Active Member

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    Hey, I don't blame you. Can't be a writer if you don't have the "bread and butter".
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Or bonbons ;)
     
  18. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Rose,

    I don't look down my nose at the formulaic "romance genre" books or the authors who write them. As you point out, they most definately have an audience and their readers get pleasure from the fantasy. That's good, and being a strong capitalist, I appreciate the profitability it generates.

    My concern is that this general theme of "formulaic" writing has expanded to almost every genre and publishing company. Using this as their business formula, by its very definition, puts a damper on creativity and prevents new blood from gaining access to the reading public. In my opinion, readers are the real LOSERS under such constraints. . .and over time, if readers don't get excited about new ideas and fresh faces, then they'll take up videogames. . .or worse yet, romance novels! (JUST KIDDING!!!)
     
  19. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Besides, we wouldn't want Fabio to starve :)
     
  20. ParanormalWriter
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    ParanormalWriter Contributing Member

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    Coming in late, as usual. :)

    I only like to read (or write) romance if it's got something else twisted into it. Just plain will they or won't they fall for each other, with tons of internalization about everyone's emotions and dark good looks bores me to death. I prefer there to be some other question to the story. Like will they live long enough to wind up together?
     
  21. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    After reading this thread and noticing that all the people who support and write romance-type novels are women, I'm wondering if there should be an equivalent for men. (one without centerfolds) LOL
     
  22. RomanticRose
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    Believe it or not, there are at least five men who are actively writing romance novels under feminine pen names.
     
  23. penhobby
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    I didn’t start this thread with the intention of looking down on romance books in general. After all I am a fan, as I believe I stated in a previous post. Those books have helped get me through some tuff times. I posted this, because it seemed to me that some members of the forum look down on romance and think it’s a joke. (Don’t lie, you know who you are.) I simply wanted to point out other ideas and methods of writing romance to the forum and to myself.

    It might interest some (I won’t hold my breath though.) that last year the romance genre generated $1.37 billion in sales. I hate to say it guys, but you are not the majority here. By the way, if you ever want to know what your wife/girlfriend is really wanting from you, pick up a romance…it’s not all about sex. Think about it. Romances are books written for women by women. Our secret wishes and desires might just be between those pages.

    This will probably get me ignored by loads of people on here. But I write romantica and I’m proud of it. Cogito---Hunks like Fabio pay my bills. I do insist on clothes though.
    However, I have matured and lived through things most people would never dream of, and now I find that I want to write a love story, (don’t confuse that with romance.) A story that pulls out all the stops and shows what it truly means to love someone…until the day you die.
     
  24. Still Life
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    Still Life Active Member

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    Romance books make up about 55% of sales per year for bookstores. So they definitely are the majority. I will admit I'm not such a big fan. I've only dabbled in Judith McNaught's regency romances, and I didn't enjoy them as much as my friends do. But I can understand why people love to read them.

    Ironically, this goes for all forms of media. For instance, a lot of men are the ones to direct those dreaded "chick flicks" that most men seem to hate. >>;
     
  25. Ore-Sama
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    I think the reason love is played out so badly in romanc enovels is because some people don't know what love is.

    I usually avoided romance in my stories, but in my current novel "romance" is sparking. However the lovers in questions are emotionally out of control teenagers who don't have a clue what love is. They think that if they think someone is attractive and a good friend, they're in love and will delude themselves into thinking it is, even when in reality they are just clinging to someone in hopes of making everything better. Now keep in mind, those are just my characters, but based on high divorce rates(at least in America where I live, not sure about anywhere else) are so high and we have a Britney Spears two days mariage, maybe my characters can relate to some real life people after all.

    It's all over the media all the time:guy meets atractive girl, start to get along, girls dumps guy, guy wins girl back, a kiss, bingo, love. I can think of very few films and shows(which let's face it, are somewhat more dominant then books) where there isn't some kind of romance going on. It pretty much sends the message "You're not complete until you fall in love" They don't want to make it really complex for the viewers either, because despite the fact THEY took the time to throw it in, they have to squeeze in other things unless it's a pure romance genre. As a result, people con themselves into thinking love is so simple, and take any level of affection with a girl/guy(depending on the gender and orientation) as a sign that they found their true love. Then they divorce/break up(depend son if they actually got to the marriage stage or not) and the cycle starts all over again.

    Now I'm not going to try and boast some knowledge as to when someone can say they love another person, that's just arrogant. I don't know, and maybe this is just a delluded rant however that's the way I see it.
     

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