1. labelab

    labelab Active Member

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    Romance Writing romance with no experience in love?

    Discussion in 'By the Genre' started by labelab, Sep 4, 2020.

    I find that I'm always stuck in a writing rut when it comes to romance. My writing is like my love life; boring, bland, often non-existent. I've never been in a relationship, or even come close to one. I haven't had a crush since I was 13. Yet, I find myself strangely obsessed with romance. Movies, TV Shows, books... I just can't seem to get engaged in anything else.

    The same goes for my writing. I have all these amazing ideas that I'm so proud of, and they don't go to any use because they're better in my head. When it comes to trying to write out what I think love might feel like, it feels shallow and fake and cringey. And it find myself stuck in a rut.

    Does being in love change the way you write about it? Does it make it easier having the experience? And, if it does, how do I, with no experience, write about something else? Is it possible to write a story with no elements in romance in it whatsoever?

    Thank you x
     
  2. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    like anythig else research... read romance books, read biographies where people fell in love, talk to people who've fallen in love etc

    I've never been a marine or special forces operator or a criminal, but I have 6 books where the protag was a marine then became a spec ops operator and then a criminal ... same thing
     
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  3. TheOtherPromise

    TheOtherPromise Senior Member

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    First I feel like better in my head syndrome is common and more likely a symptom of lack of practice than lack of real world experience (though I do doubt it will ever go away completely).

    Second, while real world experience would be helpful, it shouldn't be necessary to write convincingly. If it was the fantasy genre would never exist. Fiction doesn't have to be realistic per se, but it should be convincing, and you can learn a lot by studying what others have done in the genre by reading and watching a variety of romances.
     
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  4. GraceLikePain

    GraceLikePain Senior Member

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    It sounds like you need to go in a more fantasy direction. The thing about those YA romances is that they're romances with odd creatures, and thus the romance gets wrapped around how love affects the species the human is dating, and how there are cultural conflicts as a result. Also, think about the things you find attractive in people, or else ask couples what they like about each other. Then you can take those things and build a relationship based on them. Like say, how a girl might like a guy because he builds motorcycles in his front yard, and how she admires his sense of handiness and independence as a result. What kind of girl would go for a handy/independent guy? Someone with a lazy father, or maybe one that was henpecked all his life? Maybe she likes the idea of roaming across the country and thinks that this particular guy is the answer to her desires.

    Stuff like that. Pick a thing, and then ask yourself questions about that thing to build ideas upon it.
     
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  5. N.Scott

    N.Scott Active Member

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    I think most writers like to write in the genre they love to read. And as you mentioned, you are already devouring romance books, tv, and movies, so that's a good start. It's an organic way of learning the ropes. To go deeper, to find unique experiences, try to talk with people - family, friends, people you like, people you don't like, those around you, and those you don't know. Ask them questions, watch them interact with one another(writers are allowed a degree of people watching without it being too creepy), learn their stories, and keep a notebook, note down details that feel fresh to you.

    Also, there's this quote I really like:
    "A writer needs three things, experience, observation, and imagination, any two of which, at times any one of which, can supply the lack of the others."
    - William Faulkner
     
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  6. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    Are you interested in writing a story with a romantic relationship in it, or a genre Romance novel (central love story, Happily Ever After or Happy for Now ending)?

    I'm just curious because your first paragraph makes it seem like you want to write a Romance novel like the ones you love to read, but then ask if it's possible to write a book with no romance in it at all.
     
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  7. labelab

    labelab Active Member

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    I’m interested in YA with a romance sub-plot, because I have so many ideas for the character that don’t involve their S/O. Though it would be interesting to try and write a romance novel without romance
     
  8. labelab

    labelab Active Member

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    That’s a really beautiful quote :) I was feeling kind of dejected because a lot of people tell me that you can only understand love if you’ve experienced it. It’s nice to know I don’t have to ditch my plans completely!
     
  9. labelab

    labelab Active Member

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    Aha, I expected that response. “Better in my head” syndrome has always been a problem for me and it’s definitely something I’m working on.

    However, I always notice that my romance writing is best just after reading a romance book. Right, I’m gonna go read some more now x Thank you for the help!
     
  10. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    I think you just need writing experience with romance. I'm aromantic but write romance. When I started writing it I had to learn to focus more on the aspects I normally gloss over when reading. I don't think my disinterest in real world romance has affected my ability to write it. Perhaps it just made me focus on the sex too much at first and feel awkward with the lovey dovey stuff but I realized that and have grown.
     
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  11. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I'm up against a similar situation in the book I'm developing now. Romance, love stories, no problem—been there, done that, bought the t-shirt. But what I've never had is children. To be honest, while I like kids well enough (give them to me when they are 10) I'm not ...and never have been ...a baby person. Goo goo, etc. Just no. I would find the 24/7 responsibility thing really unpleasant. I've baby-sat babies, but was always really glad to give them back to their parents after a few hours. I'm just not a baby-nurturer. (Fortunately my husband is of exactly the same mind. When we were discussing the issue ...with trepidation ...before we agreed to get married ...we were both ecstatic to discover neither of us wanted kids. It's not an issue where compromise is possible, so if the two marriage partners disagree, one has to give in to the other. Which means one is probably not all that happy.)

    Anyway, as far as my story goes, my characters need to be totally enraptured by their children, for the plot to work. By that, I mean they feel only love and the need to protect and nurture them as babies. So I have to attempt to re-create that, without actually 'feeling' this myself.

    I'll put myself in their shoes, in THEIR heads, rather than my own. I'll imagine what it would be like to really really want a child, then to get a child. And what the day to day would be like for somebody who is perfectly happy to spend it taking care of a baby.

    Like anything else you write that's not autobiographical, the trick is to put yourself into the mind and heart of your character. Imagine what THEY are like and what their reactions are like. The first time you write a character who does things or feels things you don't, provides a revelation. Yep. You CAN do it! :) I know I've done it with other characters in other scenarios. I have faith I'll be able to do it with this one as well.

    The good thing is, when I get fed up with this baby, I can just walk away! And return to it later, when I'm in the mood, knowing nothing will have 'happened' in the meantime. Guilt-free part time parenting.
     
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  12. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    2p.png
    In linguistics:

    Reference = the words we use to describe or invoke the idea of a thing.

    Referent = the autonomous thing itself.

    If - as you say - you have no experience with romance, then you have the references, the words we often use to intone and invoke the ideas, feelings, and actions of romance, but not the referent, the thing itself. Without the actual thing from which to deploy, you will be limited by the kinds of references (words, descriptions) you find and can make us of. The door to creatively describing the referent in your own personal way is currently closed.

    So, replace the missing referent with something else in order to open the door.

    Is there anything in your life, any interest, any passion, any endeavor that has caused others to ask you to chill or calm down as regards talking about, showing it, presenting it?

    It doesn't need to be a perfect replacement. In fact, I doubt there is such a thing. But my advice is to find something (or more than one something) about which you feel passionate and tap into the emotive impetus and drive attached to that thing.
     
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  13. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    Well, you can't really write a Romance novel without a central love story - it's literally what defines the genre, and is what readers who buy a book labeled Romance are expecting to get for their money. It would be like writing a Mystery novel with no whodunit, or a YA book where all the characters are over 30 years old.

    But as far as your original question, no, I don't think you have to have been in a romantic relationship before to write a romantic storyline. I can't really say if it helps or not - I've been married since long before I started writing, so I don't really have anything to compare it to.

    I think @jannert hit the nail on the head with having to put yourself in the shoes of the character you're writing, which requires being able to empathize with others. All of my MCs so far have been either gay or bi, while I myself am straight. But I have friends who are queer, a pansexual daughter who's dated both boys and girls, and I read a lot of books written by LGBTQA+ writers, so I have at least a window into what makes their relationships either different from or the same as my own hetero one, and I try to incorporate what I've observed into my writing.

    @marshipan makes a great point as well in that writing requires practice. My suggestion is that next time you write something with a romantic aspect, even if it seems inauthentic or "cringy" to you, try to fight through it and keep going. When I first started writing fanfic I knew my writing wasn't as good as some of the more experienced writers, but I had to keep writing to get better at it, just like you have to keep practicing to get better at playing a musical instrument.
     
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2020
  14. labelab

    labelab Active Member

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    That's so fascinating to hear! Thank you for the help x
     
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  15. labelab

    labelab Active Member

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    Sorry, that 'romance without romance' thing was a joke lol. But, yeah, maybe I just need to work on fostering a deeper connection with my characters. Something I struggle with is going really deep into a characters head because I think it sounds messy, but I'm trying to break past that! Thank you for the advice x
     
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  16. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

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    Well, it's not like their isn't anything out there to refer to. Romance is so often covered, even in books/movies where romance isn't the main subject. Books/movies are not real life and often don't depict it realistically because real isn't as dramatic and tense and climatic as fiction.

    I would suggest you look at romances that are considered well written and read those. Ask yourself why it worked. Try to think like the characters. I was always told 'write what you know other wise it wont be realistic' which always confused me, because I hardly found many romance novels or movies that true to life.
     
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