Monday, March 19, 2012

Writing Romance as a Christian & Teen

From one of my medieval history books. All together now: "ewwwww..."
How did I end up here?

Fact no. 1: A few years ago, I was strongly averse to any kind of romance. I blame BBC Robin Hood for starting my serious breakdown (note: BBC Robin Hood came AFTER I wrote Forest of Lies).

Fact no. 2: I originally didn't want to write Forest of Lies when I brought the idea together (fall 2008) because I knew I was young (15!) and didn't feel I could write it yet. The book wouldn't leave me alone. I voiced those concerns to my writing teacher and he told me to write it anyway. I cried I was so happy. I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN BETTER.

Fact no. 3: Forest of Lies isn't a traditional romance by any stretch of the imagination. At least I don't think so. I haven't really read romances.But hey, it's no Romeo & Juliet. Or BBC Robin Hood. Or Rose & Doctor.


Fact no. 5: Christian publishing is basically known/stereotyped for its fluffy romances. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO...

Fact no. 6: Not to mention the (deserved) stereotype of teens writing romance. DOUBLE NO NO NO NO NO NO NO...

Get the picture?

I honestly don't know how I got here.

Or why in the world I'm enjoying it. (OYAN forum status this morning: "Nothing quite like characters who are hopelessly attracted to one another and trying to ignore it." No, no one has responded to that...)

But I figure since I say that God's responsible for this book, I guess He has me writing it for a reason. Romance and all.

In an attempt to make this post somewhat helpful (and not just a "I've gone to the dark side help meeee" rant it really is), my advice for other young writers who have fallen down the slippery hole:

1. Realize how little you know. Don't assume you know anything about romantic love. Because honestly, chances are very high that don't, if you're my age. That's why I didn't want to write this book, and I imagine it saved me from much embarrassment.

2. Then study. I don't mean go out and read as many sappy romances as possible--in fact, I'd say avoid that. Watch married couples. Read the Bible. Try to figure out what love IS. Love is something you probably DO get, even if you don't understand romance. Why? Because love is more universal. You love your friends. God loves you. Figure out what LOVE is--because love is the deep well that romance should grow on if it hopes to last.

3. Avoid the mush. Thankfully, I've never liked mush, so this was easy. Reasons I don't employ it and suggest others don't either: 1) this is likely the part you don't have a chance of understanding, 2) am I the only one who feels extraordinarily silly writing it? yes? okay, moving on...3) sheesh, these characters thought the were alone and now I do that to them? I mean really.

Anyone else experienced the "oh crud, they're falling in love" moment? Have advice to add? Don't like my advice? Thoughts on romance + young'uns + Christians?


Hannah said...

I'm glad you wrote FoL even though you didn't think you were ready!

And oh yes...I have had an "Oh crud, they are falling in love!" moment. I suspected it for a while, but when I finally figured out that my suspicions were correct, it threw me for a loop ^_^

Katie Oostman said...

I love it when characters fall in love on their own accord. It's so much more natural. You can't plot it. Not in books or in real life. That's what separates cheesy cliches from the relationships that just make you feel good (not like a spy) to watch grow. Rose and the Doctor. Absolutely. When I think of them, my heart still breaks. Why? Because their love wasn't selfish. And it was geared towards a higher calling. Etc.

Gah. I hate romances. But I love love stories.

<3 Inky

Farjag said...

I gotta say, having characters who think they hate each other, and do their best to try to avoid thinking they love each other... actually makes things easier in the end. No Mo' Mushy! :)

Nairam said...

@Hannah: Me too. ;) Wisdom of da Mr. S. Haha, isn't it "fun" when characters throw you for a loop?

@Inky: Isn't everything more natural when you let the characters take the reins? (Not completely, of course, or nothing would ever happen to them...). Bingo on the love thing. Real love ISN'T selfish, which is what makes it so beautiful.

@Farjag: You're probably right in that! Lucky me one is fighting it and the other is oblivious. :P

Godsgirl said...

Nice post, Nai!
No, there is nothing like charries who are attracted to one another and trying to ignore it :D I've got me a couple of those. Three, actually. (Don't worry...not a love triangle XD)

I think that romance is something to be handled with kid gloves. It can be deadly, or it can be beneficial. It is all in how you weild it. I agree with you - AVOID MUSHY-NESS AT ALL COST!!! I is icky! Not to mention what it does to your mind...

Sandy said...

I like the advice you give here.

Although the 'oh crud, they're falling in love' (nicely put) moment has not plagued me as much as I would have thought it would, it did happen in my latest novel. Sorta. And I kind of just... stepped around it. Which wasn't really a good idea. Hopefully the readers didn't pick up on it. o_o

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