Tuesday, January 27

Writers Paying Attention

https://www.etsy.com/listing/82076838/romantic-love-quote-dictionary-art-print?ref=sr_gallery_41&ga_search_query=love+quotes&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_page=22&ga_search_type=all
I'm a romance junkie. I confess--I love romance. I write romance, I read romance novels, I want my movies to be romantic, and I avoid films that don't have a love story. I want all the stories I read or see to have that happily-ever-after ending. I'm not even too picky about the vehicle for those love stories either--go ahead and plop that romance down in the middle of an alien invasion (Independence Day) or the Civil War (Gone With the Wind) or 18th-century Scotland (ah...Outlander!) or even  Paris in the 1920s (Midnight in Paris).

I also love watching people around me falling in love, being in love--how sweet to see young people gaze into each other's eyes over coffee at Starbucks. My heart sings when I'm in the grocery store and I see a gray-haired, stooped man reach for his wife's hand, and she gives him that smile, the one that says yes, I'm here. I'll always be here. I soak up romance everywhere I go.

Part of being a romance writer, or any kind of writer really, is paying attention, watching, examining every situation you see. And it’s not because your friends and their pain and joy may end up in your novel. Writers aren’t taking notes during their friends’ and family members’ crises—well, at least this writer’s not. But most writers I know have amazing memories and imaginations. We use our memories to bring life and realism to the gritty situations in our stories and our imaginations help us when we can’t quite find the level of emotionality we need to convey.

But we take a chance when we write about situations we’ve never experienced. There will always be someone who’s actually experienced or is experiencing the same exact things our characters are going through. I once got a great review for Sex and the Widow Miles that included a personal story about how the reviewer related to the heroine, Julie Miles, because she too lost her husband to a sudden heart attack. I couldn’t help getting a little bit choked up when she wrote that I’d gotten the emotions of the situation right on. She should know—and I confess, I don’t. But I’ve seen friends lose their spouses and I’ve witnessed the paralyzing grief, the unbearable sadness. I tried to portray that emotion in Julie’s struggle to get her life back after Charlie’s death. It warms my heart to know that for one dear widowed reader, it worked.

Romance is fantasy, our heroes are often bigger than life, our heroines are often the women we wish we could be. But for me, real life is what's romantic. I love stories that try to bring the real world in just enough for me to feel a connection. I like aging characters--men who are sexy, but maybe a tiny bit paunchy and gray around the edges; women who are beautiful because time is showing in the fine lines around their eyes and in bellies that are no longer tight and flat.

Talk to me about how you find the inspiration for the romance in your stories. Do you ever see a couple in the airport or in a restaurant or on the street and think, "I want to write their story"?





8 comments:

  1. I confess to reading fewer romances than I used to. For one thing, who has time? And for another, we too often don't get the real romance. I don't think I truly understood it until I knew just how far beyond the sweetness in the coffee shop romance went. From the aspect of somewhat paunchy and maybe gray-haired (I'm not telling!) it all goes so much further and longer and more precious. Just like you told it in your books and to us here. Good job, Nancy!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It does indeed go much further and longer and more precious...it's good to be a grown-up in love, isn't it? I miss malt shop romance too...does that make us hopelessly old-fashioned?

      Delete
  2. All the time! Those little moments we get to spy, when we're really paying attention, are where some of my best ideas come from. I've been thinking lately I want to read a saga, but instead of it going from Generation A to Generation C, I want it to be 1 couple. I want to see them giggling over coffee and then struggling to keep the romance in the midst of dirty diapers and throwing up and then flowing into the comfort (or discomfort) of everything being familiar...and figuring out where romance and excitement comes in. Hmmm...wonder how I could sell that to my editor...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kristi, wouldn't that be a fun series? Following a couple from falling in love into real life and then through the years...wow! I'd so read that! Maybe we all need to get together and write this one--each of us taking a different time in the couple's life--like an anthology, but with the same characters... hmmmm... ;-)

      Delete
  3. *raises hand* Guilty of eavesdropping and observing--and also of cataloging stories about things that have happened to friends (and me!) for future use. I agree; romance has no boundaries, be they age, gender, or even (in some cases) species. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So glad I'm not the only one eavesdrops, Cheryl! I do it in airports, restaurants...everywhere. Confession? I once got out of line at the grocery and slipped behind a display to hear the rest of a conversation between a feuding couple. And yes, some of the flavor of the argument ended up in a book, but I'm not saying which one. ;-) Thanks for stopping by!!

      Delete
  4. I'm a romance junkie, too. I just can't get enough when I'm reading or writing. For me, most of my inspiration comes from dreams. And the rest comes from my own fantasies. ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, Chrys! Dreams are good source of inspiration--do you keep a dream journal by your bed? And yeah, even though I'm fascinated by other people's situations and experiences, my own fantasy life is pretty rich and also a good resource. Thanks for coming by!

      Delete