Packing an Emotional Punch – the art of Romance part 1.



Firstly I just want to say it’s so great to see when I’m planning my blog entries and I go to borrow books/writing resources, I find myself having to wait in a hold queue! Keep borrowing, folks! These are fantastic, FREE resources. 🙂

Anyways, skittering back to the entry…

A couple of entries ago I delved into Mystery writing. Today I’ll be tackling another of our most popular genres. Romance! People tend to fall into two groups when it comes to reading romance. You get those who love a good, juicy love triangle or Cinderella story, or you get those who see the word romance and cringe and roll their eyes (which, in a nutshell describes the difference between a Twilight fan and a not-so-much-a-fan-of-Twilight).

Still though, the romance genre makes up a HUGE portion of the market so there is money to be made in the genre. However, regardless of whether it is sparkling vampires or brooding billionaires, there is an art to getting that romance right.

A common rejection point for editors in the romance field, according to Valerie Parv, is lack of emotional depth. But what does that even mean?

“I should have suspected something was wrong when the first time I was seriously kissed I was told to ‘put some feeling into it’,” writes Valerie in her book Heart and Craft. “Unbeknown to me, I was writing about emotions without feeling them inside myself.”

You know the depth in a romance novel is truly great when you can you can take the reader on that emotional journey along with the character. “When we cry with a fictional heroine, we release some of our stored-up sorrow,” states Valerie. “The same with joy. We may come away from the experience feeling emotionally wrung-out , but also cleansed and liberated – which tells us that emotion on the page is there to evoke emotion in the reader.” But how does one achieve of depth of emotion in their romance?

“First, you have to make readers care about your characters,” states Valerie. “This means… the author must know them as people.” A good way in achieving this is making the reader feel as though this story is about them. “This character is the reader’s gateway into the romance. […] You do this by immersing the reader into the character’s emotional responses to what’s happening in the story. At every step of the story, you need to ask yourself how the viewpoint character feels about what’s happening.” Valerie then brings out the need to dig deep for those feelings. And don’t hold back on utilising the five senses; sight, smell, sound, taste and touch. They are all vital in fully immersing the reader into the page.

And if that isn’t enough, the late Frank Brennan stated once on the topic, “Put in as much emotion as you think you need and then double it.”

“You want the reader to be so caught up in the emotional struggle that she flips to the back of the book to reassure herself the heroine makes it safely to the end.” So grab a box of tissues and get cracking on working on those feelings. 🙂

This is just one of several important elements in getting the art right. In a future entry, I will delve into some of the juicy stuff like making your character believably suffer through her trials, and, of course, the knack for creating that sizzling chemistry between the heroine and her hunky love interest.

Happy Writing. 🙂


Source: Heart and Craft by Valerie Parv.


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