“Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh! Caught in a bad romance…”
Okay, so you can’t actually hear me belting out Lady Gaga but we’ve all been there. Maybe not singing that particular pop song but you know, “caught in a bad romance.” Yep, pretty brutal. Whether we are trapped in the agony between the bindings of a book or with your very own terminally wrong frog, you almost don’t know how bad a bad romance is until you’ve experienced a good one!
It’s true, sometimes you have to kiss a few frogs before you find your prince. And sometimes you don’t realize how right Mr. Right is until you’ve been enlightened by Mr. Wrong.
Some of the best teaching tools come very simply from expirence. Did you read a great book? Did it inspire your creativity or your craft for the better? Maybe you read something just plain wretched… and perhaps learning what NOT to do was just as useful.
Consequently, the hallmarks that make a great romance novel are the very same things that make up the best love affairs. So since we are all learning… in life, in love, and in our exploration of stories, let’s talk about what makes a bad romance so we can avoid them like a cold, clammy first kiss.
Here’s my “Bad Romance” list …. The things that make me want to slap the author for getting my hopes up and wasting my precious time. Care to add?
Yeah, so lets be honest… Barbie and Ken are hot. They look good together. They’re poised and flawless. But they’re also all awkward angles and phony plastered smiles. There is nothing worse than reading two people on a page that are so stiff and generic they are basically plastic playthings that find each other attractive. Means diddly in the grand scheme of compatibility. Flaws can be beautiful. They can even make one person perfect for someone else. Embrace them. If your characters are perfect they are boring. No thank you.
-You bore me to tears but I love you
Do you remember falling in love? Now, I hate to burst too many bubbles but wasn’t it, dare I even say it… FUN? The flirting, dating, laughing, kissing, ahem… sometimes other fun things. (Wait until you’re married) But come on! Fun! No, more than fun. Falling in love is a stinkin’ blast! So if you are along for the ride on the page, you (and those two fools sinking in the love boat) better be enjoying something. I can’t tell you how many romance novels I’ve read where the characters are constantly miserable. The premise might be tough, there might be a lot to overcome, or A LOT of friction, distrust, hurt. But lighten up! Add some laughs. Love is not a drag.
-Your body is the only temple I worship
Since we’re keepin’ it real, let’s get this out of the way. We, all of us, come in packages. I truly believe that our uniquenesses (is that a word?) are the things that make us most lovely and appealing to that special someone. Of course personality is key! KEY! But attraction is also a key ingredient to romance and that includes the outside as well as the inside. I’m not the least bit offended when romance novels touch on physical attributes like weight or build. Paints a picture. Shows an appreciation for a thing of beauty God created. Curvy, slender, muscled, soft, busty, petite, skinny, bulky… there is no one single definition of beautiful.
Shoot, am I going to pretend I didn’t notice my husband had a smokin’ hot bod when we were dating? Was I above temptation? Was I blind??? Heck no! Likewise, I’d probably have been a bit disconcerted if my future husband hadn’t had a clue what I looked like from the neck down. (Clothed, people, let’s keep it clean here.) ;) But sexual attraction is just one piece of the love equation. It can most definitely exist without having a single darn thing to do with that elusive L-word. If you’re gonna write a love story, or live in one, include the appreciation, sure… the pull, the desire, the things that get the engine burning hot, BUT make it about more than confusing lust for love. (Note: Not much of an issue in Christian fiction but mainstream romance is all about the lusty love confusion.)
-Banter with me, Baby!
If your dialogue is a bland exchange of information you are missing the boat. BIG time! Banter is where the romance blooms! If your characters (or you and your super hot date) aren’t talking, laughing, teasing, ENJOYING the whole getting to know you dance, what is the point??? Never underestimate the power of the banter.
-Kiss me you fool!
Last one… the kiss. The thing that distinguishes friends from lovers. Don’t scrimp on the smooches. Not on paper and DEFINITELY not in real life. Because, well… why would you want to.
What do you think? Ever gotten caught in a bad romance? What made it oh-so-bad… and not in a good way? ;)
Amy Leigh Simpson writes Romantic Suspense that is heavy on the romance, unapologetically honest, laced with sass and humor, and full of the unfathomable Grace of God. She is the completely sleep deprived mama to two little tow-headed mischief makers, one pretty little princess, and wife to her very own swoon-worthy hero. Represented by the oh-so-wise and dashing Chip MacGregor of MacGregor Literary Inc.