Friday, July 17, 2009

A minor epiphany!

While reading Kandy Shepherd's debut book 'Love is a Four-Legged Word' yesterday, I had a minor epiphany about writing romance.

There's always so much focus (in blogs, workshops, editor interviews, etc) on making sure there's something MAJOR and IMPORTANT keeping the hero and heroine apart (INTERNAL CONFLICT)!! This seems to be the reason many wannabee authors (including myself) get rejected on mss, which are otherwise considered quite noice, so it's right we focus on such things. But... I sometimes wonder if in the HUGE strive to achieve the perfect internal conflicts between our lovely characters, we forget that there needs to be a MAJOR reason, if not reasons, why they should be together as well.

In Kandy's book, the hero and heroine get chatting (at a funeral as it happens) about their love for animated Disney films. Not only does this show they have something in common but it gives the heroine insight into the hero's more 'human' side and she begins to fall for more than his stunningly sexy good looks. I'm only at the beginning of this book and so I'm sure there's many more reasons why the hero and heroine go so well together, but it made me think about my own wips and wonder if I've given good reasons why my h&Hs are PERFECT and therefore will make the reader root for their HEA!

In my 'Feel The Heat' entry, Matt and Libby are instantly attracted to each other but quite aside from the physical, Matt likes Libby's gumption and attitude and Libby likes Matt's humour and passion for his cars. Yet... in terms of what they've got in common, I can't think of anything concrete. They both have issues with their parents, but is that enough? Me thinks not.

In my current MH wip, Sebastian and Martha find each other attractive immediately but have pre-conceptions about deeper issues of personality that stop them acting on this attraction. So far the only thing I can think of that they have in common is their love for younger siblings and the fact they both work with their hands. Is this enough? Somehow... I think I have to work on more!

So... I'm now gonna think about WHY my hero and heroines should be together as much as why they shouldn't. Hopefully... this helps bring my mss' up to publication standard.
Would love to hear your thoughts...


Jackie Ashenden said...

I agree with you, Rach. Yep, it needs to be more than just great sex and a hot body!

I have taken to thinking about this too. In my Feel the Heat entry that I rewrote, there are reasons why they initially like each other and get on well - he likes her determination and she likes his wit. But the reason they're PERFECT for each other is that he learns how happy having a home makes him, while she learns that home is more than just four walls and her own things around her. Those are things that each is missing at the beginning of the story, that they figure out at the end.

In other words, the hero, due to his life experience or the kind of person he is, has something the heroine needs, that she can't get or hasn't got from any other man, that makes him perfect for her in the end. She may not know this at the beginning of the story but will figure it out. And of course this goes for the heroine having something that hero needs too.

As if internal conflict wasn't enough!

Becca J. Heath said...

Great post Rach!
I think you're talking about 2 things?
There's the something in common thing... ie the disney, and then there's additional things that they bring to the relationship. More like what jakie was talking about.
Not sure i've done well with the thing in common - a kid? Is that enough?
Thanks for the interesting post!!

Janette Radevski said...

This is wierd.

I was having trouble all week with a couple of scenes, namely getting the h&h from simply being attaracted to each other to them sleeping together.

I wrote and re wrote the scenes a number of times and each time, it felt wrong. My last attempt is still slightly more on target, but the reason why this is weird is because of HOW they turned out.

1. The hero layed out reasons why the heroine should consider his proposal for a fling by pointing out what he could give her (and therefore what she has never been able to get from any other man).
2. Whilst considering his somewhat indencent proposal, the heroine considers what they have in common (ie reasons they SHOULD be together).

So in a long winded way, what I am trying to say is I think you girls are right on the money!

Mel Teshco said...

I think there would have to be some driving force - conflict - internal and external, that is keeping the H/H apart who would clearly otherwise be together. Whether or not they have loads of similar interests, or are more in the vein of 'opposites attract' I'm not sure it really matters? I think it's how strong and believable the writing is, how believable the characters are, that make any given situation work?

Lacey Devlin said...

It's very interesting. I've always been so focused on the conflict. MUST HAVE CONFLICT!!! kind of hysterical chant while I write but I very rarely stop to figure out what they have in common. I develop them as characters but separately... hmmm today's going to be a long day :)

Erica Hayes said...

Agree that this is often forgotten in an effort to concentrate on conflict, conflict, conflict... If it's all conflict and no connection, how can the relationship ever work, beyond the initial attraction?

In her book 'Passionate Ink', Angela Knight calls it 'why they complete each other' -- the reason that she, and only she, is the right woman for him, and vice versa.

Mel Teshco said...

Off topic here, but I'm loving that book by Angela Knight!

Rachael Johns said...

Jackie - fab point about them being perfect for each other cos they have what the other is missing!!

Erica - thanks for popping by and also for recommending I delve into Angela's book, which has been sitting on my shelf unread for far too long :)

Lorraine said...

Bit late coming in here but I agree with Jackie - I think if both H&h have something that enables the other to grow, characterwise, then that's a good thing. I think opposites can attract so I personally think the need/character growth angle is what I prefer to focus on, rather than common interests.

Felicity Roger said...

I love that line out of 'Jerry Maguire' where Tom Cruise says to Renee..."You complete me." I guess that is what makes from great chemistry, when the two halves make a whole. And I agree with you Rachel, we spend all our time trying to work out how to keep the hero and heroine apart we forget what melds them together.

Group Liaison said...

hey rach

totally agree... :)if they don't 'complete' each other.. then what is the point of getting through the conflicts....


Rachael Johns said...

Yay J-A - so lovely to see ya here!

Anonymous said...

IMHO, one of the best examples of why a couple are just right for each other is demonstrated very clearly in Jennifer Crusie's story 'Anyone But You'. The reader can see right from the beginning that these two should be together, and are rooting for them all the way through to resolve their differences and get their HEA.

A shining example methinks of what we should all be aspiring to.

Rachael Johns said...

Thanks Elisabeth - I love that book. In fact, I'm a fan of all Crusie's stuff!! Do you have a blog? Would love to reciprocate the visit :)

Joanne said...

Hi Rach - am coming in late but am soooooo happy you posted this.

I've been needing a reason to get my H&H together :) Bingo - thanks for that - you've made my day :D