Whole Lotta Love (in Books)

It’s nearly Valentine’s Day, a holiday that tends to divide most of the population. Those who love it do so either because they enjoy the romantic elements, or because they are madly in love and appreciate a reason to celebrate that feeling. Others hate it, for reasons as diverse as single-dom to the commercialization of love. I myself always fall with one foot in either camp—while I tend to be fairly evasive when it comes to relationships, I’m also a giant mushball when I’m actually in one.800px-Antonio_Canova-Cupid's_Kiss-3-Hermitage

So, in the spirit of all things loving, romantic, heart-filled, and Valentine’s-oriented, I figured today’s post should address love. Specifically, love in one’s novel.

Once upon a time, I thought I wanted to be a romantic fantasy writer. That is, I wrote Kyresa, a romantic fantasy novel. I’m quite proud of that little baby, and still aim to find her a home, but in the time since finishing the book I’ve stumbled upon some darker roots. This could be a combination of bad love memories, or maybe just an imagination that lends itself to sinister undertones, but dark speculative fiction is the direction of my next novel.

And yet to my surprise, as I set about outlining early last week, I discovered…my story had an embedded romantic plot line! At first, it felt counterintuitive, but the more I thought about it, the more I figured most everyone experiences love, is in love, or wants to be in love, thus making it a natural element for even the least likely of tales. In fact, when I got right down to it, I realized that most of my favorite books included a romantic plot or subplot: The Black Jewels Trilogy, Jane Eyre, The Robber Bride, and The Demon Lover, for example, all have romance weaved into the tale (or as the main tale). The little anti-romantic in me took a pause after that discovery and screamed, “But I like my stories really dark!” Yes, indeed, they can still be dark, but even the deadliest of creatures needs love! 🙂

The element of romance in one’s novel is of course dependent one how big a role it will play in the tale. Is the relationship already established, with the two characters bonded and holding strong together as they face the real essence of the plot? Or, will they meet in the course of the tale, taking the reader along the romantic journey with them? More questions arise as you delve into fictional romantic elements—will their love be traditional or not? Will they fight their romance, or will they fall epically fast? Will their love carry through the whole novel or will the breakup happen in the tale? And of course there comes the big authorial decision (heck, the big romantic life decision)—should they have sex?

While I knew before ever starting to write Kyresa that the romance would begin with a meeting and transform into a full-blown, serious relationship, I’m not as certain where the love story in my current book will lead. Will there be a meeting? Yes. Will there be a love affair? Yes. Will there be sex? Uh, with a succubus as a main character, I’m pretty sure the answer to that is straightforward. Still, do I have any idea what will happen in the long-term? Not a clue. I guess at this stage in my writing, I like my romantic journey to be as mysterious as it is in real life!

So what about you? When you write, do you tend to include romantic plot lines or subplots? Do you have the entire relationship mapped out before you go, or do you sit back and let it unfold as you write?

For those of you who do tend to weave romance into your tales, I’d like to refer you to a lovely little post on romantic plots by writer and blogger Katherine Checkley. It’s an oldie but goodie, and I think worth a read here. Speaking of love—I’d like to thank Catrina Barton, since she kindly nominated me for two blogger awards, the Versatile Blogger and the Very Inspiring Blogger! I’ll try to address both in a future post, but for now, thanks so much, Catrina!

Don’t forget to share your thoughts on writing romance in the comments section below…and in the meantime, love, kisses, and romance to all—in your books and in real life. 🙂

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About Eva Rieder

Eva Rieder is a speculative and contemporary/mainstream fiction author. By day, she masquerades as a high school Math and English teacher. Though she adores teaching and her students very much, when Eva returns home she reglues her fingertips to the keyboard to pursue her alter ego’s destiny. She currently lives and writes in Northern California with her two keyboard-savvy cats. View all posts by Eva Rieder

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