Many, many thanks for all the awesome comments and visits on my post last week: #TheIWSG Story Locations and a Terrifying Project. I have tried to get around to everyone's blogs and comment on your posts, but did not quite keep up with the conversation in the comment stream.
So, if you missed it: the terrifying project is, as some guessed, contemporary romance.
Why Contemporary Romance Terrifies Me
Picture from: Nasrulla Adnan (Nattu) from Malé, Maldives
First let's tackle the romance terror/trepidation area.
I am happily married, but romance is about the falling in love part and I hated all the dating awkwardness of my youth. Who finds any of those moments truly romantic? Really. The awkward, terrifying, "does this guy like me or has he just been hanging out with me because he wants my best friend's phone number" moments. (Yes, I met guys like that. Too many.) Or the "I thought we were just having a fun conversation about books, but now he's flirting heavily and I am so not interested, but don't want to treat him like dirt" awkward moments. Does anyone really like those moments?
1. I used to say I would never, ever write romance.
2. Although I have written a few romance short stories, writing something novella to novel length requires time and concentration on a genre that I feel is not my strength.
3. I think getting the right amount of "warmth" versus "heat" is a struggle. I don't want to write "heat" but I do want to make sure the characters are interested in each other.
4. The story I'm writing includes my faith, but I have also described the main character's interest in the guy's hotness so it's not an all emotional-intellectual-spiritual connection, there's some physical interest there, too. According to some genre and publisher websites, this is a no-no. Clean, Christian romance means not even mentioning the guy's general sexiness.
This has never completely made sense to me. I fell in love with my husband's brain, heart, soul, and body. I didn't ignore the physical attraction between us just because we were falling in love in a serious way that included meeting each other's families; going to the movies; running, walking, and hiking together; going to church together; and praying. We also spent time making out. I know, I know TMI and "old lady" dialogue issues are starting to feature here.
So let's move on to the issues surrounding contemporary writing.
1. I think contemporary is tougher than fantasy or science fiction because one must know the "real" world well - which means understanding current standards in dialogue, setting details, and trends.
2. I am a nerdy person, and trust me, I do not know all the current language features used by teens and young adults. My daughters point this out with some regularity and my husband and I had a lesson in correct emoji use recently from a young man at our church, as in "do not use these emojis ever."
An emoji faux pas example: My youngest daughter told me the one eyebrow-raised-smirk-face emoji is a actually a flirtation-with-sexual-innuendo emoji - and that is so NOT what I meant by it when I sent it do my daughters and friends (it's just so embarrassing - agh).
For an example in dialogue issues: when my oldest daughter uses the word "toasty," she isn't talking about warmth, she's talking about anger and irritation.
3. I don't think even the urban dictionary can keep up with all the trends - driven by memes, Gifs, and pop cultural references. However, I did find Emojipedia to be helpful.
Yet, still somehow, my current rough draft is: contemporary romance.
The characters, dilemma, and setting popped into my head and I'm writing it anyway with a "send it" mentality.
I decided I can work out all the problems in revisions with a helpful editor and beta readers.
When it's scaring me too much, I work on revisions for my superhero teen novel and that makes me feel mostly comfortable because I love fantasy and science fiction. Superhero stories blend fantasy and sci-fi elements that work well in my imagination head-space.
I say mostly comfortable because it's contemporary, too, and that's one of the areas that's caused me the most problems and why it's in its sixth revision.
Trust me, no emojis have been harmed in the writing of Anomalies.
Because I didn't include any.