Monday, September 9, 2019

Why Contemporary Romance Terrifies Me

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.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'd just avoid the emojis.
Dating is awkward. Who wants to go back and do that again? But reading about it and knowing it has a happy ending it a totally different thing.
You can do it, Tyrean!

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

I know nothing about this genre so about all I can offer is this = cheers for you on this new endeavor!

And I just try to stick to the emojis I'm sure of. :)

Anonymous said...

Good luck with this story. I have romantic elements in my stories, but none I'd call a flat out romance.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I'm nervous about the romance in a YA fantasy. That's awesome that you're confronting your fears and writing contemporary romance. I'm sure readers and writers in the genre can help you with what you are worried about in writing it. said...

I think you are very brave, I wouldn't dream of attempting this. That is why my work is set in the past. And as I am so old, I wouldn't have a clue about the youth language of today, I hadn't a clue all those years ago, either 🤭

S.A. Larsenッ said...

You make such a valid point about having to know and understand the real world to write contemporary. I think that's why I lean toward fantasy adventure and middle grade. It feels like a safer arena to explore, yet I can stretch my creativity without feeling fenced in by full on reality. Frankly, I have enough reality on a daily basis. Although, I do love myself a good Hallmark movie. Maybe someday I'll grow up enough to write in the real world.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

My series is NA/YA but definitely contemporary romance. Not as clean as yours will be, but I avoided the heavy stuff. But it is tough to know what kids say now and what to put in that won't be dated in just two years.

I think you'll have fun writing that story.

Powdered Toast Man said...

Are the kids still saying groovy and that's whack?

Tyrean Martinson said...

Alex - yes, knowing the happy ending is coming is a good thing. :)

Madeline - thanks! And, you are smarter than I am on the emoji front.

Patricia - thanks!

Natalie - I decided I just needed to chase the idea down and make it work. :)

Lost - yes, well, this may be the only time I try it.

SA - fantasy adventure is awesome and middle grade is a fun age!

Diane - Mine isn't as clean as the "clean" industry standards - but I just can't see keeping it all mental-emotional. Yes, the dialogue is a tough one. Sometimes, I think I just need to avoid all slang, as much as possible.

krystal jane said...

Some things are universal. You probably don't have to worry about trendy language, but it's good you have people you can check in with on this just in case. Seriously, kudos for tackling this. I can do contemporary fantasy. I like blending the real world with fantasy, but I can't imagine doing a contemporary romance.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Thanks for the encouragement, Krystal!

Heather R. Holden said...

Best of luck with the contemporary romance! I've always been apprehensive of that genre, too, despite all the romantic elements that creep into my stories. (The happy ending requisite especially scares me. I can't just shove my characters off a cliff when I get bored?! Pfffft.) I think it's great how you're pushing yourself outside your comfort zone like this. Hope, with time, this story ends up feeling more fun than terrifying for you!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I'm so excited! I love romance, though my strict adherence to the romance genre is questionable. But I love love and I love happily ever afters.

(I was also a VERY awkward teen. Dating was excruciating. Fortunately for me, my husband saw past all my weirdness and loved me as is.)

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