Brian Knight is the co-owner of Premium Promotional Services through which he helps up and coming authors promote their books. His journey in writing began with the creation of his blog ‘The New Author’ which he has been operating and posting articles on for almost 4 years now. His poetry and short stories have been published in magazines and anthologies. Currently Brian is preparing to write his third novel and has set the goal to join his many friends by becoming a published author.
When I first started my online journey to bring Romantic Shorts to life, one of the first people I met was Brian, through his blog The New Author. Brian’s immediate acceptance and support of my idea has been the most genuine encouragement I’ve received. I was privileged to write a guest post at The New Author, and invited Brian to share some of his experience with us. It is my pleasure to introduce Brian to you…
What Is Romance, Anyway?
By Brian Knight
We walk through the grocery stores and periodically scan the books on the shelves. Many of the books have one thing in common – the covers consist of a man without a shirt on holding a woman in some sort of revealing dress. They are either in a warm embrace or passionate kiss. Is this the sum of Romance? Is this the prime example of the Romance genre? Of course not, this is just a small piece of a very big puzzle.
So, with that said, what is Romance?
Romance is a combination of multiple aspects that combine and generate a particular response from the viewer (if it is a movie) or the reader (if it is a book). That would beg the next big questions; what are these aspects and what is the desired response(s)? Well, I’m glad you asked but before we get to that I want to take a moment and say that this is only my opinion and thoughts. With that out of the way let’s get back to the topic at hand.
Romance should reflect the passion of a couple fresh in a relationship. The aspects of a romantic story replicate the meeting, courtship, and coupling of individuals as they find love with one another. Think back for a moment to your first love. The first time you saw her or him; the first time you talked and touched. Those are the feelings we want in a romance story.
To start things off we want to give the reader that idea of something more; the anticipation needs to start building. We want the reader to think “oh, I think there might be something there.” Once we have established the hook of the budding relationship the next aspect is tension. We need to drag out the actual acknowledgement of the affection felt by the characters. Yes, drive the reader crazy; make them shout at the book and think “come on, can’t you see that he or she is in love with you?” My example of this is ‘Bones’ (the show on Fox). Everyone that watches this show knows for a fact that Booth and Bones love each other but they make excuses why they shouldn’t be together or situations arise that keep them apart. Once you have dragged this out to the point that the reader simply can’t take it anymore, and you have built it up to the highest of high it’s time to deliver. At this point you might be thinking – alright time for the sex scene – but you would be wrong. There is a place for hot and steamy scenes in a romance novel but not yet. True romance is delivered with the first kiss. It is in that kiss that the sparks fly and the hearts of readers melt. Why is that? Well, think back to your first kiss with your significant other. You were nervous but once your lips touched the world fell away, your knees got weak, and all that remained was the kiss.
Some of the greatest romance novels gravitate around the kiss. For example, the kiss in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ completed shifted the flow of the story and confirmed their love. An even more iconic kiss can be found in ‘Gone with the Wind.’ When Rhett kissed Scarlett O’Hara, I’m sure there was a sigh of relief and a smile on the face of every reader. That kiss delivered the full blow of passion that everyone knew existed. Okay, take a moment and let those thoughts and memories dance a little. This is not the last of the romance roller coaster.
A true romance takes another step and that step is dejection, rejection, turmoil, or separation. That’s right, you need drama. Your main characters need to be pulled apart for some reason that deals with your plot. Often this can be done by the introduction of a third character but it can be just about anything that maintains the flow of your story. The next aspect of this is the groveling and pining for each other. The reader needs to see and feel their pain when they are apart. The reader needs to know that the only cure is for them to be together. This, of course, brings us to the finish line.
From now to the end of your novel you complete the plot and resolve the drama. I’m getting ahead of myself here. First, the main characters need to be brought back together. This is the critical time and (depending on your story) this would be the perfect time to insert the hot and steamy scene. This is the time when their passion is overwhelming all thought and reason. The perfect example of this is ‘The Notebook’. I’m sure you’ve seen the movie so let’s have an experiment. Do you think the story would have the same impact if the sex scene was closer to the beginning or after they were separated for so long? These scenes are important but should be handled with care and placed properly. One other note about sex scenes; they don’t have to be so detailed or graphic. Romance resides in the mind of the reader and if you, as the author, take away that ability for the reader to imagine the scene as they see it, then the story will lose part of that impact that we all want. Think of it this way, when you first met your significant other did you picture them naked? Did you fantasize about what it would be like to sleep with them? Do you remember the emotion and energy that produced? This is what we are looking for. In sex scenes we want to give enough to paint the picture but leave enough out so the reader can add the details.
This brings me back to my original question. What is romance? Romance is the combination of drama, tension, innocence, passion, loss and desire that prompts an actual stirring of feelings within us. These elements combine to form those fantasies and memories that we hold on to as we grow old.
I thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and opinions regarding romance stories. It is my hope that they free your mind to think and develop your own opinions about this complex genre. I also want to thank Alex for the opportunity to appear on Romantic Shorts.