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What is Romance, anyway?

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.

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Writer Versus Publisher

As a writer first and foremost, I have, understandably, always had a motherly connection to my work. I conceived of an idea, nurtured the idea into a storyline, created the characters. Then I allowed the whole creature to evolve into the story it would become. I am mostly a panster type writer. I start my journeys with a tank of gas and a credit card, with no idea where I will end up. My characters introduce themselves to me slowly, over time. I fall in love with them, and they never fail to surprise me time and again.

The first time I encountered the independence of characters whom I thought I had created, was in my first novel, Remember Me. I set up my protagonists to experience their first kiss – only to watch their dialogue provoke a heated argument that had one storming off in one direction and the other standing there, like myself, wondering what the hay just happened.

It was at that moment that I realized I was a writer.

I accepted that every serious work I create – the ones that take me away and really end up creating themselves – becomes a part of me. I know my characters as well as my own family members – probably better. I travel their path with them, feeling their emotions as fiercely as they themselves do. They are as real to me as anyone else I know.

What never occurred to me until recently, however, is that other writers feel the same way about their works. Just as attached. Just as affected.

So when I received our first query – a professional quality, well-constructed, attention grabbing request to view an authors work – I was in no way prepared for the rush of emotion that came with it.

Here was an author, like me, who was offering to trust me with her work, something she has poured a little of her heart and soul into. She was willing to trust me with her precious creation. She was asking me to be its godmother.

The weight of the responsibility landed on me with a force that took my breath. The urge to run away was barely exceeded by the excitement and the privilege of having her entrust her work to me. Were I able to pick up this new little being, my hands would be shaking and I would be holding it close to my own heart, breathing its scent, holding its hand, stroking its cheek.

It was a little overwhelming.

I reread her query. I printed it out and hung it on the wall. I sat for quite some time just looking at it. And after a good deal of deliberation, I decided that, yes, not only did I want to see her story, but I vowed to treat it with the reverence it deserved, to respect the effort that went into creating it, and to do everything in my power to present it to the world with pride and enthusiasm as if it were my own.

It was at that moment that I became a publisher.

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Asking Writers to Write for No Pay

We’ve received considerable flack from established writers and writers’ groups who insist that we have no right to ask writers to write for no pay.

And they are absolutely right. Writers work hard at their craft and certainly deserve to be rewarded for their time, their efforts, and their creativity. Many an artist has fallen victim to unfair compensation by an unscrupulous publisher, to copyright infringement, and to outright piracy. The Internet, in fact, gives such shady practices an even wider berth. To make matters worse, there is little the writer can do to completely prevent the theft of his or her work, save for keeping it hidden from all eyes – which, of course, by it’s very nature, defies the purpose of writing in the first place.

Here at Romantic Shorts, this early in our growth, we are, in fact, asking writers to write for no pay.

There is nothing devious in our request, but we would like to explain.

Romantic Shorts is not just a new publisher; we are a brand new, online concept. While we have vision, drive, and goals, we really have no idea where this idea will end up. There are no examples to emulate. No leaders to follow.

Our starting capital is so low as to be negligible. In today’s economy, and given founder Alexandra Brown’s refusal to borrow money, that fact will not change until Romantic Shorts can produce a product and sell it. Unfortunately, the product is elusive.

A true chicken/egg dilemma. We won’t make money until we have writers. And we won’t have writers until we make money.

And if we are an unknown even to ourselves, it certainly follows that you, a writer, will have some serious apprehensions in working with us.

So how do we convince you?

The question that you, as a writer who is considering submitting a story to Romantic Shorts, should be asking yourself, then, is not, “How much will I get paid?” but rather, “How much do I want to take a chance on this new publisher?”

While you are deciding, Alex Brown would like you to consider a few key factors.

“I started work on this website in March of 2010. Since then, I have spent countless hours researching, marketing, planning, learning, crying, learning some more, asking, listening, and writing. While I have two partners lined up to jump in more fully once competition entries begin to arrive, most of the work up until now has been my own. My family is now on board, seeing this as my new full-time job. And I am committed like a crazy woman, often finding myself up at 4 a.m. punching out some idea on the computer while it’s fresh and exciting. My days start with an energy I haven’t felt in a long time, and I can’t wait to see what new experience I will have each and every day! Watching my dream come alive is a dream come true.

“My husband and I set about creating a ‘family motto’ when we encountered our first major life obstacle together.

FAITH ~~ INTEGRITY ~~ PERSEVERANCE

Faith~Integrity~Perseverance

They hang on our wall for all to see. Whenever we have a decision to make, we always come back to these three key values. We make every decision with Faith, that we will make a good and strong decision, with backup from above, Integrity, that we will decide our path for the right reasons, and Perseverance, knowing that we will, however, have to work very hard. I carry these values with me into Romantic Shorts. My purpose is not cheat anyone – not of their money, their work, or their trust. My purpose is to create something out of nothing, to build something that helps others realize their dreams, and to grow that into something that will promote positive change in this world.

“If you are a writer who shares this purpose, we need to talk. As soon as Romantic Shorts is making any money, we’ll all get paid. Until then, come on this adventure with me. Grow with me. Learn with me. Help me help others. Share your work as I am sharing mine. Not for the money. (Okay, maybe for money some day.) But because you believe in writing, in helping, and in taking a chance.”

Everyone has to start somewhere. Down the road, our success will be measured by our reputation. Is Romantic Shorts a stepping stone in an author’s career, or a destination? Are our writers proud to be associated with us? Do we enjoy a fun and beneficial relationship with all of our writers?

Bottom line? Do what you love; the money will work itself out later.

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