• Ejuen Armstrong

How New Writers See Romance

Writing a story about romance...? Yawn! That's how ignorant I was. Yes, I started with romance, because . . . well it was surely the easiest thing to do.

Coming directly from the legal field of writing, I confess I was a little arrogant, despite knowing zilch about writing romance, unless you count reading as writing. I didn’t even have any romance stories among the numerous books on my book-shelf. I had to go out and buy some from my local church charity shop. (Well, I wasn’t going to pay the full coin for such tosh, was I?)

Finding Inspiration

This meant that, starting up, my only frame of reference was the romances I’d read, mostly belonging to my mother, and the stories I had then imagined. There was also, just one other.

It was the single attempt I had made as a teenager after reading my mother's seemingly endless supply of Mills and Boon romances. While I never managed to come up with a name for my romance then, there was a particular line in my story which I considered to be ultimate personification of the beautiful heroine.

That line was the title of my book Her Cheekbones Were So Pointy. Subtitle: That Her Lips Met.

I can’t even say I produced this alone. I had input from my younger sister, a mere child then—who if she’d ever heard the word ‘romance’ might have thought it a reference to Italian insects. So yes, I was so clueless about writing I needed help from my little sister to come up with descriptions (you’ll see why later on).

But to her mind - and I did not disagree - if you wanted to be a beautiful heroine, then pointy cheekbones were the thing to have, right alongside laughing eyes. In fact, had there been space, the book title might have well been:

Her Cheekbones Were So Pointy and Her Eyeballs So Laughy that Her Lips Met.

Keeping it Short

By the way, you don’t need all the other crammed in stuff on the title; that’s another How Not To. Keep your title short and coherent. Unless of course, you’re writing a book like this. Then the world’s your oyster. As is the book cover. Kudos, Leo.

The story was never finished, and after persevering for some weeks (well, it may have been days), I came to the conclusion that writing romance fell entirely beneath the genius of my own muse. Romance was for failed writers, for non-starters, and no-hopers. For those who would never 'make it' (with maybe the odd exception of a certain Nora Roberts).

In my grown-up years, I can now look back and realise the much happier outcome: the world’s romance readers were saved from having their imaginations mangled and traumatised. Romance isn't any easier than any of the other genres. It takes time, passion, and energy to write a good story. If you don't believe romance falls in the same category, then you're where I was once at with a lot to learn.

My other blogs are part of that journey of learning. Feel free to make a start here.

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