Some days I feel like all romance novels were bought at Starbucks. Tall. Dark. Handsome … Sweet. Petite. Tan … Met in tropical paradise. God created every romance as unique as He created people. As writers, why don’t we?
I once asked a single friend of mine what kind of man she was looking for. I promised that if I stumbled over one in the street that matched such a description, I’d pick him up, dust him off, and promptly deliver him to her.
“You know, what every woman wants: short, chubby, thick beard, receding hairline …”
I’m guessing my silence spoke volumes.
She rolled her eyes. “Those guys in the romance novels are fake. I want real. Just once, I want to read about a chunky chick and a hairy biker who hate each other at first, but against all odds [insert her dramatic sigh here], find they’re hopelessly smitten with one another.”
And she’s right. So many of the romance stories we read are copycats of another story we once read. They just have different character names.
I know a man – we’ll call him Huck (Why? I don’t know. Just go with it.) – who once dressed up in a suit and tie and took a dozen roses to his love interest at her office, trying to be the man from the romance novels. Did she fall madly in love? Nope.
Huck told me that she told her secretary to go tell him (second-hand stories – stay with me here) to go change into his work clothes and bring her a large Diet Coke with extra ice and leave the roses with the old widow woman at the corner of Seventh and Broadway. So Huck did as she asked and they’ve been married for 30 years.
I love that story.
As writers, we should strive to create a brand new experience for our readers. Something they haven’t read over and over since their teens. How do we go about finding a muse for such a romance?
My grandparents have two completely different versions of how they met (probably because my grandfather has forgotten but doesn’t want me to know). Both are sweet and well worth their own novel. All I had to do was utter the words, “Papa, how did you meet Nanny?” and after he stumbled over “ums” and “let’s sees” and a lot of head scratching, he told me how he valiantly swept her off her feet. (I’m worried it may have been how he swept some other girl off her feet long before my grandmother, but for a story’s sake, I wrote it down and moved on.)
There’s more to romance than tall, dark, and handsome. Stop imagining the kind of romance you dream of – it’s probably one you’ve read about! Start thinking about the romance that would probably drive you off a cliff but, for someone else, could be their greatest fantasy!
Meanwhile, I’m working on the chunky chic story … the things we do for friends!
Delaina Netherland is a word-lover from East Texas. Her faith, her job, three kids, and two stray dogs provide daily inspiration and comic relief