Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Is it Love?

Maven Darcy BurkeThat I'm feeling? Come on, sing it with me! (I know you want to.) I'm going to pose the age old question today: Can real life rival or even, gasp, exceed a romance novel?

I would argue yes.

Now, before you go and roll your eyes or snort coffee out your nose, let me explain. You know the saying, "the truth is stranger than fiction." I think romance can be the same way. Our real life heroes and heroines may not be picture perfect, but I'm willing to bet they share many characteristics.

As Erica is wont to do, I'll use myself as an example. Mr. Burke is absolutely my romance hero. Did I always think that? Perhaps not in those terms, but since I've been in love with him for the better part of 17 years I must have found him heroic on some level. Now, I know without question he is my hero because as a romance writer I recognize the traits in him that make a romantic hero. I use them to build the men in my novels, and honestly didn't realize I was doing so. Does that mean you need a fabulous husband to write great romance? No, it doesn't. It means you may be able to use the romance in your life to craft the Great Romance Novel. (Which isn't to say I've written THE GRN. Yet.)

Our real life romantic experiences build the romance novels we read and write. And even if it's not real life, it's perhaps our fantasies that come out of our real life. I honestly wouldn't want Mr. Burke to do half the things the heroes do in romance novels (probably because I read historicals - he doesn't need to duel the villain to save me, thank God), but in theory he's pretty close. (He worships me, really. Here's where I mention that he surprised me with my first ever Tiffany gift last week - a silver business card holder engraved with my name. He said every professional writer needs a nice business card holder. All together: awwwwww. Given, Jacq's post yesterday, I should say that while I don't need gifts to feel the love, they sure are nice when they show up on your desk in turquoise gift-wrapped splendor.)

Now that I've gushed about how real life can be as romantic as a novel, let's talk about how it's not. Romance novels are an escape. Escape from everything UNromantic about our everyday lives. Kids. Bills. Errands. The pushy neighbor with an excess of tomatoes and zucchini. We need them to be bigger than life in order to eclipse our life. (That said, I still think the elements are based in reality, which is what makes them so accessible to us for such a short time, but I already talked about that so I'll move on. I promise.) Romance novels are exciting, passionate, hilarious - our experiences times ten. Which is what we expect. If it were anything less, we probably wouldn't believe it. We want perfection for our escape, not the strange truth.

So what real life romance or romantic ideals do you use in your writing? If you don't write, what about romance draws you in, takes you away from the daily grind?


B.E. Sanderson said...

Oddly enough I was only able to write romance when I was in a bad relationship. Maybe I was escaping into a world were love didn't suck. Good for me that I haven't written romance in years. Now that I'm happily married, I don't feel the need. And now my husband is the template for my heroes.

And yes, Darcy, your husband gets the Awwww, and then some. What a sweet and thoughtful gift. =oD

lacey kaye said...

As some of you know (*cough* Mavens), I shamelessly steal from Real Life to create my novel(s). I would say the real difference between RL and Romance is that in our novels, we tend to shy away from everything that is not sexy. In RL, we laugh at that stuff. Or we cry. Either way, yes, I think novels are both an escape and based on truth. If there weren't an element of truth, after all, we wouldn't be able to recognize the characters and situations, right?

Erica Ridley said...

Great post, Darc!

I occasionally borrow RL stuff for my novels, too. Although probably not the elements you think. (Would you believe the fountain T takes D to really exists? I saw it. Cool, yet creepy.)

In my stories, I'm not sure I ignore the unromantic stuff that goes on, so much as I make fun of it. It helps me laugh about life. And then lets me concentrate the "serious" stuff on the love story part.

Like B.E. writing romance when she didn't have any IRL, maybe I write funny stuff b/c I'm not always laughing IRL? (But I try to! Seriously, I laugh a lot. Excessively. Think Dr Evil extended laugh sequence in I think AP2.)

I do agree that it's an escape. I love that it's an escape. Yay, escape! =)

Darcy Burke said...

B.E., very interesting. I'm sure if we analyzed the various things we wrote at different points in our lives, it might be good therapy!

Lacey, your life is better than a novel!

Erica, your laugh is lovely. It's so nice to "hear" it now when I read your email. I think you write funny because that's who you are. Period. :-)

Jackie Barbosa said...

Sorry I didn't get around to commenting yesterday. CRAZY day, let me tell you. Work just went NUTSO on me.

First off, I must say that there can be NO SUCH THING as an excess of homegrown tomatoes. Zucchini?Definitely. But tomatoes? Nevah!

I think the one thing I really love about romance novels (both writing and reading!) is that they take me back to the exhilarating first days of falling in love with my husband. I'm STILL in love with him (and he's definitely "in" all my heroes in one way or another), of course, but after almost 19 years together, the "newness" of the emotion has worn off. And there is something incredibly thrilling and exciting about the discovery phase of love that you can never really recapture or re-experience (and, in fact, you couldn't live your whole life in that heightened state of emotional tension, anyway--you'd be a basket case!).

But being reminded of what it felt like is, in a word, lovely!

Darcy Burke said...

Amen on not wanting the emotional overload of falling in love forever. That would be tough. Some days you just need to chill, you know?

Hellie Sinclair said...

Holy cow, how did I not know about this blog before today? You ladies are awesome!

Hellie Sinclair said...

I use my spotty-track dating record to help write my romances. I have a few "what if" guys that have heroic qualities that I use unblushingly in my writing. And I've used my broken heart stories to my shameless advantage when I want to get in touch with my heroine's dark moments.

I just give her a happy ending.

lacey kaye said...

Why thank you, Mz. H!

And you just described the origination of my new wip perfectly. It occurred to me to make Mr. Unattainable the other guy i.e. not the hero, but that would detract from the entire point of giving my heroine her happy ending! And that is why we write romances... right?

Darcy Burke said...

Welcome Ms. Hellion!! Excellent use of real life. And here's to real life happy endings for you. :-)

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