Write 2 Be Magazine

For the Artists Who Like to Remain Strictly Out of the Box

Rules of (Fictional) Romance by Lauren Grimley

Valentine’s Day might be over, but as every single girl knows real romance lasts all year. Or at least as long as the Kindle battery remains charged.

Though I certainly recognized when I was writing my first novel that I had slipped in a romantic subplot, I was a bit surprised on the day of its release to find it listed under the Gothic romance category on Amazon. Brushing aside the fact that it’s not overly Gothic, there was the absurd idea that I had somehow written a romance. We’re talking about the girl who as a preteen preferred the death and gore of war stories to the lip-smacking drama of Sweet Valley High. We’re talking about the woman who walked by the romance section of Borders for years, giving the bodice ripping covers the same condescending glare of repugnance that other readers save for comic books and vampire novels. We’re talking about a sometimes bitterly single chick who has bought herself Valentine’s Day gifts for the past three years. Now I’m writing romance?

Since the book was released, I’ve made some giant leaps into the world of romance reading. (It’s all research, of course. I’m just doing my due diligence as a supposed author of the genre.) I moved from reading only paranormal romance, to holy-I-hope-that’s-not-normal romance (thank you, Fifty Shades), to wow-I-wish-that-were-normal romance via the Outlander series. After all this hard work, I’ve come to some conclusions. One, I don’t write romance. I dabble in romance while I’m writing other plotlines. Two, fictional romance has its own rules, and they are not found in your grandma’s guide to dating etiquette. But they do make for some spicy reading!

Here are the top five rules to fictional romance.

Rule 1: Nobody’s easy. In real life if you knew a woman who jumped into bed with a guy she met just hours ago, you’d likely call your friends and whisper a few choice words about her, ‘easy’ being the most fit to print. In fictional romance, fast and furious is the way to fall for a man. Don’t know his full name? Not sure what species he is? Pretty sure he might have been stalking you? Perfect. Mysterious is mind-blowing. It’s almost as good as a gun to your head, which leads us to…

Rule 2: Imminent death is the best aphrodisiac. If one or more person isn’t slated to die in the next scene, what’s the sense in even having sex? In fact if bombs aren’t exploding, enemies aren’t approaching, or illness is not about to suck the last breath from your lover’s lips, than clearly now is not the time to be making love. Don’t fret, though, if lover number one is safe for the time being, there’s always lover number two, because…

Rule 3: One man is never enough. This makes sense, I suppose. Men spend endless hours planted on the couch watching their favorite sports teams battle it out. Why? Because everyone likes some competition. It’s that natural, survival-of-the-fittest instinct boiling to the surface, and it’s not only men who have it. Good fictional romance is the female version of the Super Bowl. The two hottest teams are the male suitors, and the heroine is the Vince Lombardi trophy-seriously, we’re relegated to trophy status in nearly every one of these books, yet we keep devouring them. That’s awful, but then every girl loves a (fictional) bad boy. In fact…

Rule 4: The badder, the better. In the world of the romance novel, you know you’ve found Mr. Right, if everyone around you thinks he’s Mr. Wrong. Because clearly the people who have known and cared about you your whole life are bound to be wrong when it comes to one of the most crucial choices you have to make in life. If he’s a criminal, he had good motive. If he’s cold and emotionless, it’s because he had a hard childhood. It’s all okay, though, because…

Rule 5: People can change. In reality, no woman ought to get it in her head that she can fix, train, or otherwise change a man in order to mold him into perfection. In books, it’s not only possible, it’s downright predictable! The tough guy will soften. The bad guy will show his true, honorable colors. And the heroine who went through all the crappy in-between stages to get him there, will live happily ever after with her newly created Prince Charming.

And despite the fact those of us reading these books in the real world know that this is not how it does, or even should work, we still find ourselves reading these romances and sighing, not in exasperation, as we should be, but in admiration of the fictional men who’ve stolen our hearts and any common sense we ever had.

Man, I wish I really could write romance.

Lauren Grimley is a middle school English teacher, writer, and author of an adult urban fantasy series, the Alex Crocker Seer series. Though she writes mostly fantasy, she likes to share her thoughts on writing, teaching, and life through her website: http://www.laurengrimley.com/

To learn more about her first novel Unforeseen visit: http://www.laurengrimley.com/Unforeseen.html

About Lauren Grimley

Lauren Grimley is the author of the Alex Crocker series, an urban fantasy/paranormal romance series. To pay the bills and test her sanity she teaches middle school English in Central Massachusetts. Though she writes mostly fantasy, she likes to share her thoughts on writing, teaching, and life through her blog. Connect with Lauren on Twitter @legrimley or on Facebook.

Unforeseen, book 1, and Unveiled, book 2, are available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. To learn more visit her website.


About jcladyluv

Jimmetta Carpenter is the Editor and Creator of the Free Fall Literary E-Zine and the Spoken Like A Queen E-Zine. She has dedicated herself to the power of the words and given into her passion for writing and has been writing poetry officially since the age of ten. She has a book of poetry titled “The Art of Love” published through lulu.com under the pen name Gemini. She is currently finishing up with her first novel and already working on her second. In 1998 she had her poem “Rest In Peace” published in an anthology put out by the International Library of Poetry and in the Spring of 2007 will have another poem titled “Through The Eyes of an Angel” published in another anthology also put out by the International Library of Poetry. She was also awarded the Editor’s Choice Award for that poem as well. She is looking forward to having a very long and rewarding career in writing and hopes that through living out her dreams she can inspire someone else out there to realize theirs. Her advice to other up and coming authors is to NEVER stop believing N your dreams and don’t ever be afraid to dream big. Jimmetta can be contacted by sending her an e-mail at freefall_lbp@yahoo.com or jcladyluv@yahoo.com.

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This entry was posted on June 15, 2013 by in The Craft of Writing and tagged , , , .

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