Can You Write Romance If You Haven't Experienced Romance?

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Marian Perera

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Don't wait to see if theoretical relationships you may or may not have happen. What if they are totally depressing downers that leave you embittered and hating people?

And imagine waiting five or ten years so you can experience real-life romance, only to realize at the end that you wasted all that time you could have spent writing.
 

TrapperViper

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Oh, next you'll be telling me George R. R. Martin didn't have an incestuous relationship with his sister. I'm so disillusioned!

lol...

I would agree with others that your desire to find romance would bring so much authenticity to the writing that it would be difficult not to find engaging.
 

Marian Perera

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I would agree with others that your desire to find romance would bring so much authenticity to the writing that it would be difficult not to find engaging.

And the best way to make sure your readers feel the same desire and see your story as authentic is to read plenty of romances published recently. This will show you what the genre is like, how best to present your story, and what your readership expects.

Otherwise, there tends to be a gap between all that enthusiasm/eagerness and what's actually on the printed page.
 

TrapperViper

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And the best way to make sure your readers feel the same desire and see your story as authentic is to read plenty of romances published recently. This will show you what the genre is like, how best to present your story, and what your readership expects.

Otherwise, there tends to be a gap between all that enthusiasm/eagerness and what's actually on the printed page.

lol...seems like you might be referring to someone in particular with this comment.
 

Marian Perera

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So many people assign "rules" to the romance genre that they don't to other genres.

Oh yes. Another one I've seen is the claim that romances are not realistic. Not in the sense that the emotions, motivations and actions of the characters are implausible, but that romances, by virtue of happy-ever-after endings, set readers up to have unrealistic expectations of relationships.

It made me wonder if mystery writers are told that by having their villains identified at the end, they are setting their readers up to have unrealistic expectations of the criminal justice system.
 

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How is that not romance? Or do you mean Romance with a capital R? Which might be a genre thing I don't know about...

I don't know if anyone experiences the kind of romance described in genre Romance.

If you enjoy reading romances and have crushes in real life, you probably have fantasies. The romance genre is about making romantic fantasies come to life. Go for it, I'd say.

People have to draw upon imagination and fantasy in other genres too. People write about having adventures they have not personally experienced, for instance.
 

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I've been married and in love, but I've never murdered, pushed drugs, visited Miami, or layered on an 18th century gown, but I know how to do them all through research.
 

inkdreams

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Thanks. Oh would it be a good idea to ask people on AW about their romantic experiences? :)



*Backs away from murderous alien zebra very, very slowly*

OP, like many have pointed out, you don't have to have personally experienced the thing you're writing about. I can't count the number of people I've murderized in my books. :D And I doubt that GRRM has ever experienced twincest, or hatching dragons, or losing a child, or whatever other crazy shit there is in GoT. Research, observing and talking to people, reading books in your genre, and a healthy sprinkling of imagination will get you there.
 

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Thank you :)

Ah, but you can do better than that: you can start out with unrequited love, and then have it requited!
Don't wait to see if theoretical relationships you may or may not have happen. What if they are totally depressing downers that leave you embittered and hating people?
What you want isn't 'True Life Adventures' what you want to write is 'ROMANCE'!
:snoopy::hooray::partyguy::e2flowers:thankyou::yessmiley
 

inkdreams

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And the best way to make sure your readers feel the same desire and see your story as authentic is to read plenty of romances published recently. This will show you what the genre is like, how best to present your story, and what your readership expects.

Otherwise, there tends to be a gap between all that enthusiasm/eagerness and what's actually on the printed page.

Do you have book recommendations? Maybe lesbian romances? :)
 

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Thanks. Oh would it be a good idea to ask people on AW about their romantic experiences? :)

The romance genre is fiction; you'd be better off to read a lot of it. Read widely in the genre.

And it's poetntially invasive to ask people about their experience; I'd be cautious.
 

ULTRAGOTHA

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I have to disagree with others here. One can always write something, but writing what one knows is a key phrase bandied around by teachers and coaches. If you never have had a serious relationship, you can end up using a lot of clichés and stereotypes in your story, because all you can do is copy from others. Hands-on life experience does help for creating something fresh and authentic sounding. My advice would be to write something else now, and then when you're older and have had significant romantic experience, try your hand at the genre.

Nah. Tons of people write about stuff they "don't know". Dragons. Space ships. Murder. Victorian Egyptology and other historical time periods. Heck look at all the guys writing about Women and vice versa.

Research is a thing.

Inkdream, if you want to write a romance, then read romances. Read lesbian romances (Heather Rose Jones, Claire O'Dell). Read articles about how to structure romance (K. J. Charles has a good blog for writing craft and also a new lesbian romance out called Proper English). Read about falling in love. Go for it and have a blast.

Also, there just plain aren't enough romances featuring aro and ace characters. There's an area to consider.
 

Marian Perera

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Thanks. Oh would it be a good idea to ask people on AW about their romantic experiences? :)

My real-life experiences would probably not be a good story (in general, everything went well for some time, which is boring, and then it didn't end happily, which hardly makes for heartwarming romance). Much better to read the genre.

Do you have book recommendations? Maybe lesbian romances? :)

SBTB recently reviewed a lesbian historical called The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics, if I recall correctly. I also know Courtney Milan released a lesbian historical where both women were over sixty. I haven't read either, though, so I can't personally recommend them, but there are lesbian romances which have been well-reviewed by sites I trust.

I'm not sure what sort of romances you like to read or want to write, though. Historical? Contemporary? Erotic? Spec-fic? YA?
 
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inkdreams

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Nah. Tons of people write about stuff they "don't know". Dragons. Space ships. Murder. Victorian Egyptology and other historical time periods. Heck look at all the guys writing about Women and vice versa.

Research is a thing.

Inkdream, if you want to write a romance, then read romances. Read lesbian romances (Heather Rose Jones, Claire O'Dell). Read articles about how to structure romance (K. J. Charles has a good blog for writing craft and also a new lesbian romance out called Proper English). Read about falling in love. Go for it and have a blast.

Also, there just plain aren't enough romances featuring aro and ace characters. There's an area to consider.

Thank you so much! I will check out those authors and the blog
 

inkdreams

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My real-life experiences would probably not be a good story (in general, everything went well for some time, which is boring, and then it didn't end happily, which hardly makes for heartwarming romance). Much better to read the genre.



SBTB recently reviewed a lesbian historical called The Lady's Guide to Celestial Mechanics, if I recall correctly. I also know Courtney Milan released a lesbian historical where both women were over sixty. I haven't read either, though, so I can't personally recommend them, but there are lesbian romances which have been well-reviewed by sites I trust.

I'm not sure what sort of romances you like to read or want to write, though. Historical? Contemporary? Erotic? Spec-fic? YA?

Contemporary, historical, YA :)
 

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Contemporary, historical, YA :)

It is a rather old book (published in the 60s) so don't take it as a guide for what modern romances look like, but: If you are interested in historical lesbian romance I cannot recommend Isabel Miller's Patience and Sarah highly enough. It's about two young women in Connecticut in the very early 19th century who fall in love and strike out together for the frontier - all the way to what is now western New York state. It's very sweet and very hot, and both of the women are utterly inexperienced when they meet so there is a lot of lovely exploration and discovery for both of them. An utterly charming little book.

:e2coffee:
 

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It is a rather old book (published in the 60s) so don't take it as a guide for what modern romances look like, but: If you are interested in historical lesbian romance I cannot recommend Isabel Miller's Patience and Sarah highly enough. It's about two young women in Connecticut in the very early 19th century who fall in love and strike out together for the frontier - all the way to what is now western New York state. It's very sweet and very hot, and both of the women are utterly inexperienced when they meet so there is a lot of lovely exploration and discovery for both of them. An utterly charming little book.

:e2coffee:

Thank you I will check it out :)
 

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Yes, you can. The great part of being a writer is having a deeper insight into things even if you've never experienced it. No writer has experienced everything they write about, believe me. Almost everything I write about is something I haven't experienced doesn't mean I can't understand how it would feel or relate to it. I've never killed anyone and I write about murder all the time. :Shrug: That's just one of MANY things I write about and never did. That's the fun part of writing to me, you can experience things you probably never will through your characters. It's part of the adventure.
 

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I say yes only because love is SO subjective and can feel different for different people — there's no "wrong" way to experience love. As long as you've read widely in the genre, of course, so you at least have an idea!
 

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I am a very unromantic person. I have zero desire to be in a relationship again and even when I was, I spent most of the time feeling smothered. I'm also a published romance author. Authors can write convincingly about worlds where dragons exist or children can perform magic spells, so why would we struggle?
 

Thomas Vail

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As had been said before, of course you can write it without having experienced it, but the trick is going to be writing it well. Since the OP mentioned fanfiction, there are all sorts of 'fanfiction efforts gone wrong/worst tropes that keep popping up,' so I would presume she's had some experience with 'bad fanficition cliches,' or 'worst attempts at character shipping' that point out when things go badly awry. Experience with the specific genre helps because then you've seen what works, what doesn't, what people seem to really like, and what might be novel, interesting, and refreshingly unexpected. 'Real life' experience might help a little for some sense of verisimilitude but it shouldn't make or break a narrative if you're telling a good story.

Oh, next you'll be telling me George R. R. Martin didn't have an incestuous relationship with his sister. I'm so disillusioned!
However, he did once cook a man into a pie, so you know _that_ scene is authentic!
 
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Sonya Heaney

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I am a very unromantic person. I have zero desire to be in a relationship again and even when I was, I spent most of the time feeling smothered. I'm also a published romance author. Authors can write convincingly about worlds where dragons exist or children can perform magic spells, so why would we struggle?

LOL, I hate the performance of "romance" (Big Gestures, romantic language - and even most romantic movies!), and yet I'm also a published romance author. I write the genre because I like stories that are heavy on the characterisation, rather than stories that use characters as devices to move the plot along. I don't write my books because I'm fantasising I'm the heroine.

I guess there's a reason the people in my books are so sarcastic. :)
 

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