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Thread: Writing romance in first person

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  1. #1
    practical experience, FTW satyesu's Avatar
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    Writing romance in first person

    I just googled "how to write a romance," and found a formula (though I don't want to write a formulaic novel) that looked like it suggests fleshing out each member of the couple. How do I do that fully if the story is written from the point of view of only one?

  2. #2
    practical experience, FTW MinaJane's Avatar
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    That seems like a simplistic formula.
    I think it means you need to have complex multi-dimensional characters for both members of the couple and not only the POV one. But this is valid for all major characters, regardless of which POV you write in (or which genre).

    Can you please share the link to that formula you found?

  3. #3
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    If you have one point of view, what is fleshed out is how that person sees the other person, potentially also sliding info to the reader about where this might be inaccurate.

    However by being 1-POV and first person you are already writing a non-typical (i.e. statistically unusual) romance so it is odd to combine that with a formula for a what ... some-one, thinks is a typical one.
    Last edited by veinglory; 06-04-2019 at 09:19 PM.
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  4. #4
    practical experience, FTW satyesu's Avatar
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  5. #5
    volitare nequeo AW Moderator veinglory's Avatar
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    I don't see a name for who wrote that article. So I can't even get past step one of "do I care about your opinion", which is "can you do the thing you are trying to teach".

    But FWIW I have written 20+ genre romance works and only 1 was a heterosexual couple. Boy plus girl is not required. I suspect their advice goes down hill from there.

    The best way to know what romance is, it to find examples in your interest area and have a read through them. If you have trouble finding them explain what your interest area is and people will be able to point you at them.

    Some areas are more mainstream or commercial than others. (FWIW my avatar is a zombie romance where the couple only meet in chapter 7 and are still not attracted to each other in chapter 13. It's definitely romance, but I am crowd-sharing it partly because it's not very commercial.)
    Last edited by veinglory; 06-04-2019 at 09:43 PM.
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  6. #6
    Beastly Fido Roxxsmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by veinglory View Post
    I don't see a name for who wrote that article. So I can't even get past step one of "do I care about your opinion", which is "can you do the thing you are trying to teach".

    But FWIW I have written 20+ genre romance works and only 1 was a heterosexual couple. Boy plus girl is not required. I suspect their advice goes down hill from there.
    This is something I've often noticed about advice on the internet re writing: the underlying assumptions are often very focused or limited, but they are given as if they apply more broadly. Assuming that all romance is M/F is an example of this. Heck, there are even polyamorous romances, though I'm guessing that couples are more common.

    There are tons of subcategories within the romance genre. The main things they all share are the central love story with the optimistic and happy (for now, at least) ending where the lovers get to be together.

    Definitely check to see if the advice giver has published successful novels in the genre in which you want to write and check out some of those books to see if they are the style you have in mind.
    Last edited by Roxxsmom; 06-04-2019 at 09:46 PM.
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  7. #7
    practical experience, FTW Sonya Heaney's Avatar
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    First-person romances are generally found in YA and NA. Older romance readers are often turned off by books that aren't third-person, from both perspectives. I'd keep that in mind. It doesn't mean you can't sell an adult novel in first-person, but agents and publishers might be more reluctant to take it on.

    Quote Originally Posted by satyesu View Post
    Ignore that article. It's one of the most insulting, patronising things I've ever read. Plus, it assumes all readers in the world are from America (specifically, the US South). Yeah... no. I'm certainly not.

    The best way to learn how to write romance is to read heaps and HEAPS of books in your subgenre. Yes, learning craft is important, but not when it's written the way this article is. I mean:

    When you write a romance novel, you start out with one big advantage. You already know who your reader is: itís a woman. To be more specific, itís a middle class and middle aged woman from the South. They like ice tea and hot romance...
    As a romance writer who certainly doesn't approach her work that way, I'm so offended by it.

    Quote Originally Posted by veinglory View Post
    I don't see a name for who wrote that article. So I can't even get past step one of "do I care about your opinion", which is "can you do the thing you are trying to teach".
    Exactly. The person who wrote it is approaching the genre with a great deal of contempt. Articles on writing romance - written by people who actually know what they're talking about - can be found for free on blogs like Romance Writers of Australia (the American one is behind a paywall), and the Romantic Novelists' Association (a British organisation).

  8. #8
    Beastly Fido Roxxsmom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by satyesu View Post
    I just googled "how to write a romance," and found a formula (though I don't want to write a formulaic novel) that looked like it suggests fleshing out each member of the couple. How do I do that fully if the story is written from the point of view of only one?
    Most of the recently written romances I've read spend head time with both members of the couple. I've most often seen limited third or even omniscient used (A Precious Jewel by Mary Balough uses this approach), but I don't see why one couldn't write a romance in first person where you go back and forth between the two individuals' viewpoints.

    I don't think there's any rule against writing a romance from just one viewpoint, either, though I'm guessing it's more likely to be successful if it's from the point of view of the woman (unless it's a M/M of course). I suspect there's a reason most romances spend time with each partner, though.
    Last edited by Roxxsmom; 06-04-2019 at 09:40 PM.
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  9. #9
    Heckuva good sport frimble3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by satyesu View Post
    I just googled "how to write a romance," and found a formula (though I don't want to write a formulaic novel) that looked like it suggests fleshing out each member of the couple. How do I do that fully if the story is written from the point of view of only one?
    Is it possible that they meant the writer should flesh out both members for the writer's benefit? That knowing both sides of the couple, even if all that information isn't on the page, will add depth to the story. Or, at least, spare the writer from having to make up details on the spur of the moment.
    Thus saving the writer from turning the non-POV character into a mere Ken or Barbie.

  10. #10
    practical experience, FTW satyesu's Avatar
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  11. #11
    Abnormal Romance Author thethinker42's Avatar
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    FWIW, I write romance, and I write almost exclusively in 1st person. More often than not, I use alternating POVs, so the reader spends time in both characters' heads.
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