Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Writing Romance (When You're Not a Romance Writer)

I want to welcome Katina French to my blog today. Kat is a good friend and a wonderfully talented writer. I highly recommend any of her books and you can find a link to them at the end of this post. She also has a story in an upcoming anthology that I can't wait to get. I'll now turn it over to Kat.


I have a confession to make. I really envy Carol, and everyone who can comfortably write the romance genre. Truthfully, I'm a romantic soul, myself. I love a good romantic comedy. I get sucked into the "will they or won't they" subplots of even my favorite mysteries over the years (Castle, Moonlighting, Remington Steele are three of my favorite shows ever, for that reason). 

Enjoying romance is one thing. Writing it well? That's a whole other ballgame. 

I write speculative fiction, in other words science fiction and fantasy, with the occasional mystery. That's my comfort zone. World building? Got that covered. Plot twists and esoteric technology? Sure, bring it on. Bad guys who want to take over the world, and plucky heroes or heroines who have to thwart them with the medieval version of a paperclip and some chewing gum? ALL DAY, BABY. 

But as Jonathan Coulton will tell you, even a supervillain gets lonely. Even a high-tech code monkey wants somebody to love. Writing spec fic doesn't mean you don't have to deal with people falling in love. Whether it's a medieval fantasy or a futuristic sci-fi, people every where, in every time, fall in love. 

If you don't write romance as a genre, it can be pretty intimidating writing romantic scenes for your other works. Dialogue is tricky enough in general, but writing scenes where characters are professing their undying love for each other can be ridiculously hard to pull off. How much detail is enough when writing about physical affection? What are the romantic and sexual mores of your setting? All these questions and more have to be addressed. 

I had to deal with this when I was writing Bitter Cold for the upcoming anthology Once Upon a Clockwork Tale. It's a steampunk retelling of Hans Christian Anderson's "The Snow Queen." For me, the key was to stay true to my characters, and be honest about their internal struggle to show how they feel about each other.

The relationship between the main characters Kit and Greta is the driving force of the plot. Yes, there is a doomsday device. Yes, there's an evil genius who has to be stopped. But the core of the story is really about these two kids who have grown up as best friends, fallen in love without really admitting it, and now have to face their feelings. Ultimately, it's about getting over your fear of falling for someone you think is so amazing they couldn't possibly love you back. 

Well, that and stopping an evil genius from destroying the world. 
Katina French is a wife, mom and writer from southern Indiana. She writes speculative fiction, including steampunk, modern fantasy and science fiction. She has four short stories published in eBook format, available on her Amazon Author page (http://amazon.com/author/katinafrench). Her first novella length work, Bitter Cold, will be released as part of Once Upon a Clockwork Tale, a collection of steampunk retellings of classic fairy tales. It will be available in paperback and ebook from Echelon Press in June 2013. Find out more at www.katinafrench.com


  1. You can do it Kat!!! We have faith and if you need romance advice, you got a few people to ask. Always love reading what you write!!!

    1. Thanks! My current steampunk WIP is probably the most overtly romantic piece I've written. Will definitely seek out the experienced advice. ;-)

  2. Wonderful post, Kat! Thanks for hosting her, Carol. Kat, I have to struggle with romantic scenes, too. I like for people to have warm feelings for each other, but I don't like icky-sticky "mushy stuff". I think you're right: honesty about your characters is really the key. Good advice!

    1. Yeah. One nice thing about steampunk is the Victorian-style prose can mean you can get away with a "cutaway" and it's not really cheating.

      Although some folks like their steampunk... steamy!