Friday, June 15, 2012

Why I write historical romances

My path to writing historical romances held a few detours.  When I first started writing in earnest, approximately six years ago, I focused on writing literary fiction and was all over the place--among my novel attempts were (1) contemporary women's fiction with a supernatural twist, (2) historical fiction, (3) a YA modernization of a literary classic. I still think each of those Works In Progress had potential, but they all remained unfinished and all had fundamental (sometimes major) flaws.  I was learning.  I'm still learning. 

When I ended up focusing on my historical fiction WIP, I knew rather quickly that the plot would end in tragedy. Writing as a panster (by the seat of my pants, jumping from scene to scene to piece them together later), I even wrote the painful ending early on.  And then I found after a year or so of writing that WIP sporadically that I had no idea what should go in the saggy, unformed middle--I knew the beginning and the end but was at a loss as to how to get from A to Z.  I wanted the writing to be organic, wanted to be "faithful" to the story as it grew, wanted to celebrate the complexity of the time period I was writing about.  Unfortunately, I felt increasingly reluctant to wend my my way to the inevitable conclusion, making my protagonist go through more and more conflict and adversity until she lost everything.  Eventually, every writing session because laborious and disheartening. 

After taking a little break from that WIP and from novel writing, I went back to playing, to writing for the fun of it.  And I found myself gravitating toward historical romance, which combined what I loved most about writing historical fiction with a happy ending.  The more I read, the more I saw the fun, the joie de vivre, in writing romance. The more I played with the writing, the more I mixed in outlining with my panster style--I set waypoints, significant moments from A to Z, but still jumped to whatever waypoint was foremost in my mind.  Ultimately, I found writing roance to be fundamentally entertaining and invigorating and challenging.  I find writing romance fundamentally entertaining and invigorating and challenging.  In a genre filled with so many wonderful writers, what can I write that's new? In a genre that tends to have consistent elements, how can I use them in innovative ways?  In fact, a few elements of my current historical romance manuscripts came directly from my historical fiction WIP.  And, really, what's better than a Happy Ever After (or even a Happy For Now)?  So...why do I write historical romances? Because they make me a happy writer.


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