I do not write romances. I write urban fantasy with a romantic subplot. A small sub-plot. Life is about more than love, folks, and I want to write about things that are more important than two teenagers finding their soul-mates in high school, dang it. Like, um, teenagers solving crime. That's more important than love, right? And discovering themselves. I'm sure THAT's more important than love. Self-identity is very important. How can you be true to yourself if you don't know who you are? Right?
So here's the thing. During my recent reading famine, while I worked very hard on my editing, I finally learned to read books in snippets. No more did I need to devour the whole book--no matter the genre--with single-minded obsession, turning pages as if the turning itself was the accomplishment of an important life goal. Instead, I was living my own life. Writing my own book. I learned to be more selective--if a book hadn't gut-hooked me by page 50, and I found myself able to put it down for days at a time, I no longer force myself to finish it. I simply stop reading.
And then, as inevitably happens after any period of self-deprivation, came the binge. I simply cannot get by without books. It's time I accept that. So, for the last week, while I try to get over my lingering cold, I've been reading like a starving woman in a grocery store. I went to the library, got the books that sounded the absolute best, took them home, and have been reading, reading, reading. It has been very nice. Very cathartic.
Only, I have not been reading urban fantasy. I have not been reading stories of people finding themselves or of solving crime, though those have often been subplots.
I have been reading (don't judge) ROMANCES.
I can't get enough. I am obsessed. I can't put them down long enough to even think of editing my own little urban fantasy. I eat less at dinner (which is good for my weight) so I can leave the table and get back to reading. I stay up late (which is NOT good for my health) trying to get to the next chapter before my husband flips the breaker on my light. (And when he does, I'll just read by the light of my cell phone.) I surf the net less and Twitter less because, let's face it, the books I'm reading are not streaming on Twitter.
Here's the thing about romances: there are no surprises. Not really. By the end of the second chapter, you know how the book will end. Which guy will fall in love with which girl. The genre demands the HEA (Happily Ever After) and the authors (wonderful, wonderful authors) deliver. Over and over again. Browse your library's romance section, pick up a book at random, read the first paragraph of the first chapter, then the first paragraph of the second chapter, and most often, you'll know who is going to marry whom.
And. I. Love it.
I love the feeling of happy inevitability. The joy of being right (even on such a simple question). The sweet pain of watching a couple who absolutely have to get together suffer as they deny their feelings, or wonder about the other one's feelings, or miscommunicate and make wrong assumptions that drive them apart even as they both pine away for each other. *Swoon*
And here I am, NOT writing romances. Relegating my romantic subplot to the smallest portion of the text I can shoe-horn it into. I'm so dumb.
I'm not saying that I'm going to start writing romances. Not ROMANCE romances. I'm not sure I'd be able to focus a whole plot on boy-meets-girl right now. I need more plot elements to play with, and I really do enjoy the other aspects of the urban fantasy genre. But I'm going try to honor my obsession. I'm going to edit my WIP to insert more romantic pain. I want my readers to know that my MC should be with that boy and be waiting with baited breath for his next scene. To swoon when they kiss. To feel strangely complete when she is with him and discontented when she is not. To feel personally betrayed during that scene where everything she thinks she knows about him turns out to be wrong. (Duh.)
Maybe, if I have more romance in my WIP, I'll finally be able to wrench my attention away from other people's romances and focus on my own. #headdesk #headdesk #headdesk
What about you? Are you writing the books you most like to read? Do you have a secret reading habit you try to deny? Which elements should you be using more in your own WIP?