Monday, February 1, 2010

February: Ah, Romance

February makes me swoon. Roses, hearts, and chocolates abound in the stores, and I love all three. Little holidays like Valentine’s Day do much to relieve the tedium of winter with its gray skies and frigid temps. This month we’re focusing on romance: what it is, how it can perk up a book in any genre, and the romance every writer feels with her own writing.

Flowers in Candlelight
Photo by smoorenburg

As many of you know, I write romance novels. I’ve been reading them since I bought my first Harlequin romance at a flea market when I was thirteen. Let me tell you, I was hooked! I still love Harlequins, that’s why I write category romances.

When I started brainstorming possible posts for this month, I tried to narrow down what romance consists of. The list could have become quite lengthy, but to me, three things stood out.

1. Romance equals generosity.
2. Romance requires a person to see herself as worthy of love when reflected in the other’s eyes.
3. Romance is inclusive and exclusive: it includes one other person but excludes all others.

Romantic acts are generous. Whether you’re in the first date stage or have been married for fifty years, you think about your loved one and want to do something nice for them. Generosity does not always equal spending money. Two dozen long stem roses are romantic, but so is a warm hug on a Monday night after your spouse had a bad day.

What makes the act generous is that you want to make your loved one feel good. You want them to know how much you care. You want them to know that you care for them in a way you don’t care for anyone else. Sure, you might give your niece a hug, or you might give your best friend a box of chocolates, and you’re giving it to them to make them feel cared for, but there’s an extra level of intensity to a gift you give to your romantic partner. They know it. You know it. And it’s magical.

Do your characters act generously? Are they in a romantic relationship? Do you feel a romantic gesture is a generous act? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Join me on Wednesday when we’ll explore number two on the above list.


  1. First, I love the picture you chose and love that you put me in the romantic mood to kick off this month! February is the month my daughter was born in so we always celebrate her birthday and Valentine's day together.
    I like thinking about my characters doing some over-the-top romantic gestures. Hmm--maybe I need to add some in!

  2. My character has to unlearn some things before she can act this way. One of my characters from novel 4 will indeed act this way.

    Love is in the air!
    ~ Wendy

  3. Ooo...great questions! Both my hero and heroine are avoiding relationships for different reasons, but not doing a very good job at denying their attraction for one another.

    Is it weird that I write and love romance, but in general, I'm nota very romantic person?

  4. Great questions for character development! I like the idea of romance being a generous act. I don't write romance novels but there are relationships in my YA novels and this idea will help me look at some of those relationships with fresh eyes.
    Thanks, Jill!

  5. Good morning!

    Terri: That pic is gorgeous, isn't it? Ahhh... Happy Birthday to your daughter!

    Wendy: Interesting! Romance provides plenty of conflict, doesn't it?

    Katie: Oh, no! I don't think it's strange at all. I think we all naturally go through difference stages where we put more or less effort into romance.

    Paul: I think it's very smart to feature romantic elements in your novel, especially YA. Good luck!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  6. I love that you link love with generosity--very true. I write YA fantasy, but there are always romantic elements in them. I love discovering with my characters that spark of love that glows brighter because of generosity and sacrifice. Awesome post!

  7. Oooh, I really had to think about that for a minute. But, yes, my characters act generously inside their romantic involvement, but they also act very protective of each other and unselfish.

  8. Sigh. Lovely post. I can't wait to read the next two!

    In the story I'm working on now, the hero thinks he's being generous and magnanimous, when, in reality, he's running scared! :)

  9. Jill, this is a great point. I write mysteries and other types of fiction that have romantic elements but by no means could be classified as romance. However, your post brought to my attention that I don't have my two MCs being very generous toward one another right now. Time to rethink a few chapters to make them more realistic. I certainly appreciate this post.

  10. I don't write romance, but my characters could learn to be a little more generous to each other.

  11. I'm really looking forward to what you say in your second blog of this series. The fact of having to believe that you are worthy of love and romance in order to truly receive it can be a very deep subject. I personally believe that it is root of a lot of failed relationships.

  12. You are right. Love and generosity go hand-in-hand... no matter what love language you speak. I like reading this though, had to think how COULD be more generous :)

  13. Danyelle: Young adults are naturally intrigued by romance and I believe having romantic hints or subplots can only help a YA book.

    Heather: Oh yes! Protective of each other--love that!

    Erica: My favorite kind of guy to read about! Clueless! ha!

    Regina: Sometimes generosity doesn't come naturally! Maybe they have to learn it?

    Susan: Hey, I could learn to be a little more generous, too!

    Brittany: I agree. It can be very hard to see ourselves reflected in such a lovely way. Much easier to assume we're ordinary or worse.

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  14. Amber: February makes that one easy!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  15. Jill, the things my hubby does in the name of love. My teen girls in SEVENTY TWO HOURS aren't romantically involved yet, but the boy in my WIP is. *she rubs her hands together*

    And a romantic gesture is a generous act but when you're married it sometimes goes unnoticed, because you've been together for so long. You know?

    And I tried to send you a message on facebook twice. It isn't working for me. But that link was absolutely awesome, Jill. Thank you so much. It can be done! You'll never know how much it meant to me that you thought to send it to me.

    And still don't know anything on Christopher. But I have learned a lot about God's grace and his watch care though this. Talk to you soon! (^_^)

  16. Can't wait for the second blog on this subject! I don't write romance novels, but my characters have romantic episodes. They are sweet and generous to each other. By the way, I used to love Harlequin romances as a teenager. Thanks for the remind. I'm going out to buy one this afternoon.

  17. Robyn: I have trouble with FB sometimes, too. Thanks for trying. I'm glad you liked the link. It reminded me of you!

    Angie: Readers are drawn to acts of generosity and selflessness. Romance is a great way to implement both!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  18. I too agree that love and generosity are linked. I love romance...reading it, writing it, living it. Happy, happy month of love:)

  19. Oh, I love the romance. I include it in every one of my stories in one way or another. It's usually one of the main themes in the story. In my current WIP, my MC is sort of pushed into a romantic relationship. She discovers it's not at all what she thought it would be and it requires her being herself, not the person she thinks everyone wants.

  20. Ahhhh! Your post gives me a lot to romanticize over and think about. Can't wait to see your follow ups. :O)

  21. What a great lesson for us and our characters! I'll be sure to be more generous this month. Hopefully I'll reap the rewards all year rather than just on Valentines! And Lord knows my MC could use some love right about now. If I throw one more disaster at her she might walk off the page. ;)

  22. I try to write it in to some degree when the storyline needs it. I'm not much of a romantic...probably why I don't write romance novels. :0) Just not in my DNA. :0)

  23. I can't imagine writing a book without just a little bit of romance. I look for it in every book and am always (vaguely) disappointed if there isn't any.

    And romance novels! I've read so many. Judith McNaught is one of my all-time faves. I ripped through all of her books in college. Contemporary, historical, I don't care. I love a good romance.

  24. Hi Jill -

    The husband and wife duo in my first manuscript exude romance. The little kindnesses, words of appreciation, and inside jokes tell you these two adore each other.

    Susan :)

  25. Romance--I don't write about it, yet...I've been married for almost 24 years. I often remind myself to do extra nice things for my husand. I set out his coffee (togo) cup before I go to bed and set the coffee pot to turn on before he wakes up. Every once and a while I'll set out a towel for him before I go to bed. I think doing little things keep a marriage strong: holding hands, kisses when you go to work, bringing him a drink after work...just little things.

  26. Hmmm.
    I definitely write romance, but I forget to have my characters do these sweet gestures. Thanks for the reminder! I think my heroine could use some flowers right about now. :-)

  27. I don't write romance but I do like to have a little romantic thread to my stories. Doesn't everyone? Even if they don't THINK they are reading romance...they like those parts of the book. Thats just my tiny opinion.

  28. It is such a romantic month. I will have to think of ways to incorporate generosity into my characters, and it's a good reminder for my dh too :D

  29. My characters aren't in a romantic relationship per se, but they do care about each other and they are very generous to each other because of that. They show it by giving time, which is probably how I show love too.

  30. I think small acts means a lot and can be very romantic--especially if they're out of character.
    I love romance, too! *sigh*

  31. Kara: Happy month, indeed!

    Cindy: It wouldn't be romance without some growth, now would it? Can't wait to read it!

    Diane: Like thinking about a big box of Godiva, no? :)

    Kristen T: That's okay! It would be a boring world if the only books were romances.

    Lisa and Laura: Me too! I don't care what genre, I need a drop of romance!

    Susan J: It's those little gestures that show the reader their love. Wonderful!

    Sharon: Okay, I'm taking notes! What blessings you shower on your hubby!

    Jessica: My heroine could use a spa day now!

    Tess: Romance can enhance any genre--I'm posting about it next week!

    Georgiana: Me too!

    Natalie: How sweet. I think time is a precious commodity. Lovely gift!

    Jennifer: Oh! I love the out-of-character gestures. Swooning!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  32. It takes time for characters to get romantic, sometinmes till the end of the book. So they may not necessarily be generous to the other character yet. In my favorite, Jane Eyre, Mr. Rochester was sort of mean, but he was generous in his actions toward others. I love how you could finally see his redemption as a generous person at the end.

    Also, love your romantic picture.

  33. This is SUCH a great blog!

    I never really thought of generosity as a character trait to grab hold of, but YES, ALL of my characters are extremely generous (one to a fault) and I wouldn't have them any other way. My first protag, The Irishwoman, had a few character issues, and God really taught me the importance of larger-than-life, charismatic characters.

    At least for my novels, that is!!!

    Great, great post! Can't wait for the next part!!


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