Thursday, May 24, 2012

Writing What You Want to Read: Romance

Photo from Microsoft clipart

One of the primary reasons many writers take up the craft is because they want to write stories that they would enjoy reading. For me in particular, this is the very thought that sparked my desire to weave my own tales.

I would scour the library for books that would consume me, that would resonate with me on the deepest of levels and leave me pondering it for days afterwards. Those stories were far and few between, and I always longed for more.

Of course, it took years of practice to get my craft perfected. But what kept me going was to write a book that I would be totally wrapped up in. As I wrote, I continued to voraciously read, taking note of what worked and what didn't. What did I love about this story? What elements lost me along the way? My reading honed my writing.

One story element in particular, however, that often failed to resonate with me is romance.

Disclaimer: I have encountered a few books and movies that contained a solid, touching romance that did not cross the line into trite, overly-drawn-out, unrealistic, or anything else that usually fails to capture my attention. However, for the most part, stories that feature either (or both) of those elements tend to lose me quickly.

The fact that I am writing my current WIP from the perspective of a female whose romantic relationship plays a major role in her life and story is a huge step for me. I began writing stories with male leads sans romance because  those were the types of tales that I tended to connect with most when I read them. I really want to connect with and be deeply moved by stories with romance, but most of the times, it just didn't click.

One day, though, I decided that if there were so few novels that contained an inspiring romance, why couldn't I just write one?

Are We Afraid of Love?

One of the many reasons I don't resonate with love stories is it seems difficult to find stories that feature genuine, deep love. There are so many stories about couples who don't like each other, then later fall in love; couples who drift apart and get back together; couples who realize it doesn't work after all; couples who want to be together but are kept apart; potential couples who are torn between multiple lovers.

There are enough instances of broken hearts and relationships in real life - I don't need to read about it in fiction. Certainly, those scenarios outlined above lead to dragging the plot out, creating tension, etc. And that may be necessary for if the whole plot of the book is wrapped up in that romance. But I'm tired of reading about that.

There is a place for writing about complicated love. But what about the sweet, genuine, everyday love? Because there is a love that can exist between two people who are living selflessly for the other. There can be a love that isn't bombarded with infidelity, sideswiped by lies, undermined by straying hearts and eyes. Have we forgotten that two people can be happy together with that love that packs your lunch every morning, rubs your feet when you're tired, takes the kids out when you're exhausted, greets you excitedly every time you come home, misses you when you're gone, is loyal to you to a fault, truly values you over others?

What happened to telling a tale about two people who are genuinely in love and get to live happily together? As a culture, are we afraid of it? Jealous of it? I'm not entirely sure. But I know there are not many romances like that portrayed in novels, let alone movies.

Perhaps many authors fail to see the tension that does exist in that genuine love. Life always gives us tension. Any novel worth its salt will be able to create tension out of everything. I just don't see the need to make the tension in relationships be an extra lover, being married to the "wrong" person, divorce, etc.

In my own current novel, I feature a married couple who is unabashedly in love with each other. I'm not sure if I'll hit the mark, but my goal is to maintain tension without compromising their love for each other. I find it particularly rare to read about married couples who are madly in love. For some reason, one would think that romance ends after marriage, that people will drift apart with wandering heart and eyes and quickly become dissatisfied with your spouse. That only happens if you let it happen.

It would appear that we have forgotten that true, selfless love can and does exist - even among two people who are married. It's hard to find, but it is out there. And it's beautiful and worthy of writing about.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Liberty for all?

The premise of my current WIP is about what could happen to America if we continue on this path of swapping freedoms for security. It's happened before in other countries. And the signs today are everywhere. The vast amount of people in this country have a shockingly abysmal value on true liberty and the principles therein. I place my story about sixty years into the future. But a headline in the news this morning let me know that maybe a total soft tyranny is closer than even that.

In North Dakota, police used an unmanned drone in the arrest of a farmer who had been involved in a dispute over cow ownership. My heart sank as I read the article. The police said that the use of the drone was fine because a warrant had been obtained beforehand. But that doesn't take away from the fact that a *drone* was used against a peaceful U.S. citizen. Increasingly, the citizen has become the enemy to our police forces and perhaps even military.

The creation of the Department of Homeland Security, an Orwellian-esque name, to be sure, marked a change in the way the government views citizens. DHS has named pro-lifers as equal with terrorists. Soccer moms and people who are trying to defend human life are now eligible for FBI watch lists. Regardless of where you stand on the abortion issue, your neighbors and family could be persecuted for a belief. In America. Home of the free? I think not.

President Obama, for all his good intentions, signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law. This law allows presidents to indefinitely detain anyone who may be connected with terrorism. And remember, according to the DHS, pro-lifers can be technically considered terrorists. And if the DHS deems anyone else as terrorists, who will they go after next? If Republicans were in charge, they could make the claim that gays are terrorists, or that perhaps people of an Indian or Mexican heritage are a threat to national security. These otherwise peaceful U.S. citizens, if the government could find a way to slap the terrorist label on them, would be indefinitely detained with no lawyer, no representation.

Historically, indefinite detention is associated with extreme tyranny. Hitler used it. Stalin used it.

And who would want to speak out against the government when you could disappear forever into a complicated prison system? Already, DHS has released its wonderfully Orwellian "If you see something, say something" campaign, requesting that American citizens inform on each other when they suspect "suspicious activity."

In my novel, I cover these issues. I try to paint a portrait of a world where people can be arrested for no reason. But the way I see American going is not into the harsh tyrannical police state that most would envision. No, we will probably morph comfortably into a big, soft society that depends on government hand outs and learn not to question our betters because, hey, *we're* safe. Many Germans during Nazi Germany overlooked the Holocaust. Why? They were comfortable. The Nazis lowered crime. The economy turned around. Hitler was a charismatic leader. And he even provided a program for the Youth to become responsible citizens! Meanwhile, Jews were disappearing. But most Germans didn't care because, well, it didn't affect them. And they were safe and well-fed. Sound familiar? It should.

So while it may take awhile for us to fully get to the "1984" society, we can already see currents of tyranny polluting the river that is our society. And I hope that my novel will not be written off as mere fiction, a fanciful tale that won't happen. Because the characters and plot are a vehicle to raise questions. I hope they act as a clarion call for people to wake up. Good fiction should always raise questions. And while I hope my WIP raises multiple questions and issues for readers to consider, I hope the very premise - of Americans selling their liberty for the safety and comfort prison-like tyranny - will cause readers to ask themselves if we are heading in that direction even now.

Because we are on that path. It can happen. And if we sit on our hands and allow our liberties to be stripped away, it will happen.

*Photograph credit microsoft clip art.

Friday, May 4, 2012

With these words

Writing has always been a hobby of mine, at times more serious a hobby than others. But even when I was a kid, I would dream up adventures and, lacking the language skills to convert those stories to words, I acted them out with friends or with my stuffed animals. I devoured books since "Jill and Bill go up the hill." My childhood was spent completely absorbed in the worlds authors had created for me (my family can attest - they say I often would disappear into a book, not heard from until dinner was ready). These stories opened new possibilities for my young heart and allowed me to explore ideas, places, and people that may otherwise be cut off from me.

So here I am, 21 years old, working on one of the many novels that are in the works (I use "in the works" tentatively. All the stories except one are simply possibilities at various stages of completion. It is the story equivalent of having the notion that "I should got to France" without having the actual itinerary and plans worked out yet). At long last, I truly believe that this story, above all my others, has a chance at publication. But if it fails? If this work in progress doesn't spread its wings? Well, at least I will have the satisfaction of having completed a novel. This novel will be completed!

Honestly writing isn't simply a hobby, it's a way of life. Writing is a symptom of my creative mind, an outlet for the words and possibilities that consistently swirl around my brain and heart. The words practically beg to be released. Whether by nonfiction, fiction or poetry form, they will come out!

When I read good fiction, or even bad fiction, I am inspired to go and create my own world, to explore uncharted fictional territories. Writing is a way for me to play with ideas and dilemmas and the human experience.

And so, this blog will contain many of those findings, those nuggets of truth or observations that I may discover while in the process of writing. The title of this particular blog, "Amore Liberta Vita" Or "Life Liberty Love" encompass the vast array of what my posts will cover. This is a writer's blog, but perhaps not a blog only for writers. It is a place to share thoughts and ideas, to talk about issues that I have come across that have, will, or may inspire me, inspire a story, or simply prompt me to take a step back and thank the Author of the Greatest story ever told.