Saturday, February 16, 2019

Coffee with a Writer: Love in Adversity

Love in Adversity

Writing Romance in the Hard Times

Welcome back, adventurers! I've had my caffeine infusion for the day, and so I'm ready to talk about today's topic: writing love in adversity. There are many ways for romance writers to write about the act of falling in love. The process, if you will. ALL of them typically involve the characters coming upon some obstacle that threatens to split them up or end the budding relationship all together. This adversity typically brings to light secrets, misunderstandings and issues between the characters that hamper their blossoming love. 

As an adventure romance writer I have a unique opportunity to not only emotionally, but also physically, threaten the relationship between my characters. There's usually more at stake in my stories than the romance itself. Sometimes it's as simple as a friendship or a business, but other times the fate of the world, galaxy, or entire universe is at stake! Imagine trying to reconcile your feelings for someone while also worrying about whether or not a few planets are going to blow up! Not an easy thing to handle, I assure you. 

"My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel- it is, before all, to make you see. That-- an no more,and it is everything."
                                             ---- Joseph Conrad

Let's examine a particular instance in my stories where adversity directly affects the relationship of the characters and the story as a whole. In The Alchemist's Kiss, our hero Icarus Kane has denied his growing feelings of affection for Cora Mae for years. She has done her best to put up with his increasingly standoffish ways, but by the time the story starts the two are constantly at odds. Icarus cares for Cora more deeply than he feels he could ever admit, and Cora is a headstrong, independent woman who doesn't mind a bit of excitement now and then. It falls to Archimedes Merriweather to be the go-between for the two whenever their arguments get out of hand. Icarus' own feelings of emotional inadequacy are at odds with his love for Cora, and he truly believes that he is not a man who is destined for happiness. This emotional adversity between the two sets the stage for the reader and shows them the growth that must occur in each character in order for the relationship to fully bloom.

Outside the internal conflict that these characters are facing there is much external adversity facing them as well. Riots are breaking out across London, making it dangerous for wizards who are caught alone and unawares by groups of outraged non-magicals. At the same time a dark mage has appeared in the city, causing more trouble for the pair. While trying to protect the city and its people, Icarus and Cora are also struggling with their growing need to protect each other. By weaving this internal and external conflict together we are able to make the story more three dimensional for the reader. This love is being tested from all sides. Can it endure?

There's something special about reading books that put the reader through hell along with the characters, making the finally Happily Ever After so much sweeter. Readers familiar with Sherrilyn Kenyon's Dark Hunter series will note that this is a standard device used by the author to make the reader CARE about the characters. "C'mon, they've been through so much, just let them be together already!"  ((I may or may not have screamed this at her books a few times myself!))

In the end, the point of our little coffee break is to understand that it is both the internal and external adversity our couples face that create a strong, believable romance. Very rarely do couples meet, fall in love, and live happily ever after without encountering some pitfalls along the way. As romance writers we take a few liberties, amping up the pitfalls and creating chasms our characters must hurdle in order to get their just desserts. 

AUTHORS, sip your coffee and think on this for your next story. READERS, recognize and respect the level of dedication your next author has to really putting your couple through the paces. Nothing worth having ever comes easy!! 

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