OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
This is a guest post from Dean Mayes, romance author of ‘The Hambledown Dream' and real man!
It's quite simple really…
Watch a lot of Gilmore Girls, Grays Anatomy and Sex & the City reruns, subject yourself to the movie P.S. I Love You – right the way through, read The Notebook from cover to cover. Right there, you have positioned yourself to make a half decent start…
Being a ‘man' in the Romance market means admitting that you cried at the end of Rocky. You know – after the monumental fight of his life – when Rocky Balboa calls out for Adrian. I cried like a baby – I still do. And it also means admitting that you hated Carrie Bradshaw once she dumped Aiden Shaw in SATC (the series) after he proposed to her – I mean, what in god's name was she thinking?!
I did all of those things for real when I sat down to begin work on my first novel back in autumn 2009. Gilmore Girls I actually did voluntarily because I genuinely like the show. It gave me a (kind of hyperactive) woman's viewpoint about the nature of contemporary romance but I also combined this with some in-depth reading material – namely “Good Loving, Great Sex” by Dr. Rosie King. It's been a while since I read it, but one of the concepts I grasped really well from reading that book was the concept of limerence.
Limerence – a scientific moniker coined by psychologist Dorothy Tennov – is a scientific attempt to study and thus quantify the near obsessional form of romantic love.
Limerence is a common characteristic of romantic story telling but one has to temper the strength of its influence when striving for a story that is more “The Notebook” and less Mills & Boon. Limerence does provide the basic ingredients for a good love story – from infatuation, to etiquette of the kiss, to the feelings of euphoria one experiences while held in its grasp. Whether you are structuring old love or new love these markers that characterize the progression of a developing romance and are tied to this notion of limerence. Seriously – limerence becomes a virtual ready reckoner which can be whipped out at moment's notice and applied to any romantic situation. Once a man has grasped the power of that concept, he is in a good position to deliver good romantic story telling.
For me, working in the female dominated area of Nursing and being a Paediatric ICU Nurse, I am exposed to women’s opinions about everything from shopping to make-up, to romance. You can check the handbag of just about any night shift nurse and you will usually find a dog-eared copy of “The Notebook”, “P.S. – I Love You” or “Message in a Bottle”. So I find myself in a rather unique position to be able to pick the brains of my colleagues who are more than happy to deliver the equivalent of an Andrew Olle lecture on the nuances of those particular love stories.
Get a group of them together around the ubiquitous cups of caterer's blend coffee in the nurses station at two in the morning and you've got yourself an instant “Beauty & the Beast” panel. Just make sure you've got a notepad and pencil.
Being a man in the romance market means getting in touch with your inner woman and allowing yourself to take in all those stories and situations you would never be caught dead watching or reading in any normal situation.
But I will let you in on a little secret…
All men like a good love story. Whether it's as macho as Rocky Balboa with Adrian or as girlie as Colin Firth's turn as Mr. Darcy with Elizabeth, we have a secret predilection for romantic stories. And let's face it – most men have engaged in some sort of romantic pursuit in order to be with their significant other – so, really, men are wired for it. Writing about it is simply a case of touching their romantic center, being brave enough to commit it to paper…
…and watching Gilmore Girls.
Image Credit: Flickr CC Ildalina