My Venus is in Pisces, which is the astrological way of saying that I’m the quintessential hopeless romantic. This was not a personality trait of mine that was ever supported during my formative years, and as a teenager I was frequently warned that I was setting myself up for disappointment; I was also told that I shouldn’t expect to get married.
But I decided not to listen to anyone, so no harm done. I married my twin flame anyway.
When I talk about romance, I mean the earth-shattering, butterfly-inducing, dizzying, elevating, whirlwind of excitement sort. The kind that we’re constantly told doesn’t exist. That kind.
A major motivation behind reading is to enjoy stories that I can’t hear by simply talking to the neighbors (even if they are sordid and juicy). I like stories that are larger than life and inspirational; I just can’t find books like that.
Most romance novels are about an attractive, powerful, rich guy, and since I frequently indulge in that fantasy myself as a writer, I’m not going to knock it. It’s obvious why she would fall for him, but why does he fall for her? The heroines range from mediocre to psychotic harpies; with heavy heapings of selfishness on top.
That question, ‘Why does he fall for her?’ is often left unanswered, and that kills every chance of deeply capturing the spirit of romance. If I hate the heroine, I’m not going to empathize if she captures the attention of Mr. Mega Hunk. I usually declare, “This book is stupid!” and give it a bad review on Amazon. No vicarious butterflies, no point in reading.
When I write my female characters, I write them as someone that I could fall in love with myself, and I have zero interest in Anastasias or Bellas. Perhaps I relate to novels in the wrong sort of way, but I like to think that’s what differentiates me from the Mary-Sues.
My hope is that if I write a scene that gives me butterflies, others will experience that as well when they read it.
I am a hopeless romantic, after all.