Writing of Love

Marilyn Brant--author photo~ By Marilyn Brant

Note: This post originally appeared here.

Because February is the Month of Love, after all, I thought I would talk about something related to it. Something I have been thinking about a lot recently…

Since I am a writer who enjoys shifting between genres, I have found it interesting that I sometimes get questions on one of the genres I write that I do not get on the others.

For example, no one yet has ever asked me why I like writing mysteries. They have never wanted to know if my coming-of-age mystery The Road to You is based on any of my real-life experiences or how I learned about firearms and explosives or if I have ever killed someone. (For the record, I have not.)

Likewise, the readers of my contemporary fiction books have never asked me why I have written several novels in that genre. They have asked me to explain what fiction for women isexactly, but never about my motivations for writing the stories themselves.

Romance, however, has been an entirely different experience. At least once every month or so, I will run into somebody (online or off) who will express his/her curiosity about why I have chosen to write several books in this genre. Their theories vary from editorial pressure (i.e., You have to have sex in your books. The editors make you do it because sex sells… Just look at how popular adult websites such as collegeporn are for example!) to personal wish-fulfillment (i.e., It is fun to write about sex. You can make your characters do all kinds of, um, interesting things that would be exciting to try out in real life, like, you know, the things those Fifty Shades of Grey characters do…) to lack of narrative ideas (i.e., It has got to beeasy to write about romance, right? And, hey, if you need any other story ideas, I just heard some juicy gossip about_____, and, let me tell you, my love life is pretty wild…)

Do not get me wrong, I am always open to fresh story ideas. But I have never written romance because I figured it would be a simple task or that it would give me a reason to get a voyeuristic play-by-play on the intimacies of the love lives of other people. Never in my entire publishing career have I been forced into writing a sex scene. And, on the flip side, I have never shied away from writing one if I felt the characters and the plot of a particular book warranted it. I have written novels with quite a number of sex scenes (According to Jane), just a few of them (On Any Given Sundae), and none at all (Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match). The type of story and the behavior of the characters themselves are what determine whether it is going to be a sweet tale or a steamy one.

And, yes, while writing romance can definitely be fun, it is not merely what the characters do in the bedroom that makes it so.

I write romance because I adore love stories. Because the very act of two people falling in love is something I consider miraculous and one of the greatest gifts. I write romance because, while sad and tragic things do happen in our everyday world, sometimes incredibly wonderful things happen as well. The joy of two people meeting, learning about each other and themselves and, ultimately, discovering that there is no one else they want to spend their lives with more than this other person…well, in my opinion, that is real-life magic.

And, cmon, what is not to love about writing stories like that?!

Do you have a favorite romance novel? One you simply loved reading (or, perhaps, writing)? I would love to hear about it!

Marilyn Brant is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of contemporary fiction for women, romantic comedy & mystery. She was named the Author of the Year (2013) by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English. She loves all things Jane Austen, has a passion for Sherlock Holmes, is a travel addict and a music junkie, and lives on chocolate and gelato.

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