Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Want Your Bad Romance

Kate Burns

As I write this, Valentine's Day is winding down into the soft pinkness of evening (well, it would be soft pink in the Island resort I should be living in -- but it's February in Canada, so not), and couples everywhere are setting up and knocking down their romantic expectations. And let's not overlook the Singles... like my boss, the beautiful Natalia, who said today, quite cheerfully, "What Scrooge is to Christmas, I am to Valentine's Day." A Love Song, if I ever heard one.

And I, rushed off my feet by life and work (sound of whip), catch the Carleton Cards Store folding mall-door by the red-lacquered nails of the clerk attempting to shut it and beg for two minutes to pick a card for my husband. The same one who managed to get my card and chocolates to me this morning. Sigh. Valentine's.

So, it puts me in mind of romance and reality. Romantically, we writers of mystery and suspense will breeze through that love scene/sex scene/developing relationship character arc and somehow weave it seamlessly into a tale that not only beats with terror and discovery but throbs with hidden lusts and need, fulfilling the reader in ways not dreamt of by Fabio.

And then we attempt it and... oh, my sweet gods, is it ever awful. Soul-cringingly, rip up your printouts, awful. Like something that could win a contest awful!

She resolved to end the love affair with Ramon tonight... summarily, like Martha Stewart ripping the sand vein out of a shrimp's tail...  though the term "love affair" now struck her as a ridiculous euphemism...  not unlike "sand vein," which is after all an intestine, not a vein...  and that tarry substance inside certainly isn't sand... and that brought her back to Ramon.

Dave Zobel, Manhattan Beach, California (Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest Winner 2004)

But how do you go from horrid to torrid, without breaking your main plot?

We mystery writers may think we don't have to write romance. After all, we write important stuff! Dark, creepy, suspenseful, thought-provoking stuff. But truthfully, it will be in there, in every story we write. Whether it's the fraught relationships of our main characters, the sudden attraction the the Wrong Guy, unwanted attention from a true Villain, we will at some point need to inject love in various forms into our work.

I trust you will all do that. But first... BUT FIRST! Show me the purple! Give it up in the comments, the worst, most florid romantic sex prose evah!

I want your Bad Romance.

Kate Burns

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