Valentine’s Day, and writing a romance novella

Love is in the air...though hopefully not on the end of a sharp weapon.

So it’s Valentine’s Day (well, here in Australia it is, the rest of the world may have a few hours to wait), a day to celebrate love, to show affection to partners through fancy dinners, cute dates, and terribly lame mixtapes (or maybe it’s playlists these days). At any rate, though there is a certain cheesiness involved, I kind of like Valentine’s Day, whether I am in a relationship or single, because it is not about celebrating a particular relationship, but love in general, and that is something which I think we all need to embrace more in our lives.

Anyway, I digress.

As many of you know from several past posts, I am writing 12 novellas in 12 months this year, and am aiming to try a different genre with each one. In January I completed my dystopian comedy which kind of turned into a time travelling story as well. For February, I figured with Valentine’s Day smack bang in the middle of the month, I would attempt to write a romance story. I have never tried to write romance before, but I figured it couldn’t be that hard, right?

Wrong!

I went into this with the attitude of “well, I have written romance subplots into my stories before, so surely it can’t be that hard to make it the whole story?” But it really can. Knowing that it is the focus of the story, you have to create characters who can carry that romance, and all the attention that accompanies this. More than other genres, I think romance is so utterly dependant on having the right characters. The right personality traits, the right flaws, the right names – everything is important. And to think of an idea that is original feels almost impossible, especially to someone who hasn’t read that much romance (the majority of what I have read is more chivalric romance than modern).

What is my story about? Well…I’m not entirely sure, because despite it being half way through the month, I am yet to start writing this novella (again). But I think the gist of it will be an old man, Walter, living in a retirement village on his own, trying to work up the courage to ask a widowed lady in the village out to dinner, something he never dreamt that he would be doing in his nineties. In the midst of this, he reflects back on all his past romances, from his first crush, to his teenage and young adult romances, through the rest of his life until the present, looking desperately for some sort of clue as to how to win over a woman again after all these years. I don’t know if anybody has done it before, but I imagine they won’t have written it the way I am probably going to (for better or worse).

So I have 15 days left to write Walter’s love story. It will be hard, but it’s only a novella, so if I focus I can get it done. Wish me luck, everybody!

And Happy Valentine’s Day to you all!

13 thoughts on “Valentine’s Day, and writing a romance novella

  1. Good luck with the romance! I submitted two ideas for romance novels to such places as Harlequin and a local romance publishing house. Both tell me I have too much plot. The problem is, I really hate reading romances because there is always so much conflict. Usually the main couple starts out at each other’s throats. They slowly grow to admire, then love each other. For me, romance is not like that. The romance between my husband and I had always been one of mutual respect, friendship & love, so I am the last person to write about all that conflict nonsense. I don’t even like watching any reality TV shows because the people are constantly shouting at each other. Your idea about the ninety-year old in the nursing home sounds pretty good, though. I wish you luck with it! 🙂

    • Yeah, I think I might have the same problem with writing the romance – all my relationships have always been very peaceful and full of respect etc, so there has never been a great deal of conflict in my relationships. I guess I’ll have the opportunity to explore different kinds of romances in this novella though, so it should be fun.
      Thank you for the encouragement! I will be curious to see if this story works… 🙂

  2. Best of Luck with the romance novella 🙂 Walter sounds like an interesting character already. Can’t wait to read his story! I have always wanted to start writing a book, but am stuck at the very basics, like what about…hopefully time will bring clarity. Meanwhile people such as yourself are inspirations to keep trying 🙂

    • Thank you, and glad to know he sounds interesting!
      I find often I have no idea what my stories are going to be about – I just start writing, and slowly but surely whatever is on my mind tends to manifest itself in both the stories and the characters. I think the trick, really, is to make sure you have good characters – they really are what drives the story forward.
      And thank you, that’s very kind to say that – definitely keep trying, I am sure with time the story that is hiding somewhere inside your head will find its way out! 🙂

  3. I think your twelve novellas challenge is absolutely fantastic! Also liking the way you’re going with that romance subplot, I certainly wouldn’t have thought to make it about an older generation but I think that makes it more amazing- young people have less of a concept of what love is, so we fall in love all the time- older people in love generally have a real appreciation for the other person and what being in love really means. Awesome! 🙂

    • Why thank you! The twelve novellas challenge is fun, but so much harder than I had anticipated (stupid life getting in the way of things!). But I am determined to finish the novellas before the year’s end, one way or another.
      I agree as well about the romance plot – that’s what pulled me towards basing it on an older generation. I wanted it to be a nicer, sweeter, more genuine sort of romance, and I just thought that would be a nice way to do it. Plus, the regrets of past decisions kind of fills in all the subplots along the way. This story has been temporarily put aside, I must confess, but I plan on catching it up in April when I have 2 weeks off work. So much writing planned for those 2 weeks…. 😛

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