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Can an Author Keep Her Dignity When Writing a Romance Novel?

I’m probably not going to make too many friends here. But I have some thoughts about writing a romance novel that I need to get out.

I’ve had them all year thanks to posts I keep seeing in various writing outlets. And if I don’t share them already, I might very well physically explode from the emotional pressure of keeping my mental musings to myself.

Considering how it’s Christmas time and all, that seems like a sad thing to do to my family and friends. So here goes…

I don’t have a lot of respect for most amateur romance novelists. They don’t work on their craft nearly enough, which leads them to publish utterly embarrassing material.

I’m not even talking about the smoochy-smoochy scenes. I’m talking about everything else.

Take the following excerpts that some published author posted on a Facebook writer’s group last month:

“You’re as sharp as a knife and as beautiful as a newly shined sword. But you’ll cut anyone who crosses you.”


“I forgot what a warrior you were, through and through. I noticed it the first time I gazed into your eyes,” Edward laughed. “I won’t forget that again.”

Oh. My. Word.

Where do I even begin?

For the record, I’m not a total monster, not even to someone writing a romance novel quite like that. I changed both excerpts significantly enough so that I was neither plagiarizing nor embarrassing the author in question if she searches for herself online.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the writing she shared was bad. In some ways, it was even worse than my revised copies up above.

What’s so bad about it? How about this:

  • Nobody actually talks like that.

  • Nobody actually talks like that.

  • Nobody actually talks like that.

Especially in a modern-day, reality-based book.

When it comes to the first excerpt, it’s also a matter of comparing apples with other apples. Why not just say, “You’re as sharp and beautiful as a newly shined sword”? There’s no reason to mention both a knife and a sword when, for the purpose of this particular analogy, they’re one and the same.

Which brings me to my next criticism... how there’s no need for a “but” in the next sentence. If this character is sharp like a knife (or sword), then of course she can cut anyone who gets in her way.

That’s what knives (and swords) do.

As for the second excerpt, I’ve got nothing to say other than, “Nobody actually talks like that.”

There are plenty of other examples out there of these kinds of unfortunately published romance authors. But instead of highlighting what they did wrong, let’s discuss how they can right it.

I think what it comes down to is changing their mindset. Or maybe it’s their focus that needs to shift.

They’re so fixated on writing a romance novel hot enough to scorch their readers’ fingers… that they put that goal above everything else.

In other words, they force characters' chemistry.

But real romance and real chemistry can’t be forced. It has to come from a genuine understanding of who the other person is. Or, in the writer’s case, understanding who the characters are.

That means understanding how a real man would talk to a real woman in whatever century and setting the story takes place.

It means understanding how a real woman would react to what that real man says in whatever century and setting the story takes place in.

Honestly, I don’t know of a single modern-day woman who would actually be impressed by a man telling her, “You’re as sharp as a knife and as beautiful as a newly shined sword. But you’ll cut anyone who crosses you.”

She might find herself focusing more heavily on his chiseled chest or erotic arms… but only because she’s trying not to notice how stupid he sounds.

To answer this blog post's title of “Can an author keep her dignity when writing a hard-core romance novel?” yes. Yes, she can.

It’s just a matter of maintaining an appropriate amount of reality while she does.

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