Dialogue, I hope we can all agree, is a very important aspect of creative writing, particularly novel-focused creative writing. This is true if you’re writing romance fiction dialogue or horror fiction dialogue or science-fiction dialogue.
Or any other kind of dialogue-driven (or dialogue-involving) fiction out there, for that matter.
Now, certain types of fiction do naturally tend to lend better to this “very important aspect of creative writing” more than others. But I’m sorry to tell you, if you’re writing romance fiction, your genre isn’t one of them.
It might actually be the most difficult. And that’s why our Writing Challenge is what it is this week:
Don’t let your dialogue make readers cringe.
“As you wish.”
“I’ll never let you go, Jack. I’ll never let you go.”
There are classic love story lines that live on through time because they’re so poignant and powerful. And then there are unbearably cheesy lines that just make us cringe.
Strive for the former, my love story-writing friends. Strive for the former.
None of this is to knock the art of writing romance fiction in general or writing romance fiction dialogue in particular. It’s not the genre’s fault that it deals with such personal thoughts and feelings and actions.
Okay, maybe it is the genre’s fault, but you know what I mean.
Love – true love (feel free to say that out loud to yourself Princess Bride-style) – is such a deep and all-around intimate subject matter that it’s impossible to truly capture it in words. Oh, we can write about our skin tingling from someone’s touch or our eyes lighting up when we see that special someone.
But those descriptions don’t even come close to describing the utter onslaught of emotion and connection and attraction that plays out in real life when a boy and girl or man and woman truly come together, heart, mind, body and soul.
Words just fall flat.
That's bad, yes. Yet flat isn’t the worst they can do. Not when flat is utterly relieving compared to cheesy. Or hokey. Or tacky. Or downright vulgar.
When writing romance fiction or fiction involving romance, it’s far too easy to try to overcome or ignore our extreme handicap (i.e., not being able to capture what love is in mere words). Writers in general, after all, strive to capture aspects of real life as vividly and convincingly as possible.
But the problem with capturing love – true love – and locking it down into mere black on white is that it can’t be captured. And any attempt to pretend otherwise will inevitably lead to a cheesy, hokey, tacky and/or downright vulgar mess.
The real key to writing about love – true love – with even a shadow of its actual power is to simply accept that a shadow is all you’re ever going to be able to convey.
So maybe we should rework the Writing Challenge from “Don’t let your dialogue make readers cringe” to “Accept the fact that love is just far too expressive to be captured in mere black on white.”
Once you do that, you’ll have a much better chance of getting somewhere good while writing romance fiction dialogue.