Writing Romance With a Deeper Meaning
I’ve been really struggling with the book I’m writing. It’s #6 in my Ladies’ Wagering Whist Society series and it’s a lot more difficult than almost all of the others that came before because I accidentally stumbled into a huge, current issue: #metoo.
How does one stumble into #metoo? Well, it started off innocently. I wanted my heroine to be concerned about her reputation in society to contrast my hero who doesn’t have one (he’s a businessman, not a nobleman and so not officially a part of “society”) and doesn’t care. The easiest way to harm my heroine’s reputation was to have something happen to her that would destroy said reputation (obviously she wouldn’t do anything herself, she’s a hero). She then would behave the hero and take charge of the situation to the best of her ability and work on rebuilding her reputation.
I decided that my heroine would be physically assaulted by another member of society and then blamed for it thereby destroying her reputation. Umm… this is practically the classic definition of #metoo. I didn’t even think about it or realize it until I actually started writing the book because I can be very dense sometimes and not even see what’s directly in front of my face.
Since I did realize it, I’ve been working really hard to make sure that a) the attack isn’t too triggering for anyone who has been attacked; b) I’m sending the right message to readers; and c) there’s a happy ending and my heroine is exonerated in the eyes of society. That’s a big job! That’s a big story!
I did my best writing it… and then realized something.
This is a Romance!
Argh!! I’d completely forgotten to put the romance into my romance! I mean… there was some. The hero does work to help the heroine regain her reputation by spending a lot of time with her and the two fall in love. But it’s not the focus of the book – the #metoo stuff is. And it’s not a very strong plotline, it’s more the secondary plot with the #metoo as the main plot.
That would be terrific if I were writing social commentary, but I’m not. I’m writing a romance. My readers expect a light, fun, easy read. All the other books in the series are that with a more serious undertone to them. But that undertone, that buried message is not the main point of the book, it’s the secondary, partially hidden, never explicitly said message. The whole point of each of these books in this series is to be enjoyable, not a lesson.
Which means that, yes, I am going back and adding scenes and adapting scenes. I’m building up the romance and making the #metoo plot light less important. It’s still a driving plotline through the book (it is the heroine’s external goal and can’t be forgotten or dismissed), but it can’t be the most important thing in the book, in the story.
Who said writing romance is easy? Who said romance novels were light, frothy compilations of nothing for 250 pages? Whoever did has never actually read a romance, or certainly not one of mine. They all have a deeper message, a deeper meaning. But they all also have to—at their core—be a romance. Now that I’ve reminded myself of this very basic fact, I’m off to go fix mine.
People, can I get some idea of whether or not you are listening to the audio versions of this blog? Email me if you want. Fill out the contact me page. I really need to know whether I should continue taking the time to make these recordings. Sadly, there’s no way for me to know unless you actually tell me. Please? Pretty please with a cherry on top? Whipped cream? Chocolate??