The Best Romance of All Time?
I tend to think big. Maybe too big. Probably too big.
Undoubtedly too big.
But hey, it’s how I work.
This fact was made clearer to me during the Spring Fling RWA Chicago North conference over the weekend. I attended a workshop on goal setting given by Author’s Best Friend romance author assistant Kim Castillo. (I enjoyed myself, Kim, thanks!) On the worksheet Kim gave us, we needed to write down goals (one year, five year and lifetime) as well as obstacles to achieving our goals.
So here’s where the ‘thinking big’ part becomes relevant. Under the “lifetime goals” portion, I put “write one of the best romances of all time.”
Yeah. Okay. Dream no small dreams, right?
I have to admit, however, this thought has fixed itself in my brain and I can’t seem to dislodge it. I figure its best just to carry on with the exercise. It might surprise people, since I write erotic romance, to know that I’m holding this thought even as I write the raunchiest sex scene. Sex and romance have been entwined since the beginning of time, so I have no issue with that, actually. To me, it’s a given.
Back to the worksheet: obstacle to said goal. What exactly would comprise the ‘best romance of all time”? How would I recognize it, let alone write it?
Hmmmm, that’s a hard one. Must think of the enduring romances of the ages and the relevant components. Romeo and Juliet—the beauty and anguish of an impossible love. Tristan and Isolde—star-crossed lovers. Lancelot and Guinevere—ditto. The Thornbirds—ditto. Darcy and Elizabeth, kept apart by the strictures of society and family pressures, as well as the internalized prejudices that have come from those values.
Am I picking up a theme, here?
In this day and age, it’s hard to write a contemporary romance that involves the degree of star-crossed-lover-ship just mentioned. The mores of our society just aren’t rigid enough to create the friction of, say, Lancelot lusting after his soul mate Guinevere when the chivalric code that ruled his existence demands that he denies her. And yes, a good romance requires friction; something must be overcome. Otherwise, it’d just be a sweet little story of boy meets girl and happily-ever-afters.
It’s just a bit more challenging to find those heart-breaking potential conflicts in the modern age.
When I read the news story of the woman who drove the wrong way on the interstate while severely intoxicated, killing members of her own family and another family, I was so saddened. How can one make sense out of such a meaningless, awful event? How could anyone ever heal from that?
Pondering that topic gave me a loose idea for my first Silhouette Special Edition romance. It evolved into a story about three families in a small town, each of different backgrounds and cultures, who are irrevocably tied together one fateful night after the father of one family drives drunk, causing a three-way crash that impacts the three families forever. My hero and heroine were young lovers at the time, head over heals for each other. The crash causes deep wounds in all three families, and here’s where the star-crossed part comes in: his father was the man who killed her parents in the crash.
How does one go about healing from that? How can two people who are meant to be together ever work past the wounds and the pain, anguish and misunderstanding on all sides?
Thirteen years pass and the two meet again in the prime of their lives, older and wiser…and still madly in love with one another.
Here was my own Romeo and Juliet, kept apart once again by the old, familiar ties of family and faith, but by the demons of our modern world, as well, such as substance abuse and soul-scarring litigation.
So I came to the conclusion, after admitting to the grandiosity of my goal about writing the “best romance ever,” that I’d go ahead and keep the goal anyway. My Harbor Town series at Silhouette Special Edition won’t be the best romance of all time. I like the goal, though. It’s like a distant star, something to shoot for…a focus as I trudge along in the desert of the publishing world. :) And if that goal inspires me to write the best romance I am capable of every time I sit down at the computer, that’s good enough for me.
Dream no small dreams.
What are some of your favorite romances of all time? What components make them your favorite?
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