Dishing Up Romance.
I’m so excited to be delivering my first ever Aussie Owned & Read post. Thank you for having me. I’ll be working to fit the brief and keep all you lovely followers and visitors happy and well fed.
Speaking of well fed – or not – I’m an MKR fan. (My Kitchen Rules) Don’t judge. It’s an inherent weakness. Apart from authoring and reading, my fave thing is to bake and cook, so despite the show’s many shortcomings I’m still drawn to those television kitchens and those sweating, suffering contestants. And yes, I know it’s all director-created storylines and false drama but obviously I’m a cheap date because I love it.
This year though – and here’s where this post becomes relevant – there was an added ingredient, a staged romance between young rival contestants Bec and Kyle. It was flirt city. Bec was batting those eyelashes and serving up saucy over-the-shoulder entrees entreaties and Kyle was responding with prolonged glances that held more heat than a raw Bird’s Eye Chilli. It was good stuff. It was believable and whether real or clever editing, I was suckered in.
So, talking Romance – ‘cos that’s what we’re doin’ here at AO&R this month…
Interestingly, my fascination with Bec and Kyle’s relationship actually grew to equal my interest in what they were being served. Apart from seeming genuine, and the sense of fun and warmth both contestants oozed, what interested me was the answer both gave independently when asked about those first sparks. Both declared they were drawn to each other, initially, over a shared sense of humour.
‘We could just talk to each other as if we’d known each other forever.’
As an author this scenario spoke volumes to me: Likeable characters (who like each other) + a connection Boom! There it was: a simplified time-honoured equation – a key, if you like – to the gateway to romance.
Let’s look at that.
Many times in YA fiction we see heroines who fall for a ‘face’ (and whoa, we’re all guilty of that). Disney is the biggest offender. But, hey we can be more than Disney. (Inserts discreet cough)
We want to create a romance that draws the reader in – a romance that is believable and makes the reader wail at the thought of these two characters not being together. To do that? Find something that connects them. Something that intrigues enough for each to want to dig deeper. Something more than a cute face or hot bod.
Completing the Jigsaw.
Imbue them with likeable/interesting traits and then imagine them as two random jigsaw pieces that have one side that fits them together neatly. That’s the start of a story. As authors we need to now find the bigger picture. The whole picture. Connections. And it is from those connections that a relationship can begin to develop. Ergo, each new side of the jigsaw that fits is a new connection. Or not…
YA love is raw and heart-pounding and exciting. It’s a series of delicious firsts that will never be experienced in the same way. It can feel dangerous and bold and yet, tender and syrupy warm. Hands shake. Stomachs perform backflips. But love, YA or not, is more than heaving tummies and shaking body parts. If it’s not, it’s not love. It’s not even lust. It’s a condition that needs medication. See a doctor. Fast.
I’m as guilty as the next of those heaving body parts, but there has to be more. That’s just the beginning; a knee jerk reaction. There has to be depth. A relationship has to grow. Develop. It shouldn’t arrive fully formed. No one will believe that. So, get them talking. Get them connecting.
Blatantly falsified Stats
Note they don’t have to agree on everything. That would be boring. Very few relationships, ever, (maybe I’m generalising) are completely compatible in every aspect of life. But most are at least 60%. (Yep, I’m completely generalising and worse I’m making up stats – but it seems sound(?)). And that compatibility goes further than a like or dislike of Thai food and the colour purple. But it’s a start.
Love Must pass the Belief Test
My last thoughts are to remember that even though we’re writing about young people, our romances have to be real and they must pass the reader belief test. Yes, first or new love is a dizzying time. And to those who are in the throes, there is nothing deeper or more special and no one else has ever felt this depth of emotion. No one. Ever. It’s powerful.
The secret? Again?
Connections. Think of them as sticky fingers that glue them to each other. Convince the reader that these two were created for each other.
My last, last thought? Vale the relationship of Bec (who was eliminated) and Kyle. MKR has lost its allure for me now. However, in my imagination I’m retelling the tale and in my version they find a way to be together – loved up, blissfully experimenting with strange and exotic foods.
And they’ll email me the recipes. Or invite me to dinner.
Sounds like a perfect ending to me.
And to celebrate that perfect ending, and my imperfect beginning here at AO&R, any person who takes the time to comment or just wave to say ‘hi’ on the comment board (I don’t judge) will go into a random draw to receive a copy of The Reluctant Jillaroo, or an earlier title if you already have that book – plus a pack of author goodies. Thank you! See you in the comments!