Saturday, February 19, 2011

Writing and the 'Steamy Romance Factor': Part 1

I call myself an amateur writer because I do it for the sheer joy of creating, leading and ultimately finishing a story. I am not a professional, nor am I published. Publishing has always seemed the unknown frontier and ultimately I am a coward in that I don’t want to attempt the feat. At least at the moment I am undecided.

Lady Grace MacKenna

What do I write you may ask? Well if the title of this blog is any clue then you know I write Jane Austen fan fiction. I have been known to dabble in poetry as well, but writing stories has always been a passion. The story I am writing and working hard on at the moment is Saving Grace. If you follow me on twitter you have probably seen strange tweets mentioning Colonel Fitzwilliam or actual arguments between Colonel Fitzwilliam and me. My story is about Colonel Fitzwilliam and a heroine of my creation, Lady Grace MacKenna. Colonel Fitzwilliam has returned from the Napoleonic Wars and has much to address in his adjustment to “normal” society. My heroine, Lady Grace MacKenna is a flaming Irish spitfire who is dealing with the backlash of a brief association with George Wickham, whom she believed herself in love with. Colonel Fitzwilliam and Lady Grace have a meet cute one evening and it explodes from there.

Colonel Richard Fitzwilliam

My story is a work in progress, but the response I have received has been encouraging. My writing is far from perfect (remember I am an amateur) and I know it will need a lot of work once I have completed my story, but it has been generally well received. Now, to the plot of this blog post which is probably what you have all been waiting for.

I recently asked a friend to look over what I had written so far. They are a published author and I respect them immensely. Two suggestions from my friend stuck out: a) historical details and b) heat up the romance.

The first, historical details, I try to research and be as historically accurate in my work as possible, but I also know I have failed on many occasions in that respect so far. I know when I go back and revise everything I will pay more attention to correcting those flaws.

The second, heat up the romance, which I have titled the ‘steamy romance factor’, seemed to be what I focused on most. I had thought I had been doing a respectable job of creating romance. So, I decided to ask those who read and review my story what they thought when I posted this last chapter recently. The response was overwhelming and passionate to the core. In fact it set off an explosion, if you will, of responses. They all carried a similar note:

‘Don’t turn this into a bodice ripper’,

‘Romance should be slow’,

‘This story is already steamy is a beautiful way don’t ruin it’

And my favorite ‘steamy makes it sound x-rated...’

In other words, my readers thought as I did, that romance is a portrayal of a complex relationship which to be long lasting takes time to build. Romance can be beautiful without making it raunchy. Do not misunderstand me, I have read my share or raunchy bodice rippers, but in my story it has no place. It is not necessary to the plot line. I am not knocking the use of sex in novels or even Jane Austen fan fiction because it is sometimes necessary to the plot. From this affair and the response of my readers I have come to understand that my friend and I have a very different view of romance and how it should be written. If that makes me a prude then I own it with honor.


The Author

P.S. Would love to hear what other opinions that are out there in regards to the ‘steamy romance factor’. You don’t need to have read my story to have an opinion. What do you think of this? What do authors think of this? Does sex have a place in Jane Austen fan fiction? I would love to hear from you. So comment way. :)  


Michele said...

Jane Austin did not write bodice rippers so why should you? In my opinion, they're trashy. Keep it romantic and elegant.

@darbydashwood said...

For the most part I think those who enjoy Austen fanfic are looking to read something written in a similar style to Jane's. Period. On the other hand, there are readers that like (and expect) some type of "bodice ripping" to occur in a historical romance. I've never read Abigail Reynolds' Austen sequels but from what I understand they are quite steamy. So there's definitely a market for that. I'm not necessarily opposed to it; I mean, we've all fantasized about Mr Darcy at one point or another ;-). However, I don't think steamy romance fits in with the spirit of Jane. So I say nay. Sometimes less is more. :)

RivkaBelle said...

Personally I find 'steamy' scenes to detract from the plot. If it actually has a meaningful purpose/place in the *story*, then okay, I can deal ((just don't be ridiculous about it, 'k? Thansk!)). But so often these scenes feel like they're just tossed into the novel because they're "expected" - like, as a culture, we've decided something's not worth our time unless it has at least one 'steamy' scene, but the more there are the higher we're probably going to rate it. It's annoying. I believe that romance - True Romance - should grow and develop. Let us see the story progress, and let us wait with breathless impatience for the characters to reach a point of understanding, of commitment, of Romance ... Kudos to you! :o)