Sunday, 26 January 2014

Guest Post - Terri Nixon - B is For...


Thanks, Sally, for giving me the letter ‘B’ (and a sleepless night!) with which to contribute to your A-Z of romance writing.


These, then, are my 5 ‘B’s, and I’ll start with what is probably the most obvious, and finish with the one I tend to think one of the most important, of any letter in fact.

‘B’ is for beauty. By which I don’t mean every character involved in a romantic situation must be artistically/classically beautiful, but I do believe we must see beauty in one person through eyes of the other. It might be a physical thing, or a natural grace of movement, it might simply be that they possess a beauty of spirit that draws our MC to them. Beauty can also be a factor in the surroundings about which you’re writing; it’s easy to fall into a different state of mind, a susceptible one perhaps, when you’re in lovely place. By contrast, there is something appealing about two people being somewhere so awful, so ugly, so stark and devoid of beauty, that their attention is forced instead on one another, and they find things to admire that they might otherwise not have noticed.

‘B’ is for Boldness. In the writing itself. I think it’s important, particularly when you’re writing about the emotions of other people, to let go of your own perceptions and not be held back by what you yourself believe to be right. If your MC believes something that goes completely against your own better judgement, so what? Go with it, explore it, don’t be afraid to talk it up; it’ll make your character more believable and far more rounded. If you then feel the need to prove them completely wrong by way of an intervention of a (more sensible!) character, whose opinion they value, that’s obviously fine too. But I think you need to be bold, to not be afraid to give your characters a different dimension and a different viewpoint, and best of all, to enjoy the ride through your own ideals!

‘B’ is for Banter. A personal thing, and not always appropriate, but I do think a little bit of teasing in a relationship gives it a natural feel. Who among us hasn’t made a little joke at the expense of someone with whom we feel totally at ease and comfortable? I don’t write comedy. I enjoy it immensely, but I can’t write anything longer than a short story in it, I’ve tried. However, my characters – situation permitting – are often relaxed enough in each other’s company to make dry, humorous comments that elicit little slaps or arm-punches, and it serves to illustrate, (good old ‘show, not tell!’) that they’re comfortable and confident with each other. It doesn’t have to be hilarious, in fact it’s often better if it’s not, but it does have to be personal to them, and consistent with their character.

‘B’ is for Bite. The other side of the coin. I’m not talking about vampires (sparkly or otherwise!) I’m talking instead, about the snap and bite of a relationship with realistic conflict. No relationship is always going to be about walking in the park and wafting roses under each other’s noses; it’s important that, even if that happens on 80% of the pages or scenes, (oh, please not!)  The other 20% needs some kind of conflict, and that should be reflected in the way they react to one another. If something’s happened to make one mistrust the other, that’s a fairly obvious one and it will be easy to write the reactions, but even if they’re still madly in the first heady flush of love, a dark situation in which they find themselves is going to be mirrored in the way they feel, and in the way they talk. They will be short, irritable, impatient … it’s important to reflect that.

‘B’ is for breath. I saved this one for last. So much is felt and observed through breath, or lack of it: Karen glances up during an evening class and sees Will for the first time – her breath shortens; later he approaches her while she’s packing up her laptop – her breath catches in her throat; he passes by without speaking – she lets out the breath, and it’s shaky. In intimate moments, perhaps as Will holds Karen for the first time (after they’ve been stuck somewhere awful, and she yells at him, of course!) he might whisper her name and his breath stirs her hair … you just know she’s going to feel that right through her body. Later, that breath might scorch her skin as he moves his lips over her with only the lightest of touches, it would mingle with hers as they kiss ... and so on. Providing the whole thing isn’t over-done, and the mentions of it are far enough apart, the use of a character’s breath is something we can all relate to – we know that if the breath catches in Karen’s throat it’s because she’s both terrified and hopeful that Will is going to stop and talk to her, and that shaky sigh is part disappointment, part relief.

So there we have it, my 5 ‘B’s for romance-writing. Thank you for reading.

If you’re interested in seeing any of my work, Maid of Oaklands Manor – (historical mystery/drama, published by Piatkus Entice and shortlisted for the Readers’ Choice award 2013) is available from Amazon.



No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are moderated before posting. If I am away, please allow some time before your comment appears.