I am secretly a romantic. I love romance in stories. I love sweet kisses, I love flirtations, I love the chase. I want to be drawn into that when I read, and I want to be drawn into that when I write. I want to feel shy when I’m writing the hard-to-get girl, I want to feel confused when I’m writing the frustrated boy.
While character pairings can be complicated and challenging, the hardest part for me is to remove my own innately feminine voice from some of my pairings.
It occurred to me when I was texting and emailing with my friend Ben last night about We All Fall Down and We Are The Tide (my latest two and favorite stories), that even though I think I got my main male character Rhys’s voice right, I probably didn’t get his view of Theodora (main female character/love interest) right.
Me: I probably didn’t mention boobs enough
Ben: hahaha that’s probably true. How can you go wrong with boobs?
He’s my first reader, so he’s read them and I trust his opinion. And since he is a straight male, I trust his opinion on the lack of comments on Theo’s physical appearance. I thought about this a lot as I was writing last night. I have taken such pains to write about their minds and personalities, I’ve neglected some importance aspects of love interests: there is usually if not always some physical attraction at play, especially between teenagers. Eye color plays a huge role in WAFD/WATT society, so I knew their eye color, and roughly hair color, and I knew I was tired of reading about Really Tall Guys in books, so Theo and Rhys are roughly the same height (I imagine them around 5’8. Still taller than me.) But I didn’t know about their physicality. Theo is angular, but I never thought of her as particularly willowy or thin like a model. And Rhys is a soldier, so he has some muscle and I wanted him to be at physical odds with a few other characters I’ve introduced.
That’s one of my edits, to go back through and start building a physical character as well as mental one.
I lost all of my WAFD edits in the Great Dell Laptop Crash but luckily, I don’t think I need them for all of the changes I want to make. I wrote things in WATT, the sequel, that became “true” then for WAFD that I want to add (back) in, and I wanted to make more of a chase.
Because I like the chase, and I’ve been a part of the chase, and there’s a thrill to it. Not to mention, the society I built is well suited to the pursuit and less suited to the capture. Why not play a little longer than I did?
In the third book in what I believe will be a quartet, which I’m writing right now, I’m writing a male/male romance. This is much harder. I love the challenge, but it’s taking me longer to write because I am very aware of the weight that comes with this. My characters live in a society not unlike towns and places I’ve seen here in the United States, where homosexuality is taboo at best, and a reason to disown children, beat and kill, and sexually assault in the worst cases. For two teenage boys to fall in love under those circumstances…well, I want it to be realistic, and I want it to be hopeful.
More on that in the future I think.