The Fear of Writing Romance

Ankara Press author Oyindamola Affinnih tells us how she tackled her worries about being typecast as a 'romance writer' and ponders exactly how much sex one should include in a story.

I read a lot of romance while growing. A whole lot! Although I had written some, I took a break from it; everyone thought the genre was too regular and predictable because of its ‘happily ever after’ endings. I remember being hesitant when I first saw the submission post on ‘oniammemory.blogspot.ca’. You see, there is an influx of romance movies everywhere and whether the story is a hit or miss, the audience console themselves with the characters, the settings, costumes or even the locations. All of these you can’t get from a novel. The story just has to be beautiful and imaginative enough to pique the reader’s interest. I am a die-hard fan of a properly written romance and I know that in as much as people like to deny it, everyone fancies a romance story, an ‘escape zone’ every and now again. Still, I worried whether the audience would give it a shot first before giving up on me. My first novel was a regular YA and even though the characters grew on each other, I obviously raced through the romantic side of it.

This time, I wanted to do a story that would get readers smiling all through, something touching on real events yet cheeky. I wanted something where the heroine makes her own decisions. I wanted her to figure out if she wanted to date or not or if making love was a step she wanted to take. Now that is something else that gets me and I’m sure a lot of writers perturbed when writing romance. Exactly how much sex do I want to include in the novel? How much is too much? There is honestly no right or wrong answer. I totally have no issues with romance novels without sex scenes, I have read and enjoyed a bunch of them with strong characters and fantastic plots. But I am not a writer who outlines. I have my characters, I have a plot, and I let them play. Of course I know what is about to happen and I have it somewhere up there, but some parts of the language plus choice of words often fail me. How do you say ‘he looked at her chest,’ when you and I know he looked at her breasts? Sometimes ‘his throbbing hardness’ doesn’t fit into a certain context and you are forced to explain what is truly meant without meaning to sound vulgar. I couldn’t stop shrieking when a friend and I discussed the language.

Romance novels are supposed to be optimistic. A well written one should be able to leave the reader a lot more confident, hopeful and empowered. If I can write that book that lifts my readers, helps them smile while reading and makes them believe in love again, then A Tailor-made Romance is just one of the many titles you’ll be reading from me. I hope to read many more from other writers too.

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