The Book of Lost Things & Romance Aisle vs. (^_^);;

I’m still reading Sir Gawain, but concurrently I’m rippling through John Connolly‘s The Book of Lost Things and I am loving it. My husband jokingly asked if it was a coming-of-age novel. What isn’t? I answered that Yes, it was, but it was really good! Correction: It’s still really good, because I haven’t finished it. But I have done that postmodern mystery-spoilering thing and I’ve read the ending. I’m happy to say that didn’t do me much good.

I won’t summarize the plot of it here, other than to say that besides being a bildungsroman, it makes extremely good use of the gory underpinnings of fairy tales. Just when I begin to think, “Hm, is this YA fiction?” there’s a really gruesome scene and I wonder instead, “Which forest have I wandered into?” I like being shocked by fiction, since I so rarely am. In a good way. Rarely shocked in a good way. I am often shocked in a bad, bad way. But even then, it’s not really the writing that shocks me,  but the fact that really bad writing was published. I should like to write something really horrible, so that it can be published, too!

So, what I’m gleaning from this book is how to punctuate with gore. Well-timed, well-used gore is a wondrous thing.

I’m also beginning to see that well-timed and well-used romance can be useful. For me, the two tactics/emotions occupy a very close area in the brain. They’re both so visceral (duh, kind of the point!). The problem is, I never read romance, and now that I’ve come to a spot in my writing where there’s a love scene coming up, I’m feeling pretty squicky about it.

I went to this site because it was the first hit off Google. I’ve never heard of any of the authors, and I have no idea if they’re popular or not. I found some of them on Amazon– but even then, how do I know how much they sell? How long they’ve been around? And if any of my criteria even matter?

One of the articles is a checklist of things to avoid when writing romances and love scenes, and I checked my still burgeoning love scene against the lists and came up okay. I’m still squicky about it, though. And until I’ve written further along, I have no compulsion to give it to anybody to read. This means I am stuck with my own squicky self until the story finds its own way.

A few months ago, I wandered purposefully into the romance section in Borders and totally freaked myself out. I was SO embarrassed, even simply setting foot in the aisle. Am I a snob, or just repressed? Mystery’s a genre, and I have no qualms at all being found in the mystery aisle. I’ve been exploring the sci-fi aisles as well, and I feel a little lost in there, but not ashamed. Being in the romance aisle, however, really unnerves me. As soon as I hear footsteps or talking in my direction, I rocket outta there! And blushing, to boot. I’m embarrassed that I’m so embarrassed. What I should do is get something off Amazon– but even that…

What is the matter with me? I mean, how do I know if I’m writing a love scene correctly if I can’t even read somebody else’s? This whole quandary is making me feel very stupid. And so —–> (^_^);;


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