Monday, August 20, 2012

Romance, Hold the Cheese.

About a month ago, I watched the movie Letters to Juliet with a group of my friends. When I originally saw it on the big screen, I was swept away with the gorgeous Italian countryside and of course, the romance. Who doesn’t love a story about star-crossed lovers who meet again and reignite their passion? Or of someone in the wrong relationship who is suddenly thrown together with a person who is truly right for them?

The ladies I was with apparently. As the credits rolled, more than a few of them thought our choice for movie night was entertaining but somewhat cheesy.

Oddly enough, I agreed.
For me, what had been magical on the big screen came across as slightly unbelievable and forced in my friend’s living room. But what had happened? Maybe since I wasn’t distracted by the larger than life gorgeous scenery and hot buttered movie popcorn, I had the chance to dissect the plot?  Was my mood different?  Or was I affected by my friends reactions? I’m not entirely sure but the question that remained with me, especially as a romance writer, is how do you let a character express their feelings without making it seem cheesy or forced?

Romance is different to all people, isn’t it? What may come across as mawkish to one person might ring true to someone else. If I’m writing something from the heart and a person deems it cheesy – does that mean I'm trying too hard? Or is it just a matter of opinion? And the bigger question is this – if the literary world can accept dystopian societies where kids fight to the death, angels and demons battling over doomed love, and any number of dead girls reflecting on their life who are given the chance to make it better - why is the act of falling in love and forging a relationship so hard to believe?

Are we all just too cynical for a dose of cheesiness now and then?  


  1. Great questions, Robin! I definitely think romance can be a challenge when it comes to the cheese factor. I think that the writer has to work extra hard to make the act of falling in love and forging a relationship believable. Perhaps if it is too formulaic, it can come off as cheesy.. I often like to reaad love stories in the context of other stories. I love it when a romance starts to develop in one of my favorite mystery series. For me, when there are lots of other interesting plot lines going on, a bit of romance feels fun. I definitely think that writing romance is tough, but when it's done well, it's awesome. And you do it awesome!

  2. I think writing about love and striking the right balance is as hard as writing about death. In both cases, you run the risk of being too over-the-top, but at the same time, you can't write flat prose that doesn't engage the reader's emotions.

    Hats off to those who can do it, and Robin, I agree with Brianna, you do it well!

  3. I most definitely think there are as many different tastes in cheese as there are missing parents in YA.

    But when you think about it, love is so private, so personal. I almost feel guilty writing down my characters private moments. It's like I'm invading their privacy. And who isn't just a little bit cheesy in private?