Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Writer's Wednesday - Composition

New Pink Heart Society columnist, Nicole Locke, is talking about the difficulty of getting love just right...

Last weekend, I came across an article about the Ivuna meteorite being displayed at the National History Museum. Landing in Tanzania in 1938, Ivuna has a composition similar to the sun and is a primordial example of our solar system. 

Although Ivuna, in essence, is a small lumpy black rock, I was seized with some unknown internal immediacy to view it. So I went to the NHM with two teenage boys (who were vociferously not seized with a passion to see a rock), only to be told by the friendly assistant it wasn’t there.

The. Rock. Was. Not. There.

In my glee, I didn’t read the fine print. Ivuna was only available for one night. In fact, since I read the article the day after the event, I didn’t even have a chance to see it. My heart-sinking loss baffled me until I realised somewhere in my romance writing brain, I equated this rock with Love. 

After all, isn’t Love a mysterious black lump that falls from the sky? Certainly those struck by it would believe so. There are those, no doubt, who would like to chuck it back to its primordial beginnings. 

For me, the connection is the mystery of the rock; the extraordinary discoveries behind its rare and various composition. And oh my, does Love have extraordinary variances and mystery. So much so it about does my romance writing brain in. 

I’ve tried to explain to non-writing folk how difficult writing romance is. They often look at me with amused fear (a similar look is given by teenage boys witnessing heartbreak over a missed rock sighting).

But Love is mysterious. Unknown. Vast. With the right variances and composition, Love exists, and sometimes if you don’t read the fine print, it doesn’t. 

For example, I have a friend who proposed and was accepted while crossing a street. Much to the fear/amusement of his wife, I thought it incredibly romantic.

His proposal was unexpected. Like finding a rare rock in Tanzania. Then came my musings on his proposal’s composition. How were they crossing the street, and what time of day was it? Were they going someplace or returning? Why was it that moment seizing his heart with some unknown immediacy to propose? Because it could have been lost. They could have crossed the street at a different hour. He could have been looking at a window glinting with street lamps. Instead, he was looking at her and he knew it was right. 

Love is just as mysterious when writing about it. My latest romance story is finished, except, the characters aren’t truly in love. 

I missed some variance in the chemistry between the characters, and if I can’t find the right composition their story is lost. But almost worse, if I do change the variances, and it is enough for them to fall in love, I know it’ll be in a completely different way than I imagined. Same characters, same setting and yet, it’ll be a different love story. 

This is why writing romance does my head in, but the mystery of it all is also why I write with glee.

For when Love’s found, or when the writing of it feels just right - when it seizes you with some internal unknown immediacy - well, there’s just something extraordinarily primordial about it.

Do you find the intricacies of love difficult to replicate in words sometimes?  Join the discussion with Nicole in the comments.

Nicole's latest novel, Her Enemy Highlander, is out now:

In the wilds of Scotland...

Impulsive Mairead Buchanan’s only goal is to track down the man responsible for her brother’s death. Until a shameful encounter with Caird of enemy clan Colquhoun proves a distraction she can’t ignore...

Nothing could prepare Mairead for the path she’s thrown onto when the secrets of a jeweled dagger are revealed and she finds herself kidnapped by this sexy highlander! With Mairead’s recklessness a perfect foil to Caird’s cool command, can these two enemies set their clans’ differences aside and surrender to the desire that rages between them?

To find out more about Nicole Locke, visit her website, and follow her on Twitter.


  1. I've read so many comments by readers who are disenchanted by certain books, either because there was a case of insta-love, or they just couldn't 'see' why the hero and heroine fell for each other. As a reader, this is the usually the sole reason why a book doesn't grab me, and it is always top of mind when I write. I try to build it into the small things - a touch, a laugh, a reaction that takes them by surprise.

  2. Hiya Avril. Yes, yes, yes!! It is the small things that make characters and real people fall in love. Grand gestures are great (the heroine rescues the hero), but unless there's something intimate (hero likes heroine's snorting when she laughs), it's just not going to be real. The love rings hollow. And as writers/readers we may not always know why it rings hollow, but we can feel it. For me, I'm editing latest MS (again!), until I can feel that little zing.

  3. What a great post, Nicole - I was nodding agreement all the way through. And if there's one thing that I've learned from writing romance for so long ( How long - let's not go there!) it's that love is something different to everyone - and to every hero and heroine I create. That's why I'm never keen on Valentine's Day with mass produced cards, specially cultivated bunches of red roses . . the commercial idea of what we're all supposed to think of as a gesture 'meaning love.' I love writing stories about a hero who doesn't think he can love and then, to his surprise, finds that what he'd been feeling all this time is in fact the dreaded four letter word. Or a heroine who thought that what she felt at first was love - only to discover that it's a much much stronger emotion than she ever imagined. Really, considering how true love is like that rock Ivuna (I would have wanted to see it too) and possibly as rare, then it's really quite astonishing that we ever find it. Perhaps that's part of the never ending appeal of the romances we write.

    1. Thanks Kate! It is astonishing that we ever find love. In fairy tales, we read of the Hero slaying a dragon. For me, it's the daily dragons that count: dishes, picking up the kids from school, etc. And because love can be so minute or simply not what may be considered beautiful (like a black lumpy rock or a heroine, who snorts when she laughs), we can so easily miss it. It is the mystery of Love that makes me such an avid romance reader.

  4. Thank you for explaining why some of the books I've read miss the mark completely.

    1. Sometimes you can just feel it, or it'll just read clunky. Most times for me, I truly don't know my characters until after the 1st draft (even though I do character worksheets beforehand to avoid this!).