Friday, October 9, 2009

Is "I Love You" the Kiss of Death?

Did I get your attention with that headline? Well, there was a great discussion about this very topic yesterday on Romancing the Blog in which the blogger used Line of Scrimmage as an example of a book she loved. What a lovely way to start the day for the author of Line of Scrimmage! The blogger, Laurie, posed an absolutely awesome question about what happens to a romance novel AFTER the hero says I love you. I enjoyed the comments and the conversation on this topic because it's something we wrestle with as authors. When exactly is the right time for the exchange of I love yous? In Line of Scrimmage, Ryan tells Susannah he loves her in the first chapter when he's trying to convince her to give him and their marriage another chance. I think in chapter 5 Susannah admits that she still loves Ryan, that she never stopped loving him and probably never would, but that doesn't mean she's ready to take him back. Nooooo... In fact, at that point, the story was just getting started.

In Love at First Flight, Michael tells Juliana fairly early on that he's falling for her. He doesn't use the word "love," but it is implied. He was definitely in it to win it before she was. But following a traumatic event, in one of the more romantic scenes I've ever written, Michael says that telling her he loves her seems inadequate because there isn't a word big enough to describe how he feels about her. He is surprised when she tells him she loves him, too. This occurs about halfway through the book, and again A LOT happens after their declaration. In the book I'm currently working on, the hero and heroine say I love you on page 138.

I've decided the reason I like to do it this way, rather than waiting until the end, is because saying those words raises the stakes. It changes the tenor of the relationship and gives the characters something to fight for. The I love yous happen organically in my books. When I feel it, they feel it. Whether it's in the beginning, middle or end, it happens when it happens. I know this will come as a shock to you, but I'm not much for "the rules" in romance. If I was, I wouldn't have written a book about an athlete or another about a hero and heroine who were with other people when they met—two things that are supposedly "not done" in romance. Screw that!

Reading the comments on yesterday's blog, I learned that some readers prefer to get that payoff later in the story—at least in contemporaries. I've been gorging on historical romances lately, and the mid-story marriage is very common in that genre. Often the I love yous come later but not always. What's your preference? Does I love you spell the end of the story for you or does it make you more invested in the couple?

Update on the Couch to 5K workout front: I got through the first week without dying, which is always a good thing. I'll start week 2 tomorrow. I've had two memorable running outings with the kids who are very proud of me, which makes it all worth it! I'll keep you posted.

TV Show Update: Loved last night's Grey's Anatomy. Meredith made me a little misty a couple of times as she dealt with her deadbeat father who needed a lobe of her liver. Lexi was also awesome. I loved when Meredith said she wasn't sure what it's like to have a father but she knows what it's like to have a sister and it's pretty terrific. Lovely. This show has LOST me in recent seasons, but I'm starting to have hope again. Of course just getting to look at Derek makes it worth my time.

Private Practice: LOVE IT. Just. Love. It. All. of. it. Except that weird thing Addison does with her mouth when she's e-mo-tion-al.

Brothers & Sisters: Cautiously interested in the Kitty-has-lymphoma story line. However, I worry that there's just too much damned cancer in people's lives for that to be entertaining to the masses. I do like how she now has her gorgeous husband's attention again. Excellent scene when she ushers Kevin out the door and then blurts out to Robert that she has cancer. Calista Flockhart is excellent.

Glee: Way behind on the TIVO'd episodes, but loving what I've seen so far. Love the music. Is there Glee Club for 40-something mothers? A friend of mine might be interested. I'm just saying...

Friday Night Lights: Please come back soon. Please. I miss Tim Riggins. Who's with me? What are you watching?