On Writing Romance by Ricardo Mejías
Writing, for me, is a second language. I’m not quite fluent in it, but it allows me to see and articulate the world in a very specific yet wonderfully abstract way. I can pick and choose my letters, line them up and listen to their sounds, playfully arranging similes like a child stacking Legos. It’s an experimental exercise, a fun, freeing and fantastic excuse to allow the tongue to sleep and the mind to clear its throat.
I started to write when I was twelve. I typed with my index fingers, very slowly, and very deliberately. I had a story I wanted to get out. No one told me to do it. I wasn’t going to share it with the world, tossing the pages out the window so strangers could say, “This child is a genius!” I was just tired of holding onto the letters in my head, tired of their weight. I had created an entire universe, and if I could only condense it into words then maybe I could be free! Free to think of something else. Free to write more. And when it came time to write another story, I learned to tilt my head to the side—watch as it tumbled out my ear, splashing on the page in a tangle of prose. Then I waited for the rain to fill me whole again, so I could continue the cycle until I ran out of pages, out of words, and out of ideas.
Writing, as sticky as it is when preserved on the page, is a very flexible tool of expression. Like water, it is fluid, the meaning of a sentence changed by the deletion of a word, the inflection shifted by punctuation. The narrative is a shapeshifter, who might be a suspenseful point of view in one story or a cynical teenager in the next. It is putty in our hands, and we are artists in search of the figures that lie within.
In college I started to try out different styles. I eventually stumbled into a genre I didn’t think I’d ever consider: romance. Not just romance…steamy romance. And though it started as a simple writing exercise, I learned to respect the genre in a profound way. I had taken it for granted. I saw Romance as fluff. It was a guilty pleasure read and nothing more, filled with flowery language and prolonged sex scenes. But the romance genre is one of the few genres where the writer and reader are truly intimate. While other books take a reader’s hand to lead them down a wild adventure, romance stories kiss your hand and bring you closer. They cause you to blush. They whisper in your ear, waiting for you to make the first move: to undress and find pleasure in the state of being vulnerable.
Writing is inherently a close affair between the author and reader. Without you to read these words, I don’t exist. Right now I am closer to you than anyone will ever be, because I have the pleasure of occupying—for a very brief moment—the privacy of your thoughts, and that is a privilege I don’t take lightly. And while other books are granted this privilege as well, what they’re sharing with you isn’t a secret; romance, however, is. When the prose starts to move to the bedroom, the author is taking you along with them. In many ways, the reader is not reading about the heat of his body—she’s feeling it. The reader is not reading about the curves of her figure, he’s exploring them. So as a writer of romance, the reader is allowing me to enact a fantasy with them. It’s a quiet act that only works if one can earn the reader’s trust.
I learned this because when I started to write romance I wasn’t sure how to approach it. As it turns out, I wasn’t writing for myself but for you. It was like a relationship, I wanted you to be happy—and not just to be happy, but to enjoy what I was doing. So I treated you as the protagonist, and wrote scenes that only worked if you willingly participated in them, and to do that we needed to reach a level of intimacy other books never had to strive for. You have to woo a stranger before the kiss. When I realized this, it made me look at romance fiction in a completely different light.
And that was how my romance novella, Fixation, came into being. I learned that I couldn’t write it like I had with my other stories. It helped me understand the nature of words and the act of reading them. There is a lot happening between the lines, a playful back and forth that simply feels different when writing romance. It’s flirtatious and fun. I’m still figuring out who I am, but the great thing about words is that it allows me to be formless. Fixation started as a personal challenge, but it turned into a lesson that opened my eyes to the beauty of storytelling. Maybe that is why our language is so rich and overflowing instead of blunt and minimalist, because we know on a deeper level these sounds are doing more than making noises.
They’re asking us to dance.
Wow! As both writer and reader, I totally agree.
Thank you, Ricardo, for that riveting take on writing in the romance genre.
Well, readers, shall we take a peek at one of Ricardo Mejías’ books? Sounds like a plan!
Coming soon to major booksellers:
This is the blurb for Fixation:
Michael has dreams, abstract fantasies of a woman wearing only a smile. He knows she’s not real, but she keeps appearing each night. She wants more than his body, but he can’t figure out what that is. To make matters more complicated, he’s falling in love with his co-worker, Lisa, and this makes the woman in his dreams angry. As the lines between love and lust blur, he must distinguish the difference and make a choice before he loses his soul to his fantasies.
Ricardo is also offering us a sexy excerpt from his upcoming romance novella.
He imagined the heat between her thighs, as if she’d spent the entire day drinking the sun’s warmth, her skin holding onto it like a cherished memory. His ghostly touch wandered playfully along her hips and stomach, stirring the passions until he searched for the one spot that would make her tremble.
“I want you to do exactly as I say.”
“Tell me,” she whispered. A tremor caught on the end of her voice.
“I’m sliding my fingers inside you.”
He heard a rustling sound as she mimicked his instructions. She was concentrating, likely wondering what it would feel like if they were actually together in bed, breathing on each other between long, lip-smacking kisses.
“I want you to come now.”
With an explosive release, she muffled her cries over the phone.
“I’ll call you next week.” He hung up before she could reply then stared at the ceiling, not quite sure what to feel. Phone sex only heightened his sexual frustrations. He was restless, bothered by a strange sensation that had settled uncomfortably on his chest. Emotionally, he felt parched, dehydrated and in need of…what exactly? If he knew what was good for him, he’d stop searching, but he was never one to listen to his own advice. Instead, his monthly credit bills were adding up to amounts that, at a glance, gave the impression there was real value to what he was doing, a tangible reward worth the risk of debt to his wallet and his soul. But he never got off during the calls. A conscious choice. Empty words for an empty orgasm, but he kept calling the 1-900 numbers, a road that led down familiar paths.
First, he’d scroll through porn, drawn by faceless women who promised to quell an urge he didn’t know how to control, only to be numbed by the flesh and fluids. He wanted to stop, to cut off what was an unhealthy habit, but what harm was it doing, really?
And then the dreams started.
The woman’s phone voice was similar to the woman in his dreams, hushed and raspy in the way she pronounced her words, but—
She wasn’t the same.
He glanced at the clock radio. “Crap.” There were still three hours left until he had to get ready for work. He wanted to sleep, to dream of the woman again, the woman who always appeared when he needed her, to tease him like a stripper might tease a crowd, but with a control so absolute it was a law of nature. She was the very definition of lust, the culmination of every man’s fantasy.
But something was very wrong with his dreams. She held the promise of granting him anything he asked for. Those crimson lips, like rose petals bleeding with the kind of sexuality that made him melt, begged him to take her. But she haunted him. He knew what she wanted: to feel his muscles tense, to enjoy the solid weight of his body on hers. But she had a secret agenda, and she was in no rush to reveal it.
Each night he woke up in a cold sweat, confused and dazed by the overwhelming emotions the dreams produced. No other woman had ever made him feel this way, but her love wasn’t any more real than the woman’s on the phone.
♥♥♥ Interesting! It looks like quite a romantic ride!
And readers, this riveting novella will be out very soon!
Thanks for stopping by with your fascinating guest post, Ricardo, and a look at your upcoming release, Fixation! Lovely to have you here! ♥
Ricardo Mejías discovered his love for prose in his senior year of high school while taking a creative writing course. He majored in Creative Writing at SUNY New Paltz with a double minor in philosophy. Wanting to learn more about the publishing industry, he pursued an editorial career and worked at Disney Hyperion as an Assistant Editor for five years. During his time there, he personally edited several middle grade novels and successfully helped pitch an idea for publication. Currently residing in New York with his fiancée, he’s now looking to explore new careers as well develop his writing and poetry crafts.
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.to/2aPa10O
Thanks again, Ricardo! We hope to see you back on ILRB sometime.
As always, happy reading, everyone!