I've been thinking about how I got so lucky as to write Romance novels for a living and I've decided that the secret to my success is this: I've been single a lot in my life. This, I like to say, has allowed me to parlay years of dating into a career.

Who better than someone in the trenches to write about the frustrating, illuminating, exhilarating, and exhausting search for a soulmate? Who better to know the puzzles and pitfalls of new relationships than someone who is regularly in one?

The problem is, while that makes writing the first half of the book relatively easy, the happy ending can be more elusive. See, writing Romance novels is not so much about knowing or being good at what's romantic. It's not even about knowing how to conduct a successful relationship. It is mostly about creating a sustainable conflict.

As any regular reader will tell you, a Romance novel has to have a realistic and believable conflict complex enough to keep the hero and heroine apart for at least 300 pages. Maybe more.

Unfortunately, as I'm sure you know, creating conflict in real life is not a skill that's in much demand in the dating world. But while I could blame my career for making me focus on the wrong skill set, and therefore consigning me to the ranks of the perpetually single, I prefer to acknowledge how much I've learned through the years of fun but fleeting/failed/unsatisfying/short-lived/prolonged but unsuccessful/sometimes disastrous relationships.

For example, in the last few years, I've dated a carpenter, a contractor, and an architect--talk about hearing all sides of the story! A spy, a chef, an Aussie, a cameraman, a lawyer, a deaf man, a salesman, a--well, you get the idea. I've gotten a lot of sides of a lot of stories.

Which is part of what prompted me to write my latest: HELLO, DOGGY! I had to share some of the wisdom gleaned from some of the wonderful guys I've met--all of whom had interesting takes on the dynamics of male/female relationships.

In HELLO, DOGGY!, my hero, Keenan, is an ex-television writer of a series much like SEX AND THE CITY--a show I consider fascinating for the way it has its finger firmly on the pulse of women's problems. Not to mention women's friendships. Keenan, having focused on women's relationship issues in his job, believes he knows how women sabotage themselves with men and he wants to set them straight.

My favorite of Keenan's many pearls of wisdom is this: “Women mistake presence for commitment.” This brilliant insight came courtesy of one of my online dates when we were talking about a woman I knew who'd stayed in a relationship for 14 years, hoping the guy would marry her. Keenan of course would tell her to dump him. Not so my heroine, Tory. Their conclusions are frequently quite opposite, but, by the end of the book, they discover they can't live without each other anyway.

Let me know what you think of their conclusions, or if you've got some pearls of dating wisdom begging to be shared too!

Best,
Elaine Fox

8 Comments:

Blogger JVM said:

Since you feel that the happy ending is elusive in real life -- and I really appreciate your honesty! --do you ever feel cynical or sour about creating it in your novels??

12:34 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Great question! Actually no, believe it or not, because I truly believe in the happy ending. My own struggles make writing about successful relationships more fun. It might even keep me optimistic, though it definitely requires a little more imagination!
--Elaine Fox

1:39 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Dear Elaine: I think your life sounds like lots of fun - many admirers and happy times without the angst of being stuck with a bad choice! Writing about such "adventures" here and in your wonderful books is encouragement and inspiration to many of us. Morninglark

5:22 AM  

Blogger Chari-Dee said:

I have this one in my TBR and Reviewed pile! I have LOVED the others and can't wait until I can get to this. I just love the cover on it too. So cute!

9:11 AM  

Anonymous Beth Harbison said:

I love your books and this one sounds like the best yet! I can't wait to read it!

10:36 AM  

Anonymous Elaine Fox said:

Thanks, Chari-de and Beth! It's very comforting -- and motivating! -- to hear you've been enjoying my books. And doesn't Avon do a fabulous job with the covers?!
Morninglark, thank you for reminding me to say that my life IS a lot of fun! I do frequently think: better to be single than with the wrong guy. And honestly, I've had such lovely relationships I can't say I have a lot of regrets. That must be the other reason I'm so happy writing romance, because living it is usually so much fun!

12:13 PM  

Blogger Jane said:

I loved "Guys and Dogs," especially the table scene with the sugar. I'm looking forward to "Hello, Doggy."

8:14 PM  

Blogger lucindad said:

Hi Elaine ~ I was lucky enough to receive an advance copy of HELLO DOGGY and thrilled to meet some of my "old friends" from the previous doggy books. Your writing brings so much pleasure and the best part is knowing you always provide a happy ending. I hope that your next novel is already on the way to the publisher as I have become addicted!
From Lucinda, a friend and admirer from a long time ago.

10:31 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home