Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Long Date*

Recent feedback from a contest judge has made me ponder the mysteries of attraction. The judge noted that my hero and heroine, while physically attracted, have no compelling reason to live happily ever after.

Setting aside the usual disclaimers (but it’s not a romance, it’s women’s fiction with romantic elements!) and defenses (sure they do! You only read about their first meeting!) I started thinking about what makes for a lasting relationship.

I only have one long date from which to draw conclusions. It began with physical approval—nearly six feet and a muscular build meets my need to feel not-like-a-hulk; thick dark hair is a personal preference.

But was there an inciting incident? Uh, sorry, not that I can recall. In my defense, it’s been a really long date, approaching twenty-nine years. So how did we make the transition from interest to commitment? We have friends in common, but they didn’t universally approve the match. We’re both ambitious—we talked about our intent to improve our lives. And we have similar values—we expect to work hard, as opposed to holding up convenience stores or bilking the elderly.

At the end of the third date, I announced my resolution never again to date anyone for longer than six months without a proposal. I figured if he spazzed under the threat of commitment, he’d disappear without a trace and I could move on before developing any emotional attachment. But he didn’t. At six months, he asked for a three month extension. I granted it.

The trait that I recognized as vitally important to my future was his optimism. While I can spot a mote of woe from twenty paces, he’s certain that I’m imagining things. Over time, my viewpoint has moved toward balance. And that’s a good thing.

What do you think? Are the real life basics that worked for me enough to carry a novel?

*circa the college years, referring to the institution of marriage


Christine said...

Personally I don't even read judge comments anymore unless I final. Seriously, I've had MAGGIE finaling Manuscripts ripped apart. I've been told: unbelievable story and more on works that have been requested, been asked to revise and resubmit by editors/agents. The level of subjectivity in the judging these days is outrageous.

So, now back to the LONG DATE. I've been with mine for 25 plus years. He's the inner hero of all my heroes. An editor for Harlequin said she can usually tell what the husbands of her writers are like by reading their books. So... your long date will translate to the page :-)

PS: toss out the judges' comments.

Anne Gallagher said...

I've never had a long date, but am totally impressed with your prosal at 6 months. I dated a guy for 4 years without a proposal and when he finally got around to it, I turned him down.

I agree with Christine, toss the comments. People get together for worlds of different reasons and stay together for only one, Love.

Lexi said...

Chris, it's one judge, one person, one opinion. If you get a consensus saying the same thing about your story, then maybe it's time to rethink. Otherwise, mull it over, decide if YOU think there's any validity to the comments and, if not, brush them aside.

I am on the other side of the fence and still getting rejection, i.e., from some reviewers. It smarts, I will not lie, but I try to remember that this is subjective, that, though one person may hate my writing, another may love it. In a perfect world, everyone would recognize my genius. In this world, there are going to be people who like me and those who think, WTF? How did this chick ever get published?

Lisa Dunick said...

Sure. Shouldn't novels be somewhat based in real life? You make me think of Victoria Dahl's last contemporary. Her hero basically is a little OCD, but it still works. Just like many real-life romances work, even when it doesn't seem like they should. :O)

Callie James said...

You have to go with your gut. That said, if an editor/agent reads the full and makes the same comment, consider it. If several editors/agents read the full and make similar comments, then REALLY take a look. Otherwise. it's subjective. Did the judge read the synopsis as well and make that comment? That might be another thing to consider.

Also, maybe the judge meant there isn't enough standing between your hero/heroine to make it through a full-length novel. I don't know. All subjective.

I have a wonderfully romantic husband whom I love dearly. Unfortunately, our relationship wouldn't make a good romance book.
Good blog. Hang in there!

Heather said...

I love the three month extension! My husband waited so long to propose that I can't repeat my response when he finally asked the big question.

I was listening to a podcast about romantic tension and relationships on my way back from Auburn this afternoon. The best advice I heard to take the relationship from simple physical attraction to something more lasting was to make sure that your hero and heroine offer each other something that completes them. I'm still trying to figure out what it is that I bring to the party for my husband, but whatever it is, I'm glad it's there!

Carla Swafford said...

A woman who knows what she wants! The six month requirement would be great in a romance. It has the taste of a ticking clock.

As for judges comments, Lexi is right. If you continue to see the same kind of comments from several judges, then you need to listen.

Christine said...

Mine proposed after 4 weeks. We were married 10 weeks after we met.


Allen said...

Christine, four weeks! That's a single title!