Genre tips / writers resources / writing

What I’m Insecure Writing About

writers groupThis post is for Alex Cavanaugh’s Insecure Writers Support Group (click the link for details on what that means and how to join. You will also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge that are worth checking out like Kate and Rebecca who inspired me to begin). The first Wednesday of every month, we post our thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.

This month’s insecurity for me: Writing about love, sex, and that sort. I got this idea from reading Kate’s post last month. Which she got from another writer (and that’s how we grow–each inspiring the other). My hand went up as I was reading–me too. I have difficulty writing romance and that’s not good because lots of people read books for a peek at what other people consider ‘love’. In preparation for this article, I researched what is required in a romance novel. Here’s a list of the biggest differences between romance and thriller:

  • Romance writers have a wonderful, loveable, sympathetic heroine and hero–both. Thrillers usually have one main hero who is tough, stoic, flawed.
  • Romance main characters are usually beautiful. Thrillers like muscles and rigor–beautiful brains.
  • Romance plots require that early in the story, something throws the two main characters together. Thriller heroes are more likely thrown into a nest of terrorists.
  • Romance writers create a sex/love scene if the plot slows down. Thriller writers blow something up.
  • Romance plots revolve around people who fall in love then struggle to make it work. Thriller plots have people trying to kill each other, prevent the world from ending, with a conspiracy around every corner.

  • Romance plots include what they call a ‘cute meet’ where hero and heroine meet. Thriller plots–boy and girl meet trying to destroy each other. Not much cute about that.
  • Romance plots are as much about emotion as action. Thriller plots are all action.
  • Conflict in romance novels is internal. In thrillers, it’s played out on a world stage, announced in the media, and usually causes physical mayhem.
  • Romance novels must Include good romantic scenes. Thrillers–a romantic scene usually means one of the characters is about to die.
  • Romance novels–readers expect a happy ending. No real-life lesson-learned-the-hard-way. Thrillers–yeah, sure, we like a happy ending, but we understand happiness has a price.

I am none of the former and most of the latter, which is probably one of the reasons my genre is thrillers. I have good company. Consider Val McDermid, Lee Child (aka Jim Grant), Daniel Silva. They put so much action and brains in their writing, you don’t even miss the other.

They are my model.

What else am I insecure about:

Will I Find Employment if I’m an Older Job Hunter?

6 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Started Blogging

Traditional or Indie? I’m Really Stressed Over This


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. She is webmaster for six blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a columnist for and TeachHUB, Editorial Review Board member for Journal for Computing TeachersCisco guest blog, IMS tech expert, and a monthly contributor to Today’s Author. In her free time, she is the editor of a K-8 technology curriculumK-8 keyboard curriculumK-8 Digital Citizenship curriculum, and creator of technology training books for how to integrate technology in education. Currently, she’s editing a thriller that should be out to publishers next summer.

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14 thoughts on “What I’m Insecure Writing About

  1. Pingback: 5 Ways to Write Like Your Hair’s on Fire | WordDreams...

  2. I LOVE thrillers! In fact, I can’t wait to read Daniel Silva’s latest. I wish he could write faster. =D I completely forgot that today was Insecure Writer’s Support Group posting day. Ah well. Will try to remember next month!


  3. Less is more in the romance genre, as far as I’m concerned. Over describe and the reader will be underwhelmed, under-involved.

    More is never enough in the thriller genre. You can never have too many explosions or conspiracies or deathly traps, and all must be fully engaging.

    I’m not particularly good at writing either, but enjoy reading both when well done.


  4. I don’t think I would be good a romance and yet I know when I read it, you can see the flaws in some work and the characters are hollow and so I stop reading. It takes a unique quality to make it read like real life.


    • Innit, Ankur? we all get to whine one day a month. Well, we could whine more often, but who’d listen. You have a wonderful approach. there’s no way to take this stuff seriously. It’d fray your last nerve.


  5. Coming over for IWSG.

    I love your list! I think I’m somewhere in between. Romance plays a part in my writing, but I like blowing stuff up too. I think that’s because I have trouble with the whole “staying apart because of a stupid misunderstanding” thing in romance novels. If I’m screaming, “just talk to each other already!” it’s not a good thing. So I get to have my characters in love and separated by the antagonist. Or a bomb, or something cool.

    A couple of weeks ago I attended a conference and a class on adding romance elements to any genre. I need to write those notes up and blog about it. Maybe next week…:)

    My Writing Journey


  6. Pingback: What Goes On Behind the Bedroom Door | Charles Ray's Ramblings

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