Romance Writing: Older vs Younger

by Joan Deneve

I’m a true romantic at heart. Maybe it’s because I’m also a high school teacher where romance, not academics, permeates the halls and classrooms. I’m also a writer, and I get great pleasure as a casual observer of human nature to see young people in the first throes of romance. Throe, by the way, is defined by Mr. Webster as a hard or painful struggle (think labor and childbirth). I think it’s the perfect word because, believe me, the struggle is real.

Don’t get me wrong. Young love is a beautiful thing, and there’s nothing quite like it, is there? I’m serious. It’s beautiful and sweet, full of wonder, excitement, and passion. And I confess, I am often a silent cheerleader hoping most of the fledgling couples at our school will make it. Sadly, few do, and at those times, I’m quick to offer my shoulder to the young ladies and a sympathetic ear to the young men, if they want to talk. Most do because, like I said, the struggle is real, and break-ups mean broken hearts.

There is no shortage of romance stories and books aimed at Generation X, Millennials, and even Generation Z, the ones that span from young adult to the thirty-something crowd. Unfortunately, not many books are written with Baby Boomers (like me) in mind.

I get it. As a child, I viewed the relationship between my grandfather and grandmother as mutually supportive, steady, and definitely platonic. Anything else would’ve been just gross! (Actually, I had no idea what platonic meant when I was a child, but you get the idea).

I will turn sixty-five this year, the same age my grandparents would have been when I visited their house in my formative years. Now, my mirror tells me I’m old. I see wrinkles and the gray roots that signal yet another visit to the salon. But in my soul, I still feel like a teenager, and thoughts of love, romance, and passion are not gross at all. In fact…

Well, I digress! I’m here to give you five reasons why writing romance for older couples is a good idea and then offer some practical tips to help you get started.

WHY A ROMANCE WITH AN OLDER COUPLE IS A GOOD IDEA

  1. There is a shortage of books geared specifically for older couples. Yes, there are good ones out there (thank you, Nicholas Sparks) but, in my opinion, not nearly enough.
  2. There is a huge market. Older women like to read, and many of them finally have the time to do it.
  3. Sixty is the new forty. A natural by-product of society’s emphasis on health, fitness, and appearance is that men and women live longer and have more energetic lifestyles.
  4. People are lonely. More single “seniors” are re-entering the world of romance, thanks to dating websites designed for older couples.
  5. Love is ageless!

Convinced? If so, read on for some things to consider if you want to write a romance geared for an older audience.

WHAT OLDER COUPLES ARE LOOKING FOR IN A RELATIONSHIP

  1. People get lonely and want someone with whom they can talk, share the events of the day, go to a movie or out to a restaurant.
  2. Often, older people have baggage from prior relationships. People are looking for someone they can trust, and since there’s no big hurry, they often take a long time getting to know a potential mate.
  3. A great advantage to getting older is the ability to laugh at oneself and take things in stride. Shared jokes could be about something as simple as figuring out how to use a new cell phone or remembering where they left their glasses. Laughter lowers blood pressure and alleviates stress. A good laugh releases endorphins in much the same way as a good work-out but is much more fun and requires no self-discipline. 😉
  4. People who have lived long enough to know who they are and what they want enjoy being with other people whom they can relax around and not have to impress. Life is too short for drama and manipulation, and older adults know that.
  5. Yes, physical attractiveness is a plus, but true beauty is something that glows from the inside. People are drawn to beautiful souls.

Writing a romance for an older couple can be challenging but very rewarding. The goal is the same as with any romance: Make the characters believable, relatable, and likable. Create an intriguing plot and incorporate engaging dialogue, peppered with doses of humor. Provide some kind of obstacle the relationship has to overcome and tie it all together with a satisfying ending.

Interested? Try it for yourself. Write a short story about a widowed woman and a man who has never been married. (Think Matthew Cuthbert from Anne of Green Gables). They are both in their mid-sixties and live across the road from each other out in the country. A feral dog shows up that both the man and woman try to tame.

Click to tweet: Writing a romance for an older couple can be challenging but very rewarding. @joandeneve #InspiredPrompt #romance #writing


Joan Deneve

Joan Deneve teaches English in a Christian school and has a passion to help young people fall in love with Christ and equip them to become all God wants them to be. Joan shares her life with Rene’, her husband of forty-four years. Together they reside in Prattville, Alabama, a quaint city with southern charm and hospitality. Joan loves to laugh and spend quality time with family and friends.

Joan’s latest novel, Loving Brock, will be available in April from Write Integrity Press.

www.joandeneve.com


Loving Brock

For almost thirty years, Brock Whitfield served God with joy and contentment at the mission hospital he founded in Angola. When Joy Stockman joined their team as a surgical assistant, he found a woman whose zeal for God and heart for people equaled and in many ways surpassed his own. Before he knew it, his admiration and respect for her blossomed into love. After years of serving alone, Brock began to hope that God was giving him another chance to love and be loved in return.

Romance Writing: The Meet-Cute

What’s a meet-cute? A girl meets boy story…gone awry.

Meet-cute: a staple of romantic comedies; a scene in which a future romantic couple meets for the first time. [Wikipedia]


Scenario in which two individuals are brought together in some unlikely, zany, destined-to-fall-in-love-and-be-together-forever sort of way (the more unusual, the better). [Urban Dictionary]


“Meet Cute is a way to quickly introduce two characters and set up their burgeoning relationship. A meet-cute is almost always rife with awkwardness, embarrassment, and sometimes outright hostility. It’s often used in films, particularly the Romantic Comedy, due to time constraints; while on television a relationship can develop more naturally over many episodes, a movie has to get their couple set up right away to fit within 2 hours.” – TV Tropes


Introducing the meet-cute: a device most often used in romantic comedies (movies), but also in television, books, and stories. One of my all-time favorite meet-cute is found in While You Were Sleeping, when Sandra Bullock’s character meets Bill Pullman’s character for the first time. It’s awkward and funny.

They continue to butt heads and misunderstand each other through most of the movie. The scene is poignant, funny, and draws the viewer into the story. I can’t help but feel sorry for both characters, because I sense they are “destined for each other” (as in Sleepless in Seattle).

Which brings me to Sleepless in Seattle. Though they unknowingly cross paths more than once, the couple doesn’t actually meet until the final scene. The meet-cute scene is subtle. For her, it’s a radio broadcast. For him, it’s a quirky letter from a woman half a continent away. It seems impossible. The good, strong romance develops first in the viewers’ mind and heart. That’s genius writing, IMHO.

Can an author effectively use the meet-cute in writing romance meant for the novel, not the screen? [Click to Tweet]

Not only is it possible, but desirable. However, it takes skill and good comic timing. It fits best in the sub-genre: romantic comedy.

Let’s look at an example of one in Picture Perfect, a book by Janice Thompson. Hannah, a wedding photographer aiming for a high-profile wedding job, has an interview with a reporter for Texas Bride. At the end of her interview, trouble enters in the form of a rival photographer, who just happens to be, “devilishly handsome.” He also happens to be the reporter’s next appointment. After a brief introduction, Hannah looks down at her shoes and realizes she has on two completely different ones. When she glances up to find that Drew and the reporter are also gazing at her feet, her nerves take over. As Hannah rises to leave, she catches the toe of her sandal and spills coffee … in Drew’s lap.

Now, that’s a meet-cute. The main character has completely humiliated herself in front of a really good-looking, single guy. Destiny. Could it happen in real life? Absolutely, and probably has, which is why we may find it hilarious.

My mother tells the story of the time she first met my dad. She was working behind the candy counter at a local movie theater in Seattle, Washington. She noticed her best friend (who also worked there) flirting with a slightly inebriated, but very handsome young sailor. More than a little irritated with both of them, and knowing her best friend’s steady boyfriend was due at any moment, Mom stepped in and diverted the sailor’s attention. Just in time. She did such a good job of diverting his attention, he returned the next day. They were married a few weeks later, and stayed married until he died in 2007. That’s a real-life meet-cute.

If you’re a writer of romance, and want to include a meet-cute in your story, I would advise you to study from the best. Watch movies like the ones I mentioned earlier. Also, The Quiet Man, with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara is another great one. While you’re in Ireland, you can check out Leap Year, with Amy Adams and Matthew Goode. It has an excellent meet-cute.

Can you think of other meet-cute scenes in books you’ve read, or movies you’ve seen? Feel free to share those in the comments. We love to hear from our readers.


Writing Prompt: Construct a short meet-cute scene in front of a neighborhood farmer’s market. Your characters are a young college student named Anne, a young farmer named Charlie, and a boy on a bike. Have fun with it!

You May Be a Fiction Writer

I always thought it would be fun to write fiction. After all, it’s just made-up stories, right? So, I started writing, and I enjoyed it immensely. Well, until I realized my stories needed a plot to make sense, and some sort of structure and plan. I needed to learn the basics of fiction writing.

Off to the bookstore I went, to find a couple of self-help books. But, I’m more of a hands-on learner. I closed the books, and put those principles into practice. All right, I was onto something. It was looking good. Until I sent my first chapter to a critique group. I was so embarrassed by all the corrections, and the not-so-gentle suggestion, “…you really need to polish this more before you send it in…”

Maybe fiction writing wasn’t as easy as I thought.

How do you know you’re a fiction writer? What clues you in?

Here’s what led me to believe I may be destined to write fiction:

  • My mother. She called me a storyteller a long time ago. It wasn’t a compliment.
  • Years of living in my imagination–my “happy place”–creating stories in my head.
  • Reading my way through the fiction shelves at the local library. While reading, I was figuring out a better way to tell that story.

You might be a fiction writer. But–brace yourself–it’s not easy. Matter of fact, it’s a lot of hard work. You not only have to begin a story, but end it, and the ending, or “denouement” needs to make sense, and satisfy the reader. Quite the challenge, especially in this age of instant books, when writers crank out multiple novels a year. Their loyal readers devour those novels as quickly as they appear. How did they do that? Let’s dissect the thing and find out.

Write. Sit down and write. There’s no substitute for it. Tell your story, as only you can. And, while you’re at it, learn the craft. Read, study, follow blogs, take classes, attend conferences. Fellowship with other writers. Find a good critique group–this last one is essential–truly the best way to learn. Notice I said, GOOD critique group. Find a group, either in person or online, that will challenge you and help you grow as a writer. As Sara Turnquist said in Back to Basics – How to Start, choose a group that has at least one published author.

A good work of fiction includes…Even in fiction, facts are not only welcome, but necessary. What makes a really good story? It’s believable. It could really happen. It mirrors real life.

Like the house built on sand, a story with no foundation will quickly wash away, and its writer will look very foolish. Include a factual foundation, such as, basing a story in a real place, or using everyday articles that might be found in someone’s home. Sometimes, good characters and engaging dialogue are enough to ground the story. Think of the best scenes in your favorite movies. Don’t they usually include dialogue and interaction between the characters? They become real in those moments, and you become part of the scene. That’s great fiction.

Showing … not telling–One of the greatest commandments of fiction writing! Fiction is a finely-crafted work of art. A really good story doesn’t just tell you what’s going on, it shows you. You get so wrapped up in the story, you feel what the character feels, see what he sees. You’re emotionally involved. I read an excellent blog post on this subject, written by Cindy Sproles, on The Write Conversation. You can access that article here: Writing With Emotion.

Read good fiction. Find writers whose books you love, and read. I use the following list of questions as I read:

  • How does the writer make me want to turn the page?
  • What draws me to the lead character?
  • When are the stakes raised?
  • How does the writer integrate minor characters?
  • What makes a scene work?
  • What’s the key to the conflict?
  • How does the writer handle dialogue?

These questions also work with television shows and movies. The answers can be very revealing. What are the author’s strong points? What are his shortcomings? What’s your takeaway? Challenge your own writing in this way, and you’re bound to improve.

I don’t claim to know it all, because I don’t think it’s possible to learn all there is to know about writing. It’s an ever-changing scene that needs to be edited and updated, molded to fit genres and themes. And there’s no way I can tell you all you need to know in 750 words or less. But, if you really want to learn, and you want to excel at the craft, or at least develop your personal style and voice, you can achieve that.

Click to Tweet: I jumped in, feet first, and guess what I learned? It really is fun to write fiction.


Writing Prompt: Your main character (Jill) has just moved to a new city, where she’s taken a job. Jill accepts a coworker’s invitation to an informal gathering. As she steps inside the room, describe the scene, using conversation between Jill and the coworker.

3 Questions Wednesday with Gail Johnson

Gail Johnson

It is my sincere pleasure to welcome fellow Inspired Prompt crew member, Gail Johnson to 3 Questions Wednesday. Gail recently released her memoir, Treasures of Hope, Discovering the Beautiful Truth Beneath My Painful Past.

First question–

 Can you describe yourself in three words?

Overcomer, Encourager, Resilient

I love that. Those are all such positive words. Next question–

Someone offers you a fully-paid writing research trip to any place you desire to go. Where would it be and why?

I didn’t have to think about this one. Medieval hill towns, walled cities, picturesque scenery, and mouth-watering cuisine. It would have to be Italy. Remember, Roman Holiday or Letters to Juliette? How can you watch those movies and not want to visit? Who knows, while I’m there, I may find a small out-of-the-way village and get lost forever. 😉

Letters to Juliette is one of my all-time favorite stories! Italy is on my bucket list, for sure. Now–

If someone made a movie of your life, what would be the theme song?

As a musician and music lover, this was an impossible task. A theme song depends on the seasons and struggles I’m experiencing at the time.  So I decided for the purpose of this interview, I’d go with a song my daughter, Lindsay, chose for me years ago. Can’t Live A Day by Avalon. The truth contained in the stanzas have been my heart’s cry for years. Without Beloved, I have no hope. He alone is my hope. I can face anything as long as I have Him.

I think it’s so precious your daughter chose that for you. Readers, if you’re not familiar with this song, I urge you to Google it and read the lyrics. It is a lovely song.

Thanks, Gail, for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions and help your readers get to know you better.

Readers, Gail is offering a print copy of her new memoir Treasures of Hope: Discovering the Beautiful Truth Beneath My Painful Past to one commenter. So, leave her a comment, or ask her a question, and your name will go into the drawing for the book.

Click to Tweet: Gail Johnson, author of Treasures of Hope, Discovering the Beautiful Truth Beneath My Painful Past, is our guest today at 3 Questions Wednesday. #InspiredPrompt #Interview #memoir


Gail Johnson enjoys sharing her passion for life and Christ through the power of the written word. Whether it’s through stories, articles, or songs, she invites her reader and listener to “taste and see” the hope she has found in a faithful God and loving Savior. She is the author of Treasures of Hope, Discovering the Beautiful Truth Beneath My Painful Past, a memoir. A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), she writes fiction, non-fiction, and songs. Her Southern Gospel song “Less of Me and More of You” came in the top 5 runners-up in the 2010 Singing News/Solid Gospel Songwriters Search.

Born and raised in Georgia, she is a wife and mother of two adult children. She enjoys lots of family time, good music, maple pecan ice cream, and southern living.

Connect with Gail at Facebook, FB Page, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Amazon


TreasuresofHopeFrontFinalWhen long-buried memories of abuse resurface, Gail faces a choice: continue ignoring the implications of her nightmares and remain a captive of fear and shame, or dare to remove the painful chains binding her present to her past.

Unearthing the sorrows of her past would not be easy and distressing questions would arise along the way to challenge her faith.

Why would a God of both love and justice allow this abuse? Why does He expect me to forgive my abuser? If He let this happen, does He truly love me at all?

In her memoir, Treasures of Hope: Discovering the Beautiful Truth Beneath My Painful Past, Gail Johnson shares the truths she uncovered while studying earlier daughters of both harm and hope. As she became better acquainted with women of the Bible like Sarah, Rachel, Hannah, Rahab, Tamar, and Esther, their stories spoke truth into her own, mining the jewels of Identity and Purpose, Intimacy, Incomparability, Courage, Peace, and Victory. With each new discovery, Gail traded a length of chain for a balm of gold . . . and unearthed treasures that would sever the past’s stranglehold on her life, allowing her to live joyously in the present and anticipate the future with emboldened hope.