My Twisted Writer Brain…

The Meghan and Harry Interview: How We Can Learn as We Write Romance.

On Sunday night, Oprah interviewed Meghan and Harry and we learned that what the press has been spinning for the last three years, according to Harry and Meghan, was false. They indicated that the “Institution” of the royal family did nothing to counter or calm the trolls, media lies, and/or the growth in blatant racism that came from the situation.

So, did you watch the interview? What did you think?

I found it informative, sad, and all so unnecessary. While I’m happy for the young couple in achieving their freedom and voice, I’m sad that people, or Institutions, still garner power to break another’s spirit. It didn’t have to happen–the smears, the hatred, the silence. Everything could have been so easily avoided by practicing some humanity and compassion.

What this interview illustrated is that royalty, with all its pomp and circumstance, is not exactly a fairy tale life? It’s all a rouse and a well-oiled cover up of the reality we finally glimpsed through this latest interview. (I think the first real glance was the famous Diana interview where she talked about how her marriage “was a bit crowded”.)

Writing Romance

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Does the idea of a big strong prince galloping in on his horse to save the weak and often exploited young girl, still fly? I hope not. There’s so much more going on and to explore through character and circumstance.

I don’t read romance anymore.

I think for me they became too formulaic and predictable. Perhaps I became a tad bit jaded over the years.

While I’m not sure which came first, I do know the modern day “Prince” needs to be rewritten and the “Damsel” in distress also needs to be reinvented.

The Prince

Harry is a flawed individual. He has substance and a history of loss, duty, and tragedy. He’s someone we root for as we want him to find happiness.

It comes down to character… in real life and in your writing.

There can’t be just the “surface” stuff, you must go deeper. Past the forced smiles and hidden tears there is more. In your writing, the “prince” can’t just be a hero or saver of the world…

We want to know what makes him tick and it’s not the princely titles or duties, its the insecurities, the pain, the drive…

When I saw Harry interviewed and finally allowed to speak his truth, I felt a sense of relief for him (for both of them actually). There was no arrogance or flagrant outbursts of privilege. He came across as genuine and supportive–dare I say, real.

The Princess

I know Meghan doesn’t have the title but I’m just looking at character here.

She too is a flawed and open individual. Her truth is spoken with conviction and certainty. She wanted to die. Even Harry couldn’t process those words as the stigma seized him. What would people think?

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The naive nature with which the princess entered into a foreign world of royalty was deep and very sad.

Where was all the support and training? Did we learn nothing from the Diana experience?

Left to her own devices she studied and tried not to disappoint but still couldn’t do it well enough. Is this her fault? No. She was thrown to the wolves and help was slow in coming.

Sometimes the support of your prince simply isn’t enough.

In writing there are so many ways to explore the ‘princess’. The character who changes their world for another. What does that look like for you?

The Wicked Family…

If you watched the interview I think you’ll probably make your own conclusions as to who the wicked family member is and it isn’t the Queen.

Sadly, ignorance and a failure to keep one foot in reality does affect other peoples lives. The wicked family seriously thinks they’re superior and making the sacrifice for the good of …. of what? Hmm…. It could be anything.

This is the type of character a writer can have a lot of fun with. It’s kind of like the ugly step sisters of Cinderella. Unless that individual is completely evil, there’s usually some glimpse of a redeeming quality or two… Play with it. Have fun.

How much power and influence a writer gives this type of character will vary. Normally there is a comeuppance as the pendulum swings and good triumphs over evil. Make it real.

The Forces That Be…

In all romance stories there’s always the thing that can keep the lovers apart. Here it would be the unseen forces of the “Institution”. An invisible force field of tradition, history, and force keeps the underlings in line. They’re told what to do, how and when.

While Harry and Meghan married that wasn’t enough. The character assassination and media spin made things ugly, very quickly. The forces were at work from so many different sides. What unforeseen forces are working for you in your romance novel?

These forces can be anything. They can be distance, time, age, circumstance, the media, race, gender, societal norms, history… Use your imagination to bring it alive.

How will you use this in your writing to build up tension and story lines that weave throughout the narrative?

The Happily Ever After….

Does all romance need the Happily Ever After (HEA)?

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It’s not very realistic is it?

In the Harry and Meghan story we see that they had to give up a lot to find their happiness. There’s discussion of titles, money, and recognition and this doesn’t even touch on the loss of family relationships and trust.

What does HEA look like?

Is it the ride off into the sunset? The walk down the aisle? or is it survival? self realization and personal growth?

Was the romance doomed from the beginning? Was it true love? or something else?

I know in literature that the HEA is popular and in some cases expected, but there are different ways to define it. Consider some alternatives and remember that sometimes Happy For Now (HFN) is also an option.

I wish you well in your real life romance writing. Let the imagination run wild and explore those dark corners and flawed thoughts.

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