Sexuality and lyrical writing in Christian romance

My first novel was a family drama with lots of beauty and love, but also with a lot of darkness. For my next writing adventure, I’m imagining something light and fun where the biggest conflict involves a time limit or miscommunication or a precarious situation—a conflict caused not by evil or intentional harm, but by an everyday hurdle or problem. Hmm. Something fun… How about romance? But it can’t be cheesy or predicable. It has to be rich and believable and modern.

Writing the Christian RomanceGail Gaymer Martin’s Writing the Christian Romance was the perfect place to start studying this genre. I keep it next to me while plotting and planning. I’m also reading lots of Christian romance novels. Here are a couple of my favorites so far—fun, serious, totally entertaining, and most importantly, not cheesy. I especially appreciate the totally absence of prude characters. While they exhibit self control, they aren’t without their urges.

From Claudia Mair Burney’s Zora and Nicky (and don’t you just love that cover design?):

Zora and NickyThis ring kept me through high school. It kept me in college when I was away from home, aching and throbbing with need and loneliness. I would tell myself those nights I fought alone against my own body, fingering that band of gold on my finger, “I promised. True love waits.” And I meant that.

Secrets by Kristen HeitzmannI love the subtlety of this bit from Kristen Heitzmann’s Secrets:

He watched her hand move over the dishes, the line of suds caught halfway up her arm, the plunk and splash of the dishing moving in and out of the water. Rico was right. The brain could go just about anywhere with anything.

ProvidenceI just finished Providence by Chris Coppernoll, a romance written by a man (gotta love that perspective). One of my favorite features in the book was how he used lyrics from music of the 80s as opening lines to his chapters and as a playlist for the story.

Even though he borrowed lines from song writers to augment his story, there were so many of his own lines that just sang to me. Here are some of the lines I highlighted throughout the book. Reading them all at once, they almost tell the whole story.

  • We’d gotten used to the steps of three dancers when Dad left, but with only the two of us left, we didn’t know how to move. We lost the rhythm.
  • My life had been dipped in liquid uncertainty, and I’d come up dripping with it.
  • Yet here I was, a forty-year-old man who’d learned to take the love he had for one woman and break it into a thousand pieces to give away to the poor.
  • School fights, tree heights, dog bites.
  • Providence, Indiana, appeared before us as bright as the moon and fantastically different from the small planet we’d traveled from five hours earlier.
  • And my home was threatening to steal what was left of me with its unopened boxes full of tangled memory wires, each of them in desperate need of untwisting.
  • She entered my life unannounced, but over the next few years, she would overturn every stone I was.
  • By then it seemed late, the way long days get heavy around 10:00 p.m.
  • I watched Marianne from the other side of the white-linen tablecloth, our plates full of unfamiliar foods. Our conversation full of unfamiliar words.
  • You’re not still singing the ‘Woe is me; I have to write my auto bio’ song, are you? There are thousands of writers who’d shave off their eyebrows to get published, and I’m just talking about the guys.
  • Maybe we both had to be pulled for twenty years through a too-narrow passage to shape our hearts into the people we were now.
  • He was shaking off my words, letting them fall into the crazy bin.
  • This was where I wanted to be forever, wrapped around Jenny, wrapped around hope.

Such a satisfying read. 🙂

Do you have any other awesome romances you can recommend?

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4 Comments

  1. I don’t read romance novels for a number of reasons, but this genre will definitely be a 180 from your last one. Enjoy your adventure!

    Reply
    • Thanks Darla! I said the same thing about a year ago. 🙂 I’m enjoying the depth in the Christian romance novels I’ve been reading to prepare for this next project. Definitely not the silly romances I read in high school! 🙂

      For this new writing adventure, I’m following Carrie, the 10-year-old from book 1, to her 25-27-year-old self in book 2—exploring how she handles family and romantic relationships as a young adult.

      Do you mind sharing why you don’t read romance novels? Reading them as I grew up, I know they created an unrealistic expectation for how love should be. This idealistic view doesn’t serve young girls well as they pick a mate. Your thoughts?

      Reply
      • The greatest reason for my decision to not read romance novels is that it’s a personal way for me to keep my mind clear of tempting thoughts. I am a divorced, Christian woman who feels called to live the rest of my life as a single woman. Reading these romantic ideals would be a stumbling block for me. Another reason is that, while I was married, I never read a romance novel that kept me interested for very long. I wasn’t drawn to the genre. Lastly, much of the sexuality in romance novels goes beyond what I think is necessary. Call me a prude, if you’d like — I cringe when I read some of the stuff out there in novel-land. None of this, Natalie, has any bearing on the great job that you will most likely do with your work! Thanks for asking.

      • Darla, thank you SO much for your honest answers. I’ll keep these in mind for my potential readers as I approach this genre.

        For this novel, I’m going to focus more on the adventure part of the story (a sailboat voyage across the Pacific Ocean) and let the love story arise out of that. I’m also going to work on telling a story of spiritual transformation. How to do that… practice practice practice. And pray for help! 🙂

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