It is often said that there are two sides to every story, and it could similarly be said that there are two sides to every romantic relationship. That’s what makes writing romance novels so interesting. Look at any piece of romantic fiction and you will find situations where a female character sees something in a certain way while her male love interest has a completely different point of view. It is all about how individuals uniquely interpret the facts of a situation.
Often in romance novels authors will engineer a deliberate
misunderstanding (aka The Big Misunderstanding) to give their story a twist,
but an author doesn't need to rely on a contrived and trumped-up
misunderstanding as a plot device – rather there are numerous natural
misunderstandings that happen between members of the opposite sex all the time
which could be utilised to drive the story forward, and these are often a
result of characters interpreting situations purely from their own
As an author, you are constantly trying to understand your
characters. This might sound silly as it could be argued that once you’ve
created a character you should understand your own creation. But this isn’t
necessarily the case… When I was writing my latest novel, A Marchioness Below Stairs, I created a male
character that I didn't understand all that well at first. He started off in my mind in
one way, but when I tried to develop him further, I began to have doubts as to
what motivated him, and I had to go back to the drawing board (or in this
instance the writing pad), and reassess my portrayal of him.
Authors are forced by their art to learn the skill of
putting themselves into the shoes of others. That’s why writing creatively can
be so draining – you’re creating a separate reality for each character in your
book and in order for your story to pull at a reader’s heart-strings and come
across as authentic, each character’s reality has to be convincing.
However, no matter how draining it is, I infinitely
appreciate how writing has trained me to see real-life situations in a more
objective way. Of course it’s possible to attempt to put yourself in someone
else’s shoes and still horribly misunderstand their perspective, but at least trying
to understand someone else’s viewpoint (even if you don’t succeed every time)
is an incredibly important skill to learn if you’re intent on building happy
relationships with people.
It is easy to fall into the trap of believing that your
desires are naturally the desires of other people. It is a trap that everyone
falls into at some point or other, I imagine. In a Regency Romance, the ambitions of a young debutante presented in London for the first time don't naturally coincide with the wishes of the fashionable bucks on the town - and therein lies the delicious tension we are all so familiar with and enjoy in these wonderful historical tales.