When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
I’ve always liked that saying. Lemonade is a summer favorite of mine, so the thought of turning something so sour into something so tasty always makes me happy.
But is life really that way? Truthfully, not always. Even though I’m a bit of a Pollyanna who tries to make the best out of every situation, I can admit that sometimes things are just…sour lemons and there’s not enough sugar in the world to fix it.
One of the things I have always struggled with as a writer is that I tend to make things too easy for my characters. Especially in the beginning, I ended up writing what I like to call “cardboard” characters. The hero was the perfect guy with few flaws. The heroine might face a tough time, but it was easily resolved.
These days, I tend to be a little tougher on my fictional friends.
While I’m admittedly a fan of the “happily ever after” ending for my books (because who doesn’t like that?), I know that in real life some things just don’t work out the way we want them to.
Last week on Facebook, one of my friends took an informal poll, asking people to post in one word what their biggest stress currently is. The answers varied, but there were some clear winners: health, money, career, family, relationships…it mainly boiled down to those.
It got me to thinking about my book characters. Should I be harder on them? Should I give them some problems that they just aren’t able to resolve? Because let’s face it, that’s the way life works. At some point or another, we’re all going to face issues that won’t be easy and sometimes they won’t have a happy resolution.
I’m working on my first full length Arcadia Valley romance now—On Board for Romance releases in July. And I’ll share with you that it is a little tempting to make life pretty tough for Riley and Blake. After all, the course of true love never did run smooth! But in the end, I just can’t help myself…my writing style is more lighthearted than it is tragic because at the end of the day that is the kind of story I like to read. So while Riley and Blake still have to deal with some obstacles in their lives and relationships…we get to see those things resolve through the course of the book.
Life is full of drama. Full of disappointment. Full of hurts that don’t always go away.
I (and hopefully you) rely on God, family, and friends to get me through those times. As for my characters…they will still face obstacles. They will still have bad days.
But their lemons will become sweet lemonade and hopefully my readers will come away uplifted and happy to have gone on the journey.
How about you? Do you prefer lighthearted romance? Or do you like reading things that are a little more tragic? The kind of book that makes you laugh? The kind that makes you cry? Or somewhere in between?
I’d love to know!
Jill Weatherholt says
Hi Annalisa! Reading is my escape. With all that’s going on in the world, I’d prefer to read something that leaves me feeling good. Sure, a few tears along the way is okay, but I want to be smiling when I get to the end. Good luck with your book!
Jackie Smith says
Ditto to what Jill said……..perfect words.
Hi Annalisa! I agree with Jill. Life hands most of us enough lemons. Reading is for entertainment, enjoyment and as an escape. Therefore to have the hero and heroine face a few challenges and for a story to have an inspiring theme. A happy ending is a must. Best wishes with your book.
Not wanting to sound repetitive, I agree with Jill too. Give me lighthearted romance everyday to make me feel good from all the stress in real life. I’m good with some laughs and some crying, but mostly prefer sweet lemonade and not just in the last chapter.
Linda Rainey says
I like all kinds of Christian fiction depending on my mood.
It seems the first comment sums it up for most of us! If a book (or movie) doesn’t end with a happily-ever-after, I’m unlikely to choose to spend precious downtime on it. I want to be uplifted through my entertainment choices, and close the book with a smile.
Kimberly Rose Johnson says
I like a light hearted romance, and I love to laugh–hate to cry and prefer it not get too series. Real life is serious enough.
Merrillee Whren says
I don’t mind seeing characters go through a lot of unhappiness as long as they get a happy ending.
Jennifer Tipton says
We all know life stinks but when you read about characters overcoming the odds and putting all their faith in God it lifts our hearts ?. So I love the happy endings!
jennydtipton at gmail dot com
Valerie Comer says
I think you’re preaching to the choir, Annalisa! :D We’re romance readers, so we’re in it for the HEA (happily ever after)! One of my goals as an author is to pull at the readers’ heartstrings in a variety of ways. I want them to feel emotion: sadness, worry, frustration, maybe a bit of fear… and definitely a whole lot of happiness!
I like happy ending, a little drama to make it more real but in the end reading lighthearted is my getaway vacation (if that makes sense). I read those books to release and feel good.
I like the lighthearted read that takes you away from the stresses of everyday life.
Elizabeth Richardson says
I agree with everyone here. I love a book that is funny, spiritual and ends happily ever after. Life is sad and difficult enough. I want something that takes me away from all that for a little while.
I like light hearted. I like laughing, crying is ok, but it needs to get resolved. If a book looks too sad, I avoid it. Reading is my relaxing time.
I like books that get me so involved that I am laughing and crying with them! I prefer books to make me laugh more and then only cry once or twice. As long as I care about the characters, it doesn’t matter if the content is more light or heavy, but I do have to be in the mood for the super heavy books.
I would say that I like it mostly somewhere in the middle. I think real life is already hard/harsh enough and sometimes we need to just get lost in an easier time/place.
Though, I also feel like there has been the occasional story where I find myself echoing a point of view that should not be in me. Those are the times I feel challwnged to reflect on my own character flaws.
And yet still, I love a good cry… as long as I have no witnwesses (believe me when I say that I can keep up with the best of them, when it comes to “ugly cry face”).
Huh… I guess it sounds as if I am a bit more bipolar when it comes to my books!
Anyway, have a grand day!
Jessica B. says
I enjoy both kinds of romance, but tend to lean more toward lighthearted, I think.