It's important for every writer to know their strengths and weaknesses. Play to your strengths, try to improve your game on the things you're not so good at. Or, steer clear of those things, unless they absolutely have to be used. It's important to own up to the things you're not so good at, so you can work on getting better at them.
In that light, I'd like to admit to you, friend, THAT I SUCK AT WRITING ROMANCE.
It's not that I'm not a romantic person. I am! A hopeless romantic, sometimes. (Or, as Joan Wilder, the romance novelist, says in Romancing the Stone, "hopeFUL romantic". Hey, don't make fun of my referential movie choices, it was the eighties, and we all loved it, ok? I was only nine, after all.) I'm just more of a thriller/action/horror-type writer. Give me a lunatic with a dozen sharp objects or a murderous mud monster to throw at my characters any day, and I'll mop the floor with it. I'm great at description, grammar, language... but. But. BUT I just can't write the gooshy stuff of people falling in love. I feel cheesy and stilted and like I'm forcing the whole damn thing. I wish they'd just get it over with and get it on, because...
Sex! Sex is easy. Sex is action, with a little emotion thrown in. But to describe a person falling in love and make it seem real? Sigh. I've realized this about myself as I've come to the slight bit of romance in my book. My protagonist, Jack, has realized that he's fallen for his dead sister's best friend, Ashley. It's very important to the story that this happens, because I need to showcase how he feels to compare and contrast another character's actions and feelings... plus, it's important to me for the reader to like Jack, and be worried for him when he goes into a dangerous situation... and one of the best ways to form an emotional connection with someone is to read about how they're human, just like you, falling for someone, just like you probably have, and aren't sure how to deal with it... bingo, just like all of us do at one point or another in our lives.
The romance is minimalist right now, because I'm downplaying my weakness. I don't want to break the reader's illusion by forcing the love-and-romance angle and making it seem false. It's very tentative right now, very small. But it's there. And every time I get to it in the book part of me squirms. Get to the gore, my brain moans. Do we really have to concentrate on all this gooey love crap? it asks. And the answer is, YES, we do, brain, come on, let's get it down so we can get ON to the delicious murder of an unsuspecting redneck (who just happens to be one of the regular bowlers down at the Clark Kent job). It's important to the characters, the plot, the story, THE WHOLE DAMN THING. So quit your whining, will ya?
And I do. I pick it up and go and plug through the ooey-gooey bits as best I can. I'm getting better at it, I think... practice, practice, practice, right? I'm drawing on my own life and experiences for this, infusing my memories of adolescent awkwardness and emotional turmoil over falling for someone that I really shouldn't (because, come on, who hasn't felt that way at least once in their life) with Jack's sensibility and near-Eagle Scout mentality.
Poor guy. I hope he gets that girl. He's crazy about her.