In this post, we look at which viewpoint to choose when writing a romance.
Viewpoint In Romance
One-two-three, one-two-three – who today can imagine the shock experienced in a ballroom when the waltz was first danced in the 13th century! Immoral, sinful, disgusting! Death threats were issued to those brazen enough to dance it. (How reminiscent of the current book banning happening in America!)
How dare people hold each other like that in public and call it dancing! It was still looked at askance in the early 1800s, even by such famous mad, very bad, and dangerous-to-know-men as Lord Byron!
During the 17th and 18th centuries, the waltz morphed from being a peasant dance to one enjoyed by the upper classes. And no crinoline-clad, glittering ballroom-attending woman would ever ask a man to dance. They would wait, sometimes with wallflower patience, for their dance card to be filled with the names of male partners seeking her out.
During the dance, while being twirled around the room with her crinoline billowing out behind her, it seems as if the female dancer is often ‘swept’ off her feet by the male lead under the watchful eyes of the chaperones. As long as neither partner steps on the other’s feet, all should go swimmingly. There will be roses and moonlight, with the gentle strains of a chamber orchestra in the background. So, it would make sense for the story to be told from her swept-off-her-feet viewpoint. Right? After all, romance is the swept-away-ness of falling in love. And the waltz is perfect for historical romance. Even a horror story.
But I’m not writing that kind of romance!
If the chaperones of the 18th century were scandalised by the waltz, they would have had a heart attack in the1880s when the tango spilled out of the Argentinian brothels and into the ballroom! While romance is the dominant feature of the waltz, in the tango it’s seduction and sex.
Unlike the waltz, in the tango both dancers are equally strong. This is especially true in tangos that are danced as a ‘story’ and not just striding across the room. Story tangos define the dancers as separate individuals engaged in an exaggerated display of the chase-fight-capture of romance. As a dance it can define both Latin historical or contemporary romance.
So whose VIEWPOINT should that story be in?
It takes two to tango. To be fair, it takes two to waltz, cha-cha, foxtrot or boogie. Romance, love, sex – it’s all a dance. One has to learn how to politely refuse a dance, as well as learning the steps, listening to the music cues of beat, rhythm, style, etc. At first, there’s a lot of stepping on toes. In the tango, both partners could be the hunter. Neither allow themselves to be swept off their feet. It is a dance of equal partners. Often, it’s not clear who is seducing whom. It’s often very much the enemies-to-lovers style of romance.
The story could then be told from either partner’s viewpoint, or both. As long as there’s no head-hopping, which is the equivalent of stepping on your readers’ toes!
In all romance novels, the VIEWPOINT depends on the kind of dance taking place in the book.
- In The Great Gatsby by F. Scott. Fitzgerald, the VIEWPOINT is that of one of the chaperones, so to speak. Uninvolved in the actual romance, Nick Carraway records every step of the dancers and trying to decode the dancers’ true feelings.
- In nearly all of Georgette Heyer’s Regency romances, the VIEWPOINT is that of the female character, and as nearly all of them are of the strong but swept-away variety, it is their VIEWPOINT. The Grand Sophy springs to mind who, at the end allows herself to be swept away, without ducklings, (you’ll have to read it to find out what ducklings have to do with it) into the hero’s arms.
- A double VIEWPOINT can be seen in Elizabeth Gaskell’s North And South. It makes sense as Margaret Hale is the ‘South’ and John Thornton is the ‘North’. To truly understand the perspective of the North we can really only do that through Thornton’s VIEWPOINT.
The Last Word
When deciding which VIEWPOINT will best tell your romance consider:
- Which dance style which would best describe the romance
- Does the reader need to know information only the other person in the story could supply without falling into spoilers
- Who is the main audience for the book? If the story has drama that happens to the hero which the heroine won’t know about, consider telling his side of the story as well
- If the hero finds himself in unfamiliar territory, perhaps his VIEWPOINT should be the voice of the book
Which VIEWPOINT style do you like reading the most and why? Let us know in the comments. We’d love to hear! If you’re wanting to write a romance then Writers Write is the perfect place to discover how.
by Elaine Dodge. Elaine is the author of The Harcourts of Canada series and The Device Hunter. Elaine trained as a graphic designer, then worked in design, advertising, and broadcast television. She now creates content, mostly in written form, for clients across the globe, but would much rather be drafting her books and short stories.
More Posts From Elaine
- The 5 Best Book To Mini-Series Adaptations
- The 5 Best Book To Film Adaptations
- The 5 Worst Book To Film Adaptations
- 5 How-To-Write Books That Have Impacted My Writing
- A Case Study For Deep Theme In Pride And Prejudice
- How To Create A Book Trailer
- From Original Story Idea To Book Trailer
- Plot Or Character – Which Comes First In A Romance Novel?
- 4 Great Fiction Books That Have Fictional Authors As Their Main Characters
- The Five Best Heroes And Heroines Of Romance Novels