Reading Romance Changes You

If you really want the scene to come alive for the reader, you have to be wholly involved while you’re writing it. But that comes with its own dangers.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) - Orphan by the Fountain (1883)In His Forgotten Fiancée, my heroine Liza keeps getting abandoned. Her father leaves her behind while he goes out to the Oregon Territory to claim land. Her fiancée leaves her behind while he goes to California to earn a fortune in the goldfields. At one point Liza starts wondering if there is something wrong with her, some reason why people keep leaving her.

I was in her head writing this scene, and I started feeling sorry for myself, thinking I was always being abandoned… and I thought, “Wait a minute. This isn’t my story; it’s hers. I’m projecting it onto myself.”

But for a moment there, it felt so real, even though it had nothing to do with the reality of my life. That was when I decided that I was never going to write about a serial killer, no matter how tempting the plot.

DickseeRomeoandJulietThat’s one reason that I think myself lucky to write romance novels. I get to fall in love with a wonderful man, over and over again.

University of Toronto researchers Maja Djikic and Keith Oatley (2014) studied whether reading fiction can change personality. “…there are specific ways in which fiction can engage readers that enhance important personality qualities.”

Apparently, reading novels enhances empathy, and of all types of novels, romance novels are the most likely to promote empathy.

So go out there and read lots of romance 🙂

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