Are you tired of hearing me chatter yet? So far we've covered why you want to write these stories, the fact that an emotional conflict is paramount, the luscious alpha male, and the heroine who is his equal. Today's post is about the global voice (to which, in my mind, there are two components).
You may have noticed when you pick up a Harlequin Presents that the stories are often set in exotic, jet-set locations. Here's a snippet from the guidelines: “Modern Romance is the last word in sensual and emotional excitement. Readers are whisked away to exclusive jet-set locations to experience smoldering intensity and red-hot desire.”
I don't think I have to explain what jet-set locations are. 🙂 But can you write these stories without traveling to exotic places?
Of course. But, and I think this is key, it takes more than just reading a guidebook or two to get the tone and feel of the world. Having a global voice means, I think, that you are interested in the world, that you are open to the idea and experience of a culture different than your own. That you can communicate emotional truths to readers who aren't the same nationality as you are. (Because if you write for Harlequin Presents, you will be read in many places.)
I can't tell you how to do this, but I think a curiosity about the world is essential. I have traveled a lot and been to many of the places I write about. I've lived in Europe, and spent time in Asia. My global perspective comes from being exposed to places other than the United States. I don't believe it's necessary to have lived in a country other than your own, but I don't think it hurts either.
When writing about jet-set locations, of course you will study guidebooks, maps, Google Earth — whatever it takes. But remember that the way people react, speak, and think in your hometown might not necessarily be the way they would react, think, and speak in Rio or Rome. The global voice is about more than littering your dialogue with another language.
This post is not designed to make you panic. You can be an armchair traveler, a dedicated explorer of vicarious travel, and still develop that voice you need to set a story in Spain or Italy or Greece. I'm convinced of it, though this is not my personal experience.
OTOH, you may live in an exotic location. Don't discount the appeal of Atlanta or New York — speaking to the Americans only because if you live in a location other than the US, I already think that's exotic. 😉 San Francisco? Seattle? Vegas? Dallas? Savannah?
Why not? What gives a story global appeal is the universality of the emotion. A woman in India, for example, needs to be able to understand the core emotion of your story — is it the desire for revenge? The desire for control? The need to be loved?
In truth, I feel like this is the hardest post yet. Because the global voice is about more than travel; it's about universal truth. Convey that in your stories, and you're well on the way. All the posts so far have been designed to help you realize what a Harlequin Presents is, so if you've read along, you'll already know what I mean by emotional truths.
Tomorrow, we'll talk about that all-important first chapter! Comments or questions?
P.S. I have a guest post over at author Charlene Teglia's blog today that is something additional about heroes! Come over and leave a comment for a chance to win a signed copy of Spanish Magnate, Red-Hot Revenge!