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All that annoying romance stuff

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Svrtnsse, Aug 3, 2014.

  1. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    (This thread somewhat inspired by the Tauriel thread)

    When I was a kid, one of my favorite comics was Tintin. It's about a guy (supposedly a journalist) and his little dog and his friends and the adventures he had. I thought those comics were awesome. It was just adventures and excitement and fun.
    One of the things that was great about Tintin was that there weren't any girls. There wasn't any of that annoying romance stuff and love and relationships and other strange and awkward stuff I didn't know anything about and wasn't interested in.

    Throughout the years I've thought quite a bit about this. I've toyed with the idea of doing a story that's just fun and adventure and excitement and none of that romance crap. Thing is... as I've gotten older I've come to realize that romance and be both fun and exciting and adventurous.

    It seems that as soon as you've got characters of more than one gender, it becomes difficult to stay away from the concept of romantic tension. It's slightly easier when you only have characters of just one gender, but that raises other issues instead.

    I'm sure it's probably possible to write a plain old adventure without any kind of romance, if you really want to, but I think it might be difficult. Stories, after all, are so often about characters and how they related to other characters.

    What are your thoughts on this?
  2. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    A writer can employ as many, or few, of life's different components as they choose & be successful.

    As a reader though, I prefer a variety of life experiences. Peace & war, romance & sex, fear & laughter, religion & secularism, etc. Our world abounds with differences, opposites, & similarities. Including those makes an imagined world feel real & enhances my enjoyment.

    Common experiences (or at least commonly desired experiences) should always be included if they fit the story you're telling.
  3. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

    I'll let Eiichiro Oda handle this one:

    More seriously, sexual tension is a thing that you include in a story. If you don't include it, it doesn't exist. The relative genders of your characters are irrelevant to this--you can create all sorts of romance with just men or just women, and you can create none at all if you so choose, so why would it be any different with some men and some women?
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2014
  4. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    It depends on the size of the story. If you cover a person's life, you're going to include the romantic side of the person. If you cover a dozen characters, even on a battlefield several of them are going to at least talk about their love interests.

    To be true to life, a story would have to be fairly narrow not to mention some kind of romantic interest on some scale or another.

    That isn't to say that your characters need to fall in love left and right with dynamic romantic subplots. Those kinds of romantic plotsmight be realistic, but they don't represent every last person's romantic experiences. There's a wide range of what you can incorporate into your stories. But excluding them all together might make it feel like something is missing.

    Then again, you do have stories like Tintin, and there's certainly an audience for it. It's not realistic, it's not the complete life experience, and it's not supposed to be. But it's also not a novel. The deep, complete POV is one of the big draws to novels as a storytelling medium. It's why "the novel is always better." It's the part of the story you can't capture in a visual medium. Romantic interests are one of the story elements that play right into this big strength of the medium.

    If you want to leave the romance out entirely, I would consider that a red flag, and wonder whether you're really delving deep enough into the characters' head and life.
    Svrtnsse and SM-Dreamer like this.
  5. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    Sorry Feo, I didn't mean to imply that there can be no sexual/romantic tension between characters of the same gender. It probably came across that way, but it wasn't my intention.
  6. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

    I'll come into this discussion as a woman who doesn't really like romance very much.

    I started reading a book recently where a man and a woman run into each other and instantly start insulting each other, then get in danger, then as soon as the danger is gone they fall into bed together. This was still the beginning of the book and I instantly lost all interest in and respect for those characters. There was nothing natural about it. That is the kind of sexual tension I really would rather do without and I have no desire to finish the book now.

    I HATE books where male and female characters are constantly falling into bed together for no apparent reason other than that's what men and women do. Where every relationship between a male and a female character has to be soaked in sexual tension because apparently in the author's mind men and women can't have any relationships that aren't about sex. And it seems like these kinds of books are everywhere in the past couple of decades. Every time a man looks at a woman he's evaluating her body. Every time a woman thinks about a man she's thinking about how sexy he is. I'm so sick of it. I would much rather read books where there are no women or no men than deal with this crap.

    Romance IS annoying when it gets in the way of a good fantasy or adventure story. And most of the time, in my opinion, it does get in the way. Because the romance ends up permeating and changing everything instead of being a natural outcome of what happens.

    That's the kind of romance I find interesting. When it doesn't just appear out of nowhere because some characters happen to be men and some happen to be women. When it's a natural outgrowth of the platonic relationships developed among the characters and a result of what they endure together during the story.
  7. Trick

    Trick Auror

    I am nowhere near an authority on writing romance. Caged Maiden has an article about it that is a worthwhile read. I will say that I agree with Mythopoet on how annoying, trumped up and forced romance can be. It distracts and makes characters act like idiots without being very convincing. If done well, it's still a noticeable trope but I'll accept it as part of the story.

    In my WIP my MC's not interested romantically in anyone for the majority of the book. He does have sexual interest in women, which is unavoidable since he's a teenager for most of the book. But he's also somewhat sociopathic, so deeper relationships don't pull him in very easily. Later in the book, a romance just begins to bloom but is cut short by murder before anything real can happen. Basically, I've avoided romance in what I hope is an acceptable and believable way (seems like a cheap way out but it fits my character for now).

    I have ideas for a sequel and I want the MC to grow a lot in that so romance will undoubtedly come to the forefront but in this WIP, I'm happy with the lack of lovey-dovey stuff.
  8. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

    You know, one thing it occurs to me that you almost never see, is characters who are already in stable romantic relationships before the story starts, that are just a natural part of their interaction during the story, and that aren't in danger of dissolving during the story.

    Being in a long term stable marriage myself, this is actually the kind of relationship I tend to use more often in my stories. The romance isn't really part of the story, it's just an aspect of the characterization.
    Nobby and J. S. Elliot like this.
  9. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

    Not quite what I meant. Let's try this again . . .

    I've seen a lot of modern readers interpret Sherlock Holmes and Watson as lovers. The idea seems to be that friends "don't act like that." (This ignores a lot of cultural context, but cultural context is tossed aside pretty easily on the Internet.) Anyway, this is all in the eyes of those specific readers, and it doesn't really matter to the story itself.

    If you want to write a guy and a girl having adventures together, there's a very good chance some of your readers will write fic pairing those characters. This may not have anything to do with how the characters interact in canon. But does that really need to affect how you write your story? Can't you just write the friendship, and let the folks who want to misperceive it do so?
  10. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

    Good, I'm trying to be open minded about that kind of stuff, so completely forgetting about it is a little embarrassing.

    The same things are being said about Sam and Frodo in Lord of the Rings, isn't it?

    I think you have a point there and (some) readers will want some kind of romance whether it's there or not. That really is up to them though and as you say there's no reason to try and accommodate for that if it goes against your vision for the story. Friendship is a pretty cool thing as it is and it may very well be that that's what the story needs. There's also the balance between friendship and romance to mess around with.

    An example that comes to mind is the webcomic Gunnerkrigg Court, which puts quite a nice spin on the friendships between characters.
  11. Ruby

    Ruby Auror

    Hi Svrtnsse ,

    I really agree with you, here. I also loved the Tin Tin books as a child, and still do.

    I didn't notice that you'd made an aside about the Tauriel thread until a moment ago, but funnily enough I was going to refer to that, too. We all read The Hobbit because of the story, we weren't looking for romance. In fact, it hadn't occurred to me that there weren't many female characters in the Tolkien books until recently, even though I've read them many times.

    I like the notion of courtly love and romance as in medieval literature/times. I'm writing a kind of adventure story on this 14 day challenge on Mythic Scribed and although there is a love story in it, I think I'll keep it noble and pure, and that the adventure aspect is paramount not the romance.

    Perhaps writers are expected to put romance into books because that's what the public wants. Even modern children's stories deal with this now.

    If you were going to write an adventure story with no romance, who would be your targeted readership group? I would guess it would have to be school children and probably very young ones. However, your books would be accepted by school libraries as they would be suitable for that age group.
  12. Bansidhe

    Bansidhe Minstrel

    For me, part of the fun of the adventure is the possibility of romance (think of Bioware's games). And, when you think about it, isn't adventure itself a little romantic (if not in the strictest sense of romantic relationships)? Indy Jones always had his gal Friday, even if it was a subplot (if that), and became an added layer/complication to the main adventure itself. One thing I like about romance within action and adventure is that the characters involved see one another at their worst, and so romantic relationships tend to be honest. Besides, when writers do their jobs well in writing their characters, readers root for those characters, and want to see them happy and successful in the end. Romance doesn't have to rate its own plot line in adventure tales, but I like to think of it as seasoning.
  13. Nobby

    Nobby Sage

    Isn't worrying where the internet runs with your characters a bit pointless?

    Write them, their loves and their losses in a way that feels right to you!

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