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Love sub-plot?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Ralph Fg, May 28, 2012.

  1. Ralph Fg

    Ralph Fg Dreamer

    Does there always have to be a love sub-plot? I am starting a new story, but in this story, a love sub-plot would seem a bit forced, so I am considering about not including one at all.

    Another question, how many words is a novel normally supposed to have? 40000? 60000? 80000?

    Thanks for answering.
  2. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    I'll answer the length question first. Most 1st novels, and by first I mean your 1st published work, are roughly 80k words.
    In fantasy, and to some extent sci-fi, the length will be more in the 90-110k word range. This acceptable increase in length is allowed because of the world building components innate with the genre.
    Now, if your just writing to write, then length doesn't matter a hoot.

    As far as whether or not you need a love sub-plot... You don't NEED anything as long as the story is well written & contains compelling characters.
    Love is, however, a powerful part of the human condition. In my years I have come to realize that love, or more accurately, the desire to be loved is a commonality that transcends race, culture, religion, & any other perceived differences. It is a key ingredient that binds us all. Ignore this at your own risk. In my opinion, a really well fleshed out cast of characters should reflect the realities of humanity. To ignore such a central theme, like love, would be risky.
    Again tho, if the writing is good maybe you could... Just not me.
  3. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Auror

    No, a novel does not need to have a love subplot.

    80,000 to 125,000 words for fantasy is generally find. It depends on the market(s) you're targeting.
  4. soulless

    soulless Troubadour

    More of the last few books I've read have avoided the love subplot than used it, its really not necessary, unless it feels necessary with your characters. I don't really have any love plots in any of my planned fantasy stories, though the one sci-fi story does have two couples at the start, and another that grow by the end.
  5. Ophiucha

    Ophiucha Auror

    Love in the general sense, sure. Brothers, mothers, friends, wives. But I don't think you necessarily need to have love, or falling in love, as a sub-plot. There are so many types of love in the world, frankly I'm a bit sick of every story insisting on having a romance build when they could explore other, equally important, equally interesting relationships. Have a husband and wife (or wife and wife/husband and husband) go on an adventure together, instead of a boy and a girl go on an adventure and fall in love in the process. We've seen the latter a thousand times. I'm not sure I can name a single example of the former.
  6. T.Allen.Smith

    T.Allen.Smith Staff Moderator

    I agree completely that there are many types of love & they are under-explored.

    When I talked about love being a central part of the human condition & the desire to be loved, I did not mean to imply that romantic love had to be the rule.

    Additionally, I stated that it can be done without... It's just not something I would choose to ignore.
  7. Helen

    Helen Inkling

    The love sub-plot is symbolic for a number of things, such as progression, evolution, victory etc. When Prince Charming marries Cinderella he's showing that he's become king and claims the prize which demonstrates that - the bride. When you don't have a love-subplot, the underlying symbolism is demonstrated using substitutes.

    It's not the girl that's important, but what she represents.

    [same goes for heroine stories, where the bride is male - like Erin Brockovich].
  8. topazfire

    topazfire Minstrel

    I am a big fan of the love sub-plot but it has to be organic and realistic within the scope of your character development and the world that you have created. (There was a thread similar to this a few weeks ago that had a lot of the same arguments as above). Because love is such a huge part of the human condition you risk isolating readers who are drawn to those romantic (or other love based) relationships by not having them present.

    If you have two characters, even slightly leaning in that direction by spending lots of time together, and experiencing tramatic and life changing events together, some readers will expect that a deeper relationship naturally evolves from those shared experiences.

    Just don't be surprised if you have something like that and readers start to ask 'will they/won't they' as it is a natural curiosity.
  9. Caged Maiden

    Caged Maiden Staff Article Team

    If you are writing a different kind of book, don't force anything in that doesn't feel right. I have a book which has a love story in it, and the second half of the story is much more focused on a developing brotherly love after the MC leaves his wife to fulfill his destiny. I've written a love sub-plot that never progressed past winks and hand-holding, and I've written about three friends who are thrown together in a tumultuous world and their friendship is their bond. It's all about how you see it, but there is no denying, we all are attracted to people and whether we do anything about it or not depends a lot on what's going on in life. If I had something to accomplish, I might not be inclined to take up a new relationship, or I might have a spouse at home somewhere while I'm completing my personal goals. You can make a story compelling without war, without love, without betrayal, or whatever, just make sure your conflicts are strong and your characters realistic.
  10. RHawkins

    RHawkins Dreamer

    I have three books in mind following my first character, and only in the first one is there a hint of a love sub-plot. I say a hint as it doesn't go any further than similar views and opening up to each other. However I do like what was said about a married adventuring couple, as that is what the main character joins up with in the second book, and you see how their love isn't just in your face giggly school children love. It is mature and rather regal, so they show the main char a side of the world he hasn't really encountered before.

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