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randi.lee
01-24-2012, 05:26 PM
I hope this is the appropriate place to post this...

I am currently writing an action/adventure/fantasy revolving around the friendship between the hero and a heroine of the story. “Love” is not one of the themes; I did not and do not plan to romantically involve the pair or provide romantic interests for either one of them.

The problem I am encountering is this: Everyone I show the story to asks me:

a.) When are the characters are going to “hook up?”
b.) Who falls in love with whom?
c.) Is this going to end in heartbreak? or
d.) If they don’t love each other, then who DO they love?

Has romance become so intricately intertwined with story telling that we can’t live without it? Do I have to toss some unnecessary romantic tension into a setting where it obviously doesn’t belong just to turn pages? I now find myself fighting with creating a generalized situation where two characters can kiss and make everyone happy or sticking to my guns and leaving the mushy stuff out.

What would you do?

Faide
01-24-2012, 05:43 PM
I'd not add romance if it doesn't belong in the story. Stick to your guns and stay true to your characters.

crunchyblanket
01-24-2012, 05:51 PM
Interesting question. I'm writing a story with an asexual female MC, which revolves heavily around her interactions with two men - both of whom are close friends. I've had similar reactions - people assume they must have history, or sexual tension, and it's hard to stick to your guns when you say no, it hasn't happened and it's not going to, that's not what their relationships are about.

People like a love story. But love stories aren't the only stories.

Gilroy Cullen
01-24-2012, 05:56 PM
I'd not add romance if it doesn't belong in the story. Stick to your guns and stay true to your characters.

This. Definitely.

What it sounds like is you are showing the story to people not versed in the genre. I run into that problem from time to time. Consider who you are showing the story to, what their preference in reading material might be, and take their advice with a shaker of salt.

A fantasy writer won't offer a mystery writer as pointed a review, as they look for different aspects of the story, than another mystery writer.

Just a thought.

bearilou
01-24-2012, 05:58 PM
Agreeing with Crunchy and Faide. If there's no romance in your story, don't try to shove one in. I get annoyed when I'm reading/watching something that is action and then this romance squeezes out and falls in my lap. If it's clearly shoe-horned in, it's considerably more annoying to me than an action story that has romantic elements.

randi.lee
01-24-2012, 06:11 PM
Hearing all of this is very helpful. Thanks all for your responses! And you're right, Gilroy, I think I need to find the right source for feedback.

happywritermom
01-24-2012, 07:18 PM
I don't think every story has to be about love, but I can't think of a story I have read in any genre that didn't have some element of romance in it, even if it was miniscule.

The reality is that love, whether fulfilled or unfulfilled, desired or not, is a huge part of living. It's nearly impossible to tell a novel-length story about people (or fantastical creatures) without some level of it.

That does not mean it has to be resolved or acted upon.

In the end of my second novel (mystery/suspense), love is simply something that becomes a possibility for the main character again someday. There is no immediate love interest, no race for the perfect mate, no intense longing to partner with someone or satisfy sexual desire, but that possiblity is subtly recognized as a result of the main character's resolution of some difficult issues of her childhood and more recent past.

If those questions are surfacing in your novel, you must have created some romantic tension already even if you had not intended to do so.

In doing your edits, I would take that into consideration and try to bring about some closure even if it's just the slightest hint of closure, like a dash of spice or a sprinkle of paint -- perhaps just a look or a comment or a thought. Just enough to satisfy the reader, to show the reader that you are paying attention to the needs, wants and interactions of your own characters.

Does that make sense?

Phaeal
01-24-2012, 07:43 PM
I hate romance that's shoe-horned into a story about something else.

However, I've noticed that certain genres not specifically romance almost always include romantic pairings. YA fiction, for example, especially YA fic aimed at the female market. And whatever your story is like, if it gets popular enough to generate fan fiction, a lot of that fan fiction will be centered around "ships." That is, romantic relationships.

Even my brilliant writing partner is convinced that the male-female friends in one of my novels MUST eventually "hook up." No matter how much I say no no no no.

But I'm sticking to my guns and going down with the (non)ship on this one!

On a higher plane, it may be that all novels are about love of some sort, or the lack thereof.

Nazurelle
01-24-2012, 07:48 PM
Harry, Hermoine and Ron. They grew up together. And J.K. Rowling survived without a romantic story line in her books. Of course, she was writing MG, and if you're in YA or Adult then yeah love is going to come up.

It might help if you establish a more brother/sister type of relationship between the characters, or better yet, LET the topic come up, but let the characters choose against it. Then the readers will know it's not some taboo or danced around topic. And if it's in first person you can always just add that to the main character's thought patterns.

The only valid question your beta readers are giving you right now is: what do your characters love? And you can't avoid that one, you will need to answer it.

Heck, in my first book I had to answer what my characters love other than each other.

So there you go.

Good luck!

veinglory
01-24-2012, 07:51 PM
I think that if you have a bunch of adult characters, the odds are that they are not all asexual. So people will naturally wonder about that part of their lives.

bearilou
01-24-2012, 07:55 PM
The only valid question your beta readers are giving you right now is: what do your characters love? And you can't avoid that one, you will need to answer it.

I think this is a good point, even from a nonromantic point of view. Perhaps stressing things going on in the mc's life is taking precedence over other things such as love and romance and sex. Making it clearer to the reading audience.

But I'd also emphasize something Phaeal said. Readers, especially those coming up from a fanfiction background, will be reading with their eyes on 'ships. Kind of comes with the territory. So there is nothing wrong with leaving it wide open for the fans to battle out. :D

CrastersBabies
01-24-2012, 09:00 PM
I don't want forced romance, but when I encounter one sexually "ambivalent" character after another in a story, I usually put it down. I don't need people having orgies on every page, but the real people I know think about romance sometimes--even in passing--and if this doesn't reflect somewhere in their character makeup in a book (even if they are trying to deny themselves), I have a difficult time authenticating them as a reader.

If that many people are asking if so-and-so are going to hook up, then maybe there is something in the text that is teasing that notion. If it's addressed and dismissed that's one thing. If it's constantly denied, then of course the reader is going to assume a dramatic pressure where none may exist.

Jonathan Figaro
01-24-2012, 09:07 PM
Create an story you want. May it be love, crime , comedy, just to name a few. Do whatever you want and explore different ideas. Always think outside the box and be original.

Drachen Jager
01-24-2012, 09:22 PM
I think it depends partly on whether you want to sell it or not.

If it's for your own enjoyment, then do what you want with it.

If it's for commercial sale then you'd be silly to miss an obvious selling factor.

This is not selling out, or whoring yourself as some people will no doubt believe. If you intend to sell books you are creating a product. It is an inherently commercial venture, to idealize 'art' above commercial reality, especially for a new author is trying to win a marathon with one foot tied behind your back.

happywritermom
01-24-2012, 09:28 PM
Harry, Hermoine and Ron. They grew up together. And J.K. Rowling survived without a romantic story line in her books. Of course, she was writing MG, and if you're in YA or Adult then yeah love is going to come up.



No romantic story line in Harry Potter? Did you read the series?

quicklime
01-24-2012, 09:30 PM
I'd not add romance if it doesn't belong in the story. Stick to your guns and stay true to your characters.


this.

they have preconceptions, that's all. generally it becomes a love story, right or wrong, so they expect it.

that said, lots and lots of stories are not love stories. write YOUR story.

randi.lee
01-24-2012, 09:44 PM
These are some really great points. You've all brought up things I hadn't thought about and I thank you for taking the time to respond. I'd quote everyone, but there are too many good points to mention and I'm not very good with the quote feature.... :)

Am I leading my readers on with the relationship between the two main chars? Possibly.

Do I need to resolve what types of relationships my characters have with one another? Sounds like it.

Do I love the term "non-ship?" Absolutely!

I am, at the end of the day, writing for me. However, I am also trying to maintain certain elements in my story that will register with my readers to ensure that I do, in fact, have readers.

In fact, reading these posts caused me to reflect upon myself and my personal reasons for being such an anti-shipper. I am not a "love-love" kind of person. I find the amount of broken-heart songs on the radio to be irritating and ridiculous. I think, in this case, that I am allowing my personal emotions to impinge upon a specific story I am trying to tell. Perhaps it's my absence/dislike/phobia/whatever-you-want-to-call-it of love that is getting in the way of my character's relationships? Or, perhaps I am just thinkin too much into it now and simply do not want any romance in my story?

Either way, I will be taking all of your points under advisement while I try to figure this one out.

Still as confused as I was when I started this thread...but in a good way :)

Phaeal
01-24-2012, 10:16 PM
Harry, Hermoine and Ron. They grew up together. And J.K. Rowling survived without a romantic story line in her books.

Um, you do realize that Hermione and Ron end up married? And Harry and Ginny ditto?

Granted, romance is one of Rowling's weak points. Who can forget the Harry-Cho debacle? Or the screaming fail of Remus-Tonks? The only pairing I found the least interesting was the truncated and tragic Lily-Snape one.

But yeah, she does shoe-horn in some "romance."

Monkey
01-24-2012, 10:35 PM
I played with this a bit in my latest story. The heroine has recently lost the love of her life, and is going through a lot of emotional turmoil and neediness. One of the bad guys is handsome, strong, and there for her when things are darkest...

He's been told to "get close to her" as part of his job. On the other hand, he's honestly falling for her.

After a prolonged captivity alone with this guy, the heroine begins to suffer from Stockholme syndrome in addition to her other emotional issues. Of course, she doesn't recognize it for what it is; she only feels intense and conflicting emotional and sexual desires.

The bad guy is introduced early in chapter one. Just after the first major climax of the story, he forces the heroine to choose between him and her son. She demonstrates her choice by shooting him.

End of "romantic tension." Hehe.

Polenth
01-24-2012, 11:35 PM
I don't think shoehorning in "you're like a brother to me" is the way to go. I've never had that discussion with opposite sex friends. Friends just get on with being friends. Most don't need to have long conversations about how they're not attracted to each other. If anything, "I'm not attracted to you, honest!" comes across as denial, and will make it worse.

What you might want to consider is if your characters are coming across as though they never have relationships and are never interested in relationships. You don't have to turn it into a romance to have someone note a person they've just met is attractive or looks like their ex-boy/girlfriend. It doesn't take much to suggest a person does have relationships... they're just not having one right now.

sassandgroove
01-24-2012, 11:59 PM
I think it depends partly on whether you want to sell it or not.

If it's for your own enjoyment, then do what you want with it.

If it's for commercial sale then you'd be silly to miss an obvious selling factor.

This is not selling out, or whoring yourself as some people will no doubt believe. If you intend to sell books you are creating a product. It is an inherently commercial venture, to idealize 'art' above commercial reality, especially for a new author is trying to win a marathon with one foot tied behind your back.I stronly disagree. You are implying that only stories with a romantic line sell, or that we should try to write what we think will sell rather than what we want to write and that what we want to write will not sell. If that were true, no one would write well and we'd all be reading drivel.

AlishaS
01-25-2012, 12:22 AM
I personally wish there were a few less love stories out there. But perhaps that's just human nature to assume that two people, should have some sort of tryst, fall madly in love and live happily ever after.

In answer to your question, no, and I would stick to your guns and make it NOT a lovestory lol That might create an interesting hook lol people will keep reading cause they need to find out if the characters "end up together" but of course only you know they wont... yes.. I like it :)

Drachen Jager
01-25-2012, 12:23 AM
I stronly disagree. You are implying that only stories with a romantic line sell, or that we should try to write what we think will sell rather than what we want to write and that what we want to write will not sell. If that were true, no one would write well and we'd all be reading drivel.

I am not implying that at all.

I am outright saying that if multiple people read your story and find a component lacking, then you'd be foolish not to explore that just because you have 'artistic' reasons that things should remain the way they are.

Why even bother asking for feedback if you're just going to write what you want anyhow? You're just wasting everyone's time.

But, as I predicted, the 'purity' cult has emerged, as it does in every art form.

sassandgroove
01-25-2012, 12:29 AM
As it has already been pointed out, it may be that the people randi showed it to are not the target audience. You (non specific you) could show a sci fi/fantasy story to a random group of 10 people and if they aren't intersted in that genre, they aren't going to like it but that doesn't mean it needs changing.

veinglory
01-25-2012, 01:14 AM
But yeah, she does shoe-horn in some "romance."

Also the Dumbledore gay back-story

veinglory
01-25-2012, 01:15 AM
I am not implying that at all.

I am outright saying that if multiple people read your story and find a component lacking, then you'd be foolish not to explore that just because you have 'artistic' reasons that things should remain the way they are.

Also if you have a reason for all main characters being asexual during the period covered in the book, it might pay to mention it.

crunchyblanket
01-25-2012, 01:32 AM
I am not implying that at all.

I am outright saying that if multiple people read your story and find a component lacking, then you'd be foolish not to explore that just because you have 'artistic' reasons that things should remain the way they are.

Why even bother asking for feedback if you're just going to write what you want anyhow? You're just wasting everyone's time.

But, as I predicted, the 'purity' cult has emerged, as it does in every art form.

Hm. It's an interesting take, and I can see what you're saying. A couple of points: do they find a component lacking, or would they just like to see a little romance? The former implies that the story is written in such a way that, logically, it should end in some kind of romantic entanglement. In that case, I can see why exploring further would be useful and valuable.

But in the latter case, we're talking about personal preference. Maybe they're so used to the romantic tropes that they find it hard to envision a story without them. If that's true, then why shouldn't the writer try exploring alternatives?

Of course, without seeing the story, it's difficult to ascertain which scenario we're looking at.

In terms of the 'purity cult'...hm. Again, it depends on why the person is choosing not to write romance. The only love story in my WIP is between two male secondary characters - I intentionally avoided pairing my female MC with either of her male friends because I'm tired of that trope, and wanted to explore friendships across genders. So, nothing to do with purity.

sassandgroove
01-25-2012, 01:43 AM
and I think some people are just "shippers" and like to imagine romance even where there isn't any, which is totally fine, but doesn't mean the author should add romance just for them.

Misa Buckley
01-25-2012, 02:07 AM
Sticking my oar in... as a reader if the story hinted at a relationship that then didn't emerge, I'd probably toss the book and never read that author again. I am a romantic - I'll hold my hands up to that - and I like seeing characters get together (and by "get together" I mean... well, there's a reason I don't read YA...)

Having said that, if the relationship was clearly presented as a friendship, then I wouldn't mind. Heck, I can watch Warehouse 13 without hoping Pete and Myka are going to make out. In short, I think it's down to presentation imo.

Jamesaritchie
01-25-2012, 02:08 AM
Romance and love are, in one way or another, part of pretty much every life. A novel certainly doesn't have to be about romance and love, but to exclude it completely probably won't make a very realistic story.

CrastersBabies
01-25-2012, 02:10 AM
Yeah, I do think that some people want super romancey material. I have a few friends like that, but, nobody in my writing group (for example) or my beta readers have ever said, "wow, your characters are gonna hook up soon, right?"

My friends who read Twilight and love Grey's Anatomy? They'd be the ones saying that kind of stuff.

So, were the comments from people who you expect want romance? Or, from pretty level-headed folks who might be able to clue you in on where you are planting seeds of romance that aren't going to come to fruition?

bearilou
01-25-2012, 02:25 AM
The problem, for me, with having every story mention somewhere within the pages at least a hit of some kind of romance or romantic feelings, even if it doesn't really figure in with the main plot, is that unless it's handled well, it feels tacked on.

As if someone (the writer, the editor, fans, people discussing and saying 'if there's no mention of romance at all, it's unrealistic) said 'there needs to be a mention of romance or romantic interest' and the writer said 'okay, here'. And it's a few lines as the mc waxes poetic for however long at someone's attractiveness and how they'd like to get them into bed that have nothing at all to do with the plot. And in the middle of a thick plot where hell is coming down around their ears, we're suddenly going to have the mc go 'hm...she has nice legs and a pretty smile'.

Feels horribly tacked on to me and I'd rather not have a mention of it at all. If there is going to be romantic interest, it can be just like any other trope or cliche that can get misused or overused if not done well and perhaps would have served the story to not have mentioned it at all.

I've read two such books so far and it stuck out like a turd in a punch bowl. One even had comments in the reviews that the 'romantic angle' felt pasted on. The other...can't say because I'm not done but so far the mc has noticed how attractive someone was and went on for a paragraph about how at any other time he'd go to bed with her and...that's it. Back to the plot now! I was left thinking...and the purpose of that was...what? To show that the character thinks about sex? This furthered characterization along how?

crunchyblanket
01-25-2012, 02:31 AM
it stuck out like a turd in a punch bowl

:ROFL:

Drachen Jager
01-25-2012, 02:48 AM
@bearilou: That's a terrible argument. Some people go horribly wrong with their romantic forays, sure, fine. Are they otherwise top novels? I'm guessing not. Simply because some people get it wrong, does not mean it's the wrong thing to do.

Sure, you don't have to use every tool in the toolbox to make a great story, but limiting yourself for 'artistic reasons' is just foolish. You don't need to have a full-blown romance for a story to be complete. Romance, Love, Sex are part of the human condition. You can't have an attractive female and an attractive male in close proximity, without outside romantic interests or severe emotional problems, for long periods of time without either of them at least thinking about it.

Not every book needs romance, that's fine, certainly it would seem out of place in a story like "Alive" for instance. But at the very least it bears mentioning in most stories, even if there's no 'romantic' plot-line, and I would argue that most adult or YA novels that ignore of sex and love are seriously missing out.

Mr. Anonymous
01-25-2012, 02:54 AM
As someone else said, the truth is that MOST people are interested in someone. They have feelings for someone. They are attracted to someone. So to read about characters who NEVER have that, may feel jarring. Especially when it reads like the characters do in fact have a natural chemistry.

Now, this doesn't mean you HAVE to have romance. Some stories might be better off without it. But take, for example, Harry Potter. Even before the thing with Ginny, we had Harry and Cho, we had Ron and Hermione getting jealous over each other, we had strong indications that Ginny had a crush on Harry. If Rowling wrote out all the romance in her series, it would be an entirely different story (and in my opinion, not for the better.)

Of course, it's very difficult to talk about a book you haven't actually read. There are some stories, some characters, who this might work for. The question is, is it working for your story/characters? Catcher in the Rye, for example, has no real love story/romance angle. There's the thing with the hooker but I don't really count that, as nothing happens and it's not exactly romantic/arousing. But then, Holden isn't even around girls his age for most of the story. So there's not much opportunity (unless he was gay, but there's no indication of that.)

kuwisdelu
01-25-2012, 04:02 AM
I don't care whether the author wants to have a romantic plot, subplot, or whatever. If two characters go through a lot of hardships together, they are bound to grow close and experience tension in their relationship. If said two characters are not asexual and of compatible sexual preference, I would have a very hard time believing that neither of them ever once thinks about the possibility of romance without a very good reason. It's human nature.

It's possible to acknowledge that without developing a whole romantic subplot, or without an out-of-place "oh, nice tits" in the heat of battle.

Ultimately, I do think every story is about love of some kind, but not necessarily romantic love. You do have love stories about romantic love. But even if your story is about saving the world, why would your characters bother if they have nothing in the world they love, nothing to protect, and therefore no reason to save it?

When the outlook looks grim, people are going to think about why they're fighting, and what they're protecting. For Sam and Frodo, for example, it's the Shire, but over the course of their journey, they also develop a strong relationship and (platonic) love for each other, and acknowledge those feelings in their thoughts and actions.

And in such a case, if your characters are also of compatible sexual preferences, it's only natural for such strong feelings to ultimately get tangled up in the possibility of romance, even if those feelings are ultimately truly just platonic rather than sexual. Acknowledging those feelings — and I think it's fine to keep it ambiguous — is not tacking on romance where its inappropriate. It's just being true to human nature. Trying to avoid it is just lazy writing.

bearilou
01-25-2012, 04:09 AM
@bearilou: That's a terrible argument. Some people go horribly wrong with their romantic forays, sure, fine. Are they otherwise top novels? I'm guessing not. Simply because some people get it wrong, does not mean it's the wrong thing to do.

How is it a terrible argument? If you do it, do it well? Isn't that the advice given? Anything can work as long as you do it well? And when it's done poorly, as in, sticking it in just to have it, and it's done poorly, then it probably shouldn't have been done.

Like all scenes, if it carries its weight, then it's needed. But to show a character thinks about these things? Smacks too much like making sure you show your character goes to the bathroom because waste elimination is also part of being human.

I'm not sure I'm buying that as a good reason to include it, just as you don't buy the reason to not include it for artistic reasons.


Sure, you don't have to use every tool in the toolbox to make a great story, but limiting yourself for 'artistic reasons' is just foolish. You don't need to have a full-blown romance for a story to be complete. Romance, Love, Sex are part of the human condition. You can't have an attractive female and an attractive male in close proximity, without outside romantic interests or severe emotional problems, for long periods of time without either of them at least thinking about it.

And when they aren't in close proximity for long periods? Do we still have to have them thinking about sex? If the character essentially ends up being a walk on just so the mc can have these thoughts to prove to the reading audience that he's 'human' or complete'? I'm not seeing the logic or the use in it.


Not every book needs romance, that's fine, certainly it would seem out of place in a story like "Alive" for instance. But at the very least it bears mentioning in most stories, even if there's no 'romantic' plot-line, and I would argue that most adult or YA novels that ignore of sex and love are seriously missing out.

I'm not seeing any value in taking time out of a fast moving plot to make sure the mc having thoughts of sex or love that are completely out of step with the rest of the novel.

As for the op's question, the characters may be having a spark that was missed in the writing. The readers may very well be picking up on that and making mention. I agree that it would be a missed opportunity not to explore it.

I'd also agree that the op might want to check with a wider segment of beta readers as well to make sure that the selection isn't all coming from a base set of expectations due to their preferred genre.

But as you say it's not a wise choice to ignore sex for artistic's sake, in this case, I would agree with you there.

Across the board in general? I'm simply saying I don't agree that it has to be included/mentioned just because 'most' readers expect it.

jjdebenedictis
01-25-2012, 05:06 AM
Sure, you don't have to use every tool in the toolbox to make a great story, but limiting yourself for 'artistic reasons' is just foolish. You don't need to have a full-blown romance for a story to be complete. Romance, Love, Sex are part of the human condition. You can't have an attractive female and an attractive male in close proximity, without outside romantic interests or severe emotional problems, for long periods of time without either of them at least thinking about it.To quote someone or other, that's a terrible argument.

What if one of the attractive people in question is gay? And says so?

The vast majority of human beings I interact with upon this Earth--including all of you, here--are people I will never, ever, ever wind up in bed with. Indeed, I won't even think about hopping into bed with most of them/you.

(Because hey, I've done life drawing. I know just how few people actually look good naked.)

Yet somehow it's unrealistic to have a story where nobody boinks? NONSENSE. I have all kinds of adventures in my daily life where sex and romance are not a factor. There's realism for you.

Sex sells. Half of all novels sold are romances. There is a big market for love stories, and I can absolutely see why so many stories feature a romance too--but that does not mean romance is the most important tool in the toolbox. In a lot of stories, it's superfluous and thus annoying.

One of the things I liked best about the early X-Files was that the leads were realistically acting like professionals, i.e. staying focused on their jobs and not trying to lick one another.

And one of the few flaws in the original Matrix movie was the romance tacked on at the end. The story did not need it, and was not improved by including it (even if it was part of the original graphic novel.)

Make the plot and subplots serve the story. If lusty business is an important part of the story, then add it. And if not, don't.

latourdumoine
01-25-2012, 05:12 AM
What came to mind was seeing some behind the scenes footage about The Big Bang Theory. Granted, it's a sitcom, not a book or short story, but I remember someone on there saying that the relationship between Sheldon and Penny was so great because they play off each other so well, everyone always expects the male and the female character in that case to hook up, but here they're just friends, and nothing else.

I'm with those who say if it's forced, don't bring it in. I can forgive pretty much anything if the style is captivating enough, so if there's no love story as such, I'm okay with that. Though I do agree with those upthread who said that as long as you care about something or someone, that's love. Then again, I count Toni Morrison and Faulkner among my favorite authors, and even though I respect him, I've never been able to get into Stephen King. Andrew Vachss on the other hand and Chandler, I can totally get into. So take from that what you will. :)

I have noticed that a lot of people, before you can even finish the first sentence, will go, "is there a love story in there?" And these aren't even the ones who read romance.

Jamesaritchie
01-25-2012, 06:47 PM
What came to mind was seeing some behind the scenes footage about The Big Bang Theory. Granted, it's a sitcom, not a book or short story, but I remember someone on there saying that the relationship between Sheldon and Penny was so great because they play off each other so well, everyone always expects the male and the female character in that case to hook up, but here they're just friends, and nothing else.

I'm with those who say if it's forced, don't bring it in. I can forgive pretty much anything if the style is captivating enough, so if there's no love story as such, I'm okay with that. Though I do agree with those upthread who said that as long as you care about something or someone, that's love. Then again, I count Toni Morrison and Faulkner among my favorite authors, and even though I respect him, I've never been able to get into Stephen King. Andrew Vachss on the other hand and Chandler, I can totally get into. So take from that what you will. :)

I have noticed that a lot of people, before you can even finish the first sentence, will go, "is there a love story in there?" And these aren't even the ones who read romance.

True, but there's still a ton of romance and sex on Big Bang, and even Sheldon has his girl. It just isn't Penny.

LJD
01-25-2012, 07:44 PM
You know, I'm thinking this is why I didn't read near as much as a teen as a did before I was 12 or 13. Nearly all YA books were about love/relationships. And unlike many teens, I had no interest in reading about that. Many of the adult books I picked up had romantic subplots too. And when I'd watch movies, I'd be so pissed whenever there was a romance.

though now I like stories about love and relationships....

JimmyB27
01-25-2012, 07:46 PM
Romance and love are, in one way or another, part of pretty much every life. A novel certainly doesn't have to be about romance and love, but to exclude it completely probably won't make a very realistic story.
A story in which no-one takes a crap (whether in a punch bowl or not) is pretty unrealistic, but it all happens off stage. If the story isn't about romance, why shouldn't that take place off stage too?


Sure, you don't have to use every tool in the toolbox to make a great story, but limiting yourself for 'artistic reasons' is just foolish.
And artificially inserting it where it doesn't belong for commercial reasons is equally foolish, imho.

KSandoval
01-25-2012, 08:01 PM
Romance and love are, in one way or another, part of pretty much every life. A novel certainly doesn't have to be about romance and love, but to exclude it completely probably won't make a very realistic story.


I acknowledge that generally, it's true that romance is a part of life. I know it's a part of mine. But it's a part of life that requires a certain amount of space to exist in and I often feel novels shove it into spaces where it doesn't fit.

Because, if someone has a gun to my head? I'm not thinking about how hot my companion (or for that matter, the guy with the gun to my head) is. If I'm in mourning and attempting to avenge a friends death? Not going to be trying to hook up with the hot female lead.

Not to mention, novels sometimes take place over short periods of time. Sure, romance is a part of people's life. It's not always a part of peoples week. Or day.

Novels take place in lots of unusual, high stress situations. Sometimes, there's no space for believable sexual tension, romance, or love. It can be done believably, but it's so often done poorly that I (and others) have developed a certain aversion to seeing it.

Some have said lack of romance is the quickest thing to make them discard a book. Romance I don't buy is what most often keeps me from returning to a story. Even when the rest of the book works, the romance just doesn't seem to fit. And I'm so sick of it that, yes, I've left romance out of the spotlight of my current story.

It's not like it's not acknowledges as existing. My supporting character has a girlfriend, my mentor is mourning someone he's lost. But will there be anyone hooking up or feeling their hearts all aflutter? No. They're busy trying to stay alive.

CrastersBabies
01-25-2012, 08:49 PM
I acknowledge that generally, it's true that romance is a part of life. I know it's a part of mine. But it's a part of life that requires a certain amount of space to exist in and I often feel novels shove it into spaces where it doesn't fit.

Because, if someone has a gun to my head? I'm not thinking about how hot my companion (or for that matter, the guy with the gun to my head) is. If I'm in mourning and attempting to avenge a friends death? Not going to be trying to hook up with the hot female lead.

Not to mention, novels sometimes take place over short periods of time. Sure, romance is a part of people's life. It's not always a part of peoples week. Or day.

Novels take place in lots of unusual, high stress situations. Sometimes, there's no space for believable sexual tension, romance, or love. It can be done believably, but it's so often done poorly that I (and others) have developed a certain aversion to seeing it.

Some have said lack of romance is the quickest thing to make them discard a book. Romance I don't buy is what most often keeps me from returning to a story. Even when the rest of the book works, the romance just doesn't seem to fit. And I'm so sick of it that, yes, I've left romance out of the spotlight of my current story.

It's not like it's not acknowledges as existing. My supporting character has a girlfriend, my mentor is mourning someone he's lost. But will there be anyone hooking up or feeling their hearts all aflutter? No. They're busy trying to stay alive.

I think this is a great example of where romance should not be forced. But, you have a pair already established. Why would the reader want to focus on sex and "getting it on" when they're already more invested in the emotional conflict in the girlfriend (grief/loss)?

You've established that there is grief going on. The reader doesn't need anymore than that. They get it.

Even then, I don't think people are talking explicitly about sex. Romance could be an internal thought, a small gesture, a look. It can be a sentence long. It can be a few words.

It doesn't all have to be like "2012" where John Cusack is trying to talk to his ex wife about why their marriage failed (while a plane is trying to outrun a megastorm). That's stupid. And silly.

But, in Gladiator, you don't have a romantic sex scene between Maximus and a "love interest." Why? Because his wife was killed. His son was killed. That WAS his love. But, it's clear that he's suffering, that he misses his family. He thinks about them. He remembers them. The writing doesn't just gloss it over and give him some 19 year old CW bimbo to screw for the sake of good sex.

If I read a story where two "best friends" were a guy and a girl, both heterosexual, I'd be wondering "what gives." Why aren't they considering each other in a romantic way?

Maybe she's in love with another man.
Maybe she's not physically attracted to him.
Maybe she's taken a vow of celibacy.

A sentence or two addressing these things? Problem solved. Letting it hang there unfettered? People are going to look for that conflict, even if the conflict isn't there.

(all imho)

Great post, btw. :)

2011's dreamer
01-25-2012, 09:00 PM
A story in which no-one takes a crap (whether in a punch bowl or not) is pretty unrealistic, but it all happens off stage. If the story isn't about romance, why shouldn't that take place off stage too?

What? You can't compare someone taking a crap to two people fallin for each other. You can't just have two people who both never showed interest in one another suddenly hook up, especially off-stage, off-screen, or whatever. That's wasted potential... and... and borin. lol. Interactions between characters is always important. Romance is just another interaction you can use to show how close two characters are (even if the scene ends up being cheesy).

On an unrelated note, someone said most fanfiction is about shippin. Very true. Personally, I'd love for people to write fanfics about my stories (doubt I'll get that far), even if some of the shippin would somehow make two characters gay or hook up two people who would never ever touch each other in canon material.

On a very, very unrelated note, characters takin craps should always be off-screen. Unless said crap comes to life and attacks the character... lolz?

JimmyB27
01-25-2012, 09:21 PM
If I read a story where two "best friends" were a guy and a girl, both heterosexual, I'd be wondering "what gives." Why aren't they considering each other in a romantic way?

Maybe she's in love with another man.
Maybe she's not physically attracted to him.
Maybe she's taken a vow of celibacy.

Or maybe he's just not her type.


What? You can't compare someone taking a crap to two people fallin for each other. You can't just have two people who both never showed interest in one another suddenly hook up, especially off-stage, off-screen, or whatever. That's wasted potential... and... and borin. lol. Interactions between characters is always important. Romance is just another interaction you can use to show how close two characters are (even if the scene ends up being cheesy)
You misunderstand me. JAR's point was that romance and love are part of everyone's life. This I agree with (kind of, they haven't been a part of my life for a good long while). But, imho, there's no need to show that love and romance 'on screen'.
Yes, if your two main characters are going to hook up, then obviously that needs to be shown. But if they're not going to hook up with each other at all, I don't think love and romance are necessary to the story and thus, like the crap, can be left out quite safely. We know the MC probably does have a sex drive, we don't need to see him drooling over the cute girl in the coffee shop to prove it.

bearilou
01-25-2012, 09:26 PM
I think this is a great example of where romance should not be forced. But, you have a pair already established. Why would the reader want to focus on sex and "getting it on" when they're already more invested in the emotional conflict in the girlfriend (grief/loss)?

You've established that there is grief going on. The reader doesn't need anymore than that. They get it.

Even then, I don't think people are talking explicitly about sex. Romance could be an internal thought, a small gesture, a look. It can be a sentence long. It can be a few words.

It doesn't all have to be like "2012" where John Cusack is trying to talk to his ex wife about why their marriage failed (while a plane is trying to outrun a megastorm). That's stupid. And silly.

But, in Gladiator, you don't have a romantic sex scene between Maximus and a "love interest." Why? Because his wife was killed. His son was killed. That WAS his love. But, it's clear that he's suffering, that he misses his family. He thinks about them. He remembers them. The writing doesn't just gloss it over and give him some 19 year old CW bimbo to screw for the sake of good sex.

Absolutely. I totally agree. But those elements of 'romance' or 'love' are already built into the story. Maximus lost his family. They were taken from him. His whole world was turned upside down. It is a part of the story from the beginning.

Yes, it would be foolish not to address it because it has become part of who he was and who he is as he moves forward in the story.




If I read a story where two "best friends" were a guy and a girl, both heterosexual, I'd be wondering "what gives." Why aren't they considering each other in a romantic way?

Maybe she's in love with another man.
Maybe she's not physically attracted to him.
Maybe she's taken a vow of celibacy.

A sentence or two addressing these things? Problem solved. Letting it hang there unfettered? People are going to look for that conflict, even if the conflict isn't there.


Not sure I agree but I will concede the point. I have a hard time believing that when a man and a woman are best friends that it can't be accepted on faith that they've already had those 'thoughts' and realized that best friends works for them. Why is it necessary to drop it in right there in the book if it's not integral to the plot? Are we really so jaded in the world that we honestly believe that a man and a woman can't even be in the same room together without them automatically resorting to sizing each other up as potential mates and that it has to be shown in the text or they're not considered 'fully realized human beings'?

Add that to a plot that has no room for it. They are in the middle mega badshit going down, when is there time for them to even be considering 'wow, she has nice legs' or 'he really should go without his shirt more often' or the like?

Upthread, kuwisdelu mentioned


Ultimately, I do think every story is about love of some kind, but not necessarily romantic love. You do have love stories about romantic love. But even if your story is about saving the world, why would your characters bother if they have nothing in the world they love, nothing to protect, and therefore no reason to save it?

Except that wasn't really what we were talking about but it's a good point to bring up anyway. When we seek to create a character that comes off the page we take into consideration those things in their life that they love, that they're afraid to lose, things that have meaning for them, it's something that becomes integral to the plot, it has meaning in their growth through the pages of the novel regardless of the plot. It's the very thing that is driving them to the end.

When you are looking at a story that has those kinds of love or devotion to more abstract things and then suddenly you're looking at a character who is macking on another character...it will feel pasted on if there's no other connection between the characters. In the example I gave earlier the mc and the object of his randy thoughts were not shown interacting in any other capacity until she showed up in the scene. Then all of a sudden, while his life is falling apart, someone has tried to kill him, there are dead bodies leading in a trail towards him and away from him, he's trying to figure out why all of this is happening, we are treated to his out-of-the-blue thoughts that he found her attractive.

No. Other. Context. There was no chemistry, no build up, no other interaction and then she was gone again, not seen until almost the end of the book. It came from nowhere, it went into nowhere. In reading about this character, we see that he is fighting for his friends, for the world, for his own pride, for his gods...we watch him struggle, we watch him fail and succeed...and these are good things. That tacked on love interest scene had no other reason to be there.

If scenes are supposed to pull their weight, if they're supposed to show some sort of growth, or set back, advance the plot, delve into character development...it really should have meaning related to what we've seen so far. It didn't.

If she had, in fact, been a part of the party all along, yeah, I totally buy that she might shift from 'one of the guys' into 'someone of interest on a more intimate level'. She wasn't. She walked on, delivered her lines, he delivered his lines, she walked off.

All I'm really arguing is that if there is going to be romance, even if it's a subplot, even if it's a mention...it seems to me it really should have meaning. If it has no meaning, it's better to not have mention at all than to shove it in because 'it's expected!!!!'


And it is a good discussion, I agree.

2011's dreamer
01-25-2012, 09:42 PM
You misunderstand me. JAR's point was that romance and love are part of everyone's life. This I agree with (kind of, they haven't been a part of my life for a good long while). But, imho, there's no need to show that love and romance 'on screen'.
Yes, if your two main characters are going to hook up, then obviously that needs to be shown. But if they're not going to hook up with each other at all, I don't think love and romance are necessary to the story and thus, like the crap, can be left out quite safely. We know the MC probably does have a sex drive, we don't need to see him drooling over the cute girl in the coffee shop to prove it.

Ah, well, okay. But look, you know shippin is a powerful thing. Tons of readers seem to follow a series to the dark depths of hell just to find out if a certain pair of characters will end up together or not, even when romance isn't the series's main genre. You can use that to your advantage, Jimmy. *Makes a tight fist* You can still not have them get together, even after all the shipteasin (provided the sexual tension and all that isn't put in when something much more important is going on at that very moment). Sure, it'll piss readers off, but... lmao.


Or maybe he's just not her type.

I call bullshit when girls say this in real life.

Faide
01-25-2012, 10:06 PM
I call bullshit when girls say this in real life.

... Really? Why?

2011's dreamer
01-25-2012, 10:23 PM
... Really? Why?

'Cause I'm too sexy to be told I ain't someone's type. Girl gotta be a closet lesbian if she says otherwise, even with that other dude wrappin an arm around her waist.

Shadow_Ferret
01-25-2012, 10:36 PM
I'd say no. Not every story is a love story and I've read many that didn't even have a hint of romance.

DeleyanLee
01-25-2012, 10:54 PM
I hope this is the appropriate place to post this...

I am currently writing an action/adventure/fantasy revolving around the friendship between the hero and a heroine of the story. “Love” is not one of the themes; I did not and do not plan to romantically involve the pair or provide romantic interests for either one of them.

The problem I am encountering is this: Everyone I show the story to asks me:

a.) When are the characters are going to “hook up?”
b.) Who falls in love with whom?
c.) Is this going to end in heartbreak? or
d.) If they don’t love each other, then who DO they love?

Has romance become so intricately intertwined with story telling that we can’t live without it? Do I have to toss some unnecessary romantic tension into a setting where it obviously doesn’t belong just to turn pages? I now find myself fighting with creating a generalized situation where two characters can kiss and make everyone happy or sticking to my guns and leaving the mushy stuff out.

What would you do?

What I would do is to read what I'd written not as the author, but as a reader.

Did I put anything into the actual words and subtext that hinted that there was a love story in there?

Odds are, I did, and I didn't realize it--but the readers did and they're expecting me to carry it through by the end of the story.

People are drawn to stories about interactions between people and those interpersonal conflicts. Many interpersonal conflicts can very easily carry romantic undertones, or overtones, that are very easily picked up by most readers. Make sure none of that is in there, that your subconscious didn't set you up somehow, before going forward.

Better to be aware of that kind of thing ASAP and get it taken care of instead of getting it done and having no clue why people are having that reaction.

If I can honestly not find it in the text myself, then I'd ask the readers where they got it from in the story. With a little Q&A, you can discover if they're seeing subtext you can't or if they're just looking for a different kind of story than what you want to write. If it's the latter, then get new betas.

Good luck.

CrastersBabies
01-25-2012, 11:38 PM
Or maybe he's just not her type.

In my mind, I kind of put that under "not attracted to the other person," but yeah, I'll add that one too.


You misunderstand me. JAR's point was that romance and love are part of everyone's life. This I agree with (kind of, they haven't been a part of my life for a good long while). But, imho, there's no need to show that love and romance 'on screen'.

Agree, but I also think readers need some guidance here if there is no romance or need for it. Why? Is the guy wandering around a post-apocalyptic world where there are no women? Is he so traumatized that he can't even think straight? If that's in the text (hinted at or said outright), I'm fine. I mean, a post-apocalyptic world is gonna mess with you anyway, that might be enough.


Yes, if your two main characters are going to hook up, then obviously that needs to be shown. But if they're not going to hook up with each other at all, I don't think love and romance are necessary to the story and thus, like the crap, can be left out quite safely. We know the MC probably does have a sex drive, we don't need to see him drooling over the cute girl in the coffee shop to prove it.

Again, I agree. But, the lack of character relationship (to the point of leaving the reader guessing) will always leave the door open for "shippers" to want more.

I watch that show, "Person of Interest." Mr. Reese has a strange relationship with the police detective (a woman). Yet, I don't see them as a romantic couple at all. I don't wait for it. Why? Because he's had a past love. He seems done with it. They haven't interacted in a "flirty" way that leads me to believe there is romance there. It's a cat-and-mouse type thing where he helps her, she helps him. I don't get the romance vibe (and don't NEED it) because it's not hinted at.

BUT, I know both ARE sexual beings who are capable of love and romance because he's been in love in the past. He's been hurt. She is a single mom who is sexy in her own right.

It's how it's all executed. I'm not given false cues, winky, grin stuff that tells me there is a romance brewing. So, I don't go looking for it nor do I expect it.

If people are expecting two people to hook up and keep asking about it, there has to be flirtation or instigation (either at the subtext level or outright) that is leading the readers on.

I don't read "The Road" and expect romance. I don't yearn for it. But, if the guy was traveling the world with a woman and there was laughter, smiling, a touch on the thigh, visual and internal cues? I would think I was being set up for something.

I guess that's why I'm asking the OP if the people asking about a relationship are people who thrive on that kind of storyline or people who will give or take it. I think that might be a solid "tell" either way for her to consider how her MCs are coming across.

kuwisdelu
01-26-2012, 12:37 AM
Add that to a plot that has no room for it. They are in the middle mega badshit going down, when is there time for them to even be considering 'wow, she has nice legs' or 'he really should go without his shirt more often' or the like?

Upthread, kuwisdelu mentioned

I addressed all that in the very next two paragraphs:


When the outlook looks grim, people are going to think about why they're fighting, and what they're protecting. For Sam and Frodo, for example, it's the Shire, but over the course of their journey, they also develop a strong relationship and (platonic) love for each other, and acknowledge those feelings in their thoughts and actions.

And in such a case, if your characters are also of compatible sexual preferences, it's only natural for such strong feelings to ultimately get tangled up in the possibility of romance, even if those feelings are ultimately truly just platonic rather than sexual. Acknowledging those feelings — and I think it's fine to keep it ambiguous — is not tacking on romance where its inappropriate. It's just being true to human nature. Trying to avoid it is just lazy writing.

latourdumoine
01-26-2012, 02:18 AM
True, but there's still a ton of romance and sex on Big Bang, and even Sheldon has his girl. It just isn't Penny.
Exactly. They were saying something about how in this type of set-up (Sheldon and Penny) it would usually lead to some sort of affair in other shows, but these two just feed off each other and that's it. They have their own lives, their own partners. It's just not with each other. I think I saved the link somewhere, if I find it, I'll post the link since I'm writing this from memory and it was a while back.

Jamesaritchie
01-26-2012, 02:23 AM
Exactly. They were saying something about how in this type of set-up (Sheldon and Penny) it would usually lead to some sort of affair in other shows, but these two just feed off each other and that's it. They have their own lives, their own partners. It's just not with each other. I think I saved the link somewhere, if I find it, I'll post the link since I'm writing this from memory and it was a while back.

I'd like to read that. Big Bang is one of our favorite shows, and the characters are just flat fascinating.

latourdumoine
01-26-2012, 02:28 AM
I'd like to read that. Big Bang is one of our favorite shows, and the characters are just flat fascinating.
I haven't followed it in a while, but I've watched Seasons 1-4 at least a hundred times (I'm not kidding), and I'm still not tired of it (hoping to catch up over the spring). Will post if I find it.

Sirion
01-26-2012, 06:41 AM
I think most of existence is a love story. Imagine, for a moment, if sex didn't exist.

We would all probably still be living in caves. (Well, I suppose we technically wouldn't exist, but meh.)

It's no surprise to me that most books follow suit and have romance in them.

Rhoda Nightingale
01-26-2012, 03:30 PM
I know this has already been talked to death, but I would LOVE to see a story without so much as a whisper of romance in it. There are many, many relationships that do not include coupling. We could use more stories about them.

jjdebenedictis
01-26-2012, 05:32 PM
I know this has already been talked to death, but I would LOVE to see a story without so much as a whisper of romance in it. There are many, many relationships that do not include coupling. We could use more stories about them.This. When I was a teenager, I used to say, "Ban the love song!" for roughly the same reasons. I like love and romance just fine as topics, but there's so much else worth talking about, too.

Probably why I liked Rush so much. Most of their songs were about weird and nerdy things like tidal pools and suburban ennui.

JimmyB27
01-26-2012, 05:40 PM
I'd like to read that. Big Bang is one of our favorite shows, and the characters are just flat.
I agree, two dimensional stereotype nerds. ;)

Jamesaritchie
01-26-2012, 06:23 PM
I agree, two dimensional stereotype nerds. ;)

Wonderful, four-dimensional, realistic, living, breathing people.

Stereotypes are not bad things. They're stereotypes because they contain a very large grain of truth. Good writer do not reject stereotypes, they use them as mannequins on which to hang the cloths of character. This is particularly true in comedy, but it works very well in any type of fiction.

The writers of Big bang do this as well as anyone, anywhere.

My only complaint came in one show where Sheldon and Leonard are talking, and Sheldon says something lie, "Our combined IQs are over three twenty", if I remember correctly.

That's not high enough. He should have said "Over four hundred. My wife and I have combined IQs of over three hundred, and we aren't in the same league with the kind of work those characters supposedly do.

latourdumoine
01-26-2012, 06:50 PM
The other thing I love about Big Bang is they way they deliberately play around with the stereotypes. Start with the nerds, then you get the Texan, the Jew, the wanna-be actress, the Indian. Think of the episode in Season 1 when we first meet Sheldon's mother.

This is more MG or YA but I don't remember there being any romance in When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit and that was a damn fine book.

jjdebenedictis
01-27-2012, 04:36 AM
My only complaint came in one show where Sheldon and Leonard are talking, and Sheldon says something lie, "Our combined IQs are over three twenty", if I remember correctly.

That's not high enough. He should have said "Over four hundred. My wife and I have combined IQs of over three hundred, and we aren't in the same league with the kind of work those characters supposedly do.It is high enough. I have a master's degree in physics and my IQ, when I was 18, was tested at 136 (sadly, it goes down with age. I don't want to know what it's at now.)

So over 160 each? That's plenty smart enough to do physics.

ios
01-27-2012, 05:00 AM
Has romance become so intricately intertwined with story telling that we can’t live without it?

It is frustrating, for I run into the same thing when I read and write. But I think in many genres it is harder to find a story without romance/sexual pairing as a major plot or a sub-plot than to find one that does have it as such. So, I wouldn't change it--unless to an editorial demand. After all, there has to be others like us out there who sometimes want something different.

I also write novels (fantasy genre) without romantic major/minor/sub plots, by the way. So you're not entirely alone out there.

*ETA: This is not to say that other characters aren't in relationships and the like. Just that for most of my stories, my one or two main characters are single in both senses of the word. Doesn't mean things weren't different in the past or can't be in the future (if they survive, that is), but for this one moment captured in the novel, they are single.

Jodi

latourdumoine
01-27-2012, 05:03 AM
And considering this is Sheldon speaking, who's to say he didn't mean to imply that his was 300 and Leonard was making up the other points? ;)

You know how he's always convinced everyone is . . .well, not up to his level. There was an episode in which he stated that he'd have to lose 60 (or something, can't remember the number now) IQ points to be considered a genius. Paraphrasing very badly, but you get the idea. Howard seems pretty smart and "he only has a Masters degree" as Sheldon is always so quick (and eager) to point out.

That's my immediate understanding of that comment.

Anyone remember Carol O'Connell's (if I spelled her name correctly) Mallory series? The genius, Charles, was crushing heavily on Mallory but there wasn't any issue of sex. Come to think of it (and I might be remembering this wrong), I don't remember there being any lovemaking in it. He was pining over here, sure, but nothing happened. I only read the first four, if she wrote more, I take this back.

ios
01-27-2012, 05:09 AM
I am outright saying that if multiple people read your story and find a component lacking, then you'd be foolish not to explore that just because you have 'artistic' reasons that things should remain the way they are.

Another possibility is that maybe there are some miscues that make people think UST (unresolved sexual tension) is going on. In that case, eliminating those miscues fixes the work if non-romance is the intention.

Another possibility is we are all so used to watching on TV and movies two main characters of opposite sex ending up romantically involved, and as a result we find it hard to expect the opposite as a possibility. :-)


Why even bother asking for feedback if you're just going to write what you want anyhow? You're just wasting everyone's time.

Because OP may want to solicit feedback on the novel to help hone the vision he or she has, not to change it to another's vision. Or do you mean this post itself?

Jodi

latourdumoine
01-27-2012, 05:48 AM
Another possibility is we are all so used to watching on TV and movies two main characters of opposite sex ending up romantically involved, and as a result we find it hard to expect the opposite as a possibility. :-)


I think you've hit the nail on the head there. I'm still a fan of the old movies where all of a sudden you'd see the crashing surf. So much sexier in that many ways. Not that this actually does anything for my argument. We still expect them to end up together.

I wonder if there might be a trend in the opposite direction eventually.

Brutal Mustang
01-27-2012, 07:01 AM
What would you do?

Simple. Show the reader why there is no sexual attraction. Weave it in, organically throughout your story. Have them be annoyed by one another's looks, or smells, or mannerisms, or character flaws.

Maybe she notices how weak his jawline is.

Maybe he thinks she's too bubbly all the time.

Maybe he hates something she loves to the very core of her being. (For example, I could never marry a cat hater, no matter how hot he was, no matter how much I cared for him. Hell, I can barely tolerate the company of a cat hater. Cats are one of Earth's simple delights I could never live without, and I have a hard time understanding anyone who doesn't feel remotely the same).

Maybe he doesn't like her ass.

This doesn't mean your characters have to be unattractive--just to each other. Say, he hates her body type. To offset that, show another person adoring her body type. She hates his smell, but other women in the story like it.

There.

Sexual tension diffused. No romantic readers will be falsely led on.

kuwisdelu
01-27-2012, 07:35 AM
Simple. Show the reader why there is no sexual attraction. Weave it in, organically throughout your story. Have them be annoyed by one another's looks, or smells, or mannerisms, or character flaws.

Maybe she notices how weak his jawline is.

Maybe he thinks she's too bubbly all the time.

Maybe he hates something she loves to the very core of her being. (For example, I could never marry a cat hater, no matter how hot he was, no matter how much I cared for him. Hell, I can barely tolerate the company of a cat hater. Cats are one of Earth's simple delights I could never live without, and I have a hard time understanding anyone who doesn't feel remotely the same).

Maybe he doesn't like her ass.

This doesn't mean your characters have to be unattractive--just to each other. Say, he hates her body type. To offset that, show another person adoring her body type. She hates his smell, but other women in the story like it.

There.

Sexual tension diffused. No romantic readers will be falsely led on.

No no nooooo! Then you'll just end up with a whole different (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/CantLiveWithThemCantLiveWithoutThem?from=Main.Cann otStandThemCannotLiveWithoutThem) kind of (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Tsundere) sexual tension. (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BelligerentSexualTension)

Brutal Mustang
01-27-2012, 06:07 PM
How so? I'm around men all the time, I love in a platonic way. But sexually? No, no. I feel nothing for.

The idea is to give the reader a sense of the non-attraction. Instead of the typical, 'He's so hot, she's so hot, and they love each other, but not that way.'

latourdumoine
01-27-2012, 07:21 PM
How so? I'm around men all the time, I love in a platonic way. But sexually? No, no. I feel nothing for.

The idea is to give the reader a sense of the non-attraction. Instead of the typical, 'He's so hot, she's so hot, and they love each other, but not that way.'
I guess it also, again, comes from not having experienced that kind of environment. I'm like you in that I'm around men all the time, when I was growing up my best friends were always boys, even now. I've met countless people who deem this impossible, it's either, "ooh, you get your pick from so many" or "that's impossible, there's always attraction involved." My favorite was a relative's comment when she overheard my mom ask my cousin's mom for his new email. "Why does she want his email? He has a girlfriend, you know." Head meet wall, wall meet head. We laughed about it on the beach later, my cousin, his gf and I.

Books where there has to be a relationship between the protagonist and the person of the opposite sex irk me when it sounds forced because they send out the message that this has to be. People are always saying that they don't want their kids reading this or that because they're so impressionable. But those books send the same message, you have to hook up with the main man in your life / the stranger / your best male friend and if it doesn't work out, you think that you're nothing. An extreme example, but I've had friends tell me they felt that way growing up.

If it happens, it happens. If that's what you wanted to show, go for it. But when it's so contrived you need brain bleach, that's when I have issues.

randi.lee
01-27-2012, 07:56 PM
Having thought about it for a few days now, I believe my biggest problem with romance is that it can take away from the telling of another story. I want the focus of my story to be on my main character's growth as an individual and not which female protagonist he's going to end up with at the end of the series.



Yeah, I do think that some people want super romancey material. I have a few friends like that, but, nobody in my writing group (for example) or my beta readers have ever said, "wow, your characters are gonna hook up soon, right?"

My friends who read Twilight and love Grey's Anatomy? They'd be the ones saying that kind of stuff.

So, were the comments from people who you expect want romance? Or, from pretty level-headed folks who might be able to clue you in on where you are planting seeds of romance that aren't going to come to fruition?

Crasters- Thank you for your feedback. I did try and ask for feedback from people whom I thought were not huge into romance. It was interesting to hear that the reason why they were prompted to mention love interests and romance was that the two characters in question “made a good match” and/or “seemed to be meant for each other.”

This struck me as odd because my inspiration for the relationship between the characters is heavily influenced by the Doctor/Donna Noble (completely platonic) relationship. I tried to be as friendship-forward as possible, but perhaps by pushing that angle too much I turned it into something it wasn't meant to be?

I'm very thankful for all of the feedback. It's been a lot to digest but some very good points have been made. I've resolved to:

a.) Find another audience more specific to the genre/story, or find several audiences and see what the resounding response is
b.) Re-read the major scenes between the characters with a 'romantic' frame of mind to see if I do see a relationship in construction
c.) Consider my reader's point of view more, and take into account whether or not they'd be left feeling empty without any romance, and
d.) At the same time I'm considering my reader, continue to consider my own non-shipper stance on things and perhaps find a middle ground where all will be satisfied.

CrastersBabies
01-27-2012, 08:42 PM
randi maybe they are too "friendly?" We can't get into Donna's head in a television show. We can read cues, sure, but if we COULD get into her mind, we would probably get cues that reinforce a platonic relationship.

I feel the same way about Mal and Zoe from Firefly/Serenity. No romance there. imho. Sure, Zoe's married, but both served in a war together. They are comrades. No romance there. Just friendship, but the way it's portrayed is that theirs is a friendship based on respect, past trauma and aligning ideologies. The only people who "see" potential romance there are people who are looking to hard for it (imho). But, most folks I talk to say, "yeah, Mal and Zoe in a romantic relationship? Eww."

Brutal Mustang
01-28-2012, 03:29 AM
I guess it also, again, comes from not having experienced that kind of environment. I'm like you in that I'm around men all the time, when I was growing up my best friends were always boys, even now. I've met countless people who deem this impossible, it's either, "ooh, you get your pick from so many" or "that's impossible, there's always attraction involved." My favorite was a relative's comment when she overheard my mom ask my cousin's mom for his new email. "Why does she want his email? He has a girlfriend, you know." Head meet wall, wall meet head. We laughed about it on the beach later, my cousin, his gf and I.

When I first started working as a machinist, I used to get all kinds of shit like that. Now people are starting to accept I have lots of male friends, and that they're just that, friends.

Being around more men during my day than women has changed me. I've come to see men as people first, men second. I also swear a bit more than I used to. :tongue

latourdumoine
01-28-2012, 05:18 AM
When I first started working as a machinist, I used to get all kinds of shit like that. Now people are starting to accept I have lots of male friends, and that they're just that, friends.

Being around more men during my day than women has changed me. I've come to see men as people first, men second. I also swear a bit more than I used to. :tongue
Yeah, that's the thing exactly. I tend to see it like that, too, as in, so-and-so did or said this because that's the kind of person he is, not because he's a guy.

I swear a lot, too. Used to blame it on art school, but now I'm wondering ;)

Brutal Mustang
01-28-2012, 06:34 AM
Yeah, that's the thing exactly. I tend to see it like that, too, as in, so-and-so did or said this because that's the kind of person he is, not because he's a guy.

Ditto.


I swear a lot, too. Used to blame it on art school, but now I'm wondering ;) Hah. Must be the men. Art school never did that to me!

blacbird
01-28-2012, 07:57 AM
Has romance become so intricately intertwined with story telling that we can’t live without it? Do I have to toss some unnecessary romantic tension into a setting where it obviously doesn’t belong just to turn pages? I now find myself fighting with creating a generalized situation where two characters can kiss and make everyone happy or sticking to my guns and leaving the mushy stuff out.


The answer to your thread title is an unequivocal NO. Witness:

Lord of the Flies, William Golding
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
Fahrenheit-451, Ray Bradbury
Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut
I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
The Trial, Franz Kafka
Native Son, Richard Wright
One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Marquez

just to name ten. Whoever his feeding you this schidt is reading the wrong stuff.

I once had the misfortune of getting arbitrarily assigned to a workshop, at a big convention, with a writer who wrote nothing but category Romance novels. My war novel did not sit well with her.

I had a similar experience, by the way, in a similar situation, getting assigned to a workshop with a writer of literary fiction, who belittled and embarrassed me about my semi-fantasy fable short story. These two experiences are major reasons why I ceased going to writer's conferences.

Understand the platform your critics stand on. It means a lot.

caw

Drachen Jager
01-28-2012, 09:02 AM
That's the wrong list. OP was asking about the current state of publishing, not publishing 20, 50, or 100 years ago.


The answer to your thread title is an unequivocal NO. Witness:

Lord of the Flies, William Golding
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain
For Whom the Bell Tolls, Ernest Hemingway
Fahrenheit-451, Ray Bradbury
Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut
I Am Legend, Richard Matheson
The Trial, Franz Kafka
Native Son, Richard Wright
One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Marquez

blacbird
01-28-2012, 11:09 AM
That's the wrong list. OP was asking about the current state of publishing, not publishing 20, 50, or 100 years ago.

Bah. You could easily make a similar list from things published in the last five years. My statement stands: Whoever his feeding you this schidt is reading the wrong stuff.

caw

Brutal Mustang
01-28-2012, 07:16 PM
schidt

Hah. Never seen anyone spell it that way before.

CrastersBabies
01-28-2012, 07:59 PM
I'm around guys all day. Some I look at and think, "hmm, not bad. I wonder what THAT's like" (for however brief a moment).

Others, I just kind of ignore.

But, none of them are archetypal heroes.
None of them are a main character in a story.

Were my "life" a story in this sense, my own narration would certainly give cues as to what is non-romantic about these men.

bearilou
01-28-2012, 08:36 PM
Hah. Never seen anyone spell it that way before.

I think I will have to use it from now on!

Rhoda Nightingale
01-29-2012, 01:17 AM
If I might make an observation: I'm seeing a lot of chatter here--and this isn't directed squarely at you CrastersBabies, you're just the most recent to bring it up--along the line of every male/female relationship in a given story being explained as to why they are or aren't attracted ti each other. To paraphrase, "If these two characters are not going to become A Thing, you must tell the reader why."

But must we? I know we're only talking about a couple of lines of explanation here, but is that really necessary? Or is it any more necessary than any other aspect of these two characters' relationship?

kuwisdelu
01-29-2012, 01:23 AM
If I might make an observation: I'm seeing a lot of chatter here--and this isn't directed squarely at you CrastersBabies, you're just the most recent to bring it up--along the line of every male/female relationship in a given story being explained as to why they are or aren't attracted ti each other. To paraphrase, "If these two characters are not going to become A Thing, you must tell the reader why."

But must we? I know we're only talking about a couple of lines of explanation here, but is that really necessary? Or is it any more necessary than any other aspect of these two characters' relationship?

I don't think explanation should be necessary for the ol' "show don't tell" reason.

The "why" should be obvious from their interaction.

Rhoda Nightingale
01-29-2012, 01:50 AM
I don't think explanation should be necessary for the ol' "show don't tell" reason.

The "why" should be obvious from their interaction.

I agree, but with the OP's situation, it seems the interaction isn't making things as obvious as she'd hoped. I guess I'm just wondering where that line is in readers' minds between "just friends" and "could potentially become more than friends." And I wonder because I never see that second one myself unless I'm beaten over the head with it.

Xelebes
01-29-2012, 02:07 AM
If the author can resist glomping towards characters, you can avoid the reader having to expect a romantic relationship between any of the characters.

Dr.Gonzo
01-29-2012, 02:20 AM
Last weekend, I'm round at my mother's, drinking a beer with her boyfriend. He says, 'We tried watching that shit last night.'

'What shit?'

'Fight Club.'

'Shit?'

'Disgusting film,' he says. Then he goes on some rant about bare-knuckle fighting and blood and nihilistic world views.

'It's a love story.'

He laughs.

'It is.'

He's still shaking his head and laughing when I go home.

I don't have time for people who think Fight Club is about fighting.

kuwisdelu
01-29-2012, 02:28 AM
I agree, but with the OP's situation, it seems the interaction isn't making things as obvious as she'd hoped. I guess I'm just wondering where that line is in readers' minds between "just friends" and "could potentially become more than friends." And I wonder because I never see that second one myself unless I'm beaten over the head with it.

I agree with the comments that — if the readers were representative of the intended audience — it would be a good idea to re-evaluate the interactions and consider what about them supports the possibility of romance.

Rhoda Nightingale
01-29-2012, 03:13 AM
Dr. Gonzo : 0_o See, that's what I'm talking about. I don't see it. At all. I agree that it's not about "fighting," but a love story?

Dr.Gonzo
01-29-2012, 03:34 AM
Dr. Gonzo : 0_o See, that's what I'm talking about. I don't see it. At all. I agree that it's not about "fighting," but a love story?

I am Gonzo's eternal patience.

Hmm. Marla wants... let's call him Jack seeing as I mentioned the film and not the book. Jack wants Tyler. Tyler wants Marla because he doesn't really want Jack to have her.

You have your romance--it starts as hate because Marla's a 'big faker'. Condom's are our glass slippers, don't you know? You have your bromance because Jack has daddy issues because he's a 'thirty-year-old boy' and doesn't seem to have any friends apart from the one he

created

and he lives, at the start, vicariously through him. Tyler looks how he wants to look, and fucks how he wants to fuck.

Stood there in the Parker-Morris(?) building, and the city lights twinkling and the buildings turning to dust... you can just smell the love in the air. It's not your classic love story, but it starts with dislike, has obstacles, and ends with them together. Holding hands.

Also, Chuck P says so.

Rhoda Nightingale
01-29-2012, 03:44 AM
Well, damn. I'd argue that that's just one interpretation (and I haven't read the book myself), but I see your point. I always thought of it as one man's really bizarre, twisted journey towards self-acceptance and confidence, with Marla as a fringe benefit of that journey.

Dr.Gonzo
01-29-2012, 03:53 AM
That's good, too. Having different views on the same thing is what art is great at.

Tomorrow I'll post in here about Frodo and Sam, what the ring stands for, and the hussy known as Gollum.

kuwisdelu
01-29-2012, 03:55 AM
Tomorrow I'll post in here about Frodo and Sam, what the ring stands for, and the hussy known as Gollum.

I beat you to it a few pages ago.

Dr.Gonzo
01-29-2012, 03:58 AM
I beat you to it a few pages ago.

My post tomorrow was going to be about beating, actually.

Rhoda Nightingale
01-29-2012, 04:07 AM
Oh, stop!

thebloodfiend
01-29-2012, 09:15 AM
Hmmm.... is every story a love story? I guess it depends on your definition of love. There are many different kinds -- not just romantic love.

Now, granted, I like romance. I like belligerent sexual tension, tsunderes, best-friends-fall-in-love, bromance, etc... But I can't stand weak, badly built up romance, aka, insta-love, and I can't when authors put two characters who have no chemistry together in a relationship. And I hate romantic plot tumors.

I'd argue that almost every story has a kind of love story, but that not every story is a love story. Whether or not it's romantic love is up for debate.



Lord of the Flies, William Golding

I'd argue that there's a love story here. Piggy trying to gain Ralph's respect. Failing. Dying tragically. It's quite sad, IMO.

To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

Haven't read this in a while, but there was a cute relationship between Scout and Dill. It didn't take over the book, but it was there.
One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel García Marquez

Dunno. This was pretty romantic, IMO. Tragic, filled with lots of lust, but also filled with a perverted kind of love.

Haven't read the rest (or I have finished them, or I haven't read them in a long, long while).


If your audience thinks there should be a relationship between two characters where there is none and you're surprised by their reaction, I think you're doing something wrong. If you're writing your characters the right way, your audience shouldn't see chemistry between them. It goes the other way, too. If your audience is vehemently protesting a relationship that you intend to be romantic, perhaps you're doing something wrong. Not every story needs a romance, but I'd argue that most modern stories have one.

I'm doing a quick scan of my kindle and I have 18 novels there, all modern of varying genres. None of them are romances, but all of them have a romance. Almost every human being has been in a relationship at one point in their life, and, usually, novels focus on a changing point in a person's life, whether it's a coming of age or a mid-life crisis. I'd say that typically, at that point, a casual/romantic/sexual relationship is somewhat involved.

bearilou
01-29-2012, 06:30 PM
If your audience thinks there should be a relationship between two characters where there is none and you're surprised by their reaction, I think you're doing something wrong. If you're writing your characters the right way, your audience shouldn't see chemistry between them. It goes the other way, too. If your audience is vehemently protesting a relationship that you intend to be romantic, perhaps you're doing something wrong. Not every story needs a romance, but I'd argue that most modern stories have one.


I guess my time spent in fandoms and watching the 'ship wank that falls out has me quite jaded and not agreeing to this. I've seen fans draw lines of relationships between characters exactly where they want them to be regardless of what is said/done/implied in the source itself.

No matter what you do with any sort of relationship in a novel, someone out there is going to see what they want/wish and search for any 'canonical' evidence to support it.

Rhoda Nightingale
01-30-2012, 01:18 AM
^Yeah, there's that too. You've heard the expression "Shipping Goggles," I presume? You never know if your readers are assessing your characters through that lens, or if there actually is some "chemistry" there that the author did not intend.

My beta told me she "shipped" a pair of characters that I never intended to be together. There are other romantic relationships in the novel; that just wasn't one of them. Didn't really bother me that she viewed it that way though--even assuming something might have developed between those two off-page, it didn't upset the main plot for her, which for me was the important thing.

randi.lee
01-30-2012, 01:42 AM
^Yeah, there's that too. You've heard the expression "Shipping Goggles," I presume? You never know if your readers are assessing your characters through that lens, or if there actually is some "chemistry" there that the author did not intend.

My beta told me she "shipped" a pair of characters that I never intended to be together. There are other romantic relationships in the novel; that just wasn't one of them. Didn't really bother me that she viewed it that way though--even assuming something might have developed between those two off-page, it didn't upset the main plot for her, which for me was the important thing.

Right now, that's my frame of mind on things. I'll cite Harry Potter on this one: There are tons of Harry/Hermione shippers and they were only meant to have a brother/sister relationship. As well, Draco and Ginny had nothing to do with each other but there are tons of shippers pushing them as a couple.

I do understand the point that I might be doing something to make my readers believe there's something between the two characters, though. As I've said before, I'm going for a Doctor/Donna Noble relationship here, and if some part of my story is leading readers astray then I'm going to re-evaluate it.

bloodfield- thanks for the input. I do believe that love comes in different forms and my story does incorporate that- the platonic love between friends, for instance. What I was originally getting at, and perhaps I should have clarified this, is this: Does every story need romance? I feel like romance can get in the way of the telling of a story and I don't necessarily want it in the way of the one I'm telling about my MC.


By the way- thanks all for all of the wonderful and insightful feedback you've been giving. It's given me a lot to think about... not only for my current WIP but for writing in general as well. :-)

Canotila
01-31-2012, 02:45 PM
I don't think explanation should be necessary for the ol' "show don't tell" reason.

The "why" should be obvious from their interaction.

That's what makes sense to me.

I had mostly guy friends growing up, and two older brothers. Interacting with them was nothing like interacting with a boy I was interested in. Around my brothers/guy friends we'd have burping contests, chew with our mouths open, openly fart in each others' presence (sometimes they'd flaunt it), etc. They'd be relatively uncensored around me, whereas in the presence of girls they considered potential romantic partners they'd stop cussing, hold their farts, etc. They were pretty brotherly towards me. If a guy started harassing me or catcalling, they'd all gang up on him and let him know that behavior was going to get him in trouble if it didn't stop. But it was never in a possessive or romantic way. It was in a brotherly, we care about this person and don't want anyone to make her uncomfortable sort of way.

Not saying your characters need to have a belching contest around the campfire, but their interaction by itself can set a strong tone either way. Maybe ask yourself how they would interact if they were siblings and use some of that to base their platonic love interactions on.

crunchyblanket
01-31-2012, 03:17 PM
I guess my time spent in fandoms and watching the 'ship wank that falls out has me quite jaded and not agreeing to this. I've seen fans draw lines of relationships between characters exactly where they want them to be regardless of what is said/done/implied in the source itself.

No matter what you do with any sort of relationship in a novel, someone out there is going to see what they want/wish and search for any 'canonical' evidence to support it.

True this. Even I'm guilty of reading books and thinking 'hey, it'd be awesome if Character A and Character Y hit it off'. Even though there's precious little canonical context.