View Full Version : romance in sci-fi/fantasy....

03-19-2005, 12:58 AM
This isn't really the same as erotica, so I thought it best to start a new thread.

I've read Debra Doyle's rant on 'Girl Cooties' in F&SF literature (http://www.sff.net/paradise/girlcooties.htp), and I have a question: How much 'romance' can a reader stand before the story is too laden with girl cooties? Are women readers typically more tolerant than male readers?

My current novel WIP has very few girl cooties. The MC tries to get laid once, but he's not successful, and he's attracted to the sidekick, but the feeling is not mutual. However, I have a second book planned, during which the hero will have to find a wife. The story won't be over until he solves Major Problems A, B & C, where C='hero finds a bride.' (oversimplification for the sake of this post)
It won't be a romance novel with fantastic elements. It'll be a fantasy novel with a romantic element. Is this going to turn off male readers? Does this have too many girl cooties?

03-19-2005, 07:08 AM
I wouldn't worry about that at all. A book of mine that's undergoing the editing process had that kind of situation as well, but twice as bad. It had a woman who wanted to fall in love and thought she had only to discover that the first two men in her life that she thought were meant for her weren't what she wanted. Instead, she ended up with a man who loved her so much, he was willing to take an arrow for her and did.

In the other situation, the man and woman wanted each other, but the woman felt she had to prove herself worthy. She was born with one leg shorter and had to excel at something to feel that she wasn't being offered marriage out of pity. In fact, it was her success at proving herself that led to a meeting with the other woman that then led to the first woman's discovery that she loved the man who took an arrow for her.

So, too many girl cooties? I think not. Those were driving forces for the characters and those bits were very brief and far apart. Still, those gave the characters convincing and realistic motives for what they did. So, if your own work accomplishes the same, then don't worry about the so-called presence of girl cooties. Men can be romantic, too. ;)

03-19-2005, 11:38 AM
i venture to say as long as it's kept as an element, you're okay. i'd say you're even safer in a fantasy introducing a little romance. i say that because fantasy tends to be more idealistic, idylized and, for lack of a better term, 'romantic' in its setting (and as i think about it, plenty if not most SF has a little romance tossed in, or at least sexual tension). that's a little more condusive for some good lovin'. i wouldn't mind it as long as it's not overwhelming, unrealistic, and distracting.

another 'star wars' reference just because everyone knows it: there was a scene deleted from ANH where luke visits biggs on tatooine and there's a guy there with his girlfriend (koo stark, later a porn actress and married that prince of monacco guy, i think). anyway, luke is illustrated as being more of a loser than we already think he is, but had that scene been left in, i always thought you might get the indication luke wanted adventure as a way of impressing chicks. fair to say luke would be a pretty romantic guy, but it would have worked as part of his motivation. romance as a motivation isn't exactly what you're driving at, though. i think what you and most people think of when the romance question pops up is a romance that happens not as a motivation, but as a result of a relationship built on attraction that's based on two people being jammed together for a long period of time (something like that, lol). in other words, romance not as a reason the hero does what he does, but rather romance based on a result of what he's done/is doing. where there's romance, there's often a slant to the climax.

i try to incorporate romance into most of my stories, albeit it turns sour as often as my main characters die. in lieu of romance, sexual tension. still, it's important to realize how those two intermix with one another and where one ends and the other begins. they're not necessarily the same thing, but are complimentary.

it's another aspect of being human to think about, then decide what, if any, the differences are between the sexes. all i can say is that's where experience really comes in handy. if your idea of interesting romance is handing the girl some flowers, though, you're really going to have to sell that one, at least in SF/F. you *might* get away with it in special circumstances or in a book something like 'chocolat' (i admit to not having read the book, but the movie was really good, just change flowers to chocolate and heap on a lot of sugary innocence).

something else to consider is whether or not the romance will be consummated in the book.

03-19-2005, 07:49 PM
in other words, romance not as a reason the hero does what he does, but rather romance based on a result of what he's done/is doing. I'd say that's a pretty good capsule definition of the difference between romance with fantasy elements and fantasy with romantic elements.

I like love stories, both as a reader and a writer. There's a love story in all my adult books--but it's one thread in a multi-stranded plot, not the main point of the book. I hear from as many male readers as female ones, so I don't really worry about girl cooties (which, if you're a female author, you're inevitably going to have to some extent anyway).

- Victoria

03-20-2005, 06:53 AM
can you tell whether a novel has been written by a male or female without knowing beforehand?