Tag Archives: romance in novels

When Romance In Novels Overwhelms

6963846677_95eb7308b8_kBy the title of this post I’m not referring to romance novels. The concept of a romance novel is romance. What I’m talking about is fantasy, science fiction, and other genres.

Based on the genre, readers have different expectations. Fantasy includes supernatural elements or magic as an integral part of the plot. Science fiction deals with futuristic technology, space travel, extraterrestrial life, parallel universes, and more. It’s rare to find any sort of supernatural element within science fiction, unless you begin delving into science fantasy, which combines elements of both science fiction and fantasy.

However, it’s not unusual to find a romance subplot within fantasy and science fiction. Romance is marketable. But what happens when the romance overwhelms the intended plot?

Ever read a back cover blurb and gotten excited about a book? You purchase (or borrow) the book and as you’re reading discover that the book is nothing like the blurb? I have. It’s not a good realization. Most times the book is much heavier on the romance than the blurb indicated. (This is one of the reasons I tend to read reviews before spending money on a novel. Romance is great…in moderation. If I purchase a science fiction novel, I bought it for the science fiction, not the unexpected romance.)

I am a fan of the TV show The 100. The first season was a bit iffy, mostly because it felt like a young adult show and I found myself questioning some of the main characters decisions. But then the show got good, fast. So, I thought I should read the books, since books are most often better than the TV show or movie.

Once I read the reviews on this book series, I decided against reading it. Many people stated that the romance, a love triangle, took over the plot to the point where the book was no longer a “post-apocalyptic tale of survival,” but a teenaged romance. (The link leads to an expletive heavy review. Be warned. (Here’s a link to The 100 blurb and other reviews: The 100 book series.) Other issues with the series was noted, however most of the issues related back to the romance.

Now, some people loved this book series. That’s fantastic. Everyone has different tastes and I encourage everyone to take the time to decide if this book series is something they might be interested in reading. I happen to like my romances as subplots, unless I specifically choose a romance. Otherwise, when I’m expecting an epic space battle, but all I get is googly eyes, I feel cheated.

Some books that are romance light:

  • Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
  • Sabriel by Garth Nix (This is one of my favorite YA trilogies, though it’s nothing like the YA novels of today’s literary world. Much more mature.)
  • The Giver by Lois Lowry
  • The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

What do you think when romance overtakes all other plots in non-romance novels?

(Photo courtesy of darwin Bell.)

Believable Romance: No Random Sex Scenes, Please

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When reading a story, one aspect that always sticks out for me is bad romance. Done well, a romantic plot/subplot can add to a story. Done poorly, romance can destroy what could have been a great novel.

Romance is often based on emotion rather than logic. There’s the sense of intuition and imagination, the mysterious and subjective, rather than reason and rules. This can make romance chaotic and rebellious. It can create conflict, which, in fiction, is extremely important.

Conflict is what motivates readers to keep reading. It’s what causes them to care about the characters and what happens next.

In romance novels, there are usually outside forces keeping the protagonists apart. This can be done in novels where romance is a subplot as well. However, in novels whose main focus isn’t romance, the characters’ personalities can also make a romance difficult.

The important thing to remember is to create enough buildup to make the romance believable. If it’s not, then the romance is awkward and, many times, laughable.

The Guardian gives a Bad Sex Award to one author every year, along with a shortlist of other authors. This link includes sexually explicit details, so be forewarned.

One of the great aspects of fiction is that the stakes are usually raised very high. There’s a ton of tension. Think of novels dealing with revolutions. When there’s so much tension and threat of death, failure, etc. emotions are ramped up too. This makes it easier for two characters to fall in love. Now, after all the tension is gone, their relationship might fall apart, but novels typically end before that happens, and the emotions the characters are feeling in the present feel real to them.

In most novels dealing with romance, whether as the main plot or a subplot, there’s a typical progression:

  1. The two characters meet and dislike each other. Yet, there’s an unspoken attraction. I.e. – The Mortal Instruments, Darkfever
  2. An external event forces the two characters together and they fall in love.
  3. External events try to keep them apart (or, in some cases, one of the characters believes it’s better for them to be apart, but can’t resist the other. I.e. – Twilight). Their love grows as they bond over these events and fight to for each other.

(For a more in depth version of this progression, see How to Write Romance.)

What do you think of romance in novels?

(Photo courtesy of ALhanouf AL- abdollah.)