I’m all for those sappy romantic scenes full of stereotypes and tropes, however, there’s nothing fresh or exciting about those types of romances. And if I’m not in the right mood for a more chick flick oriented romance, the romance is going to annoy me endlessly. Sometimes, I’ll take my annoyance out on the entire book.
Because an over-the-top romance takes away from what may have been an otherwise well-written novel. One of the best examples I have is from a young adult novel, where the romance seems thrown in. It was as if the editor and writer agreed that because the book was YA it needed a romance between the protagonist and her male lead.
Remember that scene from “Silver Linings Playbook,” where Bradley Cooper’s character chucked that book out the window? I was sorely tempted to mimic his actions with this particular YA novel. The forced romance killed the rest of the book, and made the protagonist, who would have been awesome, into some lust-filled whiny girl, who made idiotic decisions.
So, how does one avoid the stereotypic romance?
- Keep characters acting like themselves. If your character isn’t the type to trust strange men, then why would she suddenly let a guy she’s known for less than a week make all the decisions for her? If your character is incapable of talking to the opposite sex, then he shouldn’t suddenly be Mr. Charming. Be consistent with your characters. Your characters quirks are what will make the romance unique and believable.
- There’s more to a story than just romance. Even romance novels have more going on than just the romance. Something has to keep the two lovebirds apart. When plots get lost in the romance, the story falls flat. There’s only so many times people can read about a cute, shy girl who falls in love with two guys, where guy A is the obvious choice and guy B is there because…why?…because he’s supposed to add drama. (Hint: he only adds irritation and makes the protagonist seem like a dolt.)
- It’s about the relationship. Too often romance is focused too much on the physical. Yes, physical attraction is important… when you first meet a person. You’ve probably had this experience: you see someone you find incredibly attractive, you have a very physical reaction, and then that person opens their mouth, and – bam! – that attraction is gone. A person’s looks gets you interested. It’s the personality, and the ensuing relationship, that makes you stay.
How do you avoid clichéd romances?
(Photo courtesy of Pedro Ribeiro Simoes.)