… but is it in your novel? Or should it be in your novel?
It’s time for the Teens Can Write Too blog chain, and I’m afraid I’m cobbling this together in fifteen spare minutes before school, so it might not be quite up to standard. However, it’s probably an accurate representation of teen writing, since we all seem to be so busy all the time. This month’s prompt is:
What are your thoughts on romance for your typical genre? Do you tend to have a little, a lot, or none at all?
So, I don’t always write the same genre, which makes this one an ‘interesting’ question for me. I write a lot of YA fiction, by which I mean I’ve completed 9 (correct me if I’m wrong!) novels for teenagers, even if most of them were pretty useless. However, I’m also working on a crime novel at the moment, and some of those YA novels were fantasy while others were sci-fi… etc.
My first novel was a love story. It was my NaNoWriMo novel in 2009, and I started out with no plot and no characters on the 7th November – always a good plan, not. It turned into the story of Anna and Matt, one of whom is an alien and the other is half-fairy. So, a love story. Definitely romance in there. I think it’s the only one of my novels ever to have finished with a wedding: usually it’s a funeral, as some of my readers will be able to attest.
My second and third novels had significantly less romance in them. They were based around the story of The Lord of the Dance, and took elements from Celtic mythology and also the history of Irish dance in general. They weren’t very good, but I enjoyed writing them. As far as I can remember, there is no romance in the second of these, and only a very little in the first. It seemed out of place. These are probably aimed at young teens or children, around 10-13, which might have something to do with it. The NaNo novel mentioned above was probably aimed at 12-15s.
My fourth novel was definitely a love story. Watching. It still remains my favourite, as I’ve edited it six times – which is six times more than I’ve edited any of the others. It’s the story of Alex and Jennie, a fairy lover and a gifted human, a Watcher, and even if it doesn’t work out because, well, I like killing characters … it’s a love story. That one I’d aim at 14-17 year olds. Beginning to see the link here?
I could go on, but I won’t. I’ll just say that the two sequels to Watching (Destroying and Returning) both have some romance in them too, although when Bronwyn gets involved it’s infinitely more complicated, much to my distress when I was writing it. Beneath the Branches had romance in it. Figurehead did not, to the best of my knowledge, though I forget. The Quiet Ones did not.
I think romance should be included if it’s necessary. Sometimes, you can’t help it. I didn’t set out with my first novel to write a love story – I had no idea what to write about. It just happened. If your characters seem to be falling for each other and it’s not going to mess up your plot in a bad way (good ways are definitely allowed), then why not? But if you have to force them into it, or if the romance takes away from the storyline, don’t. Just don’t go there.
Also, a pet peeve is the whole ‘just friends’ thing. Just friends? I can’t remember the exact words, but one of my characters, Leah, has a bit of a Miriam moment and she says, “Just friends? It seemed an awful lot to me.”
Friendship isn’t like second-rate love, it’s a fantastic thing in its own right. People can be friends without having to be ‘just friends’. Best friends can be best friends without romantic interest. Sure, if your characters are of a certain age (read: HORMONAL teenagers), then they’ll probably fall for each other, but they don’t have to.
An interesting exercise is to write a novel that doesn’t have any romance, deliberately. To say, “Okay, I don’t want the whole falling in love thing. My characters are going to be best friends and that’s all.” I tried to do that with The Quiet Ones, and to some extent I think I succeeded. It’s a shame the thing needs such an overall edit before it even makes sense to me, to be honest.
So, to conclude – romance for romance’s sake doesn’t work for me because I don’t write romance novels. But if your characters happen to fall in love … well, these things happen, don’t they?
And it’s always more fun to kill them when there’s someone who will grieve.
Okay, sneaky promotion going in here! A message to all teen writers: the Saffina Desforges presents… short story competition is STILL open and will be until the 29th February. I’ve only had a couple of entries through so far, so please consider writing something! The prize is publication, and we all want that ;) More information can be found here.
Okay, whatever, blog chain stuff.
Want to follow our blog tour? Here are the participating parties, day by day
February 5– http://noveljourneys.wordpress.com –Novel Journeys
February 6– http://lilyjenness.blogspot.com –Lily’s Notes in the Margins
February 7– http://kirstenwrites.wordpress.com –Kirsten Writes!
February 8– http://correctingpenswelcome.wordpress.com — Comfy Sweaters, Writing and Fish
February 9– http://miriamjoywrites.wordpress.com –A Farewell to Sanity
February 10– http://thewordasylum.wordpress.com –The Word Asylum
February 11– http://weirdalocity.wordpress.com –From My Head
February 12– http://estherstar1996.wordpress.com –Esther Victoria1996
February 13– http://alohathemuse.wordpress.com –Embracing Insanity
February 14– http://greatlakessocialist.wordpress.com –Red Herring Online
February 15– http://goteenwriters.blogspot.com –Go Teen Writers (Honorary Participant)
February 16– http://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com –This Page Intentionally Left Blank
February 17– http://oyeahwrite.wordpress.com –Oh Yeah, Write!
February 18– http://incessantdroningofaboredwriter.wordpress.com –The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer
February 19– http://herestous.wordpress.com –Here’s To Us
February 20– http://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com –Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)