TCWT: Love May Be In The Air…

TCWT: Love May Be In The Air…

… 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– –Novel Journeys

February 6– –Lily’s Notes in the Margins

February 7– –Kirsten Writes!

February 8– — Comfy Sweaters, Writing and Fish

February 9– –A Farewell to Sanity

February 10– –The Word Asylum

February 11– –From My Head

February 12– –Esther Victoria1996

February 13– –Embracing Insanity

February 14– –Red Herring Online

February 15– –Go Teen Writers (Honorary Participant)

February 16– –This Page Intentionally Left Blank

February 17– –Oh Yeah, Write!

February 18– –The Incessant Droning of a Bored Writer

February 19– –Here’s To Us

February 20– –Teens Can Write Too! (We will be announcing the topic for next month’s chain)

35 thoughts on “TCWT: Love May Be In The Air…

  1. Ah, romance. I can’t do it, I must confess – my laughable attempts in Exile and Legend are a testament to that – but, I think I agree, it’s all well and good if it needs to be there. Doing it well is the hard part, especially if you’re like me and have no experience of romance beyond a horrible first kiss, a much better second kiss and a set of very unsavoury rumours about your love life. I’d say leave romance until you know what the foggiest you’re talking about, but hey ho, to each their own.

    Also, an awesome quote: “It’s always more fun to kill them when there’s someone who will grieve.” That should go on a pedestal somehwere! xD

    1. Hmm, or on my wall…
      I have to admit it’s difficult to write romance when you’ve very little idea what you’re doing. Then again, Jennie had very little idea what she was doing either, so she was quite easy to write. Even easier in the latest draft, as you’ll know – hope it showed…

      1. Pesonally I think both of you have done very well in capturing the romantic moments you’ve written that I’ve read. So despite your lack of personal experience I suspect you’ve done more observing of others and internalizing romantic things you’ve read than you think.

      2. Thanks, Elo. Certainly I think I improved it in the sixth draft; it’s true that I’ve watched a lot of my friends in relationships. I also study it in books and in films to see how it all fits together…

  2. I’ve only completed (as in drafted, still in editing mode) one novel, and it has the set-up for a romance. The other novels I’ve planned almost all have a love story of some sort, except for maybe one or two. Love has become such a staple of YA fiction that it’s almost impossible to avoid while reading the genre, and it always seems to suggest itself when you’re writing YA. I like your idea of trying to write a YA with no romance whatsoever. Anyway, great post!

    1. It *does* seem to have taken over YA rather a lot, doesn’t it? I don’t know why, exactly. I suppose they think teenagers are all blossoming into adults and are going to turn to books to find out how to behave and stuff, but if we took the advice of fiction we’d probably all be pregnant and married at 16… ;)
      As for completing lots of novels, I get bored of writing one so finish it quickly and move on. One day I will edit them all, but not yet. I refuse. On principal.

  3. I think you’re right that romance/love should not be forced upon characters, but allowed to blossom with the novel, if it starts to grow. Love does seem to heighten the stakes when life is on the line, be it boy for girl, parent for child, or any other combination (like between best friends).

    Most of my stuff has romantic love, in one form or another. I did recently write one that was a lot more on the erm, risque side of things, but I like true love and a lot of my stories start out as romance, only to evolve into something more.

    I do have one story that I plan on having no romance in. it will be a children’s series, if I ever get back to it and though “A Princess must a Prince wed”, my MC is more concerned with having adventures then finding that prince, afterall she’s 13 and she doesn’t have to be married until 18. *grin* Yeah… a product of my 9 year old brain. *grin*

    :} Cathryn

    1. Oh I forgot to mention:

      “Just Firends” is something I see as being used when the romantic connection goes one way. It’s a reminder to the one who is in love with the other that they don’t want the flowers and kisses and all that gobbly-de-gook that goes with romance, just the support of friendship.

      And if we lived 400 years ago, we would all be married and pergnant by 16…. Actually, that’s probably what’s wrong with some of the YA; lasting relationships starting at a young age. In this day and age lasting High School Sweethearts (Year 10 – 13) is very rare.

      Anyway I’ve babbled enough. Sorry. :}

      1. That’s a lot of comments, Elo!

        Yes, agreed on the lasting relationships starting at my age. I mean, wth? And they’re all like, “I kissed you so we’re going to spend our lives together … I’ve never kissed anyone before … BLAH.” Yeah, if we all followed that we would be SO screwed. But I need to remember this is a public comment… ;)

        Also, why are they all just automatically good at kissing and whatever? Can’t there be a character who isn’t only there for humorous background who is actually bad at kissing? No?

        Interesting take on the Just Friends. In my experience it’s used under circumstances such as, “Is this your boyfriend?” or “Are you guys going out?” — “No, no, we’re just friends!”

      2. It that context Mriiam, Just friend is indicating that one of the two may be more interested in the other, or the ‘couple’ might be exibiting signs of a realtionship that has romantic/kissy elements, even if they haven’t decided to get to that stage yet.

        Yeah, there definately ought to be some bad kissers out ther… I’d do it in my current WIP, but these guys have exepriance, bieng older than the YA crowd…

        I forget what culture it was but they married young grils to old me and the young boys to old women… basically every one eneded up with two marriages I guess, but that way the experienced lead the inexperienced…

        Your first love often isn’t your lasting love. I may have only had three bf’s, and everyone (even my parents.. .okay my Dad, but that just may have been his desire for grandkids *eyeroll*) thought we would marry… yeah, didn’t happen. I married bf 3 (scary to think we’ve been together for about as long as you’ve been alive – by I give away my age) *giggles* :}

        1. Ha ha, that’s one way of putting it! I’m going to sound like a twelve-year-old now, but I do not see the appeal of kissing, I really don’t. I mean, I get that it’s like a sign of affection and that … I just … I don’t know. It seems so overrated!

    1. Ha, thanks! Most of the time I end up writing my posts in short spaces of time, so I guess I’m used to it. Yes, nine novels, but three of them were terrible, one of them I wrote so quickly I can’t remember what happens, one is 126k and I haven’t yet had the courage to read it through, two are waiting to be edited, and one is still a completely incoherent NaNoWriMo first draft. The remaining book has been edited to within an inch of its life, I’m pleased to say. And is much improved, I think.

  4. Great post! I totally agree about only putting romance where romance seems to be needed. One shouldn’t force it into any book however they please. It needs to be more organic than that. One should let it happen, let the characters fall into it if they are so inclined. Also, I loved your point about friendship being just as valuable as romantic love. It seems like the literary world is forgetting that these days.

  5. I was actually thinking something of the same myself recently. In the story (I don’t know if it’s safe to use the term ‘novel’ yet) I’ve just started- which happens to be a supenatural/fantasy one- my two main characters are friends and there could be the potential for romance between them. However, I was deciding that, aside from teasing, there won’t be anthing between them. In some novels it feels right. In others, it doesn’t.

    1. If you’ve only just started, then wait until you know the characters a little better before you decide, unless you’re absolutely certain you want it one way or the other. That way you can choose the one that actually fits!

          1. Nothing short enough and finished enough that hasn’t already been published, sorry. I can have a crack at it, but the end of Feb is a very sharp deadline, what with my exams 19th- 24th.

  6. I know what you mean about adding romance to a book without meaning to… My current WIP – a YA thriller – was supposed to be romance-free but 5k words into writing, my MC was already longing for some romance so I gave it to him. I’m 90% sure that the romance I added is completely overdone and pointless, but that’s ok.
    I agree with you on all points here, especially the ‘just friends’ thing. Weird, I think this is the first blog chain where we had the same opinion. :) Haha.
    I didn’t know you wrote crime novels, too. I started an adult crime novel, then abandoned it mid-way through. I’m going to go back to it eventually, but not now.
    And that was a sneaky plug! :D

    1. Oh yes. It needed to be there, I desperately need some entries.

      Hmm, as for agreeing, it’s hard to disagree on search engine terms, isn’t it? Lol :)

      I’m currently writing a crime novel due to my absolute obsession with the world of Sherlock Holmes, triggered by the BBC series but continued to the point of reading most of the books within a week of each other, ha ha. It’s good fun. The primary detective is a contract killer called Isabel, who is fantastic to write, I really love her.

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