This was so funny: Writing Romance
And since I’ve brought it up…
Romance in Speculative Fiction
Lots of times when I see romance done in speculative fiction it just isn’t good. Or rather it isn’t believable. It’s more like a “oh, I have a male main character and a female main character, so I think they should suddenly have the hots for each other” kind of deal.
Not cool. I usually don’t buy it. (Sun of Suns is an example of where I did not buy the romance.)
If you didn’t foreshadow and build this “romance” earlier in the novel, or if it is executed in an incredibly contrived way, then maybe you should consider just leaving it out altogether?
Sometimes, though, romance does just happen.
When I started my WIP I didn’t plan on writing about any romance. But then…somehow it just started to make sense.
One of my characters is incredibly headstrong and vocal about how he feels. And his love interest…well, she tends to keep her thoughts to herself unless asked to reveal them (and even then she may be reticent). When she does speak her mind she is very straightforward about it, so she can appreciate his bluntness. However, she, too, is quite headstrong when it comes to certain things, and they naturally don’t see eye-to-eye very often.
Of course, they end up having to work with each other on a very important mission and trust me, there is plenty of head-butting along the way. Regardless of all the naturally occurring roadblocks between them and even other major characters’ attempts at discouraging him, the man is still adamant about pursuing his lady-coworker. (Polite rejections don’t work on this guy, which she is quickly beginning to understand.) The reasons why he’s so interested in her are slowly revealed throughout the story.
To make matters even more wrought with tension, he is currently married and has an estranged relationship with his wife–though I should mention attitudes about marriage and courtship in his culture are a bit different from ours because a small amount of polygamy (that’s for both sexes) is actually legal where he lives; for his love interest, though, it’s very unsettling to be pursued by a married man.
There’s potential for lots of interesting things to happen here, I think. It’s romance on unstable ground, and it seemed to come out of nowhere when I started writing about these two.
Even so, I don’t think this is an excuse to just suddenly let romance burst out of nowhere onto the pages of my manuscript. I think that if romance can be worked in fairly naturally into the story (meaning the characters actually feel like they have chemistry between them and needs that can be met by the other), adds interesting conflict where it is needed most (like when things are going along a little too swimmingly) and can contribute in some way to the larger plot (or builds character), then perhaps it has a place in the story after all.
Of course, it’s guaranteed a place in your story if you are writing romance to begin with!
Do you have romance in your current/most recent WIP?
If so, how do you handle it? Was it something you planned for or something that came about later on in the process? Also, can you name any works of speculative fiction in which the romance worked particularly well? Where it didn’t work well at all? (I realize it’s all to easy too be a critic, but that’s how you learn, right? Look at where stuff works, where stuff doesn’t work, figure out the whys and try it out for yourself.)