Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Valentine's Day and Fictional Romance


This day inevitably makes people reflect on failed partnerships, new love, and relationship goals, but depending on whether you’re a fan of romance, or detest sappy displays of affection, you most likely love or hate this holiday. If you’re a relationship addict or vehemently anti-romance is probably reflected in your reading choices, as well.

Even though I rarely read or write romance, most every story has an element of love as a major or minor plot point, so let’s review a few common relationship tropes:

This is pretty common in YA, yet it’s probably the least favorite type of relationship by most readers. You’ve seen it before: girl walks in a room and instantly locks eyes with the perfectly gorgeous guy in the corner. They inevitably have an encounter and it’s love at first sight. Although this can happen in real life, when it’s used in fiction, the tension that can build between two people you are rooting to become a couple, but just can’t seem to get it together, is lacking.

Forbidden/Tragic Love
ROMEO AND JULIET is the quintessential example of this type of relationship, and many books have been based off this theme since. Love that can never be, because of family or cultural differences, location challenges, or loyalty to someone else, be it a current partner or best friend, makes for a heart-rending read.

The Love Triangle
We’ve all seen this millions of times in every story-telling medium, and it is especially common in YA. It can be maddening for readers who prefer one love interest to handle the MC choosing the other, as oftentimes the reader will become fiercely committed to one potential partner—think Team Edward and Team Jacob. Although not a book, the most frustrating love triangle I can remember was the Sawyer/Kate (Skate) and Jack/Kate (Jate) triangle in the TV series, Lost. I was Skate all the way and sadly lost (no pun intended) to Jate. 

Unrequited Love
Nothing can be more heartbreaking (or frustrating) than unrequited love. Everyone’s heart bleeds for the sweet nerd who’s had a crush on the Homecoming Queen ever since Kindergarten, but can’t muster the nerve to even talk to her. Other situations where characters might keep romantic feelings bottled up could be their love interest is already in a relationship, fear of coming out, or the knowledge that it would betray a friendship. When unrequited love becomes reciprocated, however, it’s almost always a heart-warming turn of events.

Doomed Love
Think A FAULT IN OUR STARS, and many of the similar books that followed. Doomed love is tragic and soul-crushing, yet there’s something sweetly romantic about two people sharing their last moments together.

Hate to Love
He thinks she’s annoying, she thinks he’s a total dick. They can’t stand each other at first, but thrust into a situation where they’re forced to spend time together, eventually this hate turns to passion, and sparks fly.

These are just a few examples of situational relationships and romantic themes in non-romance fiction. Are any of these topics your favorite, or are any of the above devices you can’t stand? Do you have any book recommendations that use one or more of these themes well? Please leave your thoughts in in the comments below and have a happy, romance-filled Valentine’s day!

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