Friday, July 10, 2015

Romance in YA Novels: The Good, The Bad, and The Stupid


When you think about it, YA fiction is a rather odd category. Nobody can quite agree on what its target age range is: some say it’s 12 to 18, others 14 to 21….But, since middle grade runs from 8 to 12, that last one leaves the poor 13-year-olds with nothing to read. That’s harsh.

Anyway, no matter what the target age group, I think we can all agree that teen romance has become a staple plot point in pretty much every YA novel.

And it’s really getting on my nerves. Why? It has nothing to do with the fact that I’m against teen dating (though I kind of am, but that’s not the point of this post). It drives me crazy because, nine out of ten times, the romance is either poorly done or just plain stupid.

At this point, it’s pretty hard not to write a cliché teen relationship in a novel, since every angle has been done several times over. But the point isn't to avoid being cliché, it’s to take a cliché concept and do it better than anyone else. While that takes a lot of talent (and probably an inflated ego), it’s a good goal to shoot for. But first, you have to understand what you’re up against. Let me point out a few of the good, the bad, and the stupid templates for romance in YA fiction. Hopefully it will help you figure out what path to take - or what path to avoid - when writing your YA stories:
The Good: having both a fully developed male and female character. I love it when a YA novel has a couple that is comprised of two strong, deep, and believable characters. Unfortunately, that's not done very often. People have gotten the idea that the only way to make one character look good is to pair him/her with a less-awesome person. It doesn’t work like that. In fact, it makes the storyline and romance twice as good if the main character and the love interest both have strengths and interesting sides to them. Basically: if you want a good romance, develop your characters. This is something you should be doing anyway, though, so hopefully that's not news to you.

The Bad: both characters are gorgeous, perfect, and thus have to get together. Why is this bad? Because it sends the message that only perfect people get happy endings. It makes it look like being beautiful puts people into an entirely different league. Which is not true. Also, morals aside, it’s just plain boring. And unrealistic. And overdone. Having two flawless people does not automatically make them perfect for each other. It just makes them perfect for annoying the heck out of readers.

The Stupid: the beautiful boy falls for the average girl, who thinks she’s unworthy. There is nothing wrong with a gorgeous dude loving a plain girl. But there is everything wrong with a girl thinking she doesn’t deserve that love and questioning it every chance she gets. Unless she has absolutely no personality or is a completely rotten person, there is no reason for this to be the case. A few doubts, maybe. But for goodness sakes, don’t make it a major part of the storyline! Nobody wants to hear about how poor Mary Lou is undeserving, and how he’s too gorgeous, and on and on and on. And, in case you’re wondering, yes, I am talking about Bella Swan. Get over yourself, girl. Plus, Edward's a bit creepy, so it's not like he's a major catch. 

The Good: there was some kind of friendship in place before a romance started. Forget the friend zone (or the cousin zone, in Gale’s case). Those kinds of relationships are almost always the ones that would make a perfect romance. Why? Because the characters know each other, like each other, and respect each other. Not only does that give you plenty of material to work with, but it comes much more naturally than any other relationship you’re trying to cook up. Friendship always wins over ‘love at first sight’ from a stylistic standpoint...not to mention a logic standpoint.

The Bad: the romance crosses over from sweet to extremely physical. Not in YA fiction, guys. NOT in YA fiction. Teen characters should not be having sex…or even coming close. There is often dispute over what material is considered inappropriate or wrong for teenagers to read. I know some people say that sexual relationships in YA fiction are fine because it’s realistic. To which I say, okay, maybe it is, but can’t we encourage more healthy practices by projecting pure relationships more often than messed up ones? And some make the argument that, in many YA novels, nothing good comes out of those kind of relationships, so it’s teaching teens that bad things happen when you have sex as a teen. Um. No. Are you trying to sound clueless? Kids read those books for the heated scenes, never for the 'premarital sex is bad' message. You can try to tell me otherwise. And I’ll listen, I really will. But then I’ll laugh at you. Anyway, the point is this: romance is okay in teen fiction. Physicality is not. It’s unhealthy, it’s cheap, and if you need it to make your story sell, then you’re doing something wrong. We get enough of this from Hollywood, us authors don’t need to add to the problem. 

The Stupid: love at first sight. I blame this one on Disney. I mean, is there some law that says that you have to make a weird face and then fall in love every time you see somebody who is particularly nice-looking? Because I assume Disney thinks there is:
"Instant love" is generally not a good move. It's lazy, lacks development, and sends the message that your main character cares more about looks than personality. Is that your intent? I hope not. So if you decide to go with "love at first sight," just remember: 
Sure, InstaLove can work, if, say, the person that is the object of instant admiration is doing something other than sitting around and looking attractive (such as standing up for someone who is being picked on...? Just an awesome idea off the top of my head). Or maybe your character sees a person, likes what they see, strikes up a friendship, and then forms a romance. Something like that. I don't know. Use your imagination. You're a writer, so you should be able to come up with something.

I have several more, but those are six of the most common types of romance that I wanted to address. I know I missed a few. What are some of your favorite (or least favorite) ways to write romance into your YA novels? Leave a comment below!

Related articles:
7 Cliche Characters in YA Fiction That Need to Stop
Writing Strong Female Characters: What You're Doing Wrong
Write What YOU Want To Write: Why You Shouldn't Follow The Current Writing Trend

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50 comments:

  1. AMEN AMEN AMEN!!! Especially about the "being friends before the romance starts" thing. It seems like every single book I've read lately (except The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit) has unrealistic romance! I know that books have limited space, but falling in love in the space of a week is not realistic. ;) Great thoughts!

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    1. Yep. I mean, sure, I know that falling in love quickly is a possibility and does happen, but it's overdone (and poorly done) in books. Plus, the friendship angle always feels less forced and makes more sense. =) Glad you enjoyed the post!

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  2. In principle, I agree with you, Hannah. Relationships should be developed, not just in YA fiction, but in any kind of fiction. Sex is not a preamble, but a climax. As for keeping it out of YA fiction, I guess it depends. If you're a writer of contemporary fiction, and you're writing the story of two teens falling in love, keeping sex out of it ... meh. Teens do have sex, that's the reality. And whether they read about it in books or not, they will keep having sex. Whether the act itself becomes a part of the story you're writing is another thing. Again, it depends on a lot of factors. I will say that there are stories in which not including it would be downright silly. Have you ever read Before I Die by Jenny Downham? If you hadn't, you should. In that book ( and many others) there is a reason for it being there. Another example that comes to mind is the Shiver series (Maggie Stiefvater), where again, we glimpse their eventual sleeping together. It's done beautifully, it makes sense, protection is mentioned (and not just in passing), and it is the natural, most normal next step in the evolution of the characters.

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    1. It's cool to get the other point of view. I've never read any of those books, but I'm planning on writing a paper on this subject so I'll check them out. I might end up splitting the essay into a blog post series, addressing some of the points you brought up. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it. Thanks for the comment!

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    2. Hi,
      I'd like to point at the 'reality' is that 'some' teens have sex. Don't generalise it. Pleanty of us don't, or didn't until we were adults. Stop being presumptive and making the people who don't feel like they should. You're also ignoring any people who identify as asexual who exist in the real world. Thank-you.

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  3. I'm not a writer -- except of reviews -- but as an adult reader of YA and school librarian, I definitely see the good, bad, and ugly you mention. Sex and other "adult" activities are tough for me to see in YA, but at the same time, they are part of life for many teens. Teens look for themselves (or fellow teens) in the books they read, and I feel YA authors have an obligation to make sure that there is a reason for including the grown up stuff, that it's well-written, and that it's never gratuitous or for the easy, sleazy sale. . . Thanks for a thoughtful post.

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    1. Thanks for the comment, Kristine! You bring up some good points. I always wonder if it would help to have ratings (PG-13 for sexual content, for example) on books? If anything, it would help parents understand exactly what it is their teens are reading, possibly lead to some good discussions. Anyway, I agree with you. It's sad when YA books have sex just to make it an easy sell.

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  4. Love this, Hannah! I love how your Christian worldview shines through the wonderful points you made. :) Keep on writing!
    And I agree; the physical aspect of a teen relationship shouldn't be why a book is written and sells (even though that's "normal" according to the world, ugh). TRUE love isn't really insta-love or sex-driven, or it's not love.

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    1. Hey Amanda! Thank you for the encouragement. It's nice to hear that other people can see my worldview through my writing. And I agree: true love takes more than physical attraction: it takes time, respect, and friendship. Thanks for the comment!

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  5. The "instalove' drives me INSANE. It's gotten to the point that, when I'm reading something and that happens, I stop reading because ugh.

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    1. Ha! Good philosophy. I've been known to do that, too.

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  6. Actually, most of this post applies to all age groups and genres (...okay...except erotica...which I haven't a clue how to write anyways...). Thanks!

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    1. Ha! That's very true. They seem like pretty obvious points, so it's funny how many books (YA or other) get them wrong. And yeah, I have no idea about erotica. Not even going to go there. =)

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  7. I get annoyed with the super hot guy instantly falling in love with what we're supposed to believe is an unattractive female protagonist. It's so unrealistic. If she were hot, that would at least be a reason for the love at first sight thing (even if it's a really bad reason), but usually the author doesn't give any reason at all. And definitely a solid basis for the relationship is preferable.

    Totally with you on the teen sex thing. It's a big reason why I stick to middle-grade fiction. :P

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    1. YES. Writers shouldn't try to fool their readers or assume that they aren't intelligent enough to ask "why?" Why would he fall for her? Great comment. And I agree: middle-grade is much safer. =)

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  8. Annie Louise TwitchellAugust 30, 2015 at 6:16 AM

    The whole girl feels unworthy thing is actually a thing, though. I've struggled with it a lot myself, when I was younger (14-15 years old; I'm now 18). The difference is that I was helped by my brother's friends - a bunch of teenage and college age guys, most of them with girlfriends at home (my whole family was working at an all boys Christian summer camp - long story) and no romantic interest in me. They saw a frightened little girl who desperately needed to know that she was worth more than what her hands could do, and they loved me. They loved me enough to take the time to make me see that I was worth something.


    And about stories - in my fairy tale retelling, the prince marries the peasant girl because he's a conniving man who's using her (false) talent to get his own revenge on a particular group of people who murdered his childhood sweetheart. No love at first sight there, I'm afraid. He does eventually, several months into their marriage, realize that she's worth more to him than her talent, and that he would be heartbroken if she went away. He then has to pursue her, because she came into marriage warm and open and ready to learn to love this stranger, but he hurt her and she's locked her heart away.

    Oo, guess which fairy tale it is? (I'll give you a hint - it's a Brothers Grimm.)

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    1. All good points, Annie! Guys definitely can (and do) help boost a girl's confidence. However, writers should remember that girls can boost other girls confidence, and guys (like the ones at your camp) don't always have to have a romantic interest in a girl in order to be helpful to her.
      You story sounds super cool! I love your approach to the romance. I'm assuming it's Rumpelstiltskin, right? I'm not well-versed in my Brothers Grimm. =) Thanks for the thoughtful comment and good luck on your story! It sounds like a winner.

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    2. Yes, Rumpelstiltskin! :)

      I'm debating writing a modern novel with only a friendship theme, but I haven't got the pieces sorted out yet. Part of the reason I'm interested in doing it is because I used to feel bad because I didn't have a boyfriend, I didn't date, I didn't know how to flirt... And a lot of the books I read (Nancy Drew, for example) had the female character in a relationship. As a matter of fact, I still don't have a boyfriend, I still don't date, and I don't think I could flirt at someone to save my life. That's okay. I'm okay with that now. But I've worked with teenage girls who aren't, and I think examples of girls like me getting along just fine their whole teen years without a boyfriend, I think those are somewhat lacking.

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    3. Annie, your idea just got me very excited! You are so right. Modern novels make it look, not only as if teen relationships are common and 'cool', but necessary for teen girls. Growing up, I've never seen the need for a boyfriend, but many of my friends wanted one desperately, simply because it was 'what's done.' I think your idea is brilliant and important for the YA fiction genre. Would totally cheer you on if you went that direction. And, of course, I'm cheering you on for even coming up with the idea of a story with such a great message! =)

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    4. Well, it's going on the list at any rate, bumping my works-in-progress up yet again. I think I've got about 45. :P

      I'm very pleased with myself however - I've been writing since I was about 8, and this summer I've not only finished a first draft of something, but I've stuck with editing too. I've never gotten this far before. :) (It's my Rumpelstiltskin story. My mom's having a hard time keeping up with me - she's editing also. I need to print her a new draft to edit pretty soon.)

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    5. That Rumplestiltskin retelling sounds interesting...veeeerrrrrrrry interesting.

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    6. Thanks! It's on a back burner at the moment, since I'm working on a bunch of other stories also. That's the second time it's come up in the past couple weeks so I may have to dust it off and tackle it again. :)

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  9. *standing ovation*

    I especially concur on the physicality point. Teens DO NOT take away "avoid sex until you're married/in love" from those stories. They read it for the sex. Period.

    The other thing I hate is the "one must be laid to avoid being a loser" mindset in high school settings. I don't care if this is "part of reality," it shouldn't be.

    But the one I hate most of all is when people try to say it's sexist and misogynistic to tell kids to wait. I mean, I have heard all the justifications and arguments and I understand the logic, but it's SO GODDAMN STUPID. My character is a virgin and isn't ready to change that, ergo I'm a sexist???

    That turned into mini rant on a single point, so I apologize, but I really do agree with this entire post.

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    1. No worries about your mini rant. It was spot on. For a culture that says we are all for "empowering women," it is odd that people argue that teenaged girls should have sex in books (or in real life). That is not empowering, nor is it healthy. In fact, I find it extremely degrading.
      So good for you, standing up for that and creating a strong character who isn't going to have sex because it's "what's done." Keep up the awesome work!

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  10. I just really love your blog and all your posts. That's all ^_^

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  11. I really LOVE this post, but I have to chime in about sex being avoided in YA books. I don't think it should be avoided. Sex does happen, and by keeping it out it makes the book unrealistic, BUT that does depend on the story and how it happens. It shouldn't be an instant thing or even a really graphic thing (that should be left for Erotica or NA), but it should happen. Tasteful and within reason of course, but it should definitely be there as long as the circumstances are realistic and it's not used unnecessarily.

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    1. Thank you, Jo! Glad you enjoyed the post. And yes, I largely agree with your assessment: sex should not be for shock-value or extremely graphic, just a reflection of real life. However, if we are going to have sex in YA for the realistic aspect, we need to make sure we are covering all angles. We need to show teens who get end up with STDs, teens who look for (and don't find) self-validation through sex, and teens who have a difficult time emotionally due to dating, sleeping with, then breaking up with so various people. And don't forget about the later-life ramifications of pre-marital sex. None of this is covered in YA. Rather, YA novels show teen sex to be sweet and fun and a good thing. That is not entirely realistic.
      That's my take on it, anyway. =) Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Jo! Also, I love your name. =)

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  12. Lots of great points, Hannah. Love the comment about having both male and female characters by "strong, deep, believable." I write Christian contemporary realistic YA fiction. My tagline is "The Unflinching Realities". I strive for realistic, relevant, relate-able, with consequences but without gratuitous scenes or sub-plots. I also host a blog that focuses on abstinence and "renewed" abstinence. Both my fiction and the blog are very candid, no subject too taboo for a mature, responsible discussion.

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  13. Oh my gosh, I'm back again!! :P

    I just (in the past week or three) started writing a romance. The premise is something I'm experimenting with - a couple who have no romantic interests in each other being led together by heavenly prompting. The one thing they say the evening that they agree to see where this new path takes them is that "I want you to be my friend first and my lover second... I want time to get to know you, time to make sure this is the right path for us. I don't want to mess up again."

    (And I'm using lover in the non-physical sense - she doesn't want to be romanced, she wants to build a friendship first. Even though they believe this will result in their marriage, that's not the only goal they have - it's not even the most important goal they have, to start with.)

    And I'm mostly doing this because it's such a common thing where I am - I know of at least six couples who got married after being told, in one form or another, and even though life isn't ever easy, they made it work. Again, I've never been in a relationship, but there's so much information available to me that I'm not feeling incapable of writing this story that was laid on my heart. We'll see if it does anything beyond get written or not...

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    1. Lol! Welcome home. =D
      So fun to hear that you are trying a new genre of writing! I really like the premise. The world is in need of clean, healthy romance.
      Also, keep this in mind: Don't let anybody tell you you can't write romance just because you've never been in a relationship. Being young doesn't mean you don't have the tools necessary to write. Observe, imagine, read, watch those around you who ARE in a relationship. You can do it. I'm so proud of you for writing this story because you feel like you should and not letting feelings of incapability sneak up on you!

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  14. This is spot on. Especially the love at first sight and the argument against getting physical. Great post. :)
    Edge of Your Seat Stories

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    1. Yay! I'm glad you enjoyed it, Raquel. Thanks for the comment!

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  15. This is definitely one of my favorite posts that you have done, great job and I couldn’t agree more! I Especially like the point you made where the characters should have a friendship before a relationship. I’m currently writing a book where it will take the characters four books to actually be in a relationship because I’m just not buying the “love at first sight” deal. Friendships need to grow, otherwise the romantic aspect of the relationship may not always be a healthy one.


    I also loved your point on sex in YA novels. More often than not, it seems that it is placed in there just for the “excitement”, if you will. Rarely does it actually benefit or move the plot of the story. If there’s something in the story that is not key to the plot, then it doesn’t need to be included. Not just with sex, it really goes for anything. Sadly, it’s just become commonplace to put it in a scene without a second thought.


    Another thing that I have a hard time with in a lot of YA novels is that a (usually unrealistic) relationship blooms when the characters are in the midst of a very pressing or high stakes situation. If a character was facing off with some great obstacle, whether it is a physical being, an oppressive government, etc. then that character is probably going to be more worried about how they're going to pull themselves out of a tough situation rather than worrying about if the person they’re interested in is thinking about them. If one is going to write a romance in their story, whether it’s in the romance genre or not, the romance should have a point to it. Actual substance that is realistic. That also goes along with the idea that a romance in a story that isn’t in the romance genre shouldn't be the driving force in that story. I’m currently writing a fantasy, yes there is romance, but it is gradual and not the main plot of the overall story. Romance should be used as a spice in a great entree.



    Haha, that was a little longer than I intended, but all in all, I love your posts! Keep up the great work!

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    1. What a great comment, Camille! I agree that the whole "I'm in a life and death situation but I'm going to choose to worry about cute guys" trend is annoying. Not only is that unrealistic, but, as you pointed out, it is often contrived and pointless. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I really enjoyed reading your comment and am glad you liked my post!

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  16. Hannah, it's absolutely refreshing to see others speak up about how intimacy in teen years is not a given (nor should it be). I'm an aspiring writer and voracious reader of great stories (when I can find them) and, in my opinion, heroes in books should be for inspiring us to be better and do better — this poor world has enough bad examples, even if it's "what's realistically happening."

    I, myself, fell in love with a pretty little freckled redhead girl when I was 17 and she was 16. We hung out and found that we had a lot in common. We ran cross country together, five miles a day. Afterward, we walked home together every day and talked. After a month or two, she reached out, took my hand, and about gave me a heart attack.

    I loved it.

    Come February, I surprised her with an extravagant valentine and later, an invitation to Junior Prom (I sent her history teacher — an awesome guy — with a box of chocolates to her desk in the middle of class). She did the same back for a girl's choice dance in my class. We began dating, but still had dates with others in between (despite being partial to each other). We went to all the school dances together.

    I was convinced that I was in love, and she was too. Eventually, after about a year or two of knowing each other and using every excuse to be with the other that we could come up with, we had our first kiss.

    When I was 19 years old, I went on a religious mission for two years. We discussed it and decided together that she should date while I was gone, instead of sitting around waiting for me to return. I did not want her to spend two years of her life waiting for me, only to find out one of us had changed while I was gone. After all, two years is a long time and people can change. So I spent ages 19-21 in Moscow, Russia; we wrote the entire time, religiously (sorry about that).

    When I returned, we immediately got together, found we were still madly in love, and got engaged within three weeks. Two months later, we married.

    I'm now 38; she's 37. We have six kids; three are teenagers. We have been faithful to each other our whole lives. We have taught our kids our beliefs. They are all planning on waiting and developing themselves, while looking for someone who has done the same, to marry and have a family with. We avoid books, movies, TV shows, and video games that have premarital sex in them — as well as those that have married sex in them, because that's just too personal to display on a screen or a page. Our whole family loves to read and are constantly plugged into a book in some form or another. But, everyone can add us "abstainers" to the "overwhelming statistics" that some people are citing. None of us appreciate those kind of books. And thanks for your courage to speak out. It's so nice to hear.

    We need more heroes in books like this, to inspire us to lead happier lives.

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    1. This is such a sweet comment, Jared. It sounds like you and your wife are something special. It's always neat to hear about parents who are working hard to raise their children in a wholesome way.

      I'm happy to hear that you see books and other forms of entertainment as something that can very much influence people's minds. The more people who recognize that means the more chance we have of using stories for good. Thank you for the great comment!

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  17. My two characters start off as enemies, then they become friends at the end of the story once they destroy the common antagonist and then the romance starts developing from there. I really don't like instant romance. It's tacky, tedious and way too soon. It takes time for the pair to get along before they actually show feelings for each other. I've already told this to a few readers and it usually goes from one ear and out the other. How do you deal with that sort of thing?

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    1. That's great that your characters have a developed relationship arc! Good for you.

      If you mean how do I deal with readers who miss the point of a story? Well, then I just do my best to make my writing as clear as possible. If they don't get it? Too bad, but at least I know it's not my fault. =)

      If you mean how would I deal with readers who don't appreciate a relationship like what you wrote? Pretty much the same way. Do my best, believe in the reason behind why I'm writing what I write, then shrug it off if some people still don't get it. =D

      Keep up the awesome writing! I love to hear from authors who are working hard to create solid, developed romances. You rock!

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    2. I've been working on this enormous project and I want to make sure it works the way I need it to be.

      My story is fantasy/horror with angels, demons, werewolves, etc. I try to make things a little different by placing the story in a different location. It's going to be in Prague, Czech Republic. It's taking place in the 21st century but with themes of 1980 and other different kinds of cultures

      My protagonist is a blind angel hybrid while the male character is a Dire Wolf. Well, he's a werewolf.

      There are a lot of things going on in my story so it's really difficult to explain what the plot is really about.

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    3. Prague? Blind angel hybrid? Werewolves? Count me in. =) This sounds awesome!

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  18. I agree, I can't stand love a fist sight but I don't think Disney is soley responsible. I blame Shakespeare!!!! So many of his characters wax eloquent and burst into endless monologues after locking eyes.

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    1. YES. Shakespeare is largely responsible for that (and a lot of other current cliches). =) Disney just carried it on. Good point!

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  19. Oh my, I just typed up an entire analysis of this with regards to my own writing…
    One of my novels is a Cinderella story that is based on the Jungian Shadow Complex, and my protagonist falls in love with the Prince of Shadows. Their relationship does move VERY fast, and there's a bit of an "insta-love" factor to it, but that's because she's infatuated and she puts him up on a pedestal. Eventually she starts to realize that he may in fact be dangerous, and the red flags go up. A few misunderstandings are clarified, he admits to being out of touch and genuinely apologizes for stalking her, and she decides she trusts him. She does ask him why he loves her (after all, he's a prince and she's a foster girl) but he gives her a good answer about her free spirit, determination, courage, and resilience.
    She still idolizes him for most of the book, but at the end he gets himself into a very bad situation because of pride and impulsiveness, and she has to save his life multiple times. The godlike projection falls away and he becomes very human and vulnerable. In the end, they're on equal ground.
    Maybe their relationship is a little cliche and unrealistic but it is a fairy tale, and it's not bad for a book of its genre. The psychology component adds more depth to it. I'm probably just being hard on myself again.

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    1. I like that you work to correct the infatuation aspect of the relationship. It's cool that it goes from idolizing to realizing that he's a real person who has flaws. It's very important to show how harmful the whole obsessive love can be, so good for you! I think the whole repenting for stalking can be a strong point too, especially if we get to see him working to be better (and especially since it's understood that stalking isn't okay or romantic). Also, if you show his background and what led him to be so messed up (as well as what led him to want to be better), then that can really add to making the characters deeper.

      I'm intrigued that this is a retelling of the Cinderella story. The plot seems very unique. It sounds like you have something special on your hands. Go you!

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    3. Thank you. What led him to be so "messed up" requires a lot of context. This story is based on the Shadow Complex, so its general concept is that the repressed or "dark" aspects of one's personality are not necessarily evil. In this book, Shadows are a race of nocturnal people and Astor stalks Nyx because that's all he knows how to do. I don't think he thinks it's romantic. Until he fell in love, he charmed unsuspecting girls to feed on their life force. Nyx became (rightly) terrified that he would do the same to her until he proved he wouldn't. He is a deeply flawed character but his intentions toward Nyx are fundamentally good.
      I don't know if Astor will ever really become that much "better." He's still a Shadow. He still enjoys preying on human souls and he still has many, many more flaws besides that one, but those will be worked out in a book of his own. Acceptance of his flaws is what leads him to become a better person; that's what the Shadow Complex is all about. Astor doesn't believe he's messed up. He believes he has different standards of morality than most people do. Nyx works to bring out the best in him.

      I don't like how traditional and even newer fairy tales always reduce either the girl or the boy into a shallow stereotype. I've done my best to bring out the strength in both of them, though not necessarily at the same time.

      You can read it here: www.shadowbook.pub

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  20. I love romances where there's a friendship first. For example the Percy Jackson series. After five books, which is five years, they admit they're in love with each other. Before that, they always declined that they were.
    It's also more reasonable. I hate InstaLove. It's just not realistic. You don't fall in love after five minutes of talking. It costs time.

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  21. I agree wholeheartedly with this post :) I would just like to say, I am a teenager and read YA fiction occasionally and lots of my friends do. I know this is probably different for many teens, but my friends and I are just really not into YA that includes romance (especially InstaLove, it's dumb), which narrows our reading incredibly, so what we tend to do is find one series (Ranger's Apprentice (: ) and stick to that and re-read them most of the time. To me, and most of my friends, we prefer fast paced action to YA romance fiction. I don't mind a little bit when it makes sense, so long as it doesn't slow the book down.
    I know lots of my friends just avoid most YA fiction because we're never sure how much romance there is. It's really frustrating when the school library has aisles dedicated to YA romance and only a section for action.
    Thank goodness for authors like Timothy Zahn and John Flanaghan and bloggers like Hannah :)

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  22. Maybe this is why Percy and Annabeth are the best couple. They had a good friendship BEFORE the romance, and although they went on adventures and slept cuddled up they never ever had sex. Also both Percy and Annabeth are really strong characters! And they argue sure, but Annabeth never thinks she doesn't deserve Percy. I honestly like romance in books, but it has to be necessary. It can't be romance for the sake of romance. You shouldn't slap some romance in just because some people will read it! That's why I like the romance in Percy Jackson and Harry Potter because everyone was friends first. Love at first sight is okay but honestly it shouldn't always be mutual. The guy can fall in love with the girl, and the girl is like "yeah he's kinda cute and I do like him..." but she needs to know him better!

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