Happy Valentine’s day!
For the longest time I was that kid who’d grimace and cover her eyes when facing any romantic scene in a movie. Indeed, when I started on my writing journey years ago I had resolved to not include a romance in my story at all, just to spite the trends.
I have since relented (some) on that resolution, but I still can’t say I’m the biggest fan of romance arcs in general – they are just so often done so poorly, or are sickeningly superficial. So, what better thing to do on this Valentine’s day than to rant about those romance tropes I love and hate?
😠 I hate a romance that takes over the plot.
Yeah, it’s safe to say I’m not a romance genre reader. (Nothing against the genre, of course. I 100% respect the challenge of trying to create a unique plot when the basic end is already set and guaranteed.) But nothing ruins a good fantasy story like taking a plot that should be about monsters and magic and turning into angst-y kissy-times.
💙 I love a slow-burn romance.
I don’t like things that are drug out unnecessarily, but it seems to me that a slowly progressing romantic relationship is the most realistic. Plus, I tend to enjoy story with higher stakes than a romance so things kind of have to progress more slowly when the fate of the world is at hand.
😠 I hate romantic couples who have no reason to like each other beyond “plot.”
I think this is probably the number one reason I don’t like most romantic subplots – they are simply done so poorly. “For the plot’s sake” is never a justification for anything, romance included. The worst of this is when the couple aren’t even a good match for one another.
💙 I love a couple that really seems to match each other.
I don’t suppose I can articulate this very well, but I know it when I see it. These two characters have to have the perfect balance of likes and dislikes, flaws and weakness so that they just mesh – like puzzle pieces, like true soul mates. Who doesn’t love that?
😠 I hate romance that claims to be love, but is really just lust.
Maybe I can’t fault this one too hard in fiction, real life doesn’t seem to have got this distinction straight, either. But still, lust ≠ love.
💙 I love a feircly loyal romantic couple.
This is not code for over-protective. This is when a couple sticks by each other “through thick and thin” – no matter what anyone says, no matter the misunderstandings, no matter the challenges. That’s love, and I love it.
What are some of your favorite/least favorite romantic tropes? What are some stories you think handle romance successfully? (I do like the relationships in Curse of the Black Pearl movie, The Stormlight Archives, and Mistborn: The Final Empire.) Join the conversation in the comments below!