I am not a romantic. Romance typically makes me want to rip my hair out and scream, because usually it is so unbelievable. For example, I have a sister who loves watching cheesy Hallmark movies because of the feel-good story lines. I end up questioning everything and tearing the storyline to shreds because I don’t understand it.
I really don’t understand the whole, “true love at first sight” thing. And especially in today’s world with so many stories and movies out there, it’s become such a horrid cliché, it makes me shudder just thinking about it.
Part of the reason I don’t understand it is because of my personal romantic history. My husband and I have been friends since we were 14. It took us three years to have feelings for each other and begin dating. I don’t understand the concept of falling in love with someone you don’t know because I’ve never experienced it. I am attracted to people’s personalities. It wasn’t until recently that I realized it’s a common enough thing that there’s a specific term for it- demisexual. Which explains why I don’t relate to all things romantic.
But I also don’t understand needing one specific day a year to express your love for those in your life. I’ve always hated Valentine’s Day with a passion because of how commercial it’s become. But, my husband is very deeply a romantic. It makes me groan, but he likes those cheesy gestures. He likes flowers and chocolates and poems, which puts me into a dilemma every year because I have to come up with something cheesy for him. It’s actually funny, because over the years I always take Valentine’s Day over the top for him, and he plays it down for me.
Now what does this have to do with a blog about writing? As a young adult author, I feel the need to include a little splash of romance in my books. But where do I draw the line on how much it eats away at the overall plot? And how do I make it cute, but not cheesy or overdone?
That was actually a big struggle I faced when writing Rose (which turned into Rose & Thorn). It’s actually the reason why I decided to turn that story from a novel into a short story. I couldn’t come up with enough of a romantic plot to flesh out the story.
Luckily, with Powerful there’s enough plot to fill up a whole novel, even without a romantic subplot. Which works well for me, because the less I have to include the romance, the less chance I have of ruining it. But it also means I have less opportunity to build a fully fleshed out relationship.
Some of my favorite love lines have nothing to do with romance, because of the other relationships. My favorite relationship of the whole story is between siblings, Eli and Kyla. With Eli only in a few scenes, I have a specific challenge to build a well-rounded relationship in the limited scenes I’m given. Here’s an example of one of my favorite lines that Eli says to Kyla-
“You know I always thought that it was my job to protect you, but you’re all grown up now and you don’t need anyone’s protection. You’re powerful enough on your own.”
“Those foreigners are my tutors, and my friends. They don’t tip-toe around me, whispering about my parents, my brother, and my powers when they think I can’t hear. Even you are too afraid to say Eli’s name around me. They treat me like I’m normal, because to them I am.”
He didn’t smile. He didn’t offer encouraging words. But he always knew what to say to me.