1. JohnKPatterson
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    JohnKPatterson Member

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    A non-cheesy romance

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by JohnKPatterson, Mar 13, 2011.

    Good afternoon, everyone!:D

    In the novels I am writing right now, there are three viewpoint characters. Two of them will be getting married in the third of the four-book series, and the other will marry another main character later on. I have been trying to learn the basics of building romance (let it grow naturally out of the characters, let the relationships mature, etc.), but what I still can't quite figure out is how to keep the romance out of saccharine/cheesy territory. And it's a high fantasy series, which can be prone to cheese buildup if and when romance is involved.

    So, in a nutshell, what specifically do you find cheesy in a romantic relationship between fictional characters? Do you allow a little of it, at least in the romance's early stage, but want to see the characters act more like grown-ups? Or do you want to see something different from dimestore romance novels right off the bat?

    Thanks for your time, and God bless.

    -John
     
  2. JTheGreat
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    JTheGreat Contributing Member

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    It annoys me incredibly when no character attractions intersect (every character gets their soulmate, etc.).
     
  3. fervish
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    fervish Senior Member

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    Just as every character has good and bad attributes, relationships have ups and downs. Also the characters have a chemistry from the moment their paths cross. This chemistry doesnt disappear when they move into a relationship. It evolves. Your characters do not change. The things they like/dont like about each other or agree/disagree on dont change. Keep it real. Observe couples or people who spend a lot of time together.

    Oh, and the only thing I can think of off hand that is ridiculous in cheesy romance is the idea that one or both individuals imagines marriage right off the bat.

    Also lol, since youre male I'll advise you to avoid female stereotypes.
     
  4. Ion
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    Ion Senior Member

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    I hate it when there's a falling out between the two characters because one of them heard something about the other, and then doesn't talk to the other about it. I mean, if you're really in love, you should trust your partner enough to seek out their side of the story before taking any bold, irreversible action.

    For example, the girl sees the guy kissing another girl, and then breaks up with him and cries about it for weeks before some friend tells her that it wasn't what it looked like.
     
  5. fervish
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    fervish Senior Member

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    Great answer Ion and exactly the kind of stereotype I was talking about. The girl acts impulsively before getting the facts. Yeah thats so overdone too, along with the tease of the couple almost getting together but some conflicts keeps them apart time and time again.
     
  6. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I hate it when the characters are sterotyped like She=hysterical, overly tense and bitchy (and of course by the end she will be smooth like honey) and He= strong silent confident type that balances out the neurotic woman which is just what she likes and needs. AND of course they always HATE each other (or at least she does) in the beginning, and in the end she is the one to surrender, which must be the worst cliche ever to me. I also hate it when you already know in the backside text or in the very first pages which man is going to be her man in the end/opposite if the main character is a man. I like not knowing from the very first start who is going to end up together and who isnt. And I agree with who said above that not everyone in the novel need to find their other half and live happily ever after before the end.
    Another thing is: i think clichees in dialogue or descriptions is a trap when writing romance so I think its even more important to fid new ways of describing those feelings we all know and have read about hundreds of times.
     
  7. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    The new cliché I see is that the man has some dark hidden hurt that means he is unable to let himself fall in love:
    he couldn't save someone = guilt = can't love
    he doesn't want her to be hurt like someone in the past = can't love
    etc etc
    This means even if you have the wedding scene, she still thinks he's only marrying her out of obligation or whatever. He'll finally say the 'L' word right at the end, when she's winkled whatever secret he has out, and shown him in about 5 seconds and a bit of foreplay that he was worrying his head about nothing. Bingo! instant peace of mind, and no need to pretend he doesn't love her any more.
     
  8. Jammo
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    Jammo Member

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    There is always some extreme 'emotional attachment' that one of the characters can't let go of... If that's not original enough, I don't know what is.
     
  9. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    Although too much cheesiness can be a real turn-off for readers, don't be too afraid of it either. Because let's face it, real-life couples can be nauseatingly cheesy. Two good friends of mine have been dating for over a year, and he keeps calling her his sun on facebook... It's so cheesy, and bordering pathetic (note that I am not a fan of “cute” nicknames), but they are in the cheesy phase of their relationship, so they can't help themselves. Hence some cheesiness is realistic, and can be made fun if the other characters are driven insane by it.

    I think what I'm trying to say is, cheesiness is okay as long as you don't try to pass it off as something else.
     
  10. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Spklvr:
    You made a good point, it could be ok if its temporary and made in a funny way and if the writer is aware of its cheesyness ;) and doesnt think its the only way to describe love.
     
  11. Ion
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    Ion Senior Member

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    There's a few standard structures you can make use of. None of them are wrong to utilize, but you do have to be careful so that it still feels original.

    There's two people that hate each other on the outset, but once they learn more about each other, they fall in love.

    Two people meet and instantly fall in love, but fate/antagonist keeps them apart until they overcome it.

    Two best friends always look out for each other, but it takes some kind of personal/external crisis to push that friendship into love.

    Personally, I'm a fan of any method so long as the characters are engaging and the writing reels me in.
     
  12. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    To add on to this list:

    > Two people are already together, and they are content enough but there's no passion. Usually they're engaged or something, thinking they're in love but really are not. Then someone else comes along and steals one of the taken people's heart away just before it's too late.

    > Two people have broken up, but come back together.

    I'll post more if I think of them...
     
  13. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    As with sentimentality, romantic cheese occurs when you're trying to add passion or harmony where it doesn't occur naturally, or isn't justified. Maybe you're forcing characters together that aren't meant to be, or violating their personalities to emulate Romeo & Juliet.
     
  14. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Spklvr is right a little bit of cheese is good in a romantic relationship.

    I tend to approach it using sensations with all the senses, and humour turns it into cute rather than cheesy. Also the characters you create - a lot of romance writers seem to write their heros alpha or beta (strong or wimpy) - they describe mine as gamma which includes elements of both.

    Quirky people have have fun quirky romances. Also I find it helps to make them attractive to each other and me. If I find them hot and they find each other hot it flows much better. (although be careful my couple of blokes that were supposed to have unresolved sexual tension in the plot were sitting in bed in just their shorts at the end of chapter one and by chapter three are going on a date lol).

    I find it much easier to 'watch' and 'observe' my characters when I find them attractive and I actually want to watch. With my first MC I knew he was shy and it always felt awkward but that worked well it gave him the shyness and awkwardness to pull it off. (mind you I seem to be the only person who has read him who thinks he is ugly lol) - My second MC and his lover there was only passion and they didn't care if I watched their antics so it flowed differently.

    Guess what I am trying to say is let your characters lead the way don't tell them what to do let them show you.
     
  15. Felix_bambaboy
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    Felix_bambaboy New Member

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    I think people who want dimestore-romance novels will just buy those. As you said high fantasy, you should try you best to avoid stereotypes, their relationships don't have to be anything like the ones normal humans have. That being said, a few suggestions:-

    Promiscuity- You can use it any way you want, they might be comfortable with having multiple partners, or not.

    Maturity in relationships:- very important. Unless you're writing kid literature, it's important to have REAL reasons for their love.

    It could be an ON-off relationship? Those really happen a lot in real life.

    Just be creative, I for one HATE cheesy romances, they're very childish.
     

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