1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    What makes an excellent romance novel in your mind?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Link the Writer, Jul 24, 2011.

    In my mind, an excellent romance novel has two running plots: The romance itself and the sub-plot that binds them together. While I suspect there is more to romance than just this, I wonder what are your opinions on this, fellow WFers. :D
     
  2. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    For me, there must be a feasible situation to unite/divide/unite the characters, nothing contrived like a basic misunderstanding that never gets properly thrashed out.
    I don't want the woman to be annoying. I want to understand her appeal to the man, and kind of cheer her on. And I want the man to be really interesting and sexy--but not necessarily fantastically good-looking--so that I find him irresistible even if he has flaws. There are some fictional heroes that I've fallen seriously in love with, and they have stayed with me over the years long after I've forgotten most of the plot.
     
  3. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    The only thing that makes a romance intriguing for me is the tragedy of love. I want the conflict it brings, not the joy. But that's just me.
     
  4. heather_ashcraft
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    heather_ashcraft Member

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    ah yes...im kind of with joker on this one...

    romance is a hard thing to pin down most certainly..while there is still a massive market for the usual kind of romance,from the bottom b rate stuff all the way up to epic tales of love and legend

    there is also the other side of the romance spectrum..for example

    my idea of proper romance is about as cold as the coolant pipe on my air conditioner,

    for muses in this sort of thought,i like listening to songs like "fest der liebe" by herzschlag
    and "would you love a monsterman" by lordi,also darkside by gothminister

    its a new and emerging trend,that is quickly gaining ground..you could either go old fashioned with traditional romance and still get a good market share cause of the huge size of the fanbase,or you could stake your claim in the new sort of "anti-romance" love category and rapidly aquire a dedicated hardcore fanbase

    lot like risk v.s risk adverse in the stock market,the more risk,the higher potentional gain
     
  5. Marranda
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    Marranda Senior Member

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    My inner 14 y/o who started reading cheesy/cheap romances before starting high school thinks the best romances are the ones where super hunky-hero meets super innocent girl, conflict caused by jealous villain, with a steamy reunion at the end.

    My inner YA addict says the best romance is the kind where it's love at first sight for only one of the 'lovers', and takes them the whole book to convince the other that they are their 'one'.

    Currently, I would have to agree with heather_ashcraft about the 'anti-romance' category. Those seem to intrigue me most these days.

    Also-- I've found books that have a very strong plot (sometimes maybe epic legend scale), where romance 'just happens' along the way, stay my favorites longer. Where the MC's are all so occupied with whatever quest/mission/whatever they're on, that love sneaks up on them and you find yourself rooting for the. If that makes sense...
     
  6. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I think so. The better romances are when the characters are mostly caught up in their own plots and just happen to bump into each other. While they deal with their individual plotlines, their love grows.

    Am I right?
     
  7. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    I like this too. Means you have conflict from other things rather than just the love.
     
  8. Marranda
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    Marranda Senior Member

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    Yes, very correct :)
     
  9. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like that kind of romance novels too. I have read several of them and I agree it's the most convincing and as strange as it might sound, to me it's even the most romantic. there is more focus on the plot than their relationship which makes a lot of room for my own imagination, which seem to wake up when not everything is given but merely hinted.
     
  10. lemurkat
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    lemurkat Senior Member

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    It must feel natural - like there must be something that attracts between the two. I am very tired of these he-hates-me-he-loves-me teen novels. I don't get why someone would obsess over someone who shows them nothing but disdain.
     
  11. heather_ashcraft
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    heather_ashcraft Member

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    i agree totally..i honestly think its more of a fad these days...one fad goes down,another comes up and dies quicker than the first one did.and so on

    with something as core emotion as love or romance as it were..it has to feel as unquestionable as eating food,or a morning cup of coffee (or tea depending on your preferences)

    there can be ice cold love,or love love,but it must be consistent..and atleast make some sense...i dont beleive the laws of physics allow milk to catch cereal on fire yet,so the laws of common sense should (i wish) prevent something illogical like that with love
     
  12. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I agree. I mean, the guy/girl doesn't like you for some apparent reason. Quit gushing over him/her and find someone else who actually gives a damned about you.
     
  13. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    I write romance -- my lastest published short story falls into this genre -- but I don't actually like reading the genre. It's because I dislike reading it that I chose to begin writing in it: I don't agree with how many authors portray romance. Most romance novels I've read (and hear about from my romance-obsessed best friend) tend to be too fairytale-esque one moment and then too dramatic the next.

    Many writers seem to forget that once they've paired their characters off that they still need to be friends. The characters don't always need to be attached at the hip - they should be able to get along by doing simple things friends might like watching TV, discussing books & sports, going to gigs, etc. They should be able to talk without announcing their love for one another and being overly sappy. They should also be able to have a conversation with other people without feeling the need to gush about their infatuation with X - it's fine in moderation but a character should still have enough personality to exist as an individual. Also, their personality shouldn't suddenly flip once they're dating someone. Yes, a relationship often will change you/your perspectives in some way (and your attitude towards the other person) but it won't be an over-night change - it's gradual.

    I also dislike "perfect" characters or the idea that the two people who get together will be a pair of absolute stunners. Not everyone has model looks: there are always going to be flaws in appearances but leads in popular romances are often portrayed as perfect. People can be desirable and sexy without being classically beautiful or body-builders. I think it's important than the protagonist should be able to identify that a person's face/style/physique/personality/other may not be perfect even if they don't personally see them as flaws.

    In terms of the development of the relationship, I find it weird if they get together shortly after meeting and are suddenly so in love that they're willing to sacrifice everything for the other - it's not believable! Yes, relationships can develop quickly if there is a mutual attraction right from an early meeting (especially if there's alcohol involved) but I think that when it's fiction there needs to be more time to build-up the story to make it feel realistic. If someone declares that they're truly in love with someone shortly after meeting them I wouldn't believe them in real life so I certainly won't believe it in fiction either.
     
  14. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    I write romance too, among other genres, but romance holds a soft spot for me, but like you I hate reading romance and it's why I choose to write it. I haven't found one romance book that I love and really dislike and disagree with a majority of the romance books out on the market that are deemed "amazing."
     
  15. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I feel the same way as both of you; most often I dislike the romance novels i find in bookstores, too many mary sues or sterotyped stories that you alread know how they will end or the ones that makes you wonder how anyone can turn something beautiful and exciting into something as boring as these ones. I write romance (I think it's safe to call it that) too, and I try to write the kind of stories I would have liked to read myself IF THERE WERE ANY. I have read a few selected good romance novels, but after having finished everything from those authors I don't know where to look anymore. Yoshiko; I agree with what you say about the problems of most romance stories, that is the way I feel too.
    Edit: I read the other posts and got the suspicion that my plot might come off as somewhat YA, even though the story itself isn't. Ok, so the female mc is in her 20's but i hope the theme doesn't come off as too immature. gulp...
     
  16. heather_ashcraft
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    heather_ashcraft Member

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    wanna hear something crazy?

    i think duma key by stephen king is very romantic..i love that book
     
  17. JackLUFC
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    JackLUFC Member

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    Well-developed characters are obviously vital.
     
  18. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    The focus of the romance novel should not be about why the characters are in love, but what said characters do. Love should be and should stay irrational. The moment people start asking why they are in love is the moment they break up.
     
  19. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    Lol. Thank you. Another person that finds it difficult to find books in this genre. Honestly, when I tell people that I just can't find any books that I like, I get hit with the same "you know, romance is the MOST popular genre." and then I get the quizzical stare like I've got something wrong with me for not being able to find something.

    Just because romance is popular doesn't mean that it's easy to find good reads. It's actually harder since the market is so saturated by so many authors, that to find the good ones seems to be like finding a needle in a haystack.

    Which books have you found that you thought were well written? You can pm if you like.

    For me, there are a couple of things that I dislike about the genre. Other than the character development AND character interaction issues. I find the plots to be most of the time unbelievable. Is it me or does is seem like the romance genre is the queen of twists and plot obstacles that characters need to jump/maneuver around as if they're competing in triathlon? It's like they are slaves to the plot instead being characters that determine the plots course. Anyways, I would love to start a discussion on romance books that were written well if anyone is interested.

    I don't think that can be helped. Most of my character are usually in their twenties or early thirties, but I usually write in a way where my characters past is a strong element of my characters present so... I think some of my work can be taken as YA or adult. I just write with my targeted audience in mind which is usually adults.

    It's like writing coming of age novels meant for adults. It'll fit in both categories.
     
  20. Soapage
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    Soapage New Member

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    I would have to agree that the loss of love to disease or a situation. Sometimes hope is good but it goes against everything that happens in the real world
     
  21. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    So, a tragic love is somewhat better than a love that succeeds? I'm not following Soapage and The-Joker.
     
  22. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    They are saying its more interesting to read about. Thats all.

    It all comes down to preference on how such stories end.
     
  23. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    I see.

    I can understand why some might think a tragic love story would be more interesting than a love story where the guy gets the girl at the end.

    Personally, I think it's interesting too. The conflicts that both of the characters are struggling with gets larger, and larger, and larger. The stakes increase and it threatens to consume them. Sometimes, it's so great that even their love can't stop it.
     
  24. SteamWolf
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    SteamWolf Senior Member

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    A good romance is less about physical things and more about emotional bonds. How that is conveyed and achieved is the hook in the story.
     
  25. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    Don't knock cheese!

    I love cheesy romance novels as light reads on the beach. Clishe, predictable, unrealistic, doesn't matter. And happy ending please :)

    Of course, if I want a story to really think about, I'd rather something else be the main plot. I need to be in a particular mood when I read romance, and if I'm not, romance in novels usually just annoy me unless there's a plot to distract me from it.
     

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