Thoughts on a Protagonist without a Romantic Relationship?

Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Marthix2016, Oct 30, 2018.

  1. Rzero

    Rzero New Member

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    I've read 60 novels and novellas this year ranging from kid's stuff (Roald Dahl) to wild sci-fi (Philip K Dick) to bloody horror (It). I just looked at my list and counted 36 that involved no sex or romance. The 80+ short stories featured even less.

    There are stories that need it and stories that don't. Inserting or removing an intimate relationship potentially changes every aspect of the story. Decide if it's organically warranted or improves the story, not whether it's needed. It's seldom needed.

    Unless of course you're writing a YA novel. I'm not sure you're allowed to write one of those without a love interest. :D

    Also, the "workaholic who discovers all she really needs to be happy is a boyfriend" thing has been done to death, and it's anti-feminist. If you do give her a romantic subplot, try not to turn it into a Sandra Bullock movie.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2018 at 10:29 PM
  2. Spirit of seasons

    Spirit of seasons Active Member

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    To bad they break up. Hopefully it’s not over for good. If your interested I’ll list every relationship featured in Evergreen.

    Rose - Lyla
    Rosanna - Crow
    Rosanna - Lilly
    Ursa - J
    Elric - Sen
    Camellia’s parents
    Tull’s parents
    Amon - Sire (Jormond’s mother)
    Sorry if I’m forgetting any.

    Many other characters have crushes or significant others not mentioned in the story.
     
  3. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Active Member

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    Sounds interesting. :) The break-up in my story is something that's really outside of both characters' control (basically, Sari gets excommunicated from the temple and sent back home, but Kaina has no choice but to be allowed to stay due to her important role that she was born into - long story!). She was Kaina's first romantic interest, but later she develops feelings for a boy who plays an important role in the story as well. And even though she ends up with the boy, Teran, she naturally doesn't forget about Sari and I imagine them remaining long-distance friends after the end of the story, with Sari finding someone to settle down with as she gets older.

    So, yeah, even if none of these romantic subplots were originally planned, they just felt "right" and helped to add some conflict. I really don't feel like I've added romance for the sake of having romance in a YA story, and it's only one small part of the overall plot, not the focus of the main plot.

    @Spirit of seasons Do you happen to have a progress journal in these forums for this story at all? I'd be interested in looking into it. I have one, if you're interested as well.
     
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  4. Damien Loveshaft

    Damien Loveshaft Active Member

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    I think it'd be interesting to show her workaholism tear apart an attempted relationship. It's very characterizing if you ask me. Not saying you have to, but it's an idea.
     
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  5. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Active Member

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    1. None.

    2. No.

    3. Depends.

    4. "No time for relationship" is just a lame excuse - especially if she has time to hang with her friends. That is not credible.

    We all have this 24/7. There is plenty of time to use how we choose to use it.

    "She has decided that she does not have time for relationships" is credible. And then you must show why. What is she escaping or avoiding?

    5. Me too. Not good reason. You can have it in relationship - even with bunch of kids fooling around.

    6. This is first credible reason.

    7. Atypicals and oddballs are interesting. Typicals are boring.

    8. Ok.. She is giving up life so that she can work more. Boring and stupid. Does she lack intelligence or why is she doing that? Is she escaping life? Is she coward? Is she afraid of life?

    9. No.

    Just make it credible and logical.
     
  6. Rzero

    Rzero New Member

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    Ease up. If you can't be helpful without also being hurtful, then you might be on the wrong forum. That's not constructive; it's belittling. It's easy enough for the rest of us to make suggestions without adding insults. Please try to do the same.
     
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  7. EstherMayRose

    EstherMayRose Contributor Contributor

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    It seems perfectly plausible to me that work would keep her from a relationship. I'm currently writing something about a guy who has an incredibly strenuous job with no set hours who struggles to find time to spend with his girlfriend (who he met before he got his job). I doubt he'd find time to meet someone new.

    As an introvert myself, I can see why she wouldn't want a relationship. I spend all my free time in my room. Yes, you can have some time alone in a relationship, but what if she wants all her time alone?

    If she loves her work so much, she may consider that her life. If every day, she gets up and spends the day doing what she loves, she'll consider herself fulfilled with or without friends or a love interest.

    It seems to me that you view relationships as being the default, and think someone should apologise for deviating from this. I realise that may not be how you intended to sound, but it's how you came across to me, especially with your repeated use of the word "excuse".

    Also, please don't call someone else's work "boring and stupid". That was uncalled for.

    And to the OP: Didn't you say on another thread that you were thinking of making her asexual? If you make her aromantic, that's the only reason you'll need! :)
     
  8. Privateer

    Privateer Active Member

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    1. What are your thoughts on reading a story of character who does not have any romantic relationships? None, really.

    2. Is it a big deal... No.

    3. To you does a romance, make a character and/or a story better?
    Worse, usually. It is often clumsily done and only shoved in to appeal to a certain demographic.

    4. She’s pretty much a workaholic and gives her everything into her career, so literally doesn’t have any free time. She doesn't sound like a very fun person, so she'd probably not get a relationship even if she wanted one, so it's realistic.
     
  9. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Active Member

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    I did not make comments about any person but about fictive character. I did make an assumption that in writing forum everybody does see that difference.

    If I have insulted fictive character, I am ready to make fictive apologies to her fictive emotions.

    Well... Compared to this scale emotionalism I am very ease.

    But thank you very much about good material. Without your comment I wouldn't think it is possible that someone would be worried about the feelings that fictive characters might have.
     
  10. EstherMayRose

    EstherMayRose Contributor Contributor

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    His point was that you sounded a lot like you were insulting the author for coming up with what you considered bad ideas rather than the character for making what you considered poor life choices.
     
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  11. Rzero

    Rzero New Member

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    I'm not the only person who commented on your rudeness, and now you're doing it again. I'm not a fictional character. Be gone, troll. Your broken-English quips have no power over me.
     
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  12. Alan Aspie

    Alan Aspie Active Member

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    I was not and anyone can check what I wrote. There is not one insult to writer.

    But I don't have any tools to take away how someone wants to "interpret" or "feel" anything. I just suppose that everyone else can make a difference between interpreters motivations and my actions and also reality and fiction.

    There might be a cultural difference between USA and Finland. We value life over work. We see work as a part of life, a tool to form life itself. In that perspective "I don't have time to live life because I must work all the time" does does sound lacking either intelligence or sanity. And when it is lack of sanity, it is often escaping something (like escaping real self to identities) or manic, compulsive behaviour.

    In my cultural background "I am too busy to have relationships" has credible explanations like
    - Lack of intelligence.
    - Lack of sanity.
    - Lack of perspective. (Almost same as lack of sanity.)

    There is no heroism. There is nothing valuable. There is nothing noble. There is nothing good.

    If there is a character that acts out lack of good, valuable, noble and heroism I would assume that she/he is what she/he acts out - at least in the time she/he acts out like that. There can be character growth to better - and I hope there is.
     
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  13. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    One way to get around the issue, if a romantic relationship is something you'd like your character to have but isn't integral to your plot, is give your main characters a stable relationship to start with! In other words, put them into a relationship that is already established and working well. The will-they, won't-they element is totally removed from the plot development.

    The main character then has something good to 'come home to,' and it also means that two people, rather than one, can deal with the problems inherent in the plot. And of course that also means there can be heightened jeopardy, if the loved one is threatened in any way.
     
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  14. Nariac

    Nariac Active Member

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    Oh, that's what I've done! Two main characters are in a relationship from the start, but they're both separated by circumstances and in danger from various things. In those stressful moments, sometimes just focusing on the fact the other one exists can help give them the strength to push on. But also adds tension because of the different Inexorable Dooms approaching.
     
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  15. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    In many ways, I prefer this kind of story to the will-they, won't-they sort of scenario for novels. For some reason, it seems more realistic.

    One of the things I've always disliked about soap opera plots is how EVERY relationship (unless it's one created for laughs, like Jack and Vera Duckworth on Coronation Street) is automatically doomed as soon as it starts. When, in fact, you look around you and see many actual relationships that last the test of time. I think I'd rather read about those.

    I don't mean relationships that end in a 'happily-ever-after' kind of way, but just to observe how stable partnerships actually work over the long term. There are always compromises, maybe even regrets, but there will also be advantages and comfort. (I don't mean a relationship where the partners are forced to stick together because of circumstances, children or finances, but a relationship where, given a chance, the people would choose each other all over again.)
     
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  16. Nariac

    Nariac Active Member

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    Yeah, that's what I'm going for with this one. Since the relationship already exists, the development throughout the story, as it were, is that the partners can solve all the terrifying world issues bearing down on them so that they can have their relationship in peace and happiness. That's the reward. The only "will they/won't they" is related to whether or not they survive ... :p
     
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  17. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. That's a powerful plot driver, for sure.
     
  18. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale The Caliph of al-Abama Contributor

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    It all depends on the overall story, of course, but most of the books I love, many of which are critically well-regarded/commercially successful, have little or no romance in them at all.

    Moby Dick

    The rest of Melville's work, for the most part.

    Most of Iain M. Banks Culture books.

    The aforementioned Hobbit/Lord of the Rings.

    The Martian

    Pretty much all of China Mieville's stuff that I've read, including The City and the City

    Heinlein. Not as in love with him as I was when I was younger, but there's very little romance, even in The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, where the MC ends up marrying the heroine.

    Clarke. Asimov. Gibson. Bacigalupi. LeCarre.

    Lestat was in love with himself, so I guess that one doesn't count.

    The Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson does have a bunch of romantic side-plots in it, and there's a good argument that all three books are nothing but a hundred-year romance between Sax and Anne, so I guess that's off my list.

    Somerset Maugham does have a lot of romantic complications, so he's good proof that I'm not totally allergic to the concept.

    Anyway, there's a metric fuckton of literature and light reading out there with little or no romance in it, so the lack is definitely not a killer.
     
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  19. BlitzGirl

    BlitzGirl Active Member

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    A sci-fi story I want to continue to work on has this same setup. There are several characters who have pre-established relationships with others, and one of the couples are also separated for 99% of the story. They are engaged and it's a big question of whether or not the groom-to-be will return from the war alive. Another story I tried to write years ago also have a pre-established relationship (already married), but that relationship was going to end up being put in danger due to extenuating circumstances. It's only in my YA novel where there's any build-up to new relationships, whereas the other stories have a cast of adults.
     

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