And I’m back for more writing advice. Today I’m here to talk about one of the most complicated parts of writing any story… the romance.
After reading thousands of books throughout my professional reading career, I have reached a simple conclusion: Love sells. Almost every single book I’ve ever read contains some form of love. It’s easy to understand why: love is relatable. Every human being has a natural desire to love and be loved. The reason we like to read about love is because we all either have experienced it or want to experience it.
Love comes in many forms- friendship, family, or romantic. But at some point in your novel, you’ll want to include some form of relationship between your characters. And the most popular type of love, especially in YA fiction, is the romantic kind. Whether or not your book is a “romance novel,” you’ll probably end up writing about some sort of relationship. And it’s important to get this right, because it might be what makes or breaks your novel.
Here are five clichés I know I’m tired of- it’s probably best to avoid them all together.
Love triangles are the worst.
Okay, seriously. HOW OFTEN DOES SOMEONE ACTUALLY HAVE TWO PEOPLE PINING FOR THEM?? I can’t even get one guy to like me, let alone two!! This is not realistic.
I’m so sick of love triangles, especially ones that are just thrown into the bucket to provide shock factor or to make the plot a bit juicier. It’s not cool. Also, having two relationships competing against one another can damage the genuineness of the.. you know. Love vibes.
There’s also the danger of your readers being angry with you. If half of your readers are rooting for Love Interest A, they’re going to be angry when your character ends up with Love Interest B. Or vice versa. Stick to developing one relationship and you’ll be way more successful. I promise.
Repeat after me: Love triangles are B-A-D. No no no.
Verbal harassment is a form of abuse, not a sexy character trait.
Don’t even get me started on this. How many times have you encountered that dark and brooding character who either a) taunts and mocks their love interest or b) is passive aggressively quiet whenever they’re around? And how many times, in the end, do we find out that they were really just verbally abusing said love interest to hide their “true” feelings for him/her?
News flash: when you love someone, you do not verbally abuse them. It’s not hot, it’s not mysterious, and it’s not even remotely romantic. If you want one of the characters in the relationship to hide their feelings for the other, find some other way to do it without being abusive.
Teenage boys are not models with sculpted abs and perfect hair.
I go to school every day with a couple hundred teenage boys, and let me tell you, none of them have melted chocolate eyes or perfect, beach boy hair or chiseled chests or whatever other over-the-top description we find so frequently in YA novels. In fact, most of the boys I know have acne, sweat a lot, and just throw on a sweatshirt and some jeans before coming to school.
Are some of the boys I know still hot? Um, yes! But they aren’t some species of a manufactured Mr. Perfect that only exists in Dreamland. They’re attractive, but they aren’t perfect. Here’s the secret: imperfection is what will make your characters perfectly human. No teenage boy is flawlessly attractive, so stop making mega hot characters. A character doesn’t need to be perfect to be lovable.
The dreaded…. instalove.
The reason being in love is so special and so treasured is because it takes work and it takes time. Love has to grow. There’s no such thing as “their eyes met across the room and sparks flew.”
That doesn’t happen. Love happens in stages- before you can write being head over heels in love, you have to write about the butterflies-in-my-stomach stage, or the awkwardly-trying-to-start-a-conversation stage. There is no “love at first sight” in the real world, so don’t put it in your story.
Relationships should improve both characters, not drastically change them.
When you write about a relationship, make sure that each one of the characters involved focuses on building up their partner. I’m tired of relationships in which one person tries to mold the other to fit into the same shape that they do.
In relationships, each person should discover new interests (thanks to their partner) and they should grow, but they shouldn’t feel pressured to completely change themselves. Above all else, make sure your relationships help the reader get to know your characters better. Relationships need to serve a purpose in your story. Whether it helps a character’s development or is crucial to the theme/plot, make sure each relationship can be utilized in your novel.
What are some overused romance tactics in YA that you’re tired of? Am I the only one that really doesn’t like love triangles?