December 17, 2017, 03:34:41 PM

Author Topic: Romantic Tension  (Read 614 times)

Offline Eclipse

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Romantic Tension
« on: October 12, 2017, 06:26:49 PM »
Recently I was reading Jennifer Estep's Elemental Assassin series and I noticed that the romance part of the story was really quiet flat.  At the start of the series our assassin got involved with a straight-lace police officer/detective and this caused a lot of tension between them because of the perspective positions - one enforcing the law the other breaking it - and this tension caused some nice sparks between the two.  Unfortunately he was not able to deal with the conflict between his attraction for her and his job so he left essentially breaking it off.  Our heroine of course finds another romantic partner and while at first she is unsure of him (ie rebound - is it worth getting hurt again etc) she finally agrees to a date and they get along quiet well - the get along so well actually that he accepts what she does and even goes along for an adventure or two during her missions.  While it is great to have a partner that accepts you for who you are - for me at least the relationship is rather flat with no real spark - yawnnnnnn....

So what kind of romantic relationships do you prefer your characters to enjoy - are there those that are really just a yawn fest - ie no tension no spark - almost the happily ever after ending.  Or would you prefer your favorite heroine/hero to have a more up and down romantic life? or perhaps something in-between?
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Offline Nora

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Re: Romantic Tension
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2017, 07:00:45 PM »
I have literally no set pattern for romance at all. Every romance ought to be different, just like every character is unique.
I think a thief falling for a cop and vice versa could be an excellent setting and story, and it must not have been written or exploited well if it didn't work out.

I've loved most Austen romance books, but also enjoyed Trudi Canavan's twist in Magician's Apprentice, though I HATED her ending. Uprooted is another example, and some Anne Rice too.
But in The Terror there is a very discreet gay relationship between two men, one an older one, a sort of teacher figure. And there romance days were in the past, before the horrifying setting of the story, but they kept that tender closeness that make them feel special when they meet (they are crewed on different boats). It was very heartfelt, though hardly developed.

I think writing good romance takes good experience, and good knowledge of people. After that, everything is on.
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Offline Jmack

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Re: Romantic Tension
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2017, 08:00:10 PM »
I’m with Nora. Though I have to admit to disliking boy-meets/boy-loses/boy-wins as too simplistic unless it’s really, really well-written and has some fun twists.
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Offline Lanko

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Re: Romantic Tension
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2017, 08:23:03 PM »
I went through my read list in GR and actually found only one book I would point out having a good romantic tension (even though no romance actually occurs and the characters puts obstacles on it, it's pretty clear they had a spark going on) and that is the Miranda and her mentor/teacher relationship in the Collector... which is a Horror/Thriller book.

As for tense or memorable romance actually happening, I'd say I found no book with that.

I think that SF/F usually has a romance, but mostly only serviceable ones. Due to the focus on other aspects of the story on the genre, usually authors don't go too deep into it. Very few seem to focus on it or go deeper. Whether to focus on other things or inexperience. If it's the right "choice" I don't know.
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Offline Nora

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Re: Romantic Tension
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2017, 10:19:18 PM »
You clearly didn't read the Southern Vampire Mysteries (aka true blood..) xD

Yes though, the romance in the Collector was heart breaking. But I think I'm biased because I read that book some months after leaving Nz and an older romantic interest I was totally hung up over. So a lot of the dialogue felt surreally true. Man was I SAD at the end of that book. It destroyed me. What a train wreck.
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty

Offline cupiscent

Re: Romantic Tension
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2017, 11:56:45 PM »
I am really fond of romances that coalesce out of characters that have a lot of tensions between them - where their interactions are taut and fraught, and sometimes it can seem surprising when it cracks into a romance, but after the surprise clears that tension makes it seem inevitable and satisfying. I am equally fond of romances where the characters are complementary and mutually supportive and I'm cheering for it to happen because they're cute and they deserve happiness together.

However the romance manifests, if the author wants it to be a significant plot arc, there needs to be a plausible tension to that arc. I am thoroughly fed up with romances where the will-they/won't-they would be utterly dispelled if they just had a damn conversation - mostly because if the pairing can't or won't communicate, I have no faith in their romance, no matter how attracted they allegedly are to each other. But a romance where there are genuinely solid reasons keeping them apart - or even one where they don't really have time to deal with that stuff right now because busy saving the world - always makes a satisfying counterpoint to whatever the major plot is, for me.

But it's definitely also possible to have a romance that isn't a plot arc, it's just a nice little add-on. The one that springs immediately to mind because I just finished reading it is from Jemisin's The Stone Sky, where we've known for a while that character A respects and fancies character B, but the hook-up is a just-in-passing, oh-yeah-this-happened thing. The fact of the romantic connection adds nuance and depth to the plot decisions that take place, but the romance wasn't a part of the plot, per se.

I think the short version of all my blather here is: if the romance arc needs to carry narrative weight, then it needs tension to help hold it up, but it's fine to have romances without tension as long as they aren't carrying weight.

Offline The Gem Cutter

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Re: Romantic Tension
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2017, 01:16:51 AM »
It might not be the aspect of romance most think of, but I enjoy romance that is, as Cupiscent described it, on the periphery of the goings on in a way that is more closely linked to character than plot. It can lend dramatic weight (not supporting structure) when done this way. My favorite examples involve middle-aged people who are beyond the starry-eyed phase and well into the knowing glances of hooded eyes phase. Here, no one's wrestling with trying to change the other or any of that young person nonsense :) Instead, they understand and respect - and anticipate - one another in ways that can enrich a story. Coincidentally, many people of power tend to be older, and their romances are less flashy. But because they have the resources, knowledge, and experience (and often authority) to make things happen, they don't need flash. In some stories, even a little subdued, background love that is composed more of respect and memory than passion and angst can have a big impact, much as it does in life.
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Offline Madness

Re: Romantic Tension
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2017, 03:50:44 AM »
Surely this is a matter of perspective and resonance ;)?

Offline Nora

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Re: Romantic Tension
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2017, 07:43:44 AM »
Surely this is a matter of perspective and resonance ;)?

If that's your answer, you'll find yourself repeating it in many topics on the forum. Most things regarding what we like in reading and writing are subjective, and so are always a matter of perspective and resonance. Doesn't mean we can't compare or reconsider.
"She will need coffee soon, or molecular degeneration will set in. Her French phrasing will take over even more strongly, and soon she will dissolve into a puddle of alienation and Kierkegaardian despair."  ~ Jmack

Wishy washy lyricism and maudlin unrequited love are my specialty - so said Lady_Ty

Offline Madness

Re: Romantic Tension
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2017, 02:05:19 PM »
I don't actually know what my answer might be. I'm barely sure of what has been or is romantic in my own experience.

I do enjoy teasing the minutia regarding how/why some things over others resonate more generally so perhaps that's what I'm poking at. I wasn't trying to dissuade comparing and reconsidering :).

Straight up, though, Eclipse started the thread and recently admonished me not to be such a stranger. Just trying to ingratiate myself with the locals ;).

Offline AmeliaFaulkner

Re: Romantic Tension
« Reply #10 on: October 13, 2017, 06:48:15 PM »
I absolutely adore writing sloooowslooooowslooooooooow burn.

Readers either love it or despise it with the fury of a thousand burning suns :D

Online Yora

Re: Romantic Tension
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2017, 09:32:37 PM »
I'm okay with romance, as long as it isn't the plot of the story. Small moments here and there are fine, but I don't like scenes in which the goal of a protagonist is to advance a romance. Characters enjoying each others company in moments between action or giving priority to each other's wellbeing is nice, but I really don't enjoy scenes in which someone is doing something because they are concerned if the other character will become more or less attracted to them.

Though I do really quite like the romance in The Sword of Destiny. But I guess that one is different ...because of reasons.  ;D
« Last Edit: October 14, 2017, 09:43:50 PM by Yora »
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