Romance in Books: Do’s and Don’t’s

Hey guys! It’s me again, and today I’m going to be talking about love. Specifically, I’m going to talk about what I, personally, think makes a good romance in a book.

You guys may not know this about me, but I’m not usually a fan of books that are just romance. I prefer reading books that focus on other things, like magic or intergalactic politics, more than on the romance. However, I have my OTPs just like everyone else, and when romance is done well, I like it. I’m just extremely picky about it. In the interest of ending on a good note, I’m going to start by talking about some of the things I don’t like and then move on to the things I like.

DON’T’S

Love Triangles

I know many, many people don’t like these, and I’m sure at this point you are tired of hearing people complain about them. I also know that, sometimes, yes, love triangles can be done well.

Still, I generally don’t like them. To me, they’re unrealistic—I’ve never personally experienced a love triangle, and I’ve never known anyone who has been in one. Of course, that doesn’t mean that they don’t/can’t happen in real life—if you have a real-life example, either with you or someone you know, feel free to tell me about it in the comments—but it doesn’t seem to be as common in real life as it is in fiction. At this point, it seems like YA authors have started to gravitate away from the love triangle, but a few years ago, it was everywhere.

Showing only one kind of relationship

With this one, I’m not necessarily talking about LGBTQ+ rep, though that’s important, too, of course. What I’m talking about is more related to the way the relationship between the characters works. It seems like YA authors, at least in the books that I tend to read, like to write books where the characters involved in a relationship refuse to follow one of the very first tenets of a healthy relationship—strong communication. How many times have you read a book where the character doesn’t want to tell their significant other something because “they won’t understand” or some other excuse along those lines? I don’t know about you, but every time I see that, I roll my eyes.

I think showing characters who actually communicate with their significant others and work together to fix problems is super important, especially in YA, where the target audience is the people who are just starting to date and figure out how that’s supposed to work. If you’re a kid and all you read or see in movies or TV are relationships where the characters do nothing but hide things from each other and argue, and you don’t have very good real-life role models, then you might think that’s just how relationships are supposed to be.

Let me be clear, I am by no means saying that YA writers should only write about relationships that are healthy and going well—domestic abuse is a very real problem that books can help to raise awareness about, and I think that’s super important. Beyond that, most real-life teenage relationships don’t last, so only showing relationships that do is unrealistic. However, I do think that writers should strive to show that not all relationships are the same. There are relationships that are unhealthy just because the people don’t work together, relationships where the people work together almost flawlessly, relationships full of passion, relationships with less passion but no less love, and everything in between.   

DO’S

Friends first, lovers later

*SPOILER WARNING FOR THE PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS SERIES*

One of my absolute favorite things about the original Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is the slow burn of the romance between Percy and Annabeth. Over the course of the series, they went from kind of hating each other to being friends and then eventually to dating. Granted, at the beginning of the series, they were only 12, so it might have been a little weird for them to jump straight into love without all that stuff in between, but still, I think that sort of slow burn works well in almost every situation.

*END SPOILER*

Maybe this is just my experience, but all of the crushes I have ever had only started being crushes after I had spoken to the person a few times and actually gotten to know them a little, and my current boyfriend and I were friends for at least a year before we started dating. Romantic relationships tend to last longer, and be healthier, if they start off as friendships.

Plus, I love reading about people slowly falling in love, because that way every small step forward toward romance is exciting and new. If it all happens at once, you don’t get that exciting build-up.

Another reason why I, personally, like the idea of characters who are friends first and lovers later is that I tend to prefer books that aren’t super romance-heavy. That slow burn kind of relationship allows the author to sprinkle in hints of romance in between all the plot-related action going on, which is a big plus if you’re like me.

 More than just lust

This is kind of similar to the last one, in that if characters are friends first, then their romantic relationship is more likely to be based on something they have in common rather than just, ooh, they’re so hot.

If the characters involved in a relationship spend more time making out than they do talking, that’s lust, not love. If the only thing a point of view character can think about when they’re describing their significant other is how physically attractive that person is, then that’s lust. Both of those situations are really boring for me, personally, to read.

***

Okay, you guys, that’s all I have for today. I know this post is a day late, and I’m really sorry about that. I’ve just been getting super distracted by life and stuff.

Let me know down in the comments, what kind of stuff do you guys like to see in fictional romances? What do you hate? I’d seriously love to know.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!

-Ariel

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