Think Aloud explores book-related discussions encompassing reading, writing, blogging, and perhaps newsworthy content. The focus is to push the boundaries, stretch the mind, and encourage dialogue within this community. Let’s all think out loud.
How Media Has Influenced
My Direction of Writing Romance
Harnessing the wider creative industry to improve how you can write the romance subplot
The featured blogger in this post is Brett Michael Orr–I’ll let him take the reigns with the content below.
This coming Sunday is Valentine’s Day, and in the spirit of all things romantic, I thought I’d discuss romance in novels – particularly, how exposure to different types of media has influenced how I write romantic subplots into books, and how you can take advantage of the wider creative industry to improve your romantic writing.
Romance is a tricky subject to write, because every reader has their own personal preference.
The instalove where two characters are thrust together and develop an attraction for eachother is either praised and swooned over by readers, or criticized for being impractical and forced.
Long-running best-friend-and-then-more situations require the author to setup characters with an extensive history and backstory, slowly changing the emotions and feelings of the characters toward eachother of a period of time – but that might not fit the pacing of your novel.
So where does media exposure come into this?
The length of a specific type of media dictates how much character development can be reasonably expected. Typically, most movies will tend toward instalove, especially in genres like action or sci-fi, where new characters are put together and develop feelings of attraction as a by-product of relying on eachother for survival–action flicks like Knight and Day come to mind.
This isn’t always the case, and sometimes movies take an old trope like the love triangle and really push the possibilities — I’m thinking of This Means War, where two CIA agents compete over the same girl. YA book-to-movie Warm Bodies explores a zombie falling in love, and the possibility of reversing the Undead’s state by acts of compassion and love.
TV Shows have the benefit of multiple seasons to slowly develop characters, more often than not playing on viewers’ emotions. This type of media favors the slow burn romance, sometimes the best friend romance. In the case of serial TV shows like Castle or Arrow, it’s very gradual and only during a few key season-ending episodes when anything happens on this front; while sit-coms like Friends or How I Met Your Mother tend to show more realistic relationships that have ups-and-downs, breakups and reunited moments.
And then, of course, there are books. The written world is far more diverse when it comes to romance–particularly in my own genre, Young Adult. Here, you see every type of romance imaginable, with a stronger focus on the emotions of the characters as they enter into the relationship.
Novels like A Thousand Pieces of You explore the concept of fate and how people are destined to come together across parallel universes; Illuminae carefully weaves a broken relationship into a story about spaceships and rogue AI’s; and A Darker Shade of Magic proved you don’t even need a romantic plot thread to tell an amazing story (see the sidenote below).
How does this affect writing?
When I sit down to write a novel, I have plot threads – action, betrayals, character development, and perhaps, depending on the appropriateness of the story, a romantic plot thread.
Not every book will need a romantic plot arc – plenty of books can have passive male/female friendships, without the need to develop a romance!
All of these medias I’ve talked about now come into play.
I like to think of any creative media as a potential learning experience. I’m not passively watching a show, or a movie; I’m not merely absorbing a book, but learning. Use what you’ve read/watched, know what you liked and what your target audience likes, the same way that you’d approach any other part of your writing.
Media has influenced my writing, and continues to do so with every new experience. Real life experiences blend with fictional ones to build a more complete picture of the complex notion of ‘romance’, distilling it all into my writing.
Brett Michael Orr is a young Australian writer and blogger. He's the author of the YA SF novel
#TheBureauOfTime, and you can find him on his website, Twitter, or Goodreads Author account.
What type of media do you find captures romance best (e.g. which elicits the best reactive emotion from you)?
Do you have a favorite style of romance (instalove, love triangle, best friend)?
What are some notable books, television, or films that feature romance (or a couple’s journey) that you enjoyed following?
How has romance in the media around you (or in your life) inspire you in your own writing or how you look at romance in books?
As always, think aloud.
We’re all nifty lil’ intersectional beings wiggling through the world and grabbing hold of whatever speaks to us in the variety of mediums out there. This exploration of weaving our experiences was the intent behind this discussion, so I’d like to thank Brett for being part of this.
This post is Day 5 of of my week long 2016 Valentines Week!
Day 1: “Books, Be Mine: Valentines Day Event Introduction”
Day 2: Top Ten Tuesday – “Inseparable Fictional Pairs”
Day 3: “Why Your Book Boyfriend is a Cheater”
Day 4: “Relishing The Single Life in a Couple’s World”