[Think Aloud] – #30 – How Media Has Influenced My Direction of Writing Romance

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.


Table Topic:
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-author-photoBrett 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.

Afterthought Prompts:

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. 


connect: afterthoughtAn // twitter  |  anotherafterthought // goodreads


Post Inspiration:

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”



27 thoughts on “[Think Aloud] – #30 – How Media Has Influenced My Direction of Writing Romance”

    1. Hey Paige! That’s a really interesting comment. Maybe it’s because movies are generally shorter, we don’t expect as much emotional depth from our characters – and particularly in action flicks, I’d rather see more action scenes than romance scenes, so it’s easier to overlook. But in books, I want the characters to grow together – that’s just my take on it!

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I absolutely adore this post and it has definitely made me think more about how the media influences romance. I quite like the slow burn. I like seeing the progression of a couple go from acquaintances or friends to something more all the while retaining the characters individuality. I hate it when a character merely becomes a vessel for romance and doesn’t really retain an identity outside of the relationship.

    One romantic trope I will NEVER get behind is the love triangle. I just don’t believe in them at all and I absolutely can’t stand it when it’s used merely as a plot device. Plus no good comes from a triangle, all it does is cause pain to everyone involved.

    This is such a wonderful and insightful post, Brett.

    Joey, you are absolutely on fire with these Valentine’s Week posts. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey there Lois! I’m so glad you liked my post! I absolutely agree – characters should always have a place in the story that goes beyond being ‘the token romance’ (which is true of *any* ‘token’ character, if they’re not serving a purpose for the plot, then it’s simply a dishonor to whatever they’re trying to represent).

      I *hate* love triangles. I’m all for a little shipping between different characters, but actual to-and-fro Twilight-esque love triangles are one of the most horribly over-used and abused tropes.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting post! I’d never really thought about how the media effects romance before.
    I have to say personally that I love a more gradually developed romance (I feel more invested in it that way.) I love romance that starts out as a friendship and I have a bit of a soft spot for hate to love romance. 🙊😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great post!
    I definitely think books portray love the best. You get the emotions behind the actions. Movies/TV shows are fun to watch but you can’t hear everything that’s going on in their heads. Perfect example: Fifty Shades of Grey book vs. movie. I enjoyed the book and the emotions portrayed. I hated the movie without the thoughts in Ana’s heads it was reduced to sex and lost it’s emotional value.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a really excellent observation – book-to-screen adaptations take away so much character motivation, it makes me so frustrated to watch a movie and have non-bookish people complain about character actions. I always think, “In the books, you know *why* a character chose to do that…”

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I think books portray romance the best because of the time that you CAN devote to letting it grow. Of course not all books do this, hence the existence of the instalove trope, but I enjoy the slow burn.

    My favorite kind of romance is the one where the characters don’t think they’re attracted to each other, but the tension is there. So you totally ship them because they’re at each other’s throats. I think of the movie Anastasia for an easy example of this. Anja and Dmitri can’t stand each other and they bicker all the time at the beginning of the movie. Even as a kid I loved all that banter! It’s something I do now when I write my leads interacting with their romantic interests.

    Media definitely inspires me! I loved the Being Human SyFy series for all the different aspects of humanity it explored plus the supernatural elements were just boss. Watching the story weave through season to season taught me about moving a story along.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Nicolette!

      I completely agree with characters that don’t initially like eachother – it’s fun for the observer to ship them, and hope they’ll finally see sense and get together!

      Media inspires me too – shows like FRINGE and movies like LOOPER provided basic inspiration for The Bureau of Time; we can learn so much from different types of media, and apply it to our own writing. I think writers should watch movies and TV as much as they read books, because we can learn equally well from visual media as we can written media.

      Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Ahhh!! I loved LOOPER! I pretty much love any aspect of time shifts in any media. If there is time manipulation and things are going to get a bit complicated when it comes to parallels then I’m on board! I still need to get a copy of Bureau! (The real thing, is that I just need to hurry up and finish my freaking WIP, Dreamweaver, so I can get back to devouring books again as if they were my daily cup of coffee, lol).
        YES!! TV and Movies are super important to helping us grow as writers. I finished that series on Netflix a few weeks ago, Jessica Jones and the way they weaved different plot elements was really helpful for future projects!

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ahhh that’s great! Well hopefully you’ll like Bureau then! 😉 But get that WIP written first~!

          And awesome! I’ve just started rewatching Season 2 of FRINGE, which is my personal favorite TV show for both character dynamics and sci-fi concepts like parallel universes.


          Liked by 1 person

            1. FRINGE is SO AMAZING. 5 seasons, really action-packed and full of parallel worlds and general awesomeness. It’s a bit X-Files, a bit Heroes, very Lost-inspired (JJ Abrams, of course) – absolutely a must-watch TV show, it gets better with every season!

              And…I should watch Supernatural. One day. 😛

              Liked by 1 person

              1. I’m totally on board now. Like everything you just said is so up my alley. Gah!! I’m watching too many shows for my own good right now. That and I don’t have a lot of time for TV (an hour after the kids go to sleep maybe two if I want to torture myself the next day with less sleep, lol.) Right now I’m watching The 100 and OMG love everything. All the badass girls fuel my need to see chicks kick ass. Lol. And Supernatural is one of those shows that you can totally watch once and a while, especially in the beginning as the plot of each episode doesn’t depend on the previous episode. So if you wanted to start you wouldn’t have to commit to it for a while. I love the show though because of the dynamic between the two brothers and the character growth we see. ^.^

                Lol, I could talk shop all day.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. I know~! I don’t have time to watch much TV as it is, between work, writing, and reading! And oooooh you’re selling Supernatural…hmm…maybe after the Fringe re-watch! ^_^

                  Liked by 1 person

  5. Yay! Castle was mentioned! Haha it’s my favourite show eheheh xD
    Anyway, I actually think that TV shows portray romances the best for me – because of exactly what you said, Brett, it just lends itself more to slow burn romances! 😀 Some books can do that…but that’s generally with long series’, like Harry Potter for example.
    Great post- I really enjoyed reading this ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. *high-five* I love Castle too! I wish I had time to watch more episodes – it’s the only crime show I can watch, love the humor and banter between the characters!

      TV shows are GREAT at the slow burn over multiple seasons, and you’re right on the money with longer book series, as they tend to be representative of TV shows. Think of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire, where each book (roughly speaking) is being translated into a season – long-running book series follow a similar concept.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting Geraldine!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I find the romances I normally like are best-friend types.. but more work buddies? I like it when two people are pitted together and grow a deep affection for each other as they work towards the same goal. I guess romance in TV shows is something I don’t like AT ALL, but it’s more tolerable in books for some reason. Even enjoyable.


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