Monday, October 7, 2013

What's love got to do with it?

A big thank you to Tina Turner for the title of this post.

The Wenches of Words were having a debate last week, and I thought I'd write a bit about the issue.

So, here's the heart of the matter - one of the Wenches wrote a suspense novel, her beta reader liked it, but said "where's the romance?"

Is romance required in every story?

Romance sells millions of books every year. The publishing maxim "romance sells" is still true today.

There are romantic suspense novels where the romance is the main plot line. If you plot those stories they will follow the romance "formula" and the characters will have their happily ever after. Those aren't the stories I'm talking about here.

The television shows "Moonlighting" and "X-Files" both suffered when the writers gave into pressure to have their main characters be romantically involved. "Moonlighting" was a comedy that played a lot on the sexual tension of the main characters. Once the show focused less on comedy and more on romance it lost its charm. The same thing happened with "X-Files," a drama. Once the focus shifted from the mystery of whether aliens existed to romance the show suffered.

So, does romance belong in every story? I don't think so.  In fact, sometimes adding the romance plot line in ruins an amazing story.

Not all men and women thrown or working together have to have sex.

I always find it odd when characters who are running for their lives stop everything to get some. I mean if people are trying to kill you shouldn't you be paying attention to your surroundings? Sure there's all that adrenaline from running, but really, you can't control yourself until the danger is over?

I'm reading a well known suspense series, and am up to the 10th book. In all but two of those stories the male lead has gotten some. I find I'm skimming over those sections because they annoy me. Not only are the characters risking death by taking time out for some, but I find I like the male lead less because he is so promiscuous. Unintended consequences. 

There's another suspense series I read with a female homicide detective as the main character. She has sex in most of the novels too, but it's with her husband who's a real dish. The husband/wife dynamic is a critical component of the main character. As a result, I don't find the romance to be an unnecessary add on.

For me a romantic plot line has to be necessary to the story for it to work in a non-romance genre story. What's that mean? The story has to be fundamentally altered if you take the romance out.  If the plot is unaffected by whether there's a sex scene or not that scene probably wasn't necessary.

So, what do you think?


Heather Holden said...

I agree with you 100%. It always irks me when some people insist that all stories need a romance. A romantic subplot doesn't make a story strong, after all; it's the writing that does. As long as the characters and their world are well-crafted, I could care less if anything romantic happens to them, especially since a shoehorned romance can distract me from an otherwise fantastic story...

Nancy DiMauro said...

Agreed, Heather. To be fair the suspense series I'm reading was written for a primarily male audience who know their guns. So, it's probably not surprising that the male lead gets some given the principal audience. But it's always obvious when the sex has been tossed in because "the story has to have sex" rather than the romance flowing naturally from the characters.