The (Apparent) Need for Romance

Since today is Valentine’s Day / Single Awareness Day, it only seems fitting that this week’s blog focuses on love and romance (and all that jazz). Romance is a (somewhat) useful (sub)plot device to move the narrative forward (or perhaps create a clever diversion from the main thrust of the story), and appears in (almost) every literary / cinematic / theatrical story in some form or another. While I’m quite romance-indifferent/oblivious in “real life”, I have quasi-outlined romantic entanglements in my works in progress – at least in the fictional realm, I can exert (perceived) control over the lives of my characters. Granted, I have a very limited personal knowledge of the pitfalls of love and stuff like that, but I’ve read enough books and have seen enough films, plays and musicals to grasp the (basic) concept and attempt to imbue some kind of romantic element in my stories.

Whether or not it comes across as believable is another story. Or could be a story all its own – that meta story series is still percolating in the deep recesses of my writer’s mind palace, which is slowly starting to look like Highclere Castle (aka Downton Abbey).

But that’s another story.

Maybe.

Anyway.

Writing a non-cliche romance is a challenge (or me, at least), and the romantic subplots I’ve quasi-plotted have been bittersweet/tragic affairs, owing to my cynical (for no particular actual reason) perspective on that puzzling, peculiar emotion. Love is often a source of melancholy/angst for my characters and  for that reason they strive (whether rightly or wrongly) to avoid it at all costs, or if they dare to feel, it’ll be at a great cost – which is not what most readers would want in a fictional tale. While I am rather negative (or at least indifferent) to the idea of a happy, rainbow skittles romance, I have no plans on writing abusive, dysfunctional relationships either (no 50 Shades of Grey here – that’s even worse than a sappy romance). The most to which I’d concede is platonic relationships, with a gentler, sweet yet non-saccharine love that endures through hardships and such.

Disclaimer: I should “confess” at this point that one of my favorite TV shows is As Time Goes By and the relationship between Lionel and Jean is the kind of love story I aspire to write. Or Rocky and Madge. (Rock on, indeed!).

Then again, a story devoid of romance is folly – especially in a mystery, as it’s the most used motive for the crime in question (murder, blackmail, theft, etc.), so it’s a necessary evil element in my writing process.

My quasi-recent attempt at writing a romance for last year’s NaNoWritMo (currently on hiatus) started out slowly and turned into a geek-fest of (near) Shakespearean proportions, though by month’s end I hadn’t gotten to the point of actually!writing about it… Eventually I’ll return to that work in progress, but for the time being, my current work in progress (that oft mentioned yet never actually explained for various reasons first book in the first series of the MASC Chronicles) will tread lightly in the romance department. My two main characters will have a sort of Doctor/Donna relationship (not to be confused with the Doctor-Donna), with pseudo-undercurrents of a Doctor/River romance, or a Ten/Rose romance (which, in my opinion, is not as tragic as most nuWhovians make it out to be – after all, she gets to spend her life in that parallel universe with the meta-crisis Doctor all to herself. So her separation from the Doctor is far less tragic than Donna’s – she literally can’t remember him, or else she’ll die. THAT’S  tragic.)

Oops. – Spoilers for those non-Whovians (if there are any out there – if you haven’t experienced the brilliance that is  Doctor Who, get thee to the interwebs and look it up.)

But I digress.

So to make a long story short (too, late, I know), romance is necessary in a story, in all its variations. My quasi-cynical perspective will (hopefully) be an even balance between the sappy and sour, and be plausible and entertaining.

I’ll leave the AU romantic shenanigans to fan fiction writers.

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