Re: Romance stories. Are they doomed to suck?

#22
I think the major issue here is the stigma of romance. The 90s boom of rom-coms and the 2010s Twilight and wattpad gave romance a bad name. Every genre has cringe tropes. lol

Look at high-fantasy. The perfect peasant 'chosen one' who'd never picked up a blade in their lives somehow smites a great evil and gets the princess at the end. There's always elves, goblins, magic using one of the four elements, castles, swords, cringe words for simple shit to sound like it's from another time, OP protagonists, self-inserts, etc. Would I say that's fair to criticize? Depends. Same for romance.

Honestly I feel that it's unfair to just say what's realistic to YOU. We all had difference with romance. I for one put alot more emphasis on the banter aspects when I write erotica. Or smut. Whatever. What if the love interest flips off the other in jest. Randy could call that unrealistic because he'd never seen that.

Moral of the story is: all genres can suck. It's cool to express yourself sexually and to express love. 

Re: Romance stories. Are they doomed to suck?

#23

DW Wrote:
Ralen Wrote:
DW Wrote: I think the major problem is that readers confuse romance with erotica, or else books with explicit scenes of intimacy (not intended to arouse the reader) as plotting, character development, or world building.

So long as there are people of all ages with wistful dreams of some "saving grace" (prince or princess charming in olden times) swooping down and saving them from themselves or their environment, then no, romance isn't doomed.
No, I think the problem here is that you're confused, not the readers. "Romance" is synonymous with erotica in the writing industry.   A novel can have romance in it and not be erotica, but if it is tagged as Romance then erotica is an expectation. You can thank the Harlequin publishing company for almost single-handedly changing what was expected of a Romance novel.
This is not quite the case. 


A romance is a story whose whole point is a romantic relationship. Erotica is a story that is focused on sex as a plot point. 

How much or how little romance or smut is in the book doesn't define it as erotica or romance. Titanic is a romance (albeit a tragic one) and there's more sinking ship in it than there's romantic scenes. There are romances (and eroticas) whe protagonists barely meet. 

If it's tagged as romance, look for other tags that suggests what the steam level is. There are a few such systems of tags that are trending right now (at least in the indie market) but they're all pretty intuitive. 

Re: Romance stories. Are they doomed to suck?

#24
Tapie Wrote: Got an exercise for you fine folk. Do you listen to music? Note down your top ten or twenty songs, the more you note the better the point becomes. How many of them are about love or lust?
*snip*

Might want to pick the top forty for the last twenty years or so, rather than some of the individuals here. Some of us, well... 5/20 alcohol and drinking focus, 2/20 abuse, 2/20 Aviators songs, 1/20 no more F's to give, 1/20 drugs, 1/20 political, 1/20 Jinnai and the Bugrom, and the rest techno, OST, or classical without words.

Re: Romance stories. Are they doomed to suck?

#27

Other Wrote: I think the major issue here is the stigma of romance. The 90s boom of rom-coms and the 2010s Twilight and wattpad gave romance a bad name. Every genre has cringe tropes. lol

Look at high-fantasy. The perfect peasant 'chosen one' who'd never picked up a blade in their lives somehow smites a great evil and gets the princess at the end. There's always elves, goblins, magic using one of the four elements, castles, swords, cringe words for simple shit to sound like it's from another time, OP protagonists, self-inserts, etc. Would I say that's fair to criticize? Depends. Same for romance.

Honestly I feel that it's unfair to just say what's realistic to YOU. We all had difference with romance. I for one put alot more emphasis on the banter aspects when I write erotica. Or smut. Whatever. What if the love interest flips off the other in jest. Randy could call that unrealistic because he'd never seen that.

Moral of the story is: all genres can suck. It's cool to express yourself sexually and to express love.


This is spot on for me. It doesn't help that almost all romance authors use the exact same plot points (Romancing the Beat) it's just as bad as Save the cat (Great to use for reference, but not everything should be written by it).

Re: Romance stories. Are they doomed to suck?

#28
To me the worst part of (pure?) romance stories is that they, in my experience, tend to be all about people getting together, because life doesn't really stop when they do. So, in the end they get together (or not) and… that's it. Which is not only somewhat boring but is also forces authors to take painful steps for characters to NOT get together, no matter how absurd that looks.

When romance is mixed with something else, well that's fair game to me, even if a romance is a significant part of such a story.

Re: Romance stories. Are they doomed to suck?

#29
When you're ignoring Wattpad teen fics and smut (why are these even in the conversation), romance as a genre is no better or worse than fantasy. It's just a genre, and most importantly, romance stories tend to use romance as a template to talk about other things. There's only so many ways a romance story can play out, but there's infinite ways to use romance as a lens to view class divides, explore a fantasy or sci-fi world, reconnect a character with their hometown, deliver a coming-of-age tale, etc.

There's many more romance readers on this site than people realize. Otherwise my Hands Held in the Snow story wouldn't be as mildly well-liked as it is. (It's good, read it)

Re: Romance stories. Are they doomed to suck?

#30

KittraMcBriar Wrote: I mean, a lot of my books have romance as a major element and they're all awesome, so clearly no :p

In general, a lot of books have romantic subplots, but book is kind of the key word. When you're sticking to a 80,000 word manuscript or whatever, it's very easy to include a budding courtship that is slowly built up followed the "You may kiss the bride" fade to black after the world gets saved.

But in a long-running web serial? Ok the relationship is happily resolved but then what? Do you carry a romantic subplot with zero tension for the next 2000 pages? Do you just start including smut? What if the story is action/thriller oriented instead of slice of life?

Obviously most serials that can't lean into the slice of life angle go the Harem route so they can repeat the whole process ad nauseam without having to resort to smut, but even that has it's own pitfalls.

Re: Romance stories. Are they doomed to suck?

#31

sevensavethepost Wrote:
KittraMcBriar Wrote: I mean, a lot of my books have romance as a major element and they're all awesome, so clearly no :p

In general, a lot of books have romantic subplots, but book is kind of the key word. When you're sticking to a 80,000 word manuscript or whatever, it's very easy to include a budding courtship that is slowly built up followed the "You may kiss the bride" fade to black after the world gets saved.

But in a long-running web serial? Ok the relationship is happily resolved but then what? Do you carry a romantic subplot with zero tension for the next 2000 pages? Do you just start including smut? What if the story is action/thriller oriented instead of slice of life?

Obviously most serials that can't lean into the slice of life angle go the Harem route so they can repeat the whole process ad nauseam without having to resort to smut, but even that has it's own pitfalls.
 

There are lots of possible answers and solutions to this. Like, yes, polyamory. Ok, so one relationship is happily resolved…but what about second relationship? If you approach from like, not a totally formulaic harem angle and have characters who -all- want to be involved in romantic relationships with multiple people, and not just one mediocre dude attracting a hundred cute waifus, there’s a lot more you can do with it. 
In most of my stories, polyamory is a cultural norm. I build it into my worlds, and I find it brings a lot of plot potential the table and adds an extra layer of complexity to inter-character relationships that should lend itself well to long-form storytelling.

Also, like. As you obviously know you can have an actual story beyond just the romance while the romance is still a major element. And all of the stuff happening in that story can contribute to keeping the lovers apart, to making things more difficult, to preventing that ultimate relationship resolution. All while adding more entertainment and plot value in and of itself than just the romance and all making it totally believable that the characters don’t have everything work out perfectly in their relationship for 1000s of pages. 

Your question “what if it’s action/thriller oriented instead of slice of life?” Made me giggle because you provided your own solution to the problem you’re posing. If it’s action oriented, that’s all the more stuff that can happen to not only drive the story forward, but realistically postpone the happy resolution of a relationship arc. 

And who says the story and tension in the romance all goes away after the characters get together? Done right, that can bring MORE tension and plot. Say you have a character who had no attachments, they fall in love and/or maybe have a kid—BAM! That’s a new weakness they have and something they are driven to protect. Maybe his wife is a bad-ass warrior or something and we get to see the two being a super awesome bad-ass battle couple for a while until whatever thing happens next that pulls them apart from each other (thus making them fight even harder to get back together). Maybe one of them becomes corrupted by power, and they then have to find a way to bring them back to themselves while avoiding having to kill them to protect others.

The possibilities are endless 

Re: Romance stories. Are they doomed to suck?

#32

Felix Wrote: I’ve been wondering lately. Can even a seasoned writer ruin a perfectly good love story? Other times, it seems like people don’t like the genre at all. A few of my irl friends avoid it like the plague (Ironic, since they like watching romance anime time after time.)

Some people I’ve come across say romance stories only work well if they’re not the main theme. I never read The Princess Bride, but I imagine it has more than lovey dovey shenanigans. They often site this as romance done right. Now, obviously, they’d always site Twilight and Fifty Shades as the  complete opposite. I can see why, don’t get me wrong. I read both for a dare.

If I were to write one myself, I’d keep it as realistic as possible. I’ll show the couple having common complaints, and no matter what, they remain flawed and human. In the end, they always reconcile. Their relationship stays till death. I guess you can say: they lived happily ever after. Clichéd as it is, I still find it wholesome.

So, what really makes people cringe at the genre? Is it the romcom subgenre? The unrealistic conflicts? The sexual fetishes? All of the above? So many questions, so little time.
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Let people cringe.

It is cringe when people don't know that Africa exists, or whoever came up with the idea of putting cheese in soup or spitting in public. 

For some people it is romance stories.

Some like them, others don't. 

Brocccli and cheese soup exists. I will forever cringe at this, but some people like it. It is a piss poor analogy but some may get the point. Is there an issue? 

Why try to solve something that is not an issue? 

I'm answering the cringe question btw. A sort of. The first one, on the last paragraph.