Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Romantic (Non) Tension?

This gives away something of Scylla and Charybdis, so if for some reason you don't want to know ... don't read.

I've been gnawing over the romantic thread in this novel and noticed something that seems atypical. There's plenty of uncertainty and tension before the characters admit they have feelings for each other ... but once that happens (fairly late in the book, but a good distance from the end), I've found it hard to generate any extended "growing pains" in the relationship.

Both characters are reserved but well-spoken, even-tempered, empathic. To some degree, they're two peas in a pod ... they trust each other absolutely long before the romantic question ever arises. So most of the problems that land in their path are external in some fashion.

The issue is this - while of course problems come up with any couple, every time I've considered extending these uncertainties over multiple scenes, it just feels wrong. They're both too prone to talking things out sensibly and giving the other the benefit of the doubt. I feel like I'd be adding angst just to add it and it doesn't even make sense with the story or the characters.

So I guess my question is this ... would you feel disappointed if a romantic plot resolved partway through a book and then the couple had a fairly serene relationship, speckled with just a few sudden bumps in the road? (Keeping in mind that the romance is not the main thrust of the story, and the chars have plenty of misery to deal with from the "real" plot. ;-))


Aubrie said...

What if circumstance keeps them apart? Like they want to kiss but they keep getting interrupted? Or maybe they are not sure if they will ever be together forever? Or they can't possibly be together forever until they defeat the big villian?

I wouldn't mind if the characters got together before the end, but it would help to keep the tension up if they can't totally be at peace until the final conflict is resolved.

Lindsey Duncan said...

Oh, I would definitely say they're not at peace ... with the chaos of the rest of the plot, there's very much a sense of not being able to look to the future, but wanting to, but being scared to ... etc.

And I'm bringing back Anaea's ex shortly.

But the upshot is that when there's stress (on the relationship or otherwise), these two tend to face it with a "backs together, horns out" attitude. And this seems not that common in fiction. ;-)

DTS said...

I would say it depends on the situation. I personally have nothing against characters getting together before the climax of a story.

Then again, a lot of times I find the constant attempts to keep characters apart as rather contrived, so take my opinion with a grain of salt. I don't think romantic conflict is necessary.

Way too many people talk about the 'Moonlighting Disease' and say that romantic conflict is necessary; they don't realize that the reason the show went downhill was because even before that, the writers lost ideas. That's why they put them together in the first place.

My 2c.

Saumya said...

Hm, I think that readers tend to think that "struggles" make characters "real", but on the flip side, most DO relish a happy ending.
In the end, something different can make your work more valuable! Stick with your gut!