Friday, February 14, 2014

The Dos and Don'ts of YA Romance

Imagine you're reading a book that you're liking and connecting with, it's feeling good and you're bobbing along, ready to see what happens next. Then WHA-BOOM. Something annoying happens and it's lost. All of it. The connection, the interest, the patience, the respect, and the increasing love. It comes to a screeching halt and then disappears. That wha-boom can come from many things and vary from person to person. Sometimes the wha-boom isn't really a wha-boom at all, but is a build-up of repeated offenders. But there is one aspect of a story that gets a beating more than others—in my opinion, at least—and that's romance. In YA, romance is a fickle thing and can conjure up more groans from me than any other part (the narrative and realism are very close). So I decided to make up a list of my personal dos and don'ts of YA romance (hence the title).

DO: Let it simmer
I want the slow-burning kind of love! I do enjoy a whirlwind romance now and then, but I realized that I'm in desperate need for a friend-turned-lover kind of relationship. Let that tension build! It builds up my emotions, the feels, the angst, and while it's not a quickie romance, it's still very exciting.

DON'T: Insta-love it
Of course, the opposite of tension-feeling and realistic love is insta-love. Who likes instant-anything? I'd much rather cook my oats then have those nasty packets, so why would I want to make my fictional romance instant as well? 

DO: Talking is a beaut
I don't want to be bogged down by dialogue and I love affection just as much as the next person (ahem, Alienated), but it would be nice if they talked more than they lay hands on each other. This is a bit like insta-love in the way of not feeling authentic. I don't FEEL the romance when all there is between them is lust.

DON'T: Overuse the understanding card
A big problem I have, especially in contemporary, is when the girl protagonists talk as if their love interest is so amazing and so special because he "understands" her like no one else. He can understand you, but don't keep saying it over and over as if I'm a stupid reader and you're trying to convince me of something. Hearbeat by Elizabeth Scott, anyone?

DO: Incorporate other "life stuff," but DON'T force conflict
We have a twofer! Here's the thing. Personally, I need something to be going on besides the romance. It can involve the romance, but make me care. Be cautious! I see many books just add conflict because they know they need it, but it's not developed well so I still don't care. And now I'm just annoyed.

DON'T: Clinginess
When I read about a love interest who clings, like guys who border on being abusive because they're controlling, I really feel like squirming and yelling, "GET OFF OF ME." Yes, they're on the other person, but I feel suffocated and frustrated just looking at it. And from what I hear from Twilight readers, I'm looking at you, Edward.

DO: Caring is sharing
When I say that, I mean that when you show that the two lovers truly care about each other (deeper than the quick, superficial stuff), it spills over and makes ME care. So really, the caring is being shared around. Rae Carson's Hector and Elisa , anyone?

DON'T: Make her be a flip-flopper
Flip-flopping usually happens to girl protagonists during a love triangle. Even though there should NOT be a love triangle anyways (so overrated, Lauren can tell you why), if you do have one, don't make her flip-flop between the guys. I get the heart's conflict, but when she constantly says she's in love with one and then says it to the other, I really wish that both guys would dump her. She deserves to be forever-alone.

What are your dos and don'ts for YA (or any category) romance?

Happy Valentine's Day! Go to my list here to have recommendations for great swoon-worthy books!

23 comments:

  1. Oh I love this post!!! And I really agree with like everything you have here. I HATE Insta-Love... I like talking (as long as they aren't saying annoying things), I hate the cliche "he just understands me" and most of the time it's like he doesn't even know anything about her to understand, and clinginess sucks. I love how you said you wished both guys would dump the girl when she flip flops bc I feel the EXACT same way a lot of the time! It's like both guys deserve better than that. My personal pet peeve is when the girl has so much craziness going on in her life and all she really cares about is some guy she JUST met. Like hello!! You need to deal with this other stuff that is WAY more important than getting a boyfriend!

    So great idea for a discussion... I love the Clueless gif!!!! Happy Valentines Day :)

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    1. "He doesn't even know anything about her to understand" <-- THIS. That's usually what happens. The girl repeats the understanding card, but usually, they barely know each other! Also, I amen'd you at the end of the paragraph because that's another thing I can't stand. She uses the guy as some sort of distraction or obsession. Thanks, Michelle!

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  2. YES TO EVERYTHING. Especially the flip-flopping. ;) And relationships that take time to grow are the ones that work best for me. I know a lot of people defend insta-love on the basis that it can happen in reality (and I completely think that it can too), but that never really translates as well onto paper. I'm MUCH more likely to fall in love with a romance if it's a slow-burn one (they're just better written!).

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    1. I agree! There have been some whirlwind romances that I enjoyed, but I do think the slow-burning kind tends to be written better.

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  3. This is a great post. I can tell that you put a lot of thought and time into. Everything you talked about is present in the books I usually don't like. Insta-love is my number one pet peeve.

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  4. Of all the things that bug me the most in YA books, is when they instantly love each other and talk about how they wouldn't be able to live without the other after. One. Day. I mean, I do believe in love at first sight (don't laugh), but really? One day and you're talking about never being apart again? *gags* And I agree with you about clinginess in books, when a relationship is bordering on stalking and abuse, it's not romantic, it's scary and ugh.

    I agree with a lot of the ones you listed, Summer! Happy Valentines Day!!!!!!! :)

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    1. HAHA...oh wait, don't laugh? But seriously, I wouldn't laugh at you! People have different opinions, which I love. I do gag along with you when two characters become practically obsessed with each other after one day. My mind. It can't comprehend. Thanks, Jessica, you too!

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  5. These are great; I agree with them all! Especially with the slow simmer! Also, I approve of the Star Trek gif used. :)

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  6. Those are perfect gifs for this post-love it! I totally agree with the talking thing. It's funny because in real life it's "actions speak louder than words" but in a book it's totally the opposite. I want to read about how the characters feel about each other and how they need each other, not how hot they both are. Great post!

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    1. Ha! SO TRUE. I never realized how ironic that is.

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  7. I feel like I start out at least 50% of my comments on your blog by saying I second the majority of what you said. I agree with so many of your ideas, and the same is true here - I adore all your dos and am annoyed by all your don'ts, especially the understanding one. You referenced the perfect book, too - it didn't seem like Heartbeat's protagonist realized that she and her boyfriend were not the only people in the world who have to deal with death!

    Anyway, happy (late) Valentine's Day!

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    1. I feel like I do the same with your blog!

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  8. I would like to add romanticizing abusive and/or unhealthy relationships. Nothing disgusts me more than the guy being a douche, intimidating, playing games, and the girl wondering what she did wrong. Or the girl excusing it away. JUST STOP. Nothing will make my blood boil more than that, and I've read a few YA books like that.

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    1. THANK YOU, YES. I'm filled with rage just by reading your comment because I LOATHE that in a YA book. It's just wrong.

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  9. I love that you mentioned Lauren as soon as love triangles came up, hee hee. I am with you on pretty much all of these, particularly the flip flopping thing. I don't mind (and actually respect) books where it shows that feelings change and all that, but characters that constantly waffle back and forth, especially just so the triangle can get dragged out longer, are really annoying.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

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  10. LOVEEEE this post so much! YES. I hate the flip-flopping as you know. It ruins a book and a protagonist. Thanks for mentioning me there! And I think Hector and Elisa are such a great example of a romance that is interwoven into a strong plot with other things going on, and also about a romance where Elisa moved on from someone only to find a person who truly worked for her. I LOVE when an author can show me the strength of a couple together - beyond how much they "feel" about each other. I want to see how they compliment, support and face the world together as a team. Awesome discussion post!

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    1. I feel like amen-ing your comment all over!

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  11. Love this post! I agree with all of your DOs and DON'Ts. Especially the clinginess one. Ugh, nothing turns me off more than a clingy guy...especially a clingy guy who is clingy in the over-protective, bordering-on-rape-y kind of way. So, like, that's a no to about 90% of New Adult books haha.

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    1. Thank you! Ha! Probably a great thing that I don't read NA then :)

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  12. I always enjoy your discussion posts, Sunny. And I completely agree with everything you've stated here. I love those slow-burning romances, especially because those books don't usually focus primarily on the romance. I need something else, too. :) Love triangles don't bother me as much when the protagonist doesn't waffle between two fellas...as long as it's clear to me who she'll end up with, I'm fine. Because usually it's just some secondary guy crushing on her and he means little else to the story. There are exceptions, of course -- there always are, lol. The clingy romantic interest is probably the thing you listed that bothers me the most. Get over yourself, guy, she's got a life outside of you. Been there, done that, not a fan. Lovely post, all the same. =)

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