If there are two words that sum me up, ‘hopeless romantic’ comes as close as any. Tragic romance is generally my speed, but I am certainly a romantic at heart. But let’s talk about writing romance for a bit.
Not romance novels, because I have exactly zero expertise in that arena, but romance in fiction in general. Io9 had a great post on the Eight Worst Kinds of Fictional Romances, and while they cite TV, it applies to books too. And for the love of bacon, just stop already. Seriously.
But authors aren’t the only ones who are guilty. I swear, if I see one more Finn/Rey/Poe love triangle/some pairing, I am going to claw my eyes out. God forbid any characters have good chemistry and don’t end up in bed together.
One of the most influential books for me was Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Kidnapped. It is an adventure about a close friendship, and does a much better job of communicating real affection between two people, as well as real issues between those people, than any of these shoe-horned romances that come from jamming two characters together.
If you’re writing, take a good, hard look at why two characters are dating/married/sleeping together. As that Io9 article says, are you just writing a plot point? Because if you are, it will feel flat and your characters will feel phony.
On the flip side, maybe two characters really seem to bounce off each other, and that wasn’t in the plan. Hey, guess what? That’s how real life works, which means that if those characters do get together, it feels natural. But what if your plot points demand they don’t? Hey, also real life. Give your readers a good dose of will-they/won’t-they. Maybe bring them together at the end. Maybe have them never get together. Maybe have one die tragically in the others arms (spoiler alert).
Romance is great- I love it, but it is not necessary. And when it is forced into a story, it takes away from the depth of the characters, distracts from the story and feels like a cheap grab at your readers emotions. Consider it as carefully as you would anything else in the story, and remember- less is generally more.
PS Hands off Finn, Poe is mine