cave canem

Cave Canem- Beware the Dog

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Silly Love Stories

Silly Love Songs Stories

This is mostly going to be a rant about my personal taste in stories, meaning that it will be extremely subjective. Furthermore, please note that I'm speaking in generalizations here. There is an exception to everything.

It's not that I have a problem in particular with romance in stories. What I do have a problem with, though, is boring romance in stories.

(For the record, I am NOT going to talk about Tw-nope, not even going to say it.)

 As a general rule, I avoid romances altogether, although I have seen a regrettable number of chick flicks. I know well enough that I probably won't enjoy them, so I try not to subject myself to them. However, I think we all know by now that romance is sure as hell not limited to one genre; it's pretty much a constant in most genres, to my eternal joy. /sarcasm/

I think that I tend to have two major problems with romance in stories.

1. It distracts from the action.  
 This is an especially big problem in fantasy. I think that the first time I became aware of it was while reading Harry Potter when I was younger. Book five was full of interesting and suspenseful things, like Umbridge's reign of terror, Voldemort's slow rise to power, and so on. At the same time, though, it was a horrible slog at times as it took time away from all the juicy action to give us page after page of Ginny's series of boyfriends, Ron and Hermione's unresolved sexual tension, and Harry's..."chest monster" (Really, Rowling?). Here I was, looking to read about magic and wizards, and instead I was getting Ssomething I could've seen on the Disney channel.
Now, I'm not saying that romance can't be done well at all in genres like fantasy. For example, if romance is part of the plot early on, it will seem a more natural part of the story and less like an intrusion into the real story. It can also be good if it's woven in very subtly, maybe hinted at more than outright stated; Terry Pratchett, for one, is very good at this. These, in my opinion, make the romantic subplots seem less irritating and distracting.

2. It's predictable.
There are cliches for everything, sure. However, romance is probably the single most cliched thing ever to appear in any work created by humans. We all know more or less how things are going to happen. Two characters of compatible orientations constantly bickering at each other? Yeah, they'll be swapping spit in a matter of pages.It's generally pretty easy to predict exactly how a romantic subplot is going to pan out, especially when factoring in the genre and tone of the story. Sure, the way the characters behave should make sense given the situation and their personality, but at the same time, it has to be possible to make things suspenseful, at least a little bit, right? ...Right?
I'm very rarely surprised by what happens in romances, and in fact I can't think of one instance in which it happened off the top of my head. (I know it has. I just can't think of anything.) It would make things a lot more interesting if I couldn't tell you right off the bat exactly what was going to happen before it happened.

I feel like romance has potential to be really epic and interesting, especially in the genres like fantasy and sci-fi that I tend to gravitate towards. If it's well-set-up, and the characters are compelling, it's well on its way. More importantly, though, it can't be ALL there is to the story. Romances have a tendency to take over a book, but unless the story is intended to be soft-core porn, it shouldn't be allowed to happen (not that there's a problem with soft-core porn, if that's what you want to read, but that belongs in the romance section).  There has to be something making it more interesting. John Green, for example, writes young adult books that are very romance-centered. However, his stories feature a great deal of interesting philosophical musings, and his prose helps to carry his books above and beyond, giving them a bit more depth and substance. Although I'm not a fan of Jane Austen, I've been told that part of the appeal of her works is their social commentary. Even just an interesting set-up can help things along immensely. For example, the band Ludo has a rock opera called Broken Bride in which a time traveler tries to go back in time and save his wife from a car accident, and ends up involved in shenanigans featuring pterodactyls and the antichrist. It makes the story stand out, and got me hooked on what would become one of my all-time favorite tragic stories.

This has gotten extremely rambly, and I'm not even sure anymore what point I was trying to make. It's late, and I'm tired. I'm going to cut this off now. Valete, denizens of the internet.

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