Posted by: Schuyler R. Thorpe | August 2, 2014

Bad Romance vs. Good Romance

Bad_Romance_by_4everbaconAs many of you know, my main strengths in writing is primarily science-fiction and fantasy. But lately, I’ve been taking a detour from those two specific genres and dipping into either fantasy-romance, or paranormal-romance.

And I hate romance. With a passion.

Naturally, you might think that what I’m doing now is a bit hypocritical, but let me explain: I don’t hate romance for what it is. I just don’t like the romance that everyone else in the industry does to make a fast buck or to pass the time. It’s just silly and ridiculous and not the least romantic or realistic.

Romance to me must speak of the heart. The passion. The feelings. The raw emotion of being able to share that special someone with your life and never look back.

To be able to say “I love you” in so many different ways, in many different languages.

I hate it when romance is being used strictly for cheap thrills and knock offs because it doesn’t set a very good example for either the reader or for the rest of the world in general. In romance, there should be an underlying connection and a bond between the two parties in question, rather than just focus on their appearances, looks, and money value. (Which is what most romance novelists do these days. They can never, ever write a realistic romance relationship without dipping into the crazy pot and pulling out God knows what to fill their empty-headed plots with.)

So for both Codename: Velocity and The Vampiress Hunter, I went and created those realistic romance scenarios and relationships. And it took me some time to iron out the bugs too. Getting the romance right in both novels required me to get in touch with myself and my feelings, my emotions, and some general idea that all these things mixed together would balance everything out in the end.

But like everything I write, I am especially bonded with my characters. They are them. But they are also a part of me. A small part.

Each character is drawn on a specific facet of my own personality, hopes, dreams, desires, even fantasies. (I won’t tell you which ones of course. That would be telling.)

Despite my introverted attitude and off and on behavior, there’s this other part of me that yearns to be free. To experience the world in all its glory. It that part which drives my characters to do the things that they do. To display specific qualities and mannerisms that are theirs and theirs alone. (As each one is different.)

So when it comes to falling in love and being in love with that said character or person, it becomes a very personal thing for me. Suddenly, I’m happy for the lucky couple. I’m also excited, because I can’t wait to see what happens next: What they will do, what fights they’ll get into, arguments they will share, disappointment, anxiety, nervousness, the whole ball of wax.

I want to see it all.

And these traits and characteristics is what is sorely lacking in today’s romance novels. There is just no emotion or feeling in them. Nothing to connect the reader to the characters. It’s just an over exaggerated reality show like The Bachelor or American Idol where everyone is so damned focused on appearances and looks and not the personality or the emotions of that said character.

It’s all empty and hollow.

For romance to really work in a book, you have to have chemistry and understanding. You have to begin the process of a long-term courtship that exposes the vulnerabilities of your characters to each other; to see if they are compatible or the least bit interested.

Simply having the girl lust after the hot guy and vice-versa will not accomplish anything you set out to do in your novel. There’s more to appearances and looks than simply wanting to charge your batteries and launch yourselves at these caricatures in question for the sake of a quick fling or a one-night stand.

When I decided to spill the beans and pair Mari with Velocity, I didn’t do it on a whim. I decided (or rather she decided) that it would do Velocity some good to be with someone whom cared about her and loved her very much–both as a person and as a life-long companion and partner.

Throughout most of the beginning of the book, I was throwing out clues about how Mari felt about Velocity: In either the locker room, at the dining table, or in the bedroom. I was showing how much of a loving individual that she was being towards her friend. And not because she wanted to jump her and have sex. That aspect was a growth medium as well for the teenage girl. It allowed her to experience what both love and a relationship entailed and not one that was hurried or spontaneous and left a lot of questions in the long run.

No. Mari cared about her a great deal. She stood by her through all the trials and tribulations that Velocity faced and didn’t forsake or desert her when the going got tough. Or they had an impossible challenge to deal with.

This is what a real relationship in a romance novel should be about. This.

This is what readers really want in a book. They want to feel connected to the characters in a way that speaks to them and binds them together in this one circle of friendship and love. This is what romance novels should entail. Should be.

But in the world of publishing and marketing, it simply isn’t meant to be. Not the way the mainstream has everything fixed.

In The Vampiress Hunter, I took the concept of relationships and love and turned them both on their head. In this novel, Skye and Marlena’s relationship is a bit lopsided and hurried to some degree. The sex is quick and intense and very funny or sweet–depending on how you look at.

But the principles are still the same: I wanted both parties to have a full and long-lasting relationship. I also wanted them to face their problems and challenges head on. For Skye Thompson, it was having an actual relationship with a girl after the death of his last girlfriend and coming to terms with that loss. For him, it was a time to reflect and rebuilt. But while he is relatively new and inexperienced at finding out what a girl wants and likes, he’s also quite the gentlemen and a goof. He acts like a kid at heart and is silly at times because of the way he is.

He’s not afraid to show his emotions or his feelings, but there are times when indecision and personal doubt reigns. But overall, he’s getting used to having a solid relationship with a woman who’s lived many lifetimes and is a vampire hunter on top of that.

For Marlena, it was more of an opportunity to break a long drought and get back to having a life that she had neglected for so long. It was also an opportunity to fall for someone who looked like the last guy she dated nearly thirty years ago. (Marlena was very impulsive in this regard–throwing caution to the wind in earlier chapters.)

But she’s also a bit of a stickler for tradition and rules. She hates being rushed and doesn’t appreciate some of the stupid stuff that Skye pulls on her from time to time, but she’s not the type of person to be holding a grudge against her new boyfriend either. The bonus aspect of this relationship is that she’s very open about certain things and is very attentive to Skye’s needs when the time calls for it. (She’s not the type to simply roll over and give in. That’s not how she is.)

So this relationship aspect is also very realistic to some degree and telling at the same time. Unlike Mari and Velocity’s relationship, this one of Skye and Marlena’s has more grit and dirt. It’s more defined than the two girls’ relationship. It has more quantifying attributes than two teenage girls who have never had sex before or even had a worthwhile relationship to boot.

And it also bonds with the reader on some level. It brings to the table a certain aspect which is often found lacking in today’s romance novels. And while some people may take issue to having to deal with a real relationship versus a fantasy one that they can wrap their infantile little minds around with, these relationships of mine pulls no punches.

I deal in realism. I can only take the fantasy crap for so long before I want to blow my brains out. And if I find a fake relationship thrown in, I’m just going to laugh at your stupid little self. Because that’s not how relationships should be portrayed.

Not at all.

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