In Which I Try to Write a Romantic Subplot

Last week, I wrote part two of my blog post on how to expand a book's word count. In that post I mentioned that I added a romantic subplot to my YA novel (The Dreamon) in order to help flesh it out a little. This week, I'm going to tell you how that went.

Now, I have to confess something here. While I don't mind reading books with a good romantic subplot, I'm still the sort of person who pretends to throw up during the kissing scenes in movies.

This is me.
So, as you can tell, writing romance would be an incredibly awkward thing for me to do. But I wanted to add some romance in my book, for a couple of reasons:
  1. I'm trying to expand the word count
  2. Romance is a staple of YA fiction
Both of those are pretty bad reasons, I'll admit. Neither of them have anything to do with furthering the story or developing characters. Adding stuff into your novel for no good reason is ... shall we say ... bad practice. As it turned out, though, the romantic subplot really helped to flesh out one of my characters (despite the fact that it existed for all the wrong reasons).

Before I get into the particulars, let me tell you how I actually brought myself to write romance in the first place. I always knew that writing a conventional romantic subplot was going to be hard. Thing is, I can make up all the romances I like, but as soon as I think about anyone other than myself reading them, I start gagging (exactly like I do during the kissing scenes in movies ...). So I attempted to write a romantic subplot that is actually as NON-romantic as possible.

How did I do that? One word:


(Okay, that's two words, but one's a determiner. So there!)

The friendzone has always fascinated me, because it's one of the most frustrating things about human existence. If you put all your energy into loving someone, and they don't love you back, well ... it's tough. So, to write my non-romantic romantic subplot, I stuck one of my characters in the friendzone and worked through it from there.

And it worked!

I'm not going to go into specifics, but placing a character in the friendzone really helped me to flesh out her personality. Plus, it created tension, helped to ground things in reality a little bit, and made for some excellent shipping opportunities without having to write any of the gooshey stuff.

I think my main point here is this: you don't have to be conventional. It doesn't matter if every other YA book in existence has a proper love triangle with all the trimmings -- you don't have to include one in your novel (you actually don't have to include any romance at all). Do what fits you, and what fits your book.

As for me, maybe in the future I will be able to write proper romantic subplots. But I'm not holding my breath.

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