Please Make Romance Realistic


As someone who reads (and writes) Young Adult novels, I see a whole heck of a lot instantaneous romances. While I get that teen hormones are raging and the devastation of a breakup of a two week old “romance” is a common occurrence in the real world, I feel like in many YA books it’s taken to the extreme and it kind of drives me bat shit crazy.

I am all for romance and relationships in books aimed at teens but I find it hard to swallow when they are experiencing love at first sight and that they know, without a doubt, that the person is their soulmate and they’d give their lives to keep that person safe from harm. Do I think it’s possible it could happen? I’m not a huge believer in love at first sight, but I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt and say it might happen on a rare occasion.  Definitely not to the extent that it seems to happen in these stories.

Reading through some of my older writing, I see I have been guilty of this as well. It will get corrected in edits! Hah. It happens in Tears of a Clown, but that’s meant to be a joke about, well…about how often it happens in so many YA books out right now.

When you’re writing teen romance, please stop and try to remember how awkward and scared and insecure of it all you were at that age. Even those guys who seemed slick, like they had all the moves and the girls who well, let’s just say they got around, they were probably more into it for the sex aspect (whether to score points or use it to handle their low self esteem issues) than the romance and love of it all.

Keep it realistic. Make the characters unsure and worried. They are more than likely inexperienced and going on what they’ve heard from friends and seen in movies. Fumbling will happen. Messy slobbery kisses. Being done in two seconds flat. Uncomfortable situations in cars and getting caught, etc. Also remember, it’s not just the girls who will worry about how they look and how to commence with things. The guys have issues as well.

Please make your characters understand the seriousness of falling into a physical relationship. Sex is a big deal and when I see books where the female MCs seem to jump into bed with these guys with barely more than a second thought, it drives me crazy. “OH I just met him but we’re going to have sex right away and I’m going to give up my virginity to practically a stranger because I  JUST know it’s right!” *Sigh* Sadly, I do suspect this happens in real life sometimes, but I hope it’s a rarity and if it does happen in books I’d like to see the character look back and think maybe she/he should have waited until they got to know the person a little better.

Don’t be scared to make it more real than fantasy. People will better relate to the characters and the story as a whole.  Can your characters fall in love? Most definitely. Can they decide that they are soulmates and they shouldn’t ever be apart? OOooh I suppose. But please work up to things like that. Don’t make it happen within the first three chapters of the story.

8 responses »

  1. Thank you for this. It’s a huge problem I have with many YA novels and while some are understandable or I can suspend my disbelief, I have a hard time believing in the “love at first sight” and giving lives when they’re only 15. It’s something I remind myself of when on my WIP–even though there might be some romance, it’s definitely the awkward, giggly kind, because my MC is very logical and has bigger problems on her plate!

  2. When I was that age, I remember falling for a guy and thinking he was the one. I figured we’d spend our lives together. Guess what. He dumped me. So yeah, ‘love at sight’ does happen, but it’s not true love at first sight. It’s the teen wanting to believe it because he/she hasn’t had his/her heart stomped on yet. Maybe we need to have some YA with that. Give them a few break ups before finding their ‘one true love.’ lol

    • I get it happens…but they are short lived normally. two week romances that fizzle out when the guy finds someone new or the girl won’t put out, etc. That’s more realistic to me than these OMG I’ve known him two days and he’s the ONE! AND the guy reciprocates. It doesn’t tend to happen that way.

      • Very true. That’s why in Snapshots I made sure to point out that Amber had previous relationships. I didn’t want Cyc to be her insta-love. I wanted them both to have experiences and heart break before finding each other.

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  4. I don’t believe in love at first sight, I believe in lust at first sight. Thanks for the post. I wish YA would stop it with the instant love. Can’t people just get to know each other, go on a couple on dates before they decide they’re in love?

    • I don’t know if they feel their books are too short to flesh out a realistic romance or if they think people want to read about that sudden love realization because it doesn’t really happen in real life. Who knows.

  5. Pingback: Writing YA Romance: how NOT to suck | a Portia Adams adventure

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