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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default You've gotten your romance in my fantasy...

    I'm facing a sort of writing dilemma and figured I would throw it out to the forum. I'm writing a fantasy series that follows the main protagonist's life story. The first book, he was still a kid, so not much more than the plot going on there. But since he's older at this point in the series (around 17-18ish; half-elf so complicated) wrapped inside the main fantasy plot is his first real relationship (basically a romance).

    Up to this point, both plots I think have blended well, they have their romantic moments that build their relationship, but they work within the main fantasy plot (a rescue adventure) rather than in addition to it, if you know what I mean. But I have a lot more of the romance in my head that I want to put in the story but now it's going to come in addition to the 'action' plot rather than concurrently. To tell the story of their growing relationship the way I want to, events and such are now being added that don't directly drive the other part forward, but still are important to them as a couple.

    So my question to you all is: how much romance is too much in a fantasy story? Would you want 'extra' story to flesh the romance out in detail, even if it added pages to the book, or would you rather the fantasy plot drive the whole thing, so that much would still happen, but if you ever "saw" it, it would be as a brief flashback or reference in a later book or "off-screen' as it were, never directly told, but assumed from behavior in later books?

    Thanks for the help.
    Iíve known people who play chess like this. They canít think their way to a checkmate, so they spend their time trying to clear the board of the little pieces. This eventually reduces the game to a simplicity they can grasp, and theyíre happy. The perfect war is a foolís mate.
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  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: You've gotten your romance in my fantasy...

    Quote Originally Posted by jlvm4 View Post
    I'm facing a sort of writing dilemma and figured I would throw it out to the forum. I'm writing a fantasy series that follows the main protagonist's life story. The first book, he was still a kid, so not much more than the plot going on there. But since he's older at this point in the series (around 17-18ish; half-elf so complicated) wrapped inside the main fantasy plot is his first real relationship (basically a romance).

    Up to this point, both plots I think have blended well, they have their romantic moments that build their relationship, but they work within the main fantasy plot (a rescue adventure) rather than in addition to it, if you know what I mean. But I have a lot more of the romance in my head that I want to put in the story but now it's going to come in addition to the 'action' plot rather than concurrently. To tell the story of their growing relationship the way I want to, events and such are now being added that don't directly drive the other part forward, but still are important to them as a couple.

    So my question to you all is: how much romance is too much in a fantasy story? Would you want 'extra' story to flesh the romance out in detail, even if it added pages to the book, or would you rather the fantasy plot drive the whole thing, so that much would still happen, but if you ever "saw" it, it would be as a brief flashback or reference in a later book or "off-screen' as it were, never directly told, but assumed from behavior in later books?

    Thanks for the help.
    To put my cards on the table, I... don't really write. I also don't enjoy romance most times, so take everything I say with a pinch of salt.

    As for how much romance is too much romance for a fantasy story... Eh... that's a matter of taste. If you're into it though, I'd say go for it. People seek out romantic relationships and emotional connections with other people all the time, and it makes sense to me that they'd do it in a fantasy setting too. Not only that, but I feel like a character's relationships to others informs their actions and personality. My point is that "fantasy plot" and "romance plot" are not necessarily mutually exclusive.

    I gather that the main plot is more action-focused? A lot can be communicated in a pretty short amount of time about the nature of a relationship if the characters involved have a quiet, low-stakes moment together. Especially in action stories. So it might serve the romance plot to give them one. Where would they go? What would they do? What would they say to one another?
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  3. - Top - End - #3
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: You've gotten your romance in my fantasy...

    I have some opinions I'd like to throw, but with the limited info I've been given these will be based more on assumption than intuition.

    From one point of view, if you're writing a story about the life of someone, and romance is a part of that life, then I'd say go for it. Romance is a huge chunk of normal life, and it's one of the easiest ways for people to relate to characters in stories: their moments of compassion and empathy. It's also a source of conflict in numerous ways, be they quarrels or dealing with each of the partner's moral divergences. Maybe the lover begins to see things the antagonists' way when they've been captured by them (assuming that the antagonist is "human" enough to have an empathetic cause). The ultimate betrayal of someone you've set up to be one of the few people your protagonist trusts wholly is a great card to play.

    From another, if the story is more action-packed, and the romantic interest isn't a major character in reference to the main source of conflict, then I would err on the side of giving them less of a spotlight.
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  4. - Top - End - #4
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    Default Re: You've gotten your romance in my fantasy...

    As someone who doesn't read romance stories, I recommend looking at certain of the stories of one Lois McMaster Bujold. Specifically, I can recommend Shards of Honor, the trio of Komarr, A Civil Campaign, and Winterfair Gifts, Captain Vorpatril's Alliance, and Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen. All of those are in her sci-fi setting, as part of the Vorkosigan Saga, and have as a primary element in the plot the development of a romantic relationship. But even in her other novels that don't involve a main character focusing on a successful romantic relationship, romance is ever-present in her writings as part of her understanding of human motives. For instance, although it's a one sided crush, in Warrior's Apprentice, many of the main character's actions are heavily influenced by said crush, and often there are secondary characters whose romantic life, while not focused on, is plot relevant.

    She does also have a fantasy setting, but having only read the first book (where an important romance happens, but to a non-viewpoint main character, and so largely between what we see) I can't recommend any specific books. Knowing Bujold, however, I can't imagine there isn't at least one novel where a romance plot is central.
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    WhiteWizardGirl

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    Default Re: You've gotten your romance in my fantasy...

    In my opinion, if the romantic scenes are true to the characters, then its fine for them to have no direct bearing on the greater plot. In some sense, stories are rarely about [X saving Y]; usually it's something more like [this is what happened to X when he went to save Y]. In that context, its perfectly reasonable to include scenes that don't drive the reader's expectation of the plot forward.

    Another useful thing that having scenes like this does is slows back down the pace. If our half elf hero is on a rescue mission, there's probably a decent amount of action/high pressure scenes. But the reader can't necessarily get through a book that is 100% high pace and action. A romantic/emotional scene with no real 'goal' is a pressure release valve for the character and the reader. And when you approach the book's climax, that may flip on it's head and the relationship between MC and love interest is an additional pressure point when the plot is very serious.
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  6. - Top - End - #6
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: You've gotten your romance in my fantasy...

    Thanks for all the advice. I appreciate it. Since the series is character-driven, mostly following the lead protagonist's life, I think I'll stick with him, and the subsequent romance, for as much time as makes sense for his overarching story rather than the main plot for the novel.

    Thanks again
    Iíve known people who play chess like this. They canít think their way to a checkmate, so they spend their time trying to clear the board of the little pieces. This eventually reduces the game to a simplicity they can grasp, and theyíre happy. The perfect war is a foolís mate.
    -Miles Naismith Vorkosigan

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  7. - Top - End - #7
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: You've gotten your romance in my fantasy...

    Wait! Another recommendation! I would really advise reading Name of the Wind! It seamlessly blends in an intensely bittersweet romance plot into a huge and many-faceted story arc. It is a bit of a doorstopper though, so be patient. IMO not a single word was wasted.
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  8. - Top - End - #8
    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: You've gotten your romance in my fantasy...

    How much is too much? That depends on your target audience. You can write the same story for teenage girls as for college men if you switch words such as fluttering with pulsing, tenderly with crushing.

    My advice: write all the story that you want/think you need and then edit down whatever feels unweldy afterward. It may turn out the romance is better than the fantasy parts.
    ďA long surcote of pers upon he hade, / And by his syde he baar a rusty blade.Ē - Chaucer

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: You've gotten your romance in my fantasy...

    This might be opening another can of worms but I was hoping I might get some advice in a similar vein. I do a comic that's mostly just for me and people that I'm closest with, it's fairly devoid of romance. However, the main character is one that I think of as pansexual but is also very timid about acting on her own romantic feelings. So far she's gone on one date with someone and made it a point to let him down easy, despite the fact that she actually liked him. I also think of her as being interested in her female friend, who I think of as ace.

    I guess the advice I'd like to get is how would one portray romantic attraction in a subtle way that's not exploitative? For that matter how would one communicate that a character is ace when the character in question has a fairly dim idea of what that means?
    Iop brain.

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: You've gotten your romance in my fantasy...

    Quote Originally Posted by The Fury View Post
    I guess the advice I'd like to get is how would one portray romantic attraction in a subtle way that's not exploitative? For that matter how would one communicate that a character is ace when the character in question has a fairly dim idea of what that means?
    If you wanted them to remain in the "unspoken attraction" state, you could portray the romance much the same way as you would in any other situation (orientation doesn't necessarily matter). They show interest in much the same way most platonic lovers would. They go out of their way to check on and/or make sure their SO is all right. They always back up their SO in public (even if they disagree) and bring up any conflicts in private. They make a point to do the little things like "I knew you wouldn't have time to eat, so I grabbed something for you too" that show they want to take care of the other person. Stuff like that. You could narratively add more descriptors to imply it is done out of attraction rather than a general nice nature, but actions showing them caring more about what happens to their SO than the general population can often get a romantic message across.

    If you wanted to address the ACE issue, you could too. What person are you writing in? If it's 1st person, or 3rd person omniscient you might be able to address it by including the relevant character's thoughts. It would probably be easiest to do from the ACE character's point of view, where a gentle pass made by the protagonist could be reacted to not just verbally but also in their thoughts as they debate how to 'let them down gently' or even wish the the attempt had never happened because now.... and fill in with whatever details of their ACE status the character finds most pertinent to the awkwardness that they'd like to avoid.

    Or as narrator, you could fill in the details you want for the reader between the dialog bits. For example, something like: "She frowned as her friend spoke. How to respond? It wasn't as simple as consent or rejection--she liked her to be sure. But she had absolutely no interest in taking any relationship in that direction. For whatever reason, physical encounters like that had never appealed to her, never felt like she had been told--far too often if she did say so--they should feel if she were "normal". Normal. Now there was a word she had grown to hate." Basically, narrate the action as if you were in the character's head. You could even flip it around, so it's describing her confusion as she explains herself, so if the protagonist needs to react differently (ie somewhat jerkily at first) your readers will maintain sympathy for her until she figures it out.

    Alternatively, you could have another character briefly play "exposition man/woman". Have this person know/understand where the ACE character is coming from and when the protagonist's lack of knowledge results in rejection (or whatever happens) they can enter in a side scene to explain to both her and the reader what ACE is. Armed with the knowledge, the protagonist can return and have a real conversation that establishes where the two stand for the next phase of the story: lovers (as defined by ACE; without the sexual stuff), friends, or whatever your plot demands for the next arc.

    I think so long as you approach it with genuine feeling, the reader will enjoy it.

    Good luck.
    Iíve known people who play chess like this. They canít think their way to a checkmate, so they spend their time trying to clear the board of the little pieces. This eventually reduces the game to a simplicity they can grasp, and theyíre happy. The perfect war is a foolís mate.
    -Miles Naismith Vorkosigan

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  11. - Top - End - #11
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: You've gotten your romance in my fantasy...

    Quote Originally Posted by jlvm4 View Post
    If you wanted them to remain in the "unspoken attraction" state, you could portray the romance much the same way as you would in any other situation (orientation doesn't necessarily matter). They show interest in much the same way most platonic lovers would. They go out of their way to check on and/or make sure their SO is all right. They always back up their SO in public (even if they disagree) and bring up any conflicts in private. They make a point to do the little things like "I knew you wouldn't have time to eat, so I grabbed something for you too" that show they want to take care of the other person. Stuff like that. You could narratively add more descriptors to imply it is done out of attraction rather than a general nice nature, but actions showing them caring more about what happens to their SO than the general population can often get a romantic message across.

    If you wanted to address the ACE issue, you could too. What person are you writing in? If it's 1st person, or 3rd person omniscient you might be able to address it by including the relevant character's thoughts. It would probably be easiest to do from the ACE character's point of view, where a gentle pass made by the protagonist could be reacted to not just verbally but also in their thoughts as they debate how to 'let them down gently' or even wish the the attempt had never happened because now.... and fill in with whatever details of their ACE status the character finds most pertinent to the awkwardness that they'd like to avoid.

    Or as narrator, you could fill in the details you want for the reader between the dialog bits. For example, something like: "She frowned as her friend spoke. How to respond? It wasn't as simple as consent or rejection--she liked her to be sure. But she had absolutely no interest in taking any relationship in that direction. For whatever reason, physical encounters like that had never appealed to her, never felt like she had been told--far too often if she did say so--they should feel if she were "normal". Normal. Now there was a word she had grown to hate." Basically, narrate the action as if you were in the character's head. You could even flip it around, so it's describing her confusion as she explains herself, so if the protagonist needs to react differently (ie somewhat jerkily at first) your readers will maintain sympathy for her until she figures it out.

    Alternatively, you could have another character briefly play "exposition man/woman". Have this person know/understand where the ACE character is coming from and when the protagonist's lack of knowledge results in rejection (or whatever happens) they can enter in a side scene to explain to both her and the reader what ACE is. Armed with the knowledge, the protagonist can return and have a real conversation that establishes where the two stand for the next phase of the story: lovers (as defined by ACE; without the sexual stuff), friends, or whatever your plot demands for the next arc.

    I think so long as you approach it with genuine feeling, the reader will enjoy it.

    On the subject of narration, it's a comic so there isn't much at all in the way of actual narration. As such, a lot of information needs to be communicated visually.

    Though I think you have about the right idea of what I'm going for. The protagonist and her friend do have some mutual affection, but in the friend's case it's much more of a platonic one. However, it is somewhat complicated by the characters' personalities.

    The protagonist is a "chosen one" type on a typical chosen one sort of quest. What she doesn't tell anyone is that she'll die once her quest is over. This also makes her deeply uncomfortable with her chosen one status. For this reason, she's afraid of forming romantic relationships because she doesn't want to leave someone broken-hearted. Yet she's still human and still needs those relationships. Which is why she goes along with the date with the guy earlier. A big part of her struggle is her trying, (and mostly failing,) to square her desire for an emotionally fulfilling relationship with her desire to not hurt anyone.

    The friend is somewhat dim and not terribly introspective. Basically the sort of person that wouldn't even recognize that someone is flirting with her. I imagine she places a higher value on platonic love, though I'm not sure if she's ever considered whether a romantic partnership is for her or not. She's not interested in sex with anyone though. I imagine if there were a moment in the story where there was a lot of narrative focus on the friend, where she actually had to think seriously about what sort of relationship she wants, she might come to the conclusion that she's ace. She probably wouldn't be very articulate in explaining her feelings though.

    The guy is sort of weird, writing-wise. He's not really sure where he stands with the protagonist. Thanks to her dilemma, she's admitted to liking him in total truthfulness, but doesn't elaborate beyond "it would never work out." Prodding the issue only gets the protagonist mad at him because it forces her to talk around something that makes her uncomfortable.

    Ugh. It feels weird that I of all people snuck a love triangle in this...

    Quote Originally Posted by jlvm4 View Post
    Good luck.
    I appreciate that. Thank you.
    Last edited by The Fury; 2019-12-19 at 12:28 AM.
    Iop brain.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: You've gotten your romance in my fantasy...

    Quote Originally Posted by The Fury View Post
    On the subject of narration, it's a comic so there isn't much at all in the way of actual narration. As such, a lot of information needs to be communicated visually.
    That is a lot tougher. I would recommend, if you are into manga, checking out Roy Mustang and Riza Hawkeye in Fullmetal Alchemist. Theirs is a romantic relationship (though due to military rules masquerading as a platonic one), but the writer does a really good job of putting emotion in the drawing so that even if it's not clearly stated, you know the affection they have for each other. Maybe you could borrow some of her techniques (how she sets the focus of a particular panel and how the characters look at each other) and translate them into your situation.

    Given the format, you also might need the support of an 'exposition man or woman' in the plot to lay things out specifically since you can't necessarily use thought bubbles or narration. Hopefully there is a character (or characters) that interact with them both enough to present the ideas in an organic way.

    I do have one suggestion. If you make a triangle, please have your characters resolve that triangle by making an actual choice (or choices). While I don't mind stories that have a love interest triangle plot, I do not like when 'the plot' forces the choice of which (if any) pair occurs rather than the protagonists. For example, I would much rather Leia chose Han over Luke for her own reasons rather than "oops, Luke's off limits because he's your brother". Lots of stories, particularly ones with all three points in the triangle being 'good people' try sneak out a back door of one turning out to be 'unavailable' in some way rather than have the characters actually address the fact that there are no a-holes in the situation, just choices and what follows from that. Throw in the fact that your 'chosen' one expects to die by the end, and the triangle drama could be really good with the main plot.

    On that note, if you can round up any copies of Strikeforce Moritori (not sure I spelled it right), I would recommend them as research material for your 'protagonists are destined to die', especially if you intend to follow through. It was a comic series in the 80's about just that: heroes that were doomed to die and knew it.
    Last edited by jlvm4; 2019-12-21 at 01:32 AM.
    Iíve known people who play chess like this. They canít think their way to a checkmate, so they spend their time trying to clear the board of the little pieces. This eventually reduces the game to a simplicity they can grasp, and theyíre happy. The perfect war is a foolís mate.
    -Miles Naismith Vorkosigan

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  13. - Top - End - #13
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: You've gotten your romance in my fantasy...

    Quote Originally Posted by jlvm4 View Post
    That is a lot tougher. I would recommend, if you are into manga, checking out Roy Mustang and Riza Hawkeye in Fullmetal Alchemist. Theirs is a romantic relationship (though due to military rules masquerading as a platonic one), but the writer does a really good job of putting emotion in the drawing so that even if it's not clearly stated, you know the affection they have for each other. Maybe you could borrow some of her techniques (how she sets the focus of a particular panel and how the characters look at each other) and translate them into your situation.
    I'm actually a fan of how that relationship played out. A big part of that was because I liked the characters themselves so much, and it was gratifying to see them confront their demons and making it out because they helped each other.

    Quote Originally Posted by jlvm4 View Post
    I do have one suggestion. If you make a triangle, please have your characters resolve that triangle by making an actual choice (or choices). While I don't mind stories that have a love interest triangle plot, I do not like when 'the plot' forces the choice of which (if any) pair occurs rather than the protagonists. For example, I would much rather Leia chose Han over Luke for her own reasons rather than "oops, Luke's off limits because he's your brother". Lots of stories, particularly ones with all three points in the triangle being 'good people' try sneak out a back door of one turning out to be 'unavailable' in some way rather than have the characters actually address the fact that there are no a-holes in the situation, just choices and what follows from that. Throw in the fact that your 'chosen' one expects to die by the end, and the triangle drama could be really good with the main plot.
    I generally don't like love triangles, so the fact that I sort of introduced one without meaning to is funny to me. My favorite outcome is admittedly "no one gets paired with anyone," which is probably boring for most people.

    Quote Originally Posted by jlvm4 View Post
    On that note, if you can round up any copies of Strikeforce Moritori (not sure I spelled it right), I would recommend them as research material for your 'protagonists are destined to die', especially if you intend to follow through. It was a comic series in the 80's about just that: heroes that were doomed to die and knew it.
    I haven't heard of that but it sounds interesting. I opted for a slightly different take on a doomed protagonist. Mainly, she keeps that information to herself, avoids the subject, deflects and such. She also tries to keep the atmosphere light by telling jokes, but she's bad at it.
    Iop brain.

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