Friday, June 23, 2017

For the Love of Clichés

Ah, romance.

I swing wildly between thinking the romantic aspect of my story is going to be the easiest or the hardest part. "Oh sure, I'll just throw these people together and they'll grow to like each other." "Wait, is this a horribly clichéd and contrived plot?"

Now, I've never read a romance novel. I've considered it, for research purposes. But they always sound so boring. It all "Sassy von Heroine spent her life doing X, but everything changed when she met Hero McStudPants." And I don't know if those are just the crappy ones, but that's what I keep seeing. So I just googled "best contemporary romance novels," clicked the first thing that wasn't Fifty Shades… and well, I'm not impressed with that either. I just don't see the appeal.

So here I am, trying to work romance into my story, trying not to use the above lame ass outline. And also trying to avoid any other romance genre clichés. That I don't know about. Because I don't read romance. I've been looking at lists of clichés to avoid, and I don't know why anyone would do those things in the first place. They all seem like pretty basic bad storytelling type things.

Maybe you can tell me if this is clichéd. I think it is, but again, I don't know romance. Or… anything.

We have our Occult Detective. I'm still not sure what that means in this story. He doesn't have a name.

We have The Explorer's Daughter. Her father was somehow responsible for the discovery and exploration of the subterranean world. She has followed in his khaki-wearing, satchel-toting ways. She does have a name: Catherine DeWitt.

Now, something has happened down in the Lower World. Something that falls under the purview of our detective. Whatever his specialty happens to be. He has the skills. She knows the area. Stuff happens. Things probably explode. They develop some kind of something.

Is this a storm of terrible ideas and overused concepts? Should that stop me?

The other issue with romance is the almost inevitable outcome. You know. Where the screen fades to black (or doesn't) and things get… Yeah, I'm not about that. Would it be an unbelievable romance if that just… never happened? An asexual romance with all the emotional bits with none of the… messy parts? I mean, it makes sense to me to do it that way. It seems perfectly normal. But to the world as a whole? Maybe not.

I think that's it for today. I need to go research the effects of prolonged time spent underground by playing Minecraft for the next few hours.

I'll see you Tuesday.


  1. I think that is how most good romance works. People are "forced" into some common thing. College, job, friend group, camp, etc. They spend time together. They become friends. They get the feelings. That's real life. That's how it was before online dating anyway. Most people don't fall in love with someone they don't have a common something with. So, to me, this isn't cliche, it works. It is what most people hope for. I do NOT think that it has to turn into messy, bodice ripper, "romance" to be good. In fact there is something to leaving it to the imagination of the reader. The trick is to write the feelings and tension though. If you don't have the physical "burning loins" type descriptions, you have to have the feelings that make the reader want the characters to find happiness.

  2. Something about the "Golden Age" feel of subterranean fiction combined with romance makes me think of Casablanca. It's considered one of the great romance stories, and yet, the characters don't get together in the end. Half of the movie is Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman acknowledging that they had a past romance, but attempting to deny that the flame still lives.
    Some of the most enduring romance tales are about the emotional connection without the... messy bits.