It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
I love romance and read it a lot, although I don’t write it much. There are two major trends in romance novels. One: my NOT favorite: the insta-lust. The heroes meet and feel an instant, almost irresistible physical attraction. Afterwards, for the rest of the novel, they struggle with the said attraction (or fall to bed right away) and in the process discover that they like each other as persons after all. HEA ensues – usually. The most famous story of this kind is Romeo and Juliet – the ultimate case of insta-lust. And look how it ended! I’m not a fan of this kind of romantic fiction.
The other, much more life-like scenario is an enforced socializing. The heroes start by meeting because of a situation – at work or in the social milieu. Maybe they’re assigned to solve a problem together, or have to travel together, or he is a guest in her house, or they’re even set out to get married through an arranged marriage. It depends on the time-frame of the romance and its sub-genre.
In any case, they don’t like each other at first. They are too different. Their tastes in partners’ outer appearance run in different directions. They come from different social strata. Their personalities clash repeatedly. They don’t trust each other, because their goals are opposite, and so on.
They have to spend time together anyway, no choice about that for either of them. Often, they have to depend on each other in tight spots, and along the way, they learn about each other. More, they start liking each other, as their preconceptions and masks slip away. They develop mutual trust, and with it, at last, comes the all-important physical attraction, even if the protagonists didn’t consider each other pretty at first or thought that the other one is outright ugly. They stop seeing the outer attributes and concentrate on the inner beauty instead. Love flourishes.
For characters in this kind of story, personality is more important than physical appearance or sexual gratification, which could be found without any involvement of heart and soul. Remember the wide spread of prostitution in all the centuries but the current one. (Maybe this one too, I’m not sure.)
The most popular example of this type of story is Beauty and the Beast. It is my kind of story. I enjoy reading it. If I ever wrote romance, I’d go with this approach, but so many writers with a steady posse of fans prefer the other one.
What about you? What do you think of insta-lust? Do you trust it? Do you accept it as a driving force of a romance story? Or is enforced socializing more to your taste? Do your romantic characters experience insta-lust? Or do they follow another path and learn about the personality first, before indulging their bodily urges? Tell me in the comments.