Friday, March 1, 2013

Adding the element of Romance in our stories

I love adding romance in my stories. Never mind the fact that my stories capture Middle Grade life in school, with its sundry problems of teachers, exams and bullies. The fact that my main characters are just 10 to 13 years does not deter me. I try to cheat by giving them crushes, can’t write a full blown love story when my main character is barely in her or his teens.

I feel the element of romance just perks up any story and gives it life. The deep feelings of intense love, stolen looks, blushes, jealousy, possessiveness, day-dreaming, warmth, well I look forward to adding it all to my stories. ( Does this make me a closet romantic?)

All this is making me think, why don’t I pack up the middle grade books and start writing stories where the romance elements play a huge role. Honestly, I would love to write (actually have written bits and pieces of a YA book with strong undercurrents of romance; star-crossed lovers to be precise). Now the secret is out of the bag. I had not told anyone about the YA book.

Let me make a confession. One of my earlier stories based in a jungle, had a strong romantic touch: the gorgeous cat Daisy was in love with the muscular dog Bruno. Their romance had set the jungle literally on fire. Needless to say my editor went nuts and begged and pleaded with me not to corrupt innocent children with this story. I withdrew my submission but did not change the storyline.

After that episode, I am a bit cautious about adding romance in middle grade books. I will leave all that to maybe a YA or a full-fledged novel.

What about you all? Do you all love adding romance in your stories? How do you all think I should add romance in my Middle Grade fiction? Should I shy away from it completely or do you think giving the characters crushes at 11, 12 years is fine? I would love to hear what you all have to say on this? 

24 comments:

Rahul Bhatia said...

With the world changing fast the crushes and elements of romance in writing for teenagers are surely accepted:) At least I vote for it

Natalie Aguirre said...

Unless the market in India is different than the US, I think it's fine to add light romance for upper middle graders. Kids started having boyfriends/girlfriends by 5th grade in the school that my daughter went to and I'm sure it's the same other places.

Also, maybe you want to venture into YA too. I write middle grade but my new project is YA with light romance. That's not the part I love writing.

gargimehra said...

I’d agree with Natalie – showing 11 or 12-year-olds having crushes is fine. I don’t ever write any romantic stories or novels but I’ve enjoyed adding a touch of romance to the novels I’ve written so far.

Al Diaz said...

I think romance is great. I have it in my stories. And I believe 12 year olds do have crushes so it should be okay.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Most kids at that age have gone through a couple crushes. I think it fits.

Mark Noce said...

Yup, I basically can't even consider not having romance in a story...otherwise my wife won't read it:) But it gets back to the basic elements of what it means to be human and one of the most important things I connecting with others, and romance certainly does that.

Gwen Gardner said...

You can certainly do romance in middle grade. Think Bambi, Rudolph, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty. Go for it Rachna!

mooderino said...

I can't recall being too interested in all that smoochy stuff at that age, but kids nowadays are a lot quicker to grow up, or at least it feels like it.

mood

Stephen Tremp said...

I have romance. but it takes three books to =get to the marriage proposal and the "YES." So I take it slow, rather than do the burning passion thing that happens in a short period of time.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi friends, thanks for chiming in. I am enjoying reading all your comments. All of you agree that I can safely incorporate crushes for my 11 to 13 year old protagonists.

Hope you all have a great weekend.

Nick Wilford said...

It's not my area but there's nothing wrong with a harmless crush. I'm sure you would write it in a very sweet way. :)

Dave King said...

Sorry to say, I'm not one for gratuitous romance. I appreciate it only if it is organic to the narrative.

Dave King said...

P.S.
This in no way makes your post less fascinating. Keep 'em rollin'!

Carol Kilgore said...

I think it's just fine, Rachna. Just keep it age appropriate and all is well. I always add romance, too, so I say I write Crime Fiction with a Kiss.

Cherie Reich said...

I see nothing wrong with light romance in middle grade. I think I've always had a random crush, even in kindergarten, and students had boyfriends/girlfriends in third grade. Goodness, it sometimes happens that girls get pregnant before they're thirteen too (not that I recommend that). But if it fits the book and characters, I say bring it on. :)

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Actually, I think crushes and semi-crushes are very typical of that age group (middle grades). If your protagonist is, say twelve, even eleven, it's quite likely she'll be thinking in terms of how cute this guy is and find herself tongue-tied when she's around him. I wouldn't take it much farther than that, though. And, yes, I think it does add a little spice to your character's personality.

But if you have a spicier YA cooking on the back burner, I say, go for it! Daisy and Bruno don't really have to be a cat and dog. :-)

Donna Hole said...

You're no longer a closet romantic, lol. But yes romance in any story is fun to write. I even put it in my horror stories.

My son has been counting his girlfriends since he was three :) "Romance" is different for kids than YA, but they still have their little flings. Its terribly cute.

.......dhole

michelle said...

I read a lot of romance novels as a teen. But I don't think I'm any good at writing romantic scenes...

scott-bishop.com said...

The romance novel is the oldest form of the medium, no?

A story without romance, without a love interest, is just plain boring. But that's just my opinion. I need it. Romance, love, and passion have to be intertwined into the story for me otherwise it won't capture my interest.

I totally agree with you Rachna, romance and intense feelings of love that come through a character make for a book that is worth reading. Otherwise, it's just bland. At least for me.

A main character who isn't in love simply won't grab this reader and I think a loveless protagonist is very hard for many readers to connect with.

But consider for a moment that romance and to be in love doesn't have to be between two people or a cat and a dog. Take for example, The Lord of the Rings. Would that classic trilogy be any different if Frodo and Sam didn't share an intense love between themselves that they carried along the way? I think it would have made for a very boring set of books. And no, I'm not talking the brotherly love they felt for each other. They carried a deep love in their hearts for The Shire. And once they set out on their quest, the reader is rooting them on, hoping they won't get caught, hoping they would succeed so they could return to the home they loved so much. The Shire.

I think romance should be added to all stories. They're all the better for it.

Medeia Sharif said...

I love romance in any story. I've seen romance in many children's books as well as movies. Think about all those Disney films. I didn't mind it as a kid. It added great tension and another layer to those stories.

Karen Lange said...

I think romance adds another element of potential conflict to a story. It's an appealing addition to many plots. Personally, I would go light on romantic details for MG, largely because I wouldn't want my kids too heavily into that at that age. They get to be "kids" for such a short span in their lives, you know?

Stina Lindenblatt said...

When I was writing YA, I included elements of romance. Now I'm writing NA contemporary romances. It's very different writing straight romance compared to elements of romance, but I'm loving it.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I think it's find to have cruses for that age group, especially for the girls. I had crushes when I was only 8. :)

Tyrean Martinson said...

I think a little shy romance is probably all right, although my kids are still in that "yuck, I want to wait for later" phase and they are both MG.