Is Romance in Fiction Always Necessary?

Hi everyone!

One of my favorite movies!!
One of my favorite movies!!

Think about some of your favorite movies, TV shows, or novels, and tell me…is there a romantic plot or subplot to it?  The chances are good that the answer is yes.  Why?

Because just about every single fiction story out there has romance in it.  No seriously, think about it.  Think about every movie you know, ever TV show you’ve watched, every novel you’ve read, and how many of them have no romance in them what so ever?  I’m willing to bet it’s less than 10% (and that number is probably being generous.)

TreasurePlanetVHSSo I guess the question is…is this bad?  I started thinking about this after watching Treasure Planet with my girlfriend recently (psst: check out her author’s blog here!), and she commented how there had once been a plan to continue the story as a cartoon series, but she was annoyed that the series was going to give Jim Hawkins a love interest.  She liked that he didn’t have a love interest in the movie.

When she said that, it took me a moment of processing, and I realized she was right.  There hadn’t been a love interest for Jim.  Granted there was a very small romantic subplot between the ship’s Captain and the scientist (I’m horrible with names) but even that was highly underrepresented.

And yet, at least in my mind, Treasure Planet is a fantastic movie!

Image Source - https://fanart.tv
Image Source – https://fanart.tv

So in my opinion, romance is not necessary to make a great story.  However, some of my absolute favorite movies include very strong romance elements.  Stardust (a movie that has become dear to me :) ), The Princess Bride, and Star Wars (especially The Empire Strikes Back) all have romantic elements, and these are some of my all-time favorite movies.

However, just like any other trope in a fictional story, doing the same thing over and over again the exact same way gets boring.  It gets old.  Romantics like me love a good romance story, but even I get annoyed with the same old version of a trope.  While Prince Bride falls into the category of an old trope (damsel in distress,) Empire Strikes Back and Stardust did not follow the old tropes, and in fact Stardust even played with it a little bit with Tristan’s crush in the beginning.

This is why I love playing with tropes, and couldn’t resist doing just that in The Sword of Dragons.  For instance, a dragon in a cave guarding a precious treasure?  Okay, but instead of it being gold or jewels that a greedy dragon is hoarding, it’s an honorable creature protecting a powerful artifact from being used to wreak havoc. (Sorry, no Smaugs in my books!)

Romance in the Sword of Dragons stories

So, what of romance in the Sword of Dragons novels and short stories?  Did I fall into the same ‘ol fantasy tropes for romance stories?

Image Source - http://s1.1zoom.net/big0/102/318623-blackangel.jpg
Image Source – http://s1.1zoom.net/big0/102/318623-blackangel.jpg

Well in book 1, there was never a ‘damsel in distress.’  In fact, all of the women in book 1 are strong and independent.  So that pretty much eliminates that possibility right there.  No princess waiting for some gallant knight to save her.  Plus, without giving away too many spoilers, the hero doesn’t exactly get the girl (but he doesn’t not get her, either…  You’ll just have to read the book to find out what happens ;) )

What of book 2?  There definitely was a romantic subplot in it, and when I first published Burning Skies, I was a little worried about how people would receive it.  Yet I was pleased to find that all of the readers who’ve read it so far have enjoyed it, and are curious to see if it’s going where it seems to be…or if I’ll turn it on it’s head.

The inspiration for Sira's dress in Burning Skies
The inspiration for Sira’s dress in Burning Skies

There was also a scene that I absolutely loved researching and writing in Burning Skies: The Royal Ball.  Researching medieval formal attire for both men and women was fun.  But it was also a chance to bring Cardin and Sira closer together, giving them one special moment…

So what of future stories in the Sword of Dragons universe?  Where are things going with Cardin and Sira?  With Reis?  With Kailar?

Well, as the good Professor River Song says, “Spoilers” ;)  But I will say this: I seem to have a propensity to torture my characters.  If they ever do find ‘happily ever after,’ it will only be after they have been through hell and back again (a dozen times.)  If they ever get there.

What Do You Think?

So what do you all think?  Should there be more stories without romantic subplots?  Should romantic interests be left out?  Or are they appropriate or even necessary to have in fiction?  Leave a comment below to let me know! :)

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

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