Let’s Talk Bookish: Romance

It’s time for Let’s Talk Bookish, a weekly meme created and hosted by Rukky @ Eternity Books and Dani @ Literary Lion where you chat about topics in the book world.

Today’s topic: Romance as a subplot

 Why do you think romance is the most common subplot?

I honestly have no idea. If I had to make an assumption based on absolutely no data, I’d say it’s because we have a fascination with watching other people pair-off or that we still have some underlying societal expectation that to be “whole” is to be a part of a pair.

But it could also be that some adventures require a partner whose loyalty we don’t question. Or a plot that requires we have a partner whose loyalty we constantly question.

Another interesting question would be to explore healthy romances and relationships as subplots against unhealthy romances. I think each of these works to a very different effect in a plot. In some books (outside of the obvious romance genre), you don’t have a plot without a crumbling marriage or a cheating boyfriend. Sometimes betrayal is the kick a protagonist needs to set off on the track that takes the plot where it needs to go.

Do you think romance subplots take away from the main story, or add to it?

I enjoy romance as a subplot in a lot of circumstances. (Serial killers aside, I’m also a sucker for a good Hallmark romance if it’s set in a small town and snowy background.) But I don’t like romance being shoe-horned in in an obvious “the marketing team told us we needed some sizzle to sell the book.”

Does sex sell? Yes. Especially if your targeting a specific (usually female) demographic. As readers we all like to be voyeurs in a certain kind of way. We like to watch other people’s lives fall apart and be rebuilt. We like to see how the wealthy live, how royals fight, how witches cast spells, how killers hunt. Romance is just one of the more popular things people like to see.

Do you prefer stories without any romance in them?

I don’t have a preference. I will admit I’ve gotten away from YA Fantasy because of the bizarre, world-ending teen romances. But maybe that’s age and not necessarily the romance subplot?

Is romance better as a subplot or as a main plot?

Depends on the book! At the end of the day, every book has an audience, even if that audience isn’t me. And that’s okay.

What are your thoughts on romance as a subplot? Let me know in the comments or link to your own LTB post!

3 Comments Add yours

  1. M.T.Wilson says:

    I don’t like it when romance is just shoehorned in for the sake of it either! It’s often quite obvious when that happens because it just doesn’t add anything to the story and doesn’t feel like it needs to be there. But I do like romance subplots when they are done well.

  2. evelynreads1 says:

    Great discussion! I don’t mind romance being present, as long as it feel realistic! I should not be there just for the sake of it!


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