Friday, August 12, 2011

YA Romance Pet Peeves

Some of my friends say I'm a cynic, but I say it's only because I am a true idealistic romantic at heart. I love reading about romance. I want to follow along on a character's love life and vicariously experience the thrill and giddiness and sweetness of budding love (probably because my own love life isn't so exciting). I want the romance to be something I can admire and aspire to — something that feels real and solid and steeped in truth, even if it is fiction. I want to root for the characters as they spend time together, find that they complement and strengthen one another, and commit to the effort necessary for the relationship to blossom. It makes me so happy and gushy when I come across a YA romance like that!

I suppose I love true romance too dearly to have much patience for the obsessive, lustful infatuations that frequently pass for romance in YA these days. And so I thought I'd share a few my pet peeves when it comes to YA romance. Of course, this is entirely based on my personal reading preferences, so your mileage may vary. It's not a particularly unique or ground-breaking list, but maybe you'll find yourself nodding along with a few of these points. Or shaking your head vehemently. (Feel free to speak out in the comments!)

Here are the things I'd want to avoid in my own reading and writing:

Love at First Sight
I know some people believe in love at first sight, but I'm not one of them. I don't think love is something that springs up out of nowhere the second you lay eyes on someone. Attraction? Intrigue? Fascination? OMG-I-think-this-person-might-be-The-One? Sure. But until the characters get to know each other on a deeper level and have a relationship built on something other than physical attraction and chemistry, I'm skeptical about their "love." True love, in my opinion, needs a foundation of trust and commitment, and that takes time to nurture.

Lust-Based Relationship
This is part of the reason I'm not sold on love at first sight. Physical attraction is a wonderful thing in a relationship, but it shouldn't be the only aspect. After all, appearances can be deceiving, and people are so much more than their looks. Sure, I've harbored crushes on guys who had more looks than substance, but I never kidded myself that it was love. I prefer reading about protagonists who are more self-aware and realistic. If a heroine declares herself in love with a guy because he is just soooo incredibly hot, fails to mention any other reason, and never realizes how shallow she's being, she will lose major points in my book for being superficial.

Obsessive Mooning
Another reason I hate reading about purely lust-based relationships is that I don't want to read the protagonist talk about "his dark, brooding eyes" or "his ripped muscles" or "this inexplicable connection between us" or anything else along those lines FIVE MILLION TIMES in the same book. And if she must think about him, why can't she think about something else besides his looks or how she's so mysteriously drawn to him? Why can't she be blown away by his kindness? His integrity? His courage? His intelligence? Why can't she admire those traits and be inspired to cultivate them?

Lack of Personality
Because some protagonists can really use a bit of self-improvement. I know some authors write with an everygirl in mind so the reader can slip herself into the place of the heroine, but personally I prefer reading about heroines I can admire and learn from. Sometimes I wonder why every guy in certain novels is infatuated with the protagonist when she doesn't seem to do much of anything. I want to know that the guy loves the protagonist for her strengths and personality and admirable traits. I want to see these traits in her thought process and actions, not by authorial decree.

Excessive Angst
One major tip-off that the protagonist has no personality would be if she spends all her time angsting about her relationship(s). As much as I love reading about romance, I'd prefer if the heroine has other things going on so she's not spending every. waking. moment. thinking about her love life. I'm not particularly interested in spending time in the head of a character who lets thoughts of a guy take over her entire life (particularly if she just met him). Even worse if it's a constant reminder that her relationship is made of nothing but lust and insta-connection.

Love Triangles
Protagonists in this category are the most likely to be guilty of the previous point, because two guys = double the angst. I know lots of people like to indulge in the fantasy of being fought over by two hot guys or cheer for a favorite team, but I'm not a fan of love triangles. It can be done well, I'm sure, but it's been overdone to the point that I'm relieved when a novel doesn't boast one. There are so many things that can go wrong with love triangles (and by "go wrong" I mean "annoy me to death"). I think it's awful when the female protagonist leads on two guys. I hate finding myself on Team Other Guy because I want to see him happy but I know he's doomed by the author not to be. And when compounded with other things on my list, the entire situation is likely to make me want to destroy something in frustration.

To me, this is the worst part of love triangles. I cannot stand reading about betrayals of a friend or a significant other and, worse, being expected to root for the guilty party. I know people make mistakes, but I wish there were more characters who did the right but difficult thing by telling the truth and facing the consequences, rather than giving in to their passions and then trying to hide it by lying to loved ones. I am a big believer in the importance of commitment, honesty, loyalty, and communication in relationships, and I find it hard to apply the label of "love" to anything that lacks those elements. That goes for friendships, too.

Selfish, All-Consuming Passion for No Reason
Basically, this sums up my gripe with many YA romances. Characters meet, fall in lust, become entirely obsessed, and throw everything else to the wind. They can't see anything else but each other, and make decisions without considering the bigger picture of other things going on in their lives, or caring if they will hurt the people closest to them, or taking into account the consequences of what they're doing. Or maybe they do think about it, but selfishly decide that their "love" trumps all. I get so annoyed with these characters I want to shake them and tell them to open their eyes and think about what they're doing. But I'm sure they wouldn't listen anyway. Sigh.

Examples of Classic Romances I Can't Bring Myself to Love
Since I don't want to bash any recent YA novels by name, I decided to list classics as examples (ok, I may have cheated on the last one). I know these are all widely-beloved stories and have heavily impacted our culture, but I cannot stand the romances in these works. Of course, you may feel differently about them, and if you do, I'd love it if you share why in the comments!
  • Romeo and Juliet: I have no idea what they saw in each other besides physical attraction, and their double suicide was tragic in its wastefulness and not my idea of romantic at all.
  • Tristan + Isolde: OMG I hated the movie version. I yelled at the characters for being so selfish and superficial and for betraying their king, who adored both of them. (I think I kind of alarmed my friends with the intensity of my frustration.)
  • Arthur/Guinevere/Lancelot: Similar to the above. Another love triangle and betrayal of someone loved and admired by the lovers (well, depending on the version, I guess). Anyway, just not the kind of story I enjoy. 
  • Twilight: I think this is enough of a cultural phenomenon to count as a classic. Plus it's the one that spawned all the paranormal angsty love triangles so popular in YA right now. I neither liked nor hated the first book, but I couldn't get myself through New Moon without wanting to strangle Bella multiple times. So I never read the sequels.

Further Reading
  • Enjoy reading long rants? Here's one I wrote on my personal blog called In Defense of the Good Guy, in which I complain about how the romance plays out in the DreamWorks animated film, Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (contains spoilers).
  • Here's a great post from Beth Revis about obsessive love versus true love. She makes thoughtful points about both, and I definitely recommend reading it for an interesting perspective on romance in YA.
  • Rachel Stark at Trac Changes talks about how YA romances affect teen girls and the kind of romances she'd want to acquire as an editor.
  • Sarah Furlong Burr at Starving Novelist writes about her pet peeves in Harlequin romances. Not about YA, but some of her points still apply.
  • Lisa Shroeder gave tips for writing great YA romance with the acronym CUPCAKE in this vlog for WriteOnCon 2010. Spot-on points for how to write amazing romance.
  • Want to know what guys think of YA romance? Here's a fun post by Bryan at Boys Don't Read on love triangles. (Thanks for the great link, Adam!)
  • I can't seem to stop myself from adding more links! Fun post by Nicole at WORD for Teens on Disney princesses and love. It's DISNEY! How can you not go check it out?

Anyway, those are my thoughts on the subject. Now I'm really curious about what you think! Do you also get annoyed by the issues and examples I've listed, or are there some you actually quite enjoy, and why?


  1. "Why can't she be blown away by his kindness? His integrity? His courage? His intelligence?"

    I love this. I'm still dipping my toes in the romance pool. I'm not as familiar with these cliches as I am with the action/adventure ones, so this is a good read for me.

    I liked this post on how love triangles are old. It hits a lot of the points you do. Thought you might like it.

  2. I'm so glad you found it helpful! Your blog is always full of great stuff, so I'm flattered you enjoyed my post. :)

    And thanks for the awesome link. I loved it! His points are spot-on and it was intriguing to see the male perspective on love triangles. I'll update my post to add a link. Thanks, Adam! :D

  3. Yes! I adore this post. <3

    I'm so picky when it comes to the romance in the YAs I read, and you've hit it on the nail with all the points here. Love at first sight, lust-based relationship, and love triangles -- those seem to be in every YA I read. 

    Why can't she be blown away by his kindness? His integrity? His courage? His intelligence? Why can't she admire those traits and be inspired to cultivate them?

    Yes, this! Even if the initial attraction is pure physical, there needs to be more in order to sustain a relationship. Personally, I've always thought kindness and intelligence so much sexier than muscles and pretty eyes. :)

    As an aspiring writer, I truly do understand the difficult of portraying a more realistic and emotional relationship in 70k words, while fulfilling everything else a "good" novel should have. It's easier to fall back into physical attraction, because those are visceral. Showing kindness, intelligence, building up a relationship -- those take time and pages. But for me, as a reader, it's worth it.

    (Although, maybe I shouldn't talk, since "obsessive" sort of defines the romance in my current WiP, though there isn't so much mooning.)

  4. I agree with all your points as an adult looking in, but since my teenage niece is currently staying with us for a couple of weeks, and I've had to stop myself  from screaming  at her ARE YOU CRAZY??... several, several times.... lol

    I kept thinking as I read your post  that so much of it IS what teens are like when it comes to love.. NOT all teens, I know... but they are idealistic, and don't always know the difference between lust and love.  And lust is soooo intoxicating and hormones are so powerful that all they can do is to focus on that person they absolutely are in love with and will be with forever, even though they only met 3 seconds ago. lol  

    I do wish that writers would give these characters more substance, though... they can be boy crazy AND smart AND thoughtful AND honest.... and the same goes for boys, of course. 

  5. Definitely! I'll notice when a guy is cute, but it's always a great personality that makes me think "wow, this guy is something special." And then I find that the guy becomes more and more attractive to me, whether I thought he was hot or not when I first met him. I'd love to see more relationships like that in books.

    It's true that showing personality and growth in a relationship takes up pages and is wayyy harder than just telling the reader what you want them to think, but I agree that it's so worth it. I've come across too many instances where the narrator described a person's personality, only to be contradicted by what that person actually said or did!

    Hehe, I'm sure your WIP is great. Thanks for the comment! :)

  6. Wow, I agree with every one of your points. I long for male love interests that are more than snarky bad boys, and the girls that look beyond ripped abs.  Thanks for your insightful thoughts.

  7. Hahaha poor you! Hope you survive your niece's stay! :P

    It's true many teens are like that, but I guess I wasn't myself. I mean, I had crushes on random cute guys I just met, but I tried to be realistic and reminded myself that I knew very little about their personalities and that, despite my daydreams of marrying them, I can't really be in love if I hardly know them. So that's why I have a personal preference for reading about teens who are grounded and self-aware and don't dump common sense out the window when they meet a cute guy, because even when I was a teen I didn't let crushes overtake my life (and didn't think highly of boy-craziness). And now that I'm older I have no patience for reading about characters I want to shake some sense into, haha.

    Great point that those books are probably so popular because many teens can relate to that exact feeling of obsessive infatuation. But I can't help wishing these characters were better role models. When I was a teen, I wanted to be just like the heroines in my favorite books, and they were strong and adventurous and smart. These days there are so many teenaged heroines who put everything else on the back burner for a hot paranormal acquaintance, and it's celebrated when the girl forsakes her life and her family to be with him forever, despite barely knowing the guy (that or he's kind of a jerk). Not sure that's a great message to send. But then again, maybe it comes down to personal preference, and I just dislike characters who make that kind of decisions since it seems stupid and irresponsible to
    me. I'm sure legions of teenage girls don't see it quite that way. :P

    I definitely agree with you that, obsessed or not, it's awesome when
    characters had more substance to them. Maybe by having the heroines obsess
    about admirable character traits instead of looks or chemistry, authors can
    subtly encourage girls to consider personality while capturing that giddy
    rush of infatuation? Haha. I know that in my own writing, I'll be trying to
    avoid the issues I brought up in my post and striving to portray my personal
    idea of a great romance.

    Thanks for your thoughtful response! :)

  8. Glad you enjoyed the post, Jenny! :) I'm also hoping that those trends you mention will soon fade and become less prevalent than they are now. Thanks for your kind comment!

  9. I definitely agree with some of your points!  I'm off to read what guys think of YA.  Thanks for the link!

  10. GEEZ you just took the romance out of romance! :P
    A spinster like Krispy, I see...LOL

    I actually don't really connect with a lot of the romance in YA.  I can't remember the last YA hero I had a crush on...maybe Gale?

    I'm curious what you DO like - is there ANY YA couple you enjoy out there?

  11. I never got into Romeo and Juliet either. I do read Much Ado About Nothing every year or two, though; the characters are much more interesting and developed in that latter play.

    Totally with you on this: "Love at first sight" is the mark of a lazy author.

  12. Aren't you supposed to be busy celebrating your birthday? What are you doing on my blog? Haha.

    I know, I think that's why some people think I'm super cynical because
    I'm so picky about romance. But I love romance! I just want there to be
    some substance to it so I can root for the relationship. If it's all
    swooning about a guy's hotness and obsessing about a mysterious
    insta-connection, I don't think that's romance. I hold romance to a
    higher standard than that.

    And there are lots of YA couples I love! I'm not a romance-hater, I swear. Though I admit they're not
    really from any recent releases, haha. They're mostly kind of ancient, now that I think about it. Oh well, here's a quick list anyway:
    Mendanbar and Cimorene from Patricia C. Wrede's Dealing with Dragons - absolutely awesome, adorable, and very sensible couple. Love them!

    Mara and Sheftu from Eloise McGraw's Mara, Daughter of the Nile - such strong, passionate characters, and she loves Sheftu even though he's not super good-looking, haha.

    Macy and Wes from Sarah Dessen's The Truth About Forever - I really enjoyed the way their relationship grew through the game of Truth. Slow build up = super romantic.

    Juli and Bryce from Wendelin Van Draanen's Flipped - Juli starts out lovestruck but then realizes she's been blind, while Bryce slowly comes to appreciate Juli's strength of character.

    Samantha and Logan in Janette Rallison's All's Fair in Love, War, and High School - basically I love this book because the characters make me laugh out loud so much. 

    Yelena and Valek in Maria V. Snyder's Poison Study - the romance grew slowly and they're both super kickass (at least in the first book).

    Basically, I like romances in which both romantic leads have great personalities, have passions they pursue besides their love life, and grow to appreciate each other through spending time together and seeing one another's strengths. That's not too much to ask, is it? :P I can't enjoy the romance unless I can root for the characters, and if the heroine does any of the stuff I list above I'll probably be too annoyed at her to care much for her "romance."

    Gale is ok, but I'm Team Peeta, haha. He got so much more page time in The Hunger Games, and getting to know someone's character is important for me when it comes to who to root for. Plus, his unrequited love for Katniss makes me go "awwww" even if him and Katniss aren't exactly my idea of a great romance.

    Ok, your turn! I want to know what kinds of romance you connect with. :) Write a blog post about it or something!

  13. Haha I remember we used to watch Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson's Much Ado About Nothing a lot in high school English class. :) 

    Yeah, authors can't expect readers to root for a relationship just because they say so. They have to work for it if they want me to be emotionally invested!

  14. Hi Linda,

    My name's Kate, and I'm an 18-year-old newly-agented YA author (also a former Inkpop member). I just barely stumbled across your blog, and after reading this post alone I seriously think I'm in love with you. I know that sounds creepy, but I'm so incredibly sick of YA romance in which 80% of the protagonist's thought process consists of "OMG I WILL DIE WITHOUT YOU WE ARE SOULMATES LOLZZZ." 

    Anyways. Rant over. Loving your blog so far, and I look forward to more of your posts!

  15. That Branagh/Thompson version is great!

    Emotional investment indeed. Multifaceted characters or no deal.

  16. Hi Kate! Welcome, and HUGE congratulations on being agented! That must be so exciting. Hahaha I'm glad you enjoyed the post. :D Love the way you put it about the protag's thought process. I'm definitely sick of it too!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! :)

  17. Great points! I agree with most them...seems like there are a lot of us out there.

    I do like the tension brought on by a triangle, but agree they it's terrible when the heroine leads them on. I don't like triangles because, inevitably, I like the loser best.if I route for you, you're doomed!

  18. Thanks! Yeah, I can understand why authors put in love triangles. As you said, it's a great source for tension and conflict (and more hot guys! :P), but I have to admit it's a trend I'm not overly fond of. And I hate it when I find myself rooting for the losing guy too, even if I'm not as expert at picking him out as you are. ;)

  19. Some great points! I have a lot of the same pet peeves. :)

  20. Yes!  I completely agree.  Romance in YA nowadays is so disgusting.  The other thing that drives me crazy is when the protag's attitude is "We're in love and there's nothing you (often parents) can do to keep us apart.  I hate you for talking about responsibility and how I'm in lust (I'm 17, I know everything!) and I choose him over you."  Gag.

  21. Thanks for stopping by, Lydia! :)

  22. Haha yeah, I don't like it when protagonists are completely selfish and choose the clearly lust-based relationship over everything else in their lives, especially when they're clearly hurting people who love them. But maybe some teens like reading about it because it fulfills a fantasy for them where they're in control of their own life and can do whatever they want. Definitely not the kind of romance for me, though!

  23. One of my pet peeves is when the mc claims she's in love with the guy and it came completely out of nowhere. Then I'm left saying WTF!!!!

    The other one is when the mc really does fall in love with someone, and the author kills him off. The book always goes flying across when that happens. I like my happily-ever-afters. ;)

  24. Well, I gotta be an expert at something...

  25. I love, love, love this post! You made some wonderful points. I don't write *YA* romance, per se, but my adult characters are in college--so I'm straddle that line. (I know it's a tough sell, but I love writing it!) After reading this, I think you *might* actually like my novel. You know, whenever it comes to fruition. :D

  26. Hehe I agree that romance needs to be developed and not just instantaneously spring into existence. And I am SO with you about happy endings! A unhappy one will basically ruin the entire book/series for me. Thanks for the comment! :)

  27. Thanks, Carrie! Ooohhh I bet your novel is awesome. I'll love it if it features a solid romance featuring characters I adore and want to root for. Hurry up and finish it so I can read it! :D

  28. Great post, Linda!  I couldn't agree with you more about love triangles being played out and cringe worthy.  Thanks for the mention as well!  Stop by my blog when you get a second and pick up your award.  I've nominated you for the Liebster Blog Award as I enjoy your insight and candidness. :-)

  29. Yes, yes, yes to all of the above! These are many of the same things that irritate me in romances. I want real people with real love dealing with real problems. You summed up a lot of the irritants and cliches beautifully.

  30. Hehe thank YOU for the great blog post. I'm honored you thought of me for the Liebster Award! :D Thanks, Sara!

  31. Thank you, Shallee! I agree with you so much about the realness of characters and relationships. Hope I can pull it off in my own writing! :)

  32. Agreed. Particularly about love triangles and lust-based relationships.

    Another point about romance that often bothers me is that a lot of characters are so desperately in love with each other they hardly ever argue over things besides keeping each other safe and who's going to sacrifice themselves for what. In real life, people argue, they get on each other's nerves, they have habits that drive others crazy. I don't think anyone could get along with someone else forever without exploding now and then over smaller things. :P

  33. Oh my goodness, I totally love you right now! I'm so annoyed and bored with this new idea of "love" in YA. The all-encompassing, all-consuming idea of love is just...argh.

    I love your point about Romeo & Juliet. Although, in the play, one of the main (yet subtle) themes is that of speed in relationships. It is made clear by several other characters to Romeo and/or Juliet that they are moving way too fast, and that they need to slow down. I think one of the main points that Shakespeare was trying to make was that moving quicly in a relationship is not always the best choice, as shown by the tragic ending.

    Anyway, great post! Thank you for writing it! :D

  34. Hahaha that is SO TRUE!! That's an awesome point. I mean, even with people I love we'll get on each other's nerves and have bad days and get into fights about dumb things. The important thing is to apologize when we're wrong and forgive out of love, and commit to making the relationship work despite the imperfections. I think that kind of romance is so much more beautiful than one where a girl is all about giving up her life for someone she sees as absolutely perfect in every way, especially if everyone else can see that he's actually a possessive, stalkerish jerk. Thanks for the great comment about real-life romance! :)

  35. Aww, thanks, Sydney! :D 

    Yeah, I'm not a fan of the all-consuming love either, but I can see why some teens would enjoy indulging in such a fantasy. But personally, I'd prefer to read about slower, more realistic romances.

    Definitely agree with you that Romeo and Juliet moved wayyy too fast. They're rather trigger-happy, wouldn't you say? :P

  36. EVERYTHING. Everything you just said = RIGHTNESS. Totally applies to me. 'apfhpaishf]iapnfckas' (That mess back there was my fingers ranting how sucky YA romance is getting.)

    Also, Twilight sucks. I think it's such a blockbuster because, as a previous commenter pointed out, teenage girls WANT that fantasy, you know? That romance, that OMG-every-boy-loves-me. But Bella has NO personality. And personally, that's probably the biggest pet peeve of mine you've listed here. I need some kind of chemistry (not just physical, either) upon which the relationship bases itself on.Something I'd like to add is that simple misunderstanding standing in the way of the hero + heroine getting together -- you know, if only he said, "I'm not a gigolo" (or SOMETHING to that effect), then they'd understand everything. So the reader ends up bashing their head screaming "Just frikkin' EXPLAIN!"I think we need to do a post on what constitutes a good romance, just so authors can get it right. :P 

  37. Hahaha thanks Yahong! I LOVE uberlong comments! :D As you can see I've written quite a few of them myself. It's so fun to get into discussions with people. :)

    I've mentioned before to some Twilight fans about the lack of character development in the books, and they were basically like, "Who cares? That's not what I read it for anyway." So yeah, as you said, it's really about personal preference.

    Great point about dumb misunderstandings! It's annoying when the characters are being stupid for the sake of the plot. If there's a misunderstanding, it needs to be set up correctly so that it's either plausible/reasonable, or the reader misunderstands along with the protagonist.

    As for teens and love... hm, I think I agree with you for the most part, but I've also heard anecdotes of people meeting and falling in love as teens, getting married, and then going on to have a long, wonderful marriage. Maybe what they found was a precursor to true love and not actual true love, but it makes me hesitant to say it's absolutely impossible to find true love as a teen (though I agree it's unlikely).

    I think your idea for a blog post is awesome and you should totally do it! :D I've mentioned briefly in the post and in comments what kind of romance appeals to me, so I'd love to hear your take . :) It's interesting to see what people think since the concept of "good romance" can be so subjective!

  38. I totally agree with your list! Especially with the love triangles one. I think that the only way that a love triangle works is if both guys are amazing. And if they are both amazing, then you find yourself rooting for both. And that means that someone amazing is going to get hurt! Heck, all three really are. And what fun is that?

  39. SUCH a good post!!! So many great points here, but I think for me, your "Betrayal" paragraph summed it all up nicely:

    "I am a big believer in the importance of commitment, honesty, loyalty, and communication in relationships, and I find it hard to apply the label of "love" to anything that lacks those elements. That goes for friendships, too."

    Hear hear!

    Anyway, this topic must be on a lot of people's minds, because Sarah just blogged about it at We Heart YA too. :P

  40. Agree on all of these! I wanted to comment especially on lack of personality and love triangles though. For the first, like I said about Twilight, I get that it's to create that whole "normal/average" girl vibe and to let readers live vicariously through the heroine, but it's BORING. Not to mention, those girls all become the same to me in my head because they're all so bland. It's annoying to me when the book is supposed to be about the girl, but the only people I can distinctly remember are the love interests in her life.

    As for love triangles, I like them if they are done well. I do like some angst and the conflict provided by a love triangle can be interesting, but so often these days the love triangle is just used as a shortcut for tension and relationship building. That's just lazy writing. Plus, it's often pretty obvious who is going to win out too in the love triangle, which actually undermines the whole tension building thing. It's kind of like what's the point of this random, shallow distraction if it's obvious the heroine is going to end up with the other guy. Like, I'm sorry, but it was always clear to me that Bella was going to end up with Edward. Even though Jacob got like a whole huge chunk of the 2nd book and way more page time in the 3rd, I didn't think Bella ever "fell in love" with him. She was too busy obsessing over Edward.

    Love this post & love your links!

  41. You're so right that it's totally impossible! I hate it when the guy I root for doesn't get the girl. But some people LOVE the angsty-ness of love triangles. It's not really for me, though. I like happy endings too much, haha. :P

  42. Thanks Kristan! :D Glad you liked it. Yeah, I keep stumbling across great posts on romance in the blogosphere. I've added three new links to my post since I first published it! Haha. Thanks for the heads-up about We Heart YA, I'll definitely be heading over there to check out the post! :)

  43. Yes! Brilliant point about the bland every-girl being boring and forgettable. I so much prefer to read about a girl with a strong personality who is smart and talented and makes me want to be more like her. :)

    Love triangles are so tricky to pull off! I can't think of one I love, though I didn't mind the one in The Hunger Games since it wasn't the main plot and I wasn't on Team Losing Guy, haha. I guess it can work when the two guys represent more than just romance. Like, if the choice between two guys was actually more about what kind of person the heroine wants to be and and what kind of life she wants to live. But then the decision is only compelling if it's incredibly difficult, which means I might accidentally end up on the losing team, and that just sucks! So I don't know. I guess I'm just not a fan of love triangles in general. :PPoor Jacob. I felt really bad for him in New Moon. Bella got on my nerves so much in that book I couldn't bring myself to pick up Book 3. It was too painful to watch her mope and obsess and make stupid, dangerous decisions and lead Jacob on. Sigh.

    Yay, glad you liked the post! Thanks for sharing your insights. :D

  44. Yeah, the one in The Hunger Games was okay, even with the triangle skewed in Peeta's favor, and I think it worked for exactly the reason you said - it wasn't the main plot and both guys were interesting foils to Katniss. It worked because Katniss had a personality, and she had way more important things to worry about. So both guys helped and hindered her, and they revealed aspects of her character and represented different things for her.

    To quote you, "Like, if the choice between two guys was actually more about what kind
    of person the heroine wants to be and and what kind of life she wants
    to live. " THIS SO MUCH. :)

    I'm still Team Gale though. :P

  45. I'm perpetually rooting for Team Nice Guy, and it's nice to know I'm not the only one.  Boys Don't Read--that site is hilarious.  love it! 
    I really think this is a good summary, and a perfectly valid POV.  Thanks!!

  46. Wow! LOVE your point about helping/hindering the protag and characterization and representing different things! So true and such a great way to put it. 
    Lol, you and your attachment to side characters. I like it better when the triangle is skewed and the guy I know I'm supposed to be rooting for is actually the guy I like. XD Then I try very very hard not to get attached to the other guy so I don't feel too bad for him. That was pretty much impossible in New Moon, though.Also, did I ever ask you if you were Team Jacob or Team Edward or Team Bella? :P

  47. Yay, I'm glad I'm not the only one, too! Thanks for the compliment. It's always a lot of fun to see different perspectives and find out people's reasons for their opinions. :)

  48. ohmygosh girl, you've put this exactly how I feel about romance in YA. Books need to be real, not how people wish things could be. I can't tell you once relationship I know of that was born of the quick, shallow 'love' that some books do. Ish.

  49. You got me thinking about love triangles, and now I may have to do a post if I can get my thoughts organized. :P Haha. Look what you've done!

    As for Twilight, I'm not really Team anything since I don't particularly care for any of them, but if I had to choose, I guess I'm Team Edward. BUT that's only because 1) it was pretty clear from the start that Bella was going to end up with Edward and 2) I never believed she was in love with Jacob. I believed Jacob was in love with her (for what reason, I have no clue), but never the other way around.

  50. This is great! It's sad that I hadn't put more thought into this "romance" stuff. I do agree the whole love triangle thing is WAY over done, especially now. And I won't lie, but I did love the twilight books, except now I wonder what Edward ever saw in Bella. You're right... she doesn't show any real wonderful characteristics, he is just so attracted to her "Scent". Kinda freaking and not really about love. Hmmm. I am going to have to pay more attention. I love your opinions on this and I'm going to use them as I work through my book! :)

  51. YES go write the post! :D I'd love to hear more about your thoughts on love triangles!

    Yeah, I'm not particularly team anything for Twilight either. But the funny thing is that your reasons for being Team Edward can totally apply to being Team Peeta as well. :P As for me, I think I might be more Team Jacob-ish (but then I did stop reading before Books 3 and 4 and I heard he turned into a jerk in those books). Interesting how we're so opposite, right?

  52. Thanks, Juliana! Haha I think there's something to be said for wish-fulfillment fiction too, but like you, my personal preference is for more realistic romances.

  53. Thanks, Abby! :D Good to know you found the post helpful. Yeah, I think Bella was supposed to be an every-girl that can serve as reader proxy, so there wasn't that much emphasis on her personality. And for some people, that's ok. Everyone has different preferences for the kind of reading experience they're looking for. I just tend to prefer fiction with strong, likable protagonists I can root for and learn from. I think it's awesome that you're thinking more about romances in  Twilight and in your own writing. Best of luck with your book! :)

  54. Some of these points came back to me while I was scratching down a lyric last week called "I've Always Been a Greedy One." It ended up taking the song a bit deeper and making it more dimensional than it might otherwise have been -- so thanks again for this post, Linda.

  55. That's awesome! So glad you found it useful. So you're going to start sharing more of your work now, right? I mean, I watched that whole vlog you made about kinks and hoses. (Omg that sounds so wrong lol.) Hope the songwriting challenge is going well! :)

  56. Yeah, that was easily like the second kinkiest video I've ever posted to the internet.

    I will definitely be sharing much more of my work. "The Deep End of Summer" is a good start, and I'll try to have at least an EP's worth of music out before January.

    Hope your feet are feeling better.

  57. The SECOND kinkiest?! Do I even want to know about the video that won first place? lol. Yay, looking forward to hearing your work! And yes, my feet are much better. I'm wearing Converse sneakers today. :)

  58. Love this, Linda! I agree with the love triangles. Hate them. I did like Twilight though. Always team Edward. Jacob was annoying. And I was team Peeta for the Hunger Games. He was SO nice. I love the nice guys. :)

    Also, hated Romeo and Juliet. And Tristen and Isolde. :P

    Great post!

  59. Thanks, Chantele! Yeah, I think a lot of it comes down to personal taste and preferences. I agree that there should be more nice guys in YA, though! Bad boys are fun but we're kind of getting overrun by them, haha.

  60. Hi Linda, what a fantastic post, so eloquent.  Strangely, I've just finished posting about the lack of strong female characters in YA but your words make mine sound a touch rambling ... put it down to my age ;o)
    Found you in a round-about way, from SurLaLune fairy tales blog to Word for Teens where you'd commented on the equally fab Disney Princesses post.  Hope you don't mind, but I've posted a link to your article on my blog.  To be honest, if I'd known beforehand about all these wonderful posts, I'd have probably just read them & kept me mouth shut *lol*

  61. Hi Joy, glad you enjoyed the post, and thanks for the link! Yeah, that Disney princess post was awesome. :D And I agree with so much of what you said in your post on strong female protagonists. Thanks for pointing me to it! Everyone has a unique and interesting take, and I love discussions, which is only possible if people chime in. So don't sell yourself short -- keep writing and sharing your opinions! :)

  62. I love this post :D And I completely agree. A lot of these things are the reason why I stop reading some books. I'm a fan of a strong physical plot, and when you throw in the oftentimes obsessive nature of many YA novel romances, everything else seems to take a backseat. Going to go read those other links now :D

  63. Glad you enjoyed the post, Lori! :) Yeah, I too get disappointed when the plot takes a backseat to an obsessive romance. Hope you like the other links!

  64. It's important to realise that Romeo and Juliet isn't supposed to work, for the exact reason you state. Much as modern readers tend to think of it as a straight love story, Shakespeare actually intended it as a criticism of "young couple in lust" stories. The fact that you see they kill themselves over a flash-in-the-pan adolescent crush that probably wouldn't have worked out anyway means you get it.

  65. Authorial intent aside, I can see why some readers would interpret R&J as a straight "young couple in lust" story rather than a criticism. I mean, in today's YA romances, "give up your family/friends/life to be with your (frequently paranormal) lover" is the new "kill yourself for your puppy love," and that's generally considered truly romantic rather than ill-advised (though there are also people who protest that portrayal). I guess it just comes down to personal taste and values. Sounds like ours are in agreement about this one, though. :) Thanks for the comment!