Sunday, August 30, 2009

All you need is love…. or do you?

It appears that a lot of YA books involve love. A young girl sees a boy at school and instantly feels a connection. Sometimes they hate the boy; sometimes they are immediately attractive to one another. Invariably that boy or girl harbor a deep dark secret that threatens their budding love. They undergo challenges that bring them together and in the end fall madly in love.

While I know this is not the main story line of every book, it seems to be a common thread in a lot of them, at least the ones I have picked up lately.

This is my question. Can you have a YA book where the relationship starts as a friendship and builds over time to something more or does the protagonist need to have an automatic attraction to someone in order for the book to sell?

What do you think? Do you need a romantic story line for a YA book to sell?

16 comments:

Amber Lynae said...

I can't say I know the answer to this. Although I am very interested in your question. I would have to say that love stories interested me a lot at that age. I dunno if it is the selling point among today's youth or not?

Jenn Johansson said...

My first version of my YA didn't have a romantic storyline. I tried to avoid it, but in the end when I added it the story really came to life.

I did read a book recently(WINGS by Aprilynne Pike) where the relationship starts as a friendship and then blooms to more. It is actually a triangle and there is another guy that instant chemistry happens with... but I think in the end the reader is rooting for the friendship romance. That was fun :)

JKB said...

I think it's possible, but YA expects and pays for big bangs.

SHIVER is a bit slow, but different than the immediate things... but it's still there.

Lazy Writer said...

I think the romantic element is important when you are writing for teens. Teenage girls are very interested in a good love story. That's not to say it isn't possible to write a successful YA without it, though.

strugglingwriter said...

I hope you don't need the romantic angle, because mine ain't gonna have that. Why can't two people of the opposite sex be friends and not involved romantically?

Anything new is good, though. If "relationship starts as a friendship and builds over time to something more" isn't done as much, I say go for it. Unique is not bad, in my eyes.

Heidi Willis said...

Great question. Harry Potter didn't have it, but it's hard to compare Harry Potter to any normal standard.

Still, if the story is about more than love, or love is very secondary to the storyline, I don't know why it couldn't be slower... or not there at all.

I wrestle with the same thing, even in adult books. My novel doesn't have any love interest and I worried that would make it less interesting. But the story just doesn't have a place for it.

Patti said...

Amber: I know that I loved reading about people falling in love as well. It is a hard question one I've been struggling with for a while.

Jenn: I think I like the love story that builds and not the fall in love instantly, which is what I'm gearing towards in mine.

Jen: I looked at that book Shiver and was going to buy it. Was it any good?

Patti said...

Susan: I have read lots of books without the romantic element, but I can't totally recall them.

SW: Unique is definitely good and I can't believe how many books have the gorgeous guy or the gorgeous people. Where are all the normal people? They deserve some love.

Heidi: Right now I think love is secondary to my character getting over a tragedy and experiencing a new world. So I just don't know what to do.

Dara said...

Instant attraction is OK but I find that I really like stories where the love grows over time.

I think when I was a teen, I liked stories with a romance element, but it didn't have to be the central focus of the story. There's something about watching characters start as friends and then begin to realize they love each other. More satisfactory to me than "Oh, he's hot" and then they're together.

Even as a teen, I liked the friendship to love stories better. Still do now at 25.

Patti said...

Dara: I totally agree with you. Me and my husband were friends for three years before we got together.

Kasie West said...

You know, I think if the story is strong enough you don't need romance. In fact, I think Hunger Games would've been better without the romance. I thought the story didn't need it. But a lot of books I love the romance and I think it adds to the story. (that's not to say I didn't love Hunger Games, I did.)

Patti said...

Kasie: Thanks for you comments. I think I agree, if the story and plot are strong enough the love story won't be missed.

Jessie Oliveros said...

I love a good love story. Depending on the book sometimes they aren't necessary, but especially with YA I think some romantic element is essential.

Patti said...

Jessie: I agree it's essential. My conflict is I like to write the building romance, but maybe like to read the automatic attraction.

Anonymous said...

With 3 girls I think the answer must be yes, as they keep buying the books that have the love stories in them. Maybe we all want that happy ending and mystery of love in our lives. What do you think?

jenniferneri said...

I would have to say, Yes. Kids expect it, and romance, or potential romance, or the thought of romance is so much a part of their life that I think it would be an omission.