Wednesday, April 6, 2011
YA romance and the question of "what is too much?"
Let's face it, YA is riddled with romance and triangles right now. Seriously, pull out a book in the YA section now and what's the chance that there isn't a romance in it? Maybe 5%? And half of the books seem to have triangles in them. Certainly all of the successful ones (Twilight, The Hunger Games, Mortal Instruments, and Matched just to name a few) have some form of a love triangle.
My WIP right now does have a romantic storyline to it. Half of the plot is a romance. But, I'm not going with a love triangle. In fact, when I called Jasmine to tell her about the idea, I said, "Well...I have this idea...but it is heavily romantic." She stopped me and asked, "Is there a love triangle?" When I told her there wasn't one in the traditional sense and further explained the plot, she breathed a sigh of relief. She told me that triangles are far too overdone now. So I'm wondering...will people get sick of love triangles? Part of the way I molded my story is in the fact that I was sick of seeing them, even though there are books which just sucked me in that had triangles. Jasmine was sick of seeing it, and I often come across comments on an upcoming YA book, "Oh no, not another triangle!"
But love triangles have been around forever. Twilight certainly wasn't the first book to come up with it, and I doubt that we'll see the end anytime soon. And so what I now judge the plotline of love triangles is whether it actually adds anything to the story, or is just another shiny thing to distract the reader with, as well as how well it's constructed and if it's believable.
Another question I have been posing due to my WIP is when are there too many guys into a girl. I promise that there is no triangle action in this WIP, I did not lie to you or to Jasmine. Because in order for there to be a triangle, the girl (or guy, but it's usually a girl) has to in some way feel for both of the guys. No, my heroine is clearly only into her love interest. But, guys will like girls who don't reciprocate their feelings.
And so my question is: how many guys can fall for a girl without her becoming a Mary Sue or the entire idea just being unbelievable? I'm going to take a look at Twilight right now. In the first book, Bella has Erik, Mike, and Tyler all ask her to prom. Then of course she falls for Edward, and even in the first book Jacob showed a clear interest in her. In the later books Erik and Tyler's hormones don't pull toward Bella, but Edward, Jacob, and Mike are all still interested in her. Too much? A lot of people think so. It didn't phase me as a fourteen year old reading a book targeted toward older YA for the first time, but now I definitely see the problem. And then again, you have heroines like Scarlett O'Hara who gets married three times and has several other men competing for her. And look at Gone with the Wind. It's a celebrated classic. And, one of my roommates has some issues with too many guys being into her. She isn't a Scarlett O'Hara, she doesn't expect guys to fall at her feet, they just do because she's such a fun person. It's not like there aren't girls out there who do just have a lot of guys interested in them.
I wish I had an answer to all of this. It would make it easier as I try to shape the plot of my WIP. But, in the end, I suppose everything is relative as to how the story is created.