Must We Have Romantic Tension?
When I wrote the book that became the first one I had published (Fall From Grace), I created three main characters: brother and sister Joseph and Lauren, and their best friend Paul. It genuinely surprised me when I was asked why I hadn’t created any romantic tension between Paul and one of the other two characters.
I pointed out that, although Joseph was gay, Paul wasn’t (that point was obvious early on in the book) and his relationship with Lauren was based on friendship, not romance. Now, as it turned out, Paul found a girlfriend by the time of the sequel, Leap of Faith, but the entire courtship was completed off-screen, as it were. There was a two-year gap in the chronology, and everything that evolved the relationship happened in those invisible years. It was easier that way, and even the relationship wasn’t particularly romantic. It was just a part of his life, and all of his relationships were important; friends as well as partner. Why wouldn’t they be? He cared about all of them.
A romantic subplot is almost always integral to the plot of books across all genres. Sometimes I find this depressing because people need to be shown the diversity of relationships that matter as well as romantic partners; there shouldn’t be a stigma to that. In my third book, Elysium’s Shadow, the main characters are a male and a female. I’ve written their interplay without any romantic undertones at all, because there aren’t any undertones. They are acquaintances and, as the plot continues, become friends, but that’s it. There’s nothing else between them, and nor should there be.
It’s always a matter of some oddity (to me at least) that two people of compatible sexuality should automatically be written as having an attraction to each other. I simply don’t understand it; why should this be the case? Can they not just be friends? We know it’s possible, because it happens all the time in real life; at least, when we allow it. I’m friends with women and men and we’ve never had any inclination to be romantic. Our friendships are secure; they’re just as solid as people in a relationship, and it’s about time that was reflected more in fiction.
© 2019 Matthew Munson
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Thanet-based author Matthew has three novels published by Inspired Quill, is an inveterate blogger, and writing is his passion.