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Long term romance or teen crush?

26 Jul

Romeo-meets-Juliet-in-the-1996-filmWhat to choose? What to choose? In basically all three of the books I’m working on at the moment I have a main character who (at least during the book’s opening) is a teenager. But what am I to do about romantic entanglements? You can’t miss this element out when writing a teen character without them looking a little robotic (I did try) so I need to include a romantic partner/love interest for my character to feel real. That part isn’t really a problem as simply exploring the differences between the two characters seems to help me to open out my main character’s personality with the use of a foil.

However, I hit a bit of an issue when dealing with the fact that occasionally their love interest is a secondary (or at least important tertiary character) who will feature through a large portion of the book and a sometimes sizeable portion of narrative time will pass through the course of the book. So here’s my question should I break characters up, even if they seem right for each other, just because my characters are young and statistically there’s little chance a relationship in your teens will last even into your twenties?

This can certainly be done to great dramatic effect (Shakespeare did all right with it anyway) but the thing is at least two of my books are part of a series so I’m a little apprehensive about killing off characters that I could use later. Something I love about Terry Pratchett’s ‘Discworld’ books is that you revisit the same world with many of the same characters each time. He rarely kills off a character off and seems reluctant to even allow a character to disappear entirely from the overall narrative of his world. This clearly saves him a lot of time at the start of a book that would otherwise be spent getting to know the characters.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that I’ll have to explain my characters a little in later books (at the very least I can’t guarantee my books will be read in sequence) and I’m honestly not trying to take the easy way out, it’s just that I’m in this series for the long haul so I’m loathe to dispatch a well-formed character who could otherwise prove useful in a later story-line.

The love interest angle is something I’m finding really easy to use as a means of moving the story on, developing emotional involvement and (possibly most importantly) highlighting the personalities of some of my main characters, but I’m feeling a snag coming up that I’ll need to deal with before I progress much further with these characters. If they’re to break up why do they break up? when does it happen? and why would they feel OK continuing to be around each other?

I know that in writing break-ups there’s the potential for some lovely moody moments, will-they-won’t-they plot elements etc. but to be honest I find the prospect a little boring compared to the narrative I’ve got planned. I think all the trappings of a break up would just get in the way. What do you think? Would a reader be able to handle a teenaged couple that stays together or would it seem a little too unrealistic/over-romanticised? Any opinion welcome, as always thanks for reading, Cheers, John

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