My appologies for the outstandingly bad puns in the title. If you haven’t been living as a hermit in a metaphorical cave like I have been the past fifteen years, you’ve probably heard of something called shipping, often spoken about with complaints about something called canon. If you haven’t heard of either of these words before, let me define them for you:
1. Shipping: the act of pairing two characters (or even people) together as a couple, usually but not always romantic.
2. Canon: the actual things that happen in the original work of fiction (Darth Vader being Luke’s father is canon)
People often use these two terms in the same sentence when they’re complaining about couples that aren’t actually couples in the original work of fiction. Hence, my ships do sink because of canon, just not all of them.
I’ve been meaning to post about my feelings on fictional romance for a while. Why I tend to generally dislike it, examples of the types of couples I actually do ship, and so forth. Originally I was planning on squeezing this all into one post, but because I love to overanalyze characters, I’ve decided to make it an ongoing series, title to be determined. This post I’ll reference in all future posts because in it I aim to explain why, exactly, I tend to dislike fictional romance.
I think that often times in fiction romance is poorly written. It takes over the plot or the life of the character, or there’s too much snogging right from the start, or the characters spend the entire time telling each other I love you without ever telling why, or the main guy/girl involved is gorgeous and alluring (because they always are). I could fill the list with hundreds of reasons why, but in this post I’m only going to focus on a few.
I’m not typically a very cynical person. I get romantic notions in my head about the rain and the snow and the trees, and I’m a foolish optimist, but when it comes to romance in fiction I am. I guess it’s because there’s rarely ever a time where I can see a happy (read: still in love with each other) future for the characters involved. Two teenagers who kiss after barely a week of being “in love” are not likely to be truly happy with each other for long, therefore I can’t ship them.
To build on my previous point, many characters barely have the chance to get to know each other before the start sneaking out in the shrubbery. One of my main problems with a lot of YA fiction is the sheer amount of underdeveloped romantic subplots. A girl will see a mysterious, gorgeous, brooding boy and instantly fall at his feet. It works in reverse, too. When I ship a couple I want to know that they fit well together, that they’re not just in love but best friends too, that together they’ll be an unbeatable team of perfect synchronization. Though teenage hormones mean that a quick and quickly added romance are most accurate, I still won’t ship a couple who I feel have no character development or personality.
I also dislike it when romances are, well, overly romantic. A passionate kiss in a moonlit apple orchard becomes significantly less romantic when there are passionate kisses in the apple orchard every other page starting at the exposition. I’m fine with kissing & things of that category in books, but I really don’t like it when it seems like that’s all the characters spend their time doing. Having the first kiss be in the first few chapters is also a sign of a poorly written romance in my mind.
The Beauty Effect. This happens in many romances and never fails to annoy me. A character will meet another character and is so blown away by their gorgeous physique that they instantly fall in love with them. Or, even if this doesn’t happen, the love interest(s) of a book are generally extremely attractive, sometimes more attractive than anyone else. I understand that in today’s society that has become a large component for romance, but I wish it weren’t such a big one.
I’ve spent a lot of time telling you about the types of romances I don’t enjoy, but what about the ones I do? Well, you’ll see examples of those in upcoming posts, but I’ll give you the general idea of it now.
I love to cry over fiction. It’s one of my favorite pasttimes. So naturally one kind I really like is that two characters who are obviously suited to each other don’t end up together. Generally this means a death, because there aren’t many other times when the romance just doesn’t work out in the end, but really it can be anything. I’ll sob and yell at the book and curse the author for not making it happen, but I know those romances wouldn’t be nearly as good if everything turned out well in the end. I’m like a Weeping Angel; I feed off of potential energy.
I also tend to like pairings that aren’t strictly canon, merely what I like to call “interpretive canon”, which is something that isn’t strictly canon but basically implied. Or I’ll ship something that isn’t canon at all because I think the characters would fit well together.
As you’d imagine, I also like romances that are generally the opposite of the things I highlighted above–developed, thought out, and not overly smoochy. And there are loads and loads of other criteria, but this post is rather long and you’ll see examples in future posts. So for now, I must sign off. Live long and prosper, readers.