I am so pleased to be part of the launch of Charles Yallowitz’s final volume of the Legends of Windemere series. Welcome, Charles.
A big thank you to John for letting me write a guest post to celebrate the release of Legends of Windemere: Warlord of the Forgotten Age. This is it. The final volume of my fantasy adventure series that I’ve worked on for . . . carry the 1 . . . divide by pie . . . 19 years!? Wow, I finally did that actual math on that and caught myself by surprise. Anyway, one of the more common subplots I used in this series is romance. Characters fall in love, have their hearts broken, make mistakes, plan futures, and lock lips. I enjoyed writing these because it felt like rewards and promises to my beleaguered heroes. They also ended up being some of the biggest headaches of my writing career. So, what are some things I learned?
- Let’s get the cynicism out of the way. No matter what you do, somebody will hate the pairing, relationship, or existence of romance in the first place. There are many people out there who feel that romance has no place in genres like fantasy and science-fiction. Especially if it’s not the main plot. The thing is that if you want characters to be more human then a relationship is one of the best things to give them. Most people fall in love or get close to others at some point, so it’s one of the easiest points of relation.
- You don’t need to write a sex scene to get your point across that characters are in love or lust. Body language like hungry stares and handholding can reveal more than the actual act of procreation. Personally, I see no reason to go beyond the initial kiss and then showing the ‘afterglow’ where the characters are talking, snoring, or raiding the fridge. There’s really no reason for this unless you’re writing erotica or intending to get the reader heated.
- There’s only so long that you can play the ‘will they/won’t they’ and ‘who will he/she choose’ game. In Legends of Windemere, I have both situations. One pairing stayed iffy for about 7 volumes because they characters were split up for 2 of them. It was mostly one was open with their feelings and the other was too scared to be honest. The readers knew what was going on, so I had to be careful with how to play it out. Eventually, the audience would think I’m just being a jerk and lose interest in the relationship. When things start to feel stretched and it’s the fourth time they’ve done the ‘so close’ thing then you may have missed your opportunity. As for the love triangle . . .
- I don’t know what to tell you here. What I personally learned is that I never want to do one of these again. At least not one that gets this complicated. The problem with a love triangle is that it forces readers to take sides, so you end up creating enemies for the characters involved. People also seem to expect it to be clear from the beginning who will get together. You remove the mystery and risk, so they don’t get invested in a relationship that will fail. I didn’t do that at all. This was a love triangle with an open relationship, three emotionally immature characters, fantasy cultures, and no true hate/malice between those involved. As much as I and others enjoyed this subplot, it was a mess to handle, which is why I brought it to a close earlier than I originally planned.
- Love at first sight is a tough card to play, but it’s doable. People talk about how it’s unrealistic and lame. Yet, there’s the chance of two characters having that spark as soon as they met. It can happen with friends, so why not potential lovers? One way I found to make it more palatable is to not go right to the lovey dovey stuff. Such emotions are strong and hit without warning. So, I had one character be overly eager to be honest and another be plain terrified. At least to me, that feels a lot more realistic.
- These subplots are perfect targets for villains. Yes, this is a cliché, but what bad guy would pass up the chance to hurt a hero by attacking and possibly destroying their relationship? Many main villains work for psychological victories even if they can’t get the physical one. You stopped my plan to take over this village? Well, the ring you bought from that vendor actually has a memory wipe spell that will go off as soon as your girlfriend puts it on? Villains are cruel and going after loved ones is like stabbing at the heart without actually hitting the heart.
- Romantic subplots can change the mentality of a character because they now have something more to live for. With romance comes the possibility of marriage, kids, settling down, and being with someone into old age. Prior to this, a hero might not consider much beyond their final battle or even be okay with dying. Love changes this perspective because it’s something that will last beyond the finale. It’s like a promise to the character that they can have a normal life as long as they survive their adventures.
Again, thank you to John for letting me be a guest and also being there to help support me from early on. It’s been a really long road and it’s great to have people who travel the whole thing with you. Please check out Legends of Windemere: Warlord of the Forgotten Age and I hope you enjoy the adventure.
Charles Yallowitz was born and raised on Long Island, NY, but he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you, and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.