It happens in way too many books, movies, and television shows to count: guy walks into a room/down the hall/into a classroom. His gaze meets with the girl’s. Despite her thinking, “He looks like trouble,” she’s immediately drawn to something in that smolder. It’s love at first sight. Don’t get me wrong; media is full of tropes and I love so many of them. Love (or even just lust) at first sight is one that can be done really well and leave me as a reader going, “Oh, I totally feel you” because if I’m instantly in love with a character, I can get why their presumably soon-to-be love interest is, too.
But, personally, I’ve long been a fan of the slow burn romance. Not just in my own writings, but in the media I consume, too. I love couples that don’t realize they would be amazing together until I’ve realized it. Until I want to
shake the book and yell at them to kiss already. (Considering I’m bisexual and therefore want everything I read/watch to reflect a wide range of sexualities, I often end up disappointed because…well, heterosexual romances still top the charts. Everywhere. Always. But that’s another post for another day.)
There’s something special to me about seeing how two people interact as
acquaintances and friends when they aren’t fully aware of one another physically and/or romantically. When they’re totally being themselves without trying to impress, seeing each other at their worst, and yet despite all that, still manage to fall for one another. Maybe that’s why I love video games that allow you to pick your romance option (hi, Dragon Age!) because you see the connection you want to see and can go about achieving it in the manner you want to.
The slow burn is certainly a trope that can be done poorly. There has to be some buildup, otherwise The Moment (first kiss, first confessions, whathaveyou) come out of nowhere and you’re left going, “Wait, when did any of this happen?” I’ll never forget watching JOHNNY MNEMONIC (an old Keanu Reeves movie from the mid-90s. … It was a disaster.) where the two main characters were so busy dealing with other things…only to start making out five minutes before the credits role. It was one of the few times I’ve literally vocalized, “What the hell?” while watching a movie.
Maybe love at first sight is easier for film because you have less time to
really get into a slow-burn romance, especially if the movie’s plot doesn’t
revolve around the romantic aspect? But books, games, and TV don’t really get to use that as an excuse.
Overall, what makes a good romance for me is how well the author can
make me fall in love with both characters, so that I desperately want nothing more than for them to end up with no one but each other. If that takes ten minutes or ten years, I’m good so long as it’s worth the wait. Do you guys have a preference? What’s a MUST HAVE for a solid, swoon-worthy romance for you?
About Kelley York
Kelley was born and raised in central California, where she still resides with her lovely wife, daughter, and an abundance of pets. (Although she does
fantasize about moving across the globe to Ireland.) She has a fascination with bells, adores all things furry – be them squeaky, barky or meow-y – is a lover
of video games, manga and anime, and likes to pretend she’s a decent photographer. Her life goal is to find a real unicorn. Or maybe a mermaid.
Within young adult, she enjoys writing and reading a variety of genres from contemporary with a unique twist, psychological thrillers, paranormal/urban fantasy and horror. She loves stories where character development takes center stage.