Valentine’s Day is this week. I’m not going to bore you or aggravate you with a debate over whether it’s a religious holiday (honoring St. Valentine the martyr who died on February 14, 270 AD) or if it’s just another silly Hallmark holiday that’s the bane of every man’s existence who’s in a committed relationship. I am, however, going to take this opportunity to plead with you non-romance writers out there to consider spicing up your writing a bit by taking a page out of my book. (Not literally, of course. That would be plagiarism, and that would be wrong.) We romance writers have been mixing our genres with others quite successfully for some time now; in honor of Valentine’s Day, I think it’s your turn. As a romance writer, I’m recommending you other genre-writers throw some love interests into your works. Spice things up a bit. Challenge yourselves. Here’s a look at some other genres with successful romances added to their plots.
1) Action/Adventure—Pirates of the Caribbean was as much a love story about Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann as it was an adventure about Captain Jack Sparrow. And after three films, when Will’s fate was determined, what happened? The fourth film introduced a love interest for Jack. Obviously there’s merit to introducing romance in the plot of action and adventure films.
2) Comedy—There’s a reason the term “Rom-Com” is now so common. From films as chaste as Doc Hollywood to ones as risqué as American Pie, comedic films have long since learned the value of throwing together couples for a few laughs. If laughter is the best medicine, adding some romance to the mix could only make things better, right?
3) Fantasy—So many fairy tales begin with “Once upon a time…” and end with “…and they lived happily ever after.” Did you ever think about who the “they” was? The prince and princess, of course. There’s romance in so many of the fairy tales we grew up with. Sure, we could probably move on from the damsel-in-distress routine, but the true-love’s-kiss bit, that works for me every time.
4) Horror—Every horror movie I watch has a couple sneak off for some quality one-on-one time right before they get hacked to pieces. I’m the one talking to the screen telling them not to go, but they never listen. At least they have each other before they die. To be fair, some horror films also have one couple make it through to the end, because they love each other and take care of each other. That’s real romance, people.
5) Mystery—Think about some of your favorite all-time crime-solving duos of television. I’ll tell you who some of mine are: Jonathan and Jennifer Hart from Hart to Hart, Laura Holt and Remington Steele from Remington Steele, Kate Beckett and Richard Castle from Castle, and Temperance Brennan and Seeley Booth from Bones. What do they all have in common? They were or are romantically involved crime-solving partners. Sure, solving mysteries on television (or in books) is fun; it’s always nice to know if you can solve the crime before the answer is revealed. But what’s more fun is if there’s some romantic friction thrown in the mix. It amps up the drama and makes the challenge more interesting.
6) Sci-fi—If this is your genre, you’re either a Star Wars fan, a Star Trek fan, or both. And having watched all six Star Wars films and episodes from TOS and TNG, I can honestly say that they are full of romance. Star Wars hinted at a love triangle until Han realized Leia was Luke’s sister. Furthermore, even given the tug on his ego, he may not have returned to help them had it not been for his attraction to her. And the story simply wouldn’t have been as strong without their love. And in Star Trek, come on, I mean, really, did Captain Kirk ever meet a female alien that he didn’t like? These are the quintessential sci-fi flagship franchises, and if romance was good enough for them…
7) Western—Many westerns go hand-in-hand with a man defending the life and honor of a woman, so this probably isn’t a stretch for a lot of you western writers. For those of you picturing nothing but saloons and gunfights at high noon, let me point you to Dances with Wolves, an epic love story set in the west during the Civil War.
So that’s my spiel for this Valentine’s Day. Regardless of where your passions lie, I’m certain there’s room to work in a little romance. Challenge yourself a little; you might be surprised at where your characters take you. They might even thank you for it.
Happy Valentine’s Day!