Does every tale need a love story woven in?

Recently I read To Kill a Tsar by Andrew Williams. Whilst I enjoyed the book I found the love story between Anna and Hadfield to be a bit of a distraction. I understand it is a literary device to bring an Englishman into the Russian Revolution and in many ways make it more accessible to British audiences, however I really did not enjoy it. At one point there was a sex scene which seemed a little at odds with the rest of the story. I wanted more of the revolution, of people’s struggles and the differences between the revolutionaries and the government. Maybe I am just more intrigued by historic fact, by what people are hiding rather than what they do and say. I like the mystery, I like to be kept guessing and coming up with my own theories of what is behind character’s decisions. I feel good when I am proven right but love it more when a twist in the tale moves it in a direction I was not expecting. This got me thinking about other books I have read and the shows that I watch on TV. Nearly all have a love story woven in, by that I mean boy meets girl or boy likes boy or even girl falls for girl. But I do not read or watch for that reason. I am fed up of the X-Factor style sob story or the idea that a character is motivated by doing it for the love of their life. I don’t mind the love between a family but that lusty, sickening I can’t live without you stuff just makes my head spin and my stomach churn. The only genre that seems to dispense with this ideal is comedy. Not many Terry Pratchett novels have a love story and most sitcoms use it as more dysfunctional couples or are set in places where love like that is abnormal, I am talking about things like The IT Crowd or Father Ted. These are shows and books that I feel most passionate about. It was then that I started to think about my own writing. Not a single piece I have written or plan to write has a love story in it. I am in a very settled place in my personal life, I have a wonderful wife and a gorgeous son so don’t need to think about this stuff. OK I do do the odd romantic thing but I am not thinking ‘I would die for you!’ The thing is I would die for my wife and son I just don’t portray that in everyday life. Therefore when I write I don’t thinking about these things, yes I feel uneasy writing a love story and would feel physically sick writing a sex scene, I think that is largely down to mentioning anatomy that is generally hidden from view and it all feeling a bit low-class porn, however, in some stories I actively avoid it. The Wings of Aysh-Karal is about ideas other than love and a teen fiction book I am planning moves away from that as I feel it would detract from the story. So the thing that I realise about myself is that I like subterfuge, I like twists and turns, a story taken into an unexpected place and don’t want a love story cluttering that up or taking me away from the real point of the tale. But is this the correct way to think? Do we need a little love to bring different audiences in? Can we really have a tale devoid of the traditional idea of a love story? I think we can, I think we need to be bold and I think we need to tell the story we want and not have to place in plot devices that we feel do not fit just to conform to social norms. I intend to send one or two of my stories to publishing houses, it will be interesting to see if they notice the lack of a love story and want that woven in just to reach a larger audience or they see what I write for what it is, a story that is intended to intrigue and entertain, and hopefully keep people guessing.


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