I’ve written in the past about my thoughts on romance in literature, but as I’ve been making more progress on the rewrite of my young adult romance novel, I’ve had a few more insights into what makes a good romance.
In popular romance, the soul mate is the one person who can offer a character complete fulfillment and happiness. Frankly, that makes me want to puke. Therefore, I would like to propose the replacement of this trope with something far superior— the mind mate.
I abhor romances that are all fluff and lack substance. This is especially evident in elemental romance but can also be seen in romance as a genre. The romance overflows with butterflies and weak knees, but all of that comes across as contrived when the leads are lacking a deep connection. I would much rather read about the mutual exploration of two minds than the magnetism of a new crush.
Intellectual stimulation is rarely featured in popular romance, which is a shame because intellectual stimulation is incredibly stimulating. However, even if the characters aren’t intellectual, they can still participate in mind mating. They can doubt and inspire one another and learn and reflect together. Such connections not only deepen their relationship but also enhance the likeability and realism of each individual character. A romance based on a shallow character connection is not interesting, and likewise, a character that cannot connect with other characters is not interesting.
In my young adult novel, the romantic leads’ cognitive functions cause conflict between them. Rationality drives Marty’s actions whereas harmony drives Jordan’s, and they must both learn to harness their strengths while developing their weaknesses, but the fun (conflict) is in that journey. My characters don’t drool over each other or even touch one another, but they still manage to have romance and, dare I say it, an extraordinary romance, due to the mating of their minds.
In conclusion, real romance requires the syndication and resultant strengthening of two minds in the face of highly discordant cognitive functions, biases, and thought patterns. *Insert heart pounding*