Club thread moves fast; that's nice!
Anyway, no prob! Currently, Serebii's still saying a nebulous October 2013, so I can add that to the deadline list for now until we get a more solid date for you.
Also, as a general note! Yep, I have indeed been updating the first post these past couple of days. Sorry about the zero response, guys. Failed miserably at the whole "having energy" bit, but hopefully, now that we've passed Wednesday, I'll be a little more active. b)'')b But! If you see your name in the members' list (which, yes, is actually totally intended on being punctuated that way, by the by), you can consider yourself in.
That being said, probably will end up replying to the topics I've missed in length, but I at least want to get a crack at this latest one because it's completely irresistible (because hell yes character building).
How do you portay romance correctly in your stories?
By remembering that characters are people, not relationships. *le nod*
That being said, to start things off, I'd like to say that I agree with a lot of what's already been said about romance. Lots of people these days tend to hear the word "romance" and instantly think "kissy kissy heart heart heart" kind of thing. Or worse, they think of whatever Twilight thinks love is. But romance is about more than just love, and there's more than one type of love anyway. Granted, I have a tendency to think there's more types of love out there than what Kutie Pie's brought up, although she's definitely correct in saying that it's possible to be friends and consider that a type of love itself. It's just that there's also different levels, and then the whole shebang becomes a massively complex mess of emotions and varying shades of loyalty. There's of course a difference between a love and loyalty you have towards a friend and a love and loyalty you have towards someone who's more than your best friend but still completely platonic. I guess you would say it's the difference between bros and regular ol' drinking buddies? And hey, depending on your time period, different levels really were a thing.
Rambling aside, what I'm trying to say is there's different ways of going about portraying love, but the main thing to keep in mind is that people are very rarely consumed by their relationships. It's a trap a lot of romance authors fall into, but the secret is really that simple. Keep reminding yourself that these characters should exist outside of their relationships. They should be their own realized individuals, with their own personalities, interests, and so forth. Sure, there are couples in media that aren't like that (How I Met Your Mother's Marshall and Lily, anyone?), but these... tend to be seen more as parodies of couples than of actual couples. If you have that kind of relationship up front and center and serious, then you come off as more than a little cheesy.
Once you remember that these characters are separate entities from each other, then you start getting into building the way they would interact with one another by taking their separate personalities and interests and figuring out where they fit together. Like a puzzle, basically. Or... like any other interaction you write in a fic. Not to mean that bitingly, of course. It's just that there's a lot you can learn just by comparing the romance to every other relationship in your fic. Figuring out how your characters would interact with someone they don't maintain a strong bond with will help you figure out how they'd interact with someone who does have that strong bond with them.
Really, in general, looking at the characters as individual entities solves so many problems... for me, anyway. Writing the characters separate encourages one to think about their place in the overall web of the plot, rather than hone in on the fact that they're a couple first. That dodges the "plot takes a backseat" issue, but it also obviously helps solve the "characters become an amorphous blob of hormones" issue as well. 'Course, if the characters want to be amorphous blobs of hormones, you'll at least have enough on their separate personalities to figure out how that would work.
'Course, remembering that not all relationships have to be about eros probably helps too. You can, for example, be in a "friends with benefits" relationship. Or a significant-other-to-an-asexual relationship. Personally, though? I'm all for philia myself. Or to be more accurate, that weird, hazy, nebulous kind of relationship that we don't seem to have an accurate word for these days. Y'know, the one where you have two people who are incredibly close to one another to the point where "best friend" doesn't even really adequately define the strength and closeness of the relationship, but it's still totally platonic. I like to think "romantic friendship" might actually be the closest thing to what I'm talking about but that's more accurately a homosexual relationship in a time when that was a massive taboo.
Blargh, English. You and your complete failure to have words for finely defined concepts.
And one last note: I openly acknowledge that Butler was the best part of the Artemis Fowl series. *nods* Well, okay, to be fair, so was Artemis. When he wasn't being used as a mouthpiece for environmentalism, anyway. (Admittedly, I haven't read that lovely book with the love interest, so I'm not sure how hard I'd eat those words if/when I do. But I'll also give you that the slow death sounds incredible and creative, and I may or may not be thinking about powering through the series to get to that installment in general.)