Writing Excuses Season 2 Episode 9: Romance, with Dave Wolverton

This week (and for the following two weeks) the Writing Excuses crew is joined by author Dave Wolverton, who also writes under the name David Farland. This week’s topic? ROMANCE. What can four adult males possibly have to say about the subject? The answer: We tell you absolutely everything we know in just sixteen minutes and fifty-one seconds. And there was time left over in there to stick in an advertisement.

This week’s Writing Excuses is brought to you by Rokit Fuel. That ad Howard recorded was powered in part by two bags of the stuff. They sent us samples, and we plowed through them like a tornado through a trailer park.



And now, the Writing Prompt: Your character walks into a room and sees three people whom he or she could end up with. You don’t know which one it will be. Keep the reader guessing (and interested!)

65 thoughts on “Writing Excuses Season 2 Episode 9: Romance, with Dave Wolverton”

  1. I think LRK does have a point, though, in terms of love stories that have lots of obstacles that are not properly overcome. If your characters hate each other throughout the story and then decide they love each other in time for the closing kiss–without having actually resolved any of the issues that caused them to hate each other–then it is not a very good romance. It might be a good tragedy, depending on how you handle it, but that’s different.

  2. test

    Do the characters actually hate each other? or only believe they do because they don’t want to face what they really feel? Perhaps this is what you mean when you sayd that they should overcome the obstacles properly?

    Ok, so I love a good romance within a fantasy story…

  3. I’m kind of on the fence on this one. I see both sides of the argument. I get that there are relationships like that and there might be legitimate reasons why… but as LRK said, if I’m reading about two people who seem to (or actually) hate each other, I’m going to spend the whole time wondering why they don’t just go their seperate ways, instead of wanting them to get together.

  4. No, of course I don”t mean there should be no conflict – I believe I said “there must be something that brings the characters together ” and “The characters should be happier together than apart.” Merely meaning if you concentrate too hard on the things that are keeping the characters apart, then there is very little love involved at all. I did give “Pride and Prejudice” as an example of a story I loved, you know – and Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet don’t exactly hit it off at once – but on the other hand Mr Darcy is probably the only person who can appreciate Lizzie’s wit and inteelligence – in a way they do understand each other and there grows to be a mutual respect. If I’m not making myself clear, I’m sorry for expressing myself so badly…

    And it’s not merely “hate” – the story I was particularly thinking about, they didn’t hate each other, in fact I, the reader, was supposed to believe they were passionately in love with each other – but there was nothing in their interaction to convince me of their being fond of each other. At all.

  5. I think it comes down to this: don’t write a love interest for the sole purpose of being a love interest, and also don’t put two characters together for the sole purpose of having romance in the story. They each need to be fully rounded individual characters, and they also need to be a good match, not just a convenient one. (I mean convenient in terms of building a story, not in terms of actually getting together – because as everyone already said, where’s the story in that?) It seems like this falls under the heading of making sure that the characters are driving the story instead of the other way around.

  6. Well, after following these comments the past week I can say with confidence that I have no interest in writing romance.

  7. Jake, I can understand your frustration..

    I was thinking more on this and I don’t think there’s a way to not write a romance of sorts into the book. Go with me on this for a sec :)

    I think that in every book, there are passions.. Something that your drives your character, motivates them, makes them want to be better than they ever thought they could. In a romance novel, its the love interest. In a fantasy novel, it might be a love interest or a sense of nobility. In a horror novel, the passion might be the need to kill, to possess, to inflict horror, to inflict pain..etc… (obviously, in the sense of horror, being a better person in their eyes would not be the same as being a better person in our eyes, but they don’t know that!)

    The point is that what ever your character’s passion is, it has to be written well. In the case of a romantic element, it has to be done particularly well because the other character needs to be just as credible as your main character.

    I wouldn’t want someone to read this whole thread and lose an element that might enhance the story they are working with. Write your character’s passion well, and you’ll have gotten what you needed to out of this whole thread :)

  8. I’m with Jake. I am taking a machine gun to everyone in my story and then I am just going to write some nice zombie schlock.
    The only love in it will be that for BRAAAAAAAAINS.

  9. In terms of romance like “Romance period” then no Kelly there isn’t a way to not include basic human thoughts and desires and still tell a compelling story. What I was saying is that my particular story (or at least the POV characters) have no room for love. It goes against both their culture and personal goals.

  10. How interesting! Against the culture? To a romantic sap like myself, that is such a foreign idea that I’d have to read it just to see how it is explained!

  11. Hello,

    I hope I’m not reviving this episode too long after its death, but I only recently decided to put my reading addiction to good use and started listening to the writing excuses podcasts last night. I just have a little bit to add from another female perspective.

    First off, I would say that M has it right, but that it works the other way around as as well.

    “Either [women] are too confident or not confident enough, too pushy or not assertive enough, too clingy or not emotionally connected to the [man]…” and men can either be too cool or try to hard, be so obvious that it comes across as creepy or seem uninterested. And we really don’t want to see either creepy or uninterested.

    I think a lot of women, even the more confident, really fear rejection. We may be terrifying, but we’re also afraid! Which may be why so many of us over-analyze the touch that might have just been an accidental bump but I’m really not sure it could have meant he likes me but maybe not I just don’t know! And there is much gnashing of teeth. (This is why other female friends are important – to bolster our self-confidence and give a second ‘outsider’ analysis to keep us from losing our minds.) Okay, so that’s how it was in high school. As adults we tend to at least try to act a little more mature about it, though the thoughts and insecurities don’t change. Of course I think this sort of goes for any relationship. After a job interview, you’re going to wonder about how it went, and what the boss’s reactions mean. It’s just that much harder in the beginning of a romantic relationship partly because it is so much more personal, but also because you’re trying harder to be liked for a longer period of time.

    I have to stop, because my train of thought has long ago derailed and my writing will follow if I let it. These are great podcasts, guys! Not only interesting, but highly entertaining. I’m looking forward to more.

  12. Here’s a question for the Podcasters and the audience.
    My female protagonist falls into the ‘Warrior Woman’ archetype, tall, strong, martially capable and mind-numbingly beautiful. Usually sure of herself, enjoys men but doesn’t fall for them, and almost always go for the strong, stupid, and easily manipulated with sex type of man.
    Now… how do you justify her falling head-over-heals for her short and geeky, but honorable, chem partner?

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