Will readers object to a lack of romance?

by Sam G.

Question: I have an idea that I have been turning over in my head for quite a while. The main characters are a boy and a girl, who are very close. However, I do not want to make this like many popular books where the boy and the girl HAVE to fall in love and cannot just be best friends. I would like this to be a novel that is for teenagers, but not focused on a romantic relationship. Males and females can be just best friends without other attractions. I have experienced this and I think it would be very fun to write about considering who my characters are, but, if it turns out alright, will it be accepted? Would teenagers, and anyone else for that matter, be okay with a book such as that, where there is barely any love besides the friendship that the characters have? It may sound silly, but I'm really wondering if it would be a hit even with only a few people.

Answer: Certainly your characters can remain best friends without falling in love. As you point out, many people have such relationships in real life, and there are plenty of examples in fiction. In the past, these were often brother/sister partnerships. Children's novels have always had friendships with no romance (for obvious reasons). But today, it is quite common to see male/female friendships or work
partnerships that are platonic.

Male/female pairings, romantic or otherwise, work well in fiction because it is common for one partner to be more of a linear thinker and the other a holistic thinker, so they can offer each other a different perspective and awareness. Hence, the partnership is stronger than either person alone.

It's also common for one partner to be the main character, while the other is the impact character (the person who challenges the main character by offering a different approach to solving the problem).

Of course, some readers may ship the relationship, especially if the characters have no other romance in their lives. But that's not entirely within your control.

If these two characters are your main and impact characters, you might still consider developing the throughline of their relationship, even if no romance is involved.

For instance...

Act 1: How does the relationship stand at the beginning of the story (or how does it begin)?
Act 2: How does the relationship deepen? How is it tested? What issues might cause conflict?
Act 3: The relationship crisis. If they are to become faster friends at the end, consider having a point where their friendship seems strained beyond repair. (If the friendship is to dissolve, this would be the point where it peaks.)
Act 4: How does the relationship stand at the end? Is it stronger for having been tested?

Best of luck.

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