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The romantic plot tumour is a trope where a show or series or story has a bit of romance in it. However it soon becomes the main focus of the show and this sidelines the original premise of said story.

I do want to write a fanfiction which will be quite running. But I also want to write some romance into it. But I'm afraid of my alien invasion being sidelined.

Is there anyways to prevent this?

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  • interesting question.
    – Sayaman
    Jul 25, 2022 at 1:41
  • If I'm fighting off an alien invasion, I might behave differently if I'm on my own than if I have a loved one to go back to. This can lead to interesting dilemmas. On the other hand, if your two main characters have to spend the whole story fighting the aliens side-by-side, don't make it an overly long "we're not together but we have sentiments for each other but it's never the perfect time to do something about it" that lasts forever. Either they are friends or they try to be lovers; if they try, either it works or it doesn't. There is nothing worse than "they both want it but they don't try"
    – Stef
    Mar 22, 2023 at 15:10

3 Answers 3

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Don't think of the romance as separate from the rest of your story

One of my favorite maxims is "make sure your scenes are doing more than one thing". A scene that is advancing the romance can also advance a personal character arc, or advance the plot, or expand on the setting. If you want to keep your romance from from becoming a plot tumor, then think about how your romantic scenes will advance the rest of your story.

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Remember, romance plots are not some magical black hole from which no other plot can escape. You can write both a thrilling sci-fi adventure and a romance simultaneously. As the writer, you are the one in control.

A common mistake with many romance plots is adding a lot of unnecessary drama or "will-they-won't-they plots". There's nothing wrong with adding a bit of tension, but many writers tend to take it overboard, bating the audience for endless chapters until one kiss in the final chapter. There's nothing wrong with saving the get together for the end, but the annoying part is that the readers never get to see the relationship, only the constant drama. If the drama is toxic enough, many readers may question whether the relationship is even worth getting together in the first place.

Giving the pair a healthy and mutually beneficial relationship is the best way to write any romance. Yelling and screaming, love triangles or toxic behavior can take away from the experience.

Another common mistake is getting so invested in the romance that you forget the rest of the plot. Don't bend the plot to fit the romance, let the romance happen naturally. Some writers take one look at their two characters and go "Aww, they're so cute together. They're destined for each other. It's perfect."

But much like real-world people, some characters do not always click. Ask yourself, if the world's under invasion from aliens or whatever, does there even need to be a romance subplot? Where does it fit in?

In a life or death situation, for example, how could anyone focus on romance? Are they so desperate for companionship in a wartorn environment that they would reach out to anyone for comfort, no matter who it was?

Your romance plot is not a tumor. It is a tree. Water it, give it sunlight, and water it daily. Don't feed it and it'll die, ruining your yard. Let it grow too much, and it'll become a weed that'll choke out the rest of the garden.

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First off, consider your characters. Are they the sort of characters who would insist on their duty before romance, who care passionately about the main conflict, who would, for whatever motive, be willing to tear themselves from romance to do their duty? This allows you to keep focus on the plot, by keeping the characters' focus on it.

Second off, what is the obstacle to the characters' love? Otherwise, strictly speaking, you haven't got a romantic subplot, which is the plot of a romantic interest conflicting with an obstacle to it. And it can't be the main plot -- for a romantic subplot. You can have a love story where the characters realize that they should do the main plot before they marry, because it's too dangerous otherwise. If you do want a subplot, choose obstacles that play into the main plot. If the hero thinks the heroine is a snob, and the heroine thinks he's in it for grandstanding, the events of the main plot can unfold as they work through that issue, too.

Also, don't make it more of an issue than the grand plot.

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