Thursday, 30 October 2014

Have We Gotten Used to Speed Dating?

 By Jessica Everingham

Copyright Creationswap, by Richard Wong

Romance-junkies, which relationships do you find most engaging—those in television, or those in movies?

As much as I love movies, for me the answer is definitely TV. And as an aspiring romance novelist, that holds implications for the way I develop my stories.

The biggest difference I see between the relationships in TV shows, and those in movies, is time.

 In a show it can take six seasons for characters to declare their feelings. By this point they’ve built up a strong friendship, probably endured some life-and-death experiences together, dated other people, gotten jealous, fought, made up, and sacrificed for one another. And then, finally, they’ve both admitted their love.

In a movie, two people see each other. Five to fifteen minutes later, they’re soul mates, and spend the rest of the movie fighting the bad guys or their respective inner demons.

Nothing wrong with either method. But personally, I find television far more addictive. Which raises the question; have us novelists (or aspiring novelists, in my case) gotten far too used to speed dating?
Imagine for a moment, if there was a book version of Castle? The Mentalist?  Or [insert your favourite TV show here]? Dozens of shows capitalize on the slow-burn-friendship-turned-true-love. And while the ‘instant heat’ method is a proven success for books, is the alternative an under-utilized tool?

Jenny B Jones has pulled this off with flair in her novel, Save The Date. There’s heat in the book from the start, but Lucy and Alex’s relationship is built on shared experiences and a whole lotta sarcasm, over a period of several months. By the end of the story you know this romance will survive anything— whether it’s temperamental teenagers, a political rat race, a family tragedy or outrageously embarrassing relatives. Because they’ve already done it all.

Another great example in mainstream fiction is Veronica Roth’s Divergent series. Four and Tris have very realistic insecurities that affect their relationship, yet they’re mesmerizing together. They fight, they doubt, and they fear, but above all, they make the decision to stay together. The third book, Allegiant, contains the most romantic line I’ve ever read, spoken by main character Tris:
“I fell in love with him. But I don't just stay with him by default as if there's no one else available to me. I stay with him because I choose to, every day that I wake up, every day that we fight or lie to each other or disappoint each other. I choose him over and over again, and he chooses me.” 

Doesn’t that just make you go, “Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwww”? Wouldn’t it be fabulous if a love like this was not so rare, even in fiction?

It’s a little outside the box. It’s a little unique. It’s a little scary. 

But it’s a lot of fun.

P.S. To all Castle fans, after writing this I discovered that there IS a book version. J J J

Jessica Everingham is a 23 year-old Australian who writes about God and love, and often combines the two. Her novel-in-progress, Hating Jeremy Walters, is a prime example.
Check out a sneak peek of her book through her website,, or connect with with Jess on Facebook, ( and Twitter (@JessEveringham). 


  1. That's great food for thought Jess. I guess romance readers expect that the couple will get together at the end of the book, but the slow burn is often better. As you mentioned, a book series is a great way for that to develop. However, I think it can also go too far the other way when you're 10 books into a series and the couple still hasn't gotten their act together. Realistic obstacles that keep the couple apart are great, but I've read a few where I've felt the obstacles were just thrown in for the sake of it and I wanted to strangle the author (in a loving way of course).

    Can't wait to read your novel. Will look forward to the slow burn :)

    1. Thanks Nola! And yes, I agree, 10 books and no relationship is probably taking it too far. Obstacles should all flow naturally from the central conflict, not be random. It can be tricky to get the balance!

  2. I thought the book version of Castle was the Nicky Heat novels "Richard Castle" writes. I read one - as a novel, it's average, but as a TV show tie-in, it's a brilliant concept.

    Slow burn or speed dating? I think it depends. Tris is only sixteen at the beginning of Divergent, so the slow burn is appropriate. However, this can be taken too far (I'm thinking of the Bailey Flannigan series, where it took twelve books for her to end up with the wrong guy. Go Team Cody!).

    A lot of the romances I read (especially the romantic suspense novels) have protagonists in their late twenties or thirties, and I want to see them get together in that one book. However, I do like to see the relationship develop over time - it's the rare book that can have them meet for the first time on page one and convince me it's a lasting relationship when the whole book only covers a week.

    1. I'm totally with you on the Bailey Flannigan series Iola. Counting the Baxter series at the beginning, I read 18 books and then gave up. There's slow burn and then there's 'burned to a crisp' :)

    2. Yes, it is the Nikki Heat books. Great idea to help promote the show.
      I haven't read the Bailey Flannigan series, but it sounds like that's taking things way too slow. I was writing with those books in mind that only cover a week (which seems to be a lot of books). I've got no problem with characters getting together in one book - I write stand-alone novels, so that has to happen. It's more about the structure of that relationship within the book.
      And sometimes, I do like the fast ones. I just like balance too. :)

  3. Great post Jess.

    I've been pondering this very question.

    My stories tend to have romantic elements (not category romance) but I've had both scenarios (and anything in between) with the slow burn from friendship to strong attraction at first sight. And both happen in real life too - from childhood sweethearts that marry (I know several successful marriages from this scenario) to whirlwind romances (one friend's husband proposed on the first date and they will be coming up to their 28th wedding anniversary next year). But (because I'm not writing romance) I also like to show the ups and downs of what happens after the marriage.

    I've come to the conclusion, it's not necessarily how you come together (as Iola intimates you can take ages to choose and still make the wrong choice) but how you deal with the inevitable difference, conflicts and doldrums of your relationship afterwards.

    And I think, as Christians, faith can make a huge difference to success as well (I know it has in my marriage). This is one reason I love the Shrek series :)

    1. Great point Jeanette, I've been thinking about how to incorporate that very thing into some of my future stories!

  4. A thought provoking post Jess. Thank you. I do agree with your point about the build up of a relationship being something far more favourable that a couple who get together after 5 minutes (as it were)! :) That quote was lovely - thanks for sharing it. And dare I say that a lot of us can testify to it in our marriages as well. Love is a choice we make every day to our partners - love is not just the romantic feelings but much more than that. A daily choosing of our hero or heroine to be with us till death do us part. And yes! It is possible! :)

    I'm looking forward to reading your book Jess. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Anusha! Yes, I love the messages behind Divergent, which is especially amazing considering it's a non-Christian book. But it's got some solid stuff behind it.
      I think real life can have some very romantic moments in the way couples commit and work through stuff, and I'd like to try and represent that in fiction (to some degree). :)

  5. I'm a big Castle fan. I love the idea of a writer solving mysteries! Mostly I love the slow burn, though there are times when it gets a little too slow.

    I really hate "love at first sight" movies/books. I find them completely unrealistic and I didn't enjoy, Sleepless in Seattle, despite loving the actors.

    Thanks Jess for your post.

    1. I know, Castle is like every writer's dream! He gets to live out his books every day, his first book got published out of college and he's a squillionaire. :) I think the show writers just went, 'what would be the greatest thing ever that could happen to us' and then made a show out of it. :)

      Thanks for your lovely comment!

  6. I'm in the middle I think. I agree that movies make 'love' happen way too fast but it drives me crazy when it takes four plus seasons for the main characters to get together on television. But I think it's important for young adults to see that it's better to get to know each other over time as seen on tv.

    1. Yeah, it can drive me crazy, but it sure keeps me watching! :) And agreed; so much of what we learn about relationships comes from the media, it's good to try and get some positive messages in there.

  7. Hi Jess,
    I agree with you, that nice and slow is great, so we can savour every step along the way, always have something to look forward to and rejoice when the moment comes.

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. You mentioned two of my favourite shows - Castle and the Mentalist because of interesting characters and the back stories of each of the main characters.