Christian Writing What do you Think?

Zee

Mar 1, 2019
3,643
1,229
In my current romance, the hero and heroine are cousins. While I know in most parts of the U.S. it is no longer common for cousins to marry, in many parts of the world this is mainstream practice.

Therefore, it took me by surprise when a critique partner (from a different site) mentioned that she found it quite disturbing and declined to swap critiques with me further for that reason.

So what do you all think? Romance lovers out there, would you enjoy a romance story where the main characters are related?
 
May 19, 2021
585
526
So what do you all think? Romance lovers out there, would you enjoy a romance story where the main characters are related?
I don't know. I guess it would depend on the story. I would probably find it a bit weird, but if it was a good book, I'd enjoy it, most likely. I'm not usually too awfully picky with books, so long as I like the story, LOL.
 

Zee

Mar 1, 2019
3,643
1,229
That’s interesting…honestly it never even occurred to me that it would be a problem. Even when I posted this topic, I assumed that my other critiquer’s opinion would be in the minority.

Unfortunately since this is part of a series, and both characters have featured previously, it’s too late to change it. Cousins they are and cousins they must remain…

But I know now not to do this in future.
 

Johne

Senior Member
Staff member
Sep 27, 2005
3,380
1,248
It's legal to marry a second cousin in America, but for some, it's still a little too close to incest for comfort for many people.

George Lucas had a similar problem (that indicated he didn't quite have Star Wars as mapped out in the beginning as he proclaims) when he had Leia kiss Luke in EMPIRE STRIKES BACK before they were revealed as siblings in the next film. Before RETURN OF THE JEDI, having Leia kiss Luke worked because Leia had already kissed Luke once ("for luck") before they swung across a chasm in the Death Star, and worked to introduce some doubt about which suitor Leia would choose in ESB. After ROTJ, that sexual tension is viewed through a different lens and that kiss is now seen as skeevy.
 
May 28, 2019
2,999
1,381
Skeevy? That's a new one for me.

To be honest I had not picked up they were cousins.

You are right, in many parts of the world it is common.

My suggestion, if possible, would be to make sure the fact of it be the norm is clearly stated. How many of the 6 have you published? Could you slip it in a previous book or mention it in the current one.
 

Zee

Mar 1, 2019
3,643
1,229
My suggestion, if possible, would be to make sure the fact of it be the norm is clearly stated. How many of the 6 have you published? Could you slip it in a previous book or mention it in the current one.

It’s mentioned a handful of times across both of Preen’s books that Kiva is her cousin. How close of a cousin is not specified. Since a marriage between cousins is relatively commonplace in their culture, it’s not really a big deal.

However, it does indirectly drive a lot of the relationship tension in the plot, when Preen chooses a stranger instead of the relative her parents had promised her too.

Maybe readers will enjoy a glimpse of a different culture’s take on romance and marriage…

Or maybe they will hate it and give terrible reviews…

Stay tuned.
 

Wes B

Mostly Harmless
Jul 28, 2019
1,361
1,626
A few thoughts...

We see a number of cases in the Bible where a character marries their first cousin, and we may not think too much of it one way or the other. Now, in their culture, there were actually some very practical reasons for these marriages (too far off-topic to get into, for this post...) but the idea will definitely cause some discomfort in just a random piece of fiction.

If you've already written yourself into a published commitment, then as you say, you'll have to go with it. Yet since their culture is not out own, you are also free to let their definition of a cousin, as far as common usage of the word, to be much wider than our own. You've alluded to this.

So if they do commonly accept marriage between first cousins, that's just part of the story world. If the two significant characters in your story also are not first cousins, than that makes the whole story more palatable to many readers.

Now, it's your story-world, and you can make it what you'd like. But if you can make the story situation more acceptable to a wider reader base with just a minimal explanation, it seems at least worth considering. 'Course, that's not a decision anyone else can make for you. You'll take your story wherever you choose to lead it, and I certainly wish it well...
 
May 8, 2022
228
217
Sorry: I could not read the rest of it after such a reveal.

I understand the reasons why laws are what that are due to past history, but today…..

For me anyway there are just some things I would never write or read about. That is one of them
 

Zee

Mar 1, 2019
3,643
1,229
So, sounds like most responders in my little poll would not be interested in reading a romance story with characters who are related, and some would even put it down and not finish for that reason.

Interesting that a cultural difference that is a relatively small one in the grand scheme of things turns out to be so problematic—in a series where cultural/ethnic differences and the conflict that can come from them is one of the major themes.
 
May 28, 2019
2,999
1,381
Hang on a minute.

Remember that the members of CW are Christians so will have views on this subject. You may be writing for the Christian market but many Christian books get read by non-Christians and people of other faiths who may feel less strongly about the cousin issue.

I
nteresting that a cultural difference that is a relatively small one in the grand scheme of things turns out to be so problematic—in a series where cultural/ethnic differences and the conflict that can come from them is one of the major themes.

The issue is that what you consider a small issues is for other (not me) a big issue. As I said for the wider community it probably is not.
 
Jul 15, 2016
12,983
2,698
I disagree with "... the wider community it probably is not...", @Shamrock and @Zee. Look, you've got to remember that @Zee is selling primarily to an American audience, and they tend to look down at this, both Christian and nonChristians. Such a marriage is not even legal in most states.
 
May 28, 2019
2,999
1,381
Such a marriage is not even legal in most states.
I didn't know that.

I appreciate what you are saying SW but there are two points here. First the job of a writer and the second, the potential market for the story.

I would say when a writer writes a story they do so from the world that story is set in - for example if I was to write a story about Brigham Young and John Smith taking people across the US to create a place for the LDS to live i.e Salt Lake City set in the past - then polygamy would be the normal marital status of the day amongst the LDS and I would write that in because it what would have happened. So if in the world of Zee's characters it is normal for such relations then she right to include it.

From a marketing point of view you have a very valued point.
 
Last edited:
May 31, 2019
599
346
Great discussion! I'm not a romance reader but am an American interested in knowing and trying to understand lives not similar to my own.
I think the target audience is your guide. What is it that your story and your audience do have in common?What American situation is mirrored in the world of Preen and Kiva? What aspect of marriage of cousins makes the story relevant to your target audience?
 

Zee

Mar 1, 2019
3,643
1,229
I think the target audience is your guide. What is it that your story and your audience do have in common?What American situation is mirrored in the world of Preen and Kiva?

Great questions! Cousin issue aside (it’s really an extremely minor point in the story) Preen and Kiva have a lot to learn about forgiving each other, listening to each other, and moving on from their rocky past.

What aspect of marriage of cousins makes the story relevant to your target audience?

Embarrassing to relate, but I actually had no idea that marriage between relatives was so controversial. In fact, if I had known, I would probably not have made these two characters cousins.

I grew up in a state where it is legal, though not common anymore, and since then have spent most of my adult life among people who for many reasons, still commonly practice it.

For those interested, I now have Kiva mention his exact relationship to Preen in this current story. He’s the youngest son of Preen’s mother’s cousin, which I think technically makes him her second cousin.

(In my family we called cousin anyone who could remotely construed to be a cousin—this included cousins of my cousins and cousins of my grandparents.)
 

Recent Discussions

Top