So there's no romantic subplot (or main plot) in my NaNoWriMo novel.
I've heard it said many times that every story has to contain romance. At least a touch of it, somewhere. Depending on the content of the story, this can seem very bolted-on; a character that exists solely for the purpose of the main character to moon over and eventually reunite with, an immediate and irresistible attraction between two main characters that are otherwise basically unsuited for each other.
I tend to write with the notion of romance and romantic relationships as an option, rather than a necessity. What this means is that if I want to explore human emotion, I get to do so without it being framed in the same old parameters.
It's long been my theory that a lot of relationships in media - books, films, comics, TV - a lot of them are what people think we want relationships to be, and not what relationships actually are. There's precious few examples of people just existing around each other comfortably. There's plenty of whirlwind romances and petty jealousies and all of that other good stuff - hell, if one was taught about romance strictly from the media, you'd be forgiven for thinking that no lasting relationship can survive without raging arguments and at least one experiment in infidelity.
The thing is, we have non-romantic relationships with far more people at any one time than we do romantic - most of the time. We just know more people that we're not into like that. They're the ones we work with, exist around. Until we cohabit with people we are in a relationship with (one or more, that's right poly people, I haven't forgotten you), we tend to live with people we aren't madly in love with, too. Given how fucked the household situation is in this country, the classic model of getting married young and moving into your own little place is more and more becoming a pipe dream anyway.
So why not explore their importance? Why not explore camaraderie, friendship? Sympathy and empathy without romantic subtext? Someone caring about someone else, and that being enough?
That hasn't actually been much of a challenge.
Each of the characters relate to each other in a different way. Captain Drake is fiercely protective of her people, like an older sibling. Corporal Lachesca (SHE GOT A PROMOTION) and Private Jian are joined in grief by the loss of a friend, though Jian has a far easier time in expressing their feelings than Chex does. Emway Callista-Raus dislikes people because they are messy, but she finds some of them infectiously easy to get along with. Engie gets along with literally EVERYONE. Sandy feels that her two best friends in the entire galaxy are on a totally different level to her, and wonders if they are ever insecure about anything. Lieutenant Colonel Cadenza nurtures an air of calm control, which very occasionally cracks when in the presence of people like Captain Drake.
I read through the story and I don't find myself wishing that there was more romance. I find myself wondering if someone else would wish there was more romance.
But then I suppose that is what fanfiction is for.