Valentine’s Day is around the corner and who doesn’t love a good romance? Capturing the tension that people feel between them, the stirring of emotions in a simple moment, the flutter that comes from a light touch… it can be hard to convey effectively. Here are some tips on writing romance!
Nothing is more important than the characters. While there are many moving parts that make a story strong, having compelling and relatable characters can take a romance novel from being a moderately entertaining read to something that readers can deeply relate to. Strong and memorable characters act to drive the plot and hook readers in. Since romance does not traditionally have high-stakes action in the plot (but don’t let that stop you!), the reader’s relationship with the protagonists is what will keep them turning the page.
Feel free to utilize the tropes that readers like! While this may seem counter-intuitive, the trope is a tried and true writing device in romance. Whether it be people changing from friends to lovers or enemies to lovers, relationships of convenience, or an opposites-attract story, tropes can help move the plot along and shape the characters.
Include well-rounded and dynamic supporting characters. This will help to create a dimensional world. Give your main character’s best friend a great personality and, who knows, you might have material for a spin-off.
Embrace the range of emotions. Like with any good literature, characters in romance need to display multiple sides of themselves with their partner. It can be tempting to have an easily attainable happily-ever-after, but sometimes you have to make them work for it. Readers want to see how the couple (or couple-to-be) interact with each other in a variety of contexts. Adding depth and emotion develops the relationship between the characters and between the reader and the story. Lean into vulnerability when the time is right, show those disagreements and how they work through them, kick up the stress levels and test the durability of their love. Emotional and interpersonal tension is the driving force behind a plot that doesn’t include sweeping action or a high stakes adventure.
Romance doesn’t have to be for the young people. Love stories about divorced folks finding love again or about those who have lost spouses can be beautiful stories. Think outside the box and challenge yourself to write an unconventional love story.
Give your characters time to bond and the reader time to bond with the characters. While it may feel exciting to have the happy couple fall in love instantly, the speedy satisfaction puts the story at a disadvantage. If you do choose to have the protagonists enter a relationship quickly, use it as a plot device to add tension.
Show, don’t tell. Yes, this advice comes up a lot, but showing that a character is nervous because the person they have feelings for is talking to them by describing their sweaty hands and nervous giggle can be far more effective than “She was nervous.” Describe the physical manifestations, the energetic tension, how two people keep finding their way to each other in a room, use metaphors, and get creative with how you show your characters falling for each other.
Share your stories on our discord server or comment below. Happy writing!