While Nicholas Sparks would call himself a writer of love stories, he is a master of what is commonly referred to as “romance.” There are numerous writers spanning the landscape of romance, bestselling authors with their own unique blend of what it means to show two people falling for each other. In this post, I want to share the basic building blocks of an effective love story. Whether you write full-fledged romances or just want to upgrade the love plot line in your novel, I hope you find something of value.
Number One: create two (or three) characters that are likable and lovable
Readers want to care for characters. As soon as they open a book, they are unconsciously searching for someone to root for, someone likable (or at least redeemable).
Number Two: keep these characters apart.
This separation has more to do with emotion than physical distance. The main goal of most romances is for two people to fall in love. The separation creates the necessary conflict, tension and complications to dramatize the achievement of the goal.
Number Three: what keeps the characters apart should have something to do with the characters personality, the setting and the major conflict or question in the story.
For a story to feel organic and “real”, the force that keeps the characters apart should connect to other story elements and flow out of the flaws and foibles of the characters themselves.
Number Four: grow the feelings of the characters over the course of several scenes, if not the whole novel.
To satisfy the reader, a story must dramatize sympathetic characters overcoming significant odds to obtain high-stakes goals. Show characters slowly and painfully rising to the challenges they face in the story.
Number Five: the climactic scene in terms of the romance should have the characters passionately discovering their love for each other.
The finale of a romance is the culmination of attraction, desire and love. Slow down to show the full spectrum of emotions of all characters involved. The temptation (pun fully intended) to rush this part might be strong, but resist it. The whole story has built to this one, life-changing moment. Let it linger.
What other techniques do you use to write your love stories? I’d love to know! 🙂
Thanks for reading my blog. While you’re here, please check out my novels, Dark Halo and the Past Lives series.
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