I love romance— there’s something about it that just makes my heart happy. You’d think, for someone as negative as me (and someone who LOVES gritty fantasy as much as I do) that cheesy storylines would make my eyes roll out of my head.
(Spoiler alert: Sometimes, they do)
BUT, I just can’t resist a good romance— in fact, I’ll read and watch just about anything if there’s an epic love story involved. That’s why I started watching Riverdale, despite how terrible it is— I saw a teaser involving Betty and Jughead and I just had to know more!
Maybe it’s the balance between good and evil, or warm fuzzies and gut-wrenching horror. But I love seeing couples grow together (and struggle together! Mwahahaha!)
So, what makes a good romance?
Well friend, you came to the right place, because I don’t write anything without involving a romance (even if it’s a slow burn, build-up in a series of books— it’s coming! *wink*)
And seeing as I write romance frequently, I also happen to know a bit about how to craft an epic love story— so today, I’m sharing three key pointers to help you write a great romance novel!
1.) Relationship development and character growth go hand in hand.
You know, the same way a couple takes a long walk on the beach? Relationships take time to form, and there’s a lot of factors at play. Attraction, connection, compatibility issues… you can’t just dump it all into a couple of chapters and call it a day. That, my friend, is called instalove— which is just about as taboo as Voldermort’s name.
So when you develop your epic love story, you also want to be developing your characters— you know, making them grow, overcome obstacles, have a life outside of their relationship. Only when you have done this correctly will you lay the foundation for your literary romance to blossom.
2.) Backstories, personalities, morals, hobbies & desires all tie into compatibility.
This one is so important— because the last thing you want is to force two characters who have nothing in common to be together. It’s gonna be depressing for your reader AND your characters.
Instead, really take some time to make sure all your characters traits don’t clash with their love interest. Sure, there can be conflicting traits for the sake of the plot, but just make sure your characters can overcome or move past them. Because I promise you, if one character’s dream is to own a famous slaughterhouse, and the other character is a vegan and animal rights activist… it’s not going to work out.
3.) Have believable conflict.
I swear, nothing gets me more riled up than a tiny misunderstanding between a couple that leads to a giant fight and declarations of them never working out and long, angsty scenes apart from each other. Because 9 times out of 10, the conflict is due to miscommunication and literally all they had to do was talk to each other for five seconds.
If you’re gonna create drama, make sure there are valid reasons for your couple to be fighting. You know, conflicting morals, third party interference, forbidden romances… stuff that you can actually build on.
Stuck for idea? Here are three of the biggest tropes in romance, and the main conflict in each one:
Friends/enemies become lovers
Ah, just like Ryan and Aubany from Stuck on Vacation With Ryan Rupert. Usually, the conflict here is that the two friends are scared to ruin the friendship they already have by moving into a relationship (which may or may not work), or they despise each other but have lots of angst because they’re actually very compatible and drawn to each other.
Typically seen in paranormal romances (but not limited to them), this trope’s conflict usually centers around the fact that two destined lovers have been forced together by the universe and must get to know each other whilst being strongly attracted to each other, or have been separated by a circumstance that still threatens to keep them apart and they must fight for the right to be together again.
My second chance at love
Possibly the most painful trope, due to how slow the romances tend to develop. A character has either lost a loved one and is learning to move on with someone new despite still feeling loyal to their deceased partner, or hurt someone in the past and now must win them back but doesn’t feel worthy of doing so.