Friday, September 20, 2013

We Have To See Them Fall In Love

One of the hardest things about writing romance is not the intimate scenes in the bedroom, but the single thing that makes a romance a romance. The central story arc follows the development of the relationship of the hero and heroine from that initial meeting to the happily ever after. This seems like a relatively easy process, but if we want the story to do something, we can't exactly make it easy for them, can we? It is at this point that, for most writers, the relationship takes a backseat to the conflict and we fail to watch the romance grow.

Far too often, I read a romance where there is a great idea for that "setting" plot. I am using this term essentially as the backdrop to the romance. For example, we take a romantic suspense where the heroine is being driven off her land by some ruthless investor who wants to build condos on her property. He is the neighbor who just moved in to a rental for the summer and believes he can fix the problem (sort of that ROADHOUSE approach). But here is the problem. Somehow, in the middle of setting up the conflict with the bad guy, the introduction of the hero as a great guy who fixes problems, the author realizes, "Woops, this is a romance."

At this point, we start seeing the insertion of lines and scenes to "make it a romance" and we never see the characters fall in love.

Symptoms of this include:

  • A sudden sex scene after either working too late or getting drunk - and then they wake up in love.
  • The fact that he (or she) is totally hot and the other person has been celibate for so long that it is immediately love.
  • In the case of a romantic suspense, they are trapped some place dangerous and then think this is a good time to have sex (as a way to release the tension).
This, I am sorry to say, is not falling in love, but a story with a lot of sex. And yes, even ROADHOUSE attempts to weave in a romance when in reality, the chance of Dalton staying around is slim to none, despite apparently "falling in love with the girl (I can't remember her name off-hand this morning).

Since a romance is supposed to follow a romance, we need to see them through all of those stages of the development and, since they are probably going to be characters that might not necessarily come together in any other circumstance, other than what you created as the author, we have to see them over-come that roadblock.

  1. The Introduction
  2. The Getting To Know You
  3. The "This is not the person" but "A nice person" phase
  4. The appreciation for the person for who they are
  5. The transition from appreciation to admiration and falling in love
  6. The conflict showing up to show this won't work (the dark moment)
  7. The realization that love does conquer all
Now, since this is the central storyline, the other plot - the suspense, the paranormal vampires, the evil mother-in-law, or whatever - will become the structural element this romance is built AROUND. Your ultimate goal as an author is to SHOW us they learn to LOVE each other.

The end product is that feeling that when we hit the end of the book, we know they will continue into their old-age as a couple. We know there is that happily ever after. We don't want to be left thinking now that there is no more tension in their life, there is no need to stay together.


  1. An excellent explanation, Scott. Thank you.

  2. I love this post:) thank you for sharing scott

  3. As a reader, I *hate* the stories where they meet, endure a 'conflict', end up between the sheets and VOILA, in the span of three days, they're in love. They drive me bonkers. I read them, whilsty grumbling mind you, but am usually annoyed by the end and shouting "That would NEVER happen in real life!!"
    As a WRITER, I couldn't bring myself to write that type of romance. The romance, the fall AND realistic time lines are all incredibly important!