Make with the Wooing Already!

So you might have noticed a few changes that have been made to this blog.  If you haven’t, shame on you.  Be more observant!  Yes, I recently decided that I wanted to customize the blog a bit, and I’ve done that.  I also changed the name to “WriteRight,” because I wanted this blog to seem accessible to all types of writers, not just those who want to write books.  Other new features include: An archive, a search box, and a subscribe button.  Please enjoy!

Today’s post is about romance.

There are so many elements to think about when creating a work of fiction that it’s not even funny.  But I want to focus on romance because it does come up a lot, and I think it’s one of the trickiest things to handle.  I’m having trouble putting my thoughts into words for this one, so bear with me.

Romance tends to be expected in novels, though I am not saying it is required.  It’s just that, if you have an adult main character who is not already romantically attached and is semi-competent at life, your readers are probably going to expect to see him or her find love by the end of the story.  And if they do expect it, then that’s good.  If they want to see your character fall in love, then that means they are emotionally invested in the book, and in your character.

Here’s the problem: Because romance is so expected, and because it is almost omnipresent in literature, it becomes very hard to bring something new to the topic.  In other words, it’s hard to make your characters’ love story unique.  Now, it helps that your story as a whole is unique. (If it isn’t, then see me after class)  With a unique story comes a unique romance.  But you still need to approach it carefully.

What you don’t want in your story is a muscled-up, ruggedly handsome, personality-less man falling in love with a gorgeous, buxom, personality-less woman whose hair always seems to be blowing in the wind.  Then you get this:

The problem with the above scenario is that they are in love for superficial reasons.  This is, of course, an extreme example.  But my point is that the love should never come from you, the author, telling the reader that these two characters are in love.  No, the love should come directly from the characters.  I hope that makes sense.  Remember how I mentioned following your gut?  If your gut is telling you that this relationship you’ve created isn’t working, then it probably isn’t.

You can’t fix the above problem by fabricating reasons for the two characters to be in love, though.  It’s not as simple as going back through the book and inserting some random things that they have in common.  Then, at the end of the book, it’ll kind of seem like your characters are going through a checklist of things that represent their love.  Like this:

What I’m saying is, it’s not enough that they have some stuff in common.  And it’s definitely not enough that he’s saved her life.  Then you have the whole knight-in-shining-armor scenario where the princess falls in love with her savior because she’s pretty much obligated to.

So what does that leave us with?  Well, my advice is that you develop each character’s personality separately.  I think a lot of the time, the problem stems from that whole “Romance is expected” thing I mentioned earlier.  You have this well-developed main character who needs a significant other, so you create that extra character for the sole purpose of having your main character fall in love with him/her.  Instead of doing that, remember to develop your love interest’s character beyond the romance.  Give them a back story and a purpose in the plot besides needing rescuing and/or being hot.

I hope that helps.  I might expand on it later, if I feel like it.

Word of the Day: Amorous (adj) – Inclined or disposed to love, especially sexual love.



Filed under books, writing

2 responses to “Make with the Wooing Already!

  1. For some reason whenever I write love stories it’s one person loving the other and the other having no idea. Talk about writing from experience…

    Very insightful post. It’s a hard thing to grasp, but it seems to always come down to “show don’t tell”

    • I used to hate “show don’t tell” only because I couldn’t friggin figure out what it meant. My brain kept getting blocked by memories of bringing my favorite toy in for Show and Tell in Preschool. Know what? I think I might talk about Show Don’t Tell a little in my next post. Just for you. Thanks for the support!

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