by Karen Ball
I had a conversation with a writer friend a few weeks ago. She was telling me that the book she’s writing is, at the core, a romance, and no one was more surprised than she. “I don’t know a thing about writing romances,” she confessed. “Any tips?” I sent her an email with my thoughts, and that was that. Then she emailed me a few days ago:
“I just re-read this [email] as I’m still struggling through the end of my ms. This is an unbelievably beautiful note! It would make a great blog post on how to write romance….”
Well! I took a look at it, and I think she’s got something there. It does lend itself well to a blog. So I did a little editing, and here you go. If you find yourself writing a romance and you’re not quite sure about it, here are some things to keep in mind about the hero and heroine:
* The reader needs to see their attraction as believable. In other words, Not just because he’s handsome and she’s beautiful. As with real romance, let their feelings surprise them, then show those feelings growing as an organic part of the story. That’s not to say they can’t be immediately attracted to one another, or that one can’t be immediately attracted to the other. That instant spark does happen. But make sure readers see good reasons for romance—and love–to grow between them. Think about it. What’s more romantic than a man who treats women and children with respect? What’s more appealing to a man than a woman who honors and respects him? It’s not about Tarzan meets Jane, it’s about character and integrity and true strength and beauty.
* It’s vital that the conflicts between them are authentic and believable, not contrived. Too often romances just have the protagonists getting mad at each other for no solid reason, just to keep the tension going. Let the tension flow from the natural conflicts in the story. And believe me, there’s no more natural source of tension than the whole man-woman relationship!
*Use external tension as well as internal, especially when their love for each other becomes clear and accepted by them. What obstacles keep them apart? What do they have to overcome to finally be together? Give the reader a sense of celebration and victory when they’re finally together for good.
* Remember that any romance/love, real romance/love, is a reflection of God’s love for us. There is dying to self involved, looking to the good of the other first, sacrifice and struggle. Real romance isn’t easy. But oh! It’s amazing when it’s right!
* Show passion. Not graphic passion. Not the easy, physical lust. But that inner passion that somehow weaves another person into the fabric of who we are. The passion that brings the image of their face to mind, taking our breath away. The passion that makes the sound of their laughter like a long, cool drink on a parched day. The passion that leaves us feeling as though a part of us is missing when they’re not with us. The passion that, when we see how their eyes light at seeing us, sends a shock from head to toe. Oh yeah…that passion is what drives us on. It’s what lasts, even when physical passion may have ebbed.
* Last but not least, do not disappoint your reader! Don’t know if you’ve ever seen Sommersby, but I loved that movie. That movie has an awesome love story, amazing romance. Right up to the last 5 minutes. And then I HATED it. Will never watch it again. The ending was such a betrayal of the wonderful romance and the promise we were given up to that point. I understand why it ended the way it did, but that didn’t matter. I was actually angry at the end. I mean, boiling mad. If what you’re writing is a real romance, then deliver on the promise if that for the readers. Let the hero and heroine be together in the end!
And above all, have fun!