Ah, love. Ye art a jerk in many ways. The concept of love and romance is hard enough to grasp in reality, with its soul-searching and hormones and ever-changing variables. You would think creating a fictional relationship would be much simpler–their eyes meet, they exchange clever lines, and after a few character-building trials they overcome their doubts and skip happily into the sunset to go make-out or whatever. It doesn’t sound too hard, but I would cry fat happy tears if it were really that easy. Writing about romance is difficult, but we will get through it together. Solidarity, brother.
In the context of this post, I am not speaking specifically about the romance genre. It is not a genre I am very familiar with and so will refrain from any comments on the matter. However, if certain parts of this post happen to apply, great! I hope it helps.
One of the hardest parts about writing romance is the desire to keep it original. Most writers have been told time and time again to avoid clichés like the plague. It’s sound advice. When it comes to writing about romance, however, the rules bend slightly because, as my friend so aptly put it, being in love is cliché. People have been falling in and out of love since God made man. It is the oldest cliché there is. But that’s okay! It’s part of what makes love so great. It creates commonality between people, which is also an important part of writing. So yes, avoid the “box of chocolates” of romance writing–love at first sight, heaving anythings, moonlit nights, etc.– unless it truly adds to the point you’re trying to get across.
Types of Love Interests
The first step is determining the type of romance that would naturally develop between two characters based on their individual personalities. See them as separate before seeing them as a couple, because unless they’ve been friends since childhood, there has been a time when they each existed without the other. Here are a few traditional types of love interests to consider for a base line:
- the boy/girl next door
- rebel meets golden child
- damsel in distress
- the “opposites attract” dynamic
For more ideas on love interests, check out: http://www.jsmorin.com/2014/01/7-female-love-interests/
Keep it Natural
When all is said and done, if two characters are supposed to be soul mates but the writing feels more like a bad blind date, scratch it. Maybe it’s time to revisit your characters, or maybe it can be fixed by a small tweak to the plot. Whatever the solution, I often find nothing more distracting in a story than a forced romance, and not every story needs one. Romance is not a requirement. Think of it more as sprinkles on top of the delicious cupcake that is your masterpiece.