Today is Valentine’s Day, so it only seems appropriate that we talk about romance. I don’t mean the romance in your own life, I mean the romance in your fiction life.
I know what you’re thinking…”Harlequin novels? Bodice rippers? Ew, no thank you. I’ll pass.” Let me assure you right now, that’s not where I’m going with this. I’d just like to share a few tips to add romantic tension, perhaps even create a little chemistry between two unassuming characters. So here are the basics:
-Start with two strong, appealing, sympathetic characters. Be sure they are three-dimensional so you can mess with their heart strings.
-Add conflict. There are two kinds of conflict: Internal and External.
Internal conflict should be the writer’s main focus: defined by either character—the opposing forces within a personality, motivations and aspirations—or by an emotional situation within a relationship—for example, an unexpected pregnancy or an arranged marriage.
External conflict should only be brought in as additional support to the developing romance and plot. External conflict is defined by misunderstandings, circumstances or a secondary character’s influence.
Ideally, give the characters something they have to overcome together…this is where they bond, not necessarily where they connect. Throw several conflicts their way that they work through to create emotional highs and lows. Have them grow closer with each resolution.
-Just as they are starting to realize their chemistry and connect…throw a wrench in it! Heartbreak!
-Many writers will be tempted to bring in a secondary character at this point. It’s an option, but be warned…use secondary characters with caution. You don’t want to muddy the focus on your main couple.
-Then add the final conflict…this one usually requires a lot of sensational dialogue. Dialogue is the key tool to give life, energy and pace to your writing. This is the epiphany moment! Remember to keep it relevant and consistent to your characters. Let them realize and come to terms with their differences and come together as a couple at last. Hooray!
So that’s writing romance in a nutshell. Strong characters, lots of conflict with emotional highs and lows, all driven by great dialogue to a happy and satisfying ending.
Cheers and Happy Valentine’s Day!