One of my favorite classes at the LDStorymakers conference was a the class Sara Eden taught on writing romance. Here are my notes:
Romance is the MOST read genre. Taking up more than 40% of the market all on it's own. Romance is tricky to write because the story question and the answer are already determined for you.
Story question: Will they get together?
If your story question and answer are different, you are probably not writing romance, but maybe a romantic plot line.
But whether writing a romance novel or a romantic plot line the principles are the same.
- Strong emotional connection between characters
- Need fulfillment
- The couple is something to each other that no one else is
Emotional connection: "Hot" is not an emotion (love that). Characters need interaction and time together for us to believe in their romance. They shouldn't be perfect but have strengths and weaknesses we can relate to. No one can relate to perfect. We need a reason to cheer for them independently and as a couple.
Need fulfillment: Your hero/heroine should fulfill a need in each other. Needs can range from shallow (I'm hot--you're hot--let's make out) to deep (someone to see through our mask, protect us, be our equal, etc.) The deeper the need the deeper the connection.
To add tension add competing needs. Example- Katniss in THE HUNGER GAMES is stuck between the two competing needs - Save Prim and Save Peeta.
Use your knowledge of human nature to figure out what your characters need in a significant other.
Couple is something to each other that no one else is: If their connection is not unique it will lack impact and not be satisfying to the reader (step in need fulfillment). This is why their connection MUST go beyond love at first sight or just the physical (because not to sound crude, but you can get that anywhere:)
A great way to prove this to your readers is to show them with other people. Example: Elizabeth Bennett with Mr. Collins vs. Elizabeth and Wickham vs. Elizabeth and Darcy. We are clearly shown who is best for her.
Last of all here are the romantic pitfalls that these three principles will help with:
- Love in a vacuum (people have to eat you know)
- Romantic tension that relies too much on the physical (it could be anyone)
- Little or no romantic tension (jump into it too fast)
- Weak sources of conflict (example: a misunderstanding that could be cleared up easily)
- Love has no foundation
I LOVED this class. I learned so much. I knew I liked specific stories, but it is fun to see just why they work so well.