This week I have the privilege of featuring a post by my fellow writer, Ocean McAllister, on the topic of romance in literature and writing. You can follow her on her blog here.
Without much further ado, here it is!
Three Ways to Improve the Romance in Your Novel… From a Non-romantic Writer
Elaborate title, right? If you couldn’t already guess, I’m not a huge fan of romance. Sure, I love a good ship, I will melt a little during an adorable scene, and occasionally I won’t roll my eyes at a “first kiss.” But the thing is, romance in books today is sadly lacking in quality. Instead of putting in the effort to build a solid relationship between two characters, authors tend to turn to rushed intimacy, something that most hormonal teen girls probably wouldn’t mind. But I do. I fail to see the appeal in two people–who barely know each others name–making out in a cringe-worthy attempt at a passionate love scene. Yuck. So, for all of you writers who love to write romance–and don’t want to fall into the instant-make-out-session trope–here are three simple ways to still get your readers to swoon, but not in a way that is inappropriate or just plain silly.
Draw Out the First Kiss
Perhaps this is an obvious one, but we’ll stick with it. First kisses are sweet. It’s a good climax for two characters. It symbolizes a change in their relationship, and the ways to bring one about are endless. I always sigh a little when a couple I’m rooting for kiss by chapter three. It’s such a wasted opportunity for “aw’s” and fangirling. And I’m not saying only have your characters kiss once, but for goodness sake let’s make it memorable! People think we need sex scenes to breed intimacy between characters, but that’s not true. I have always been more moved by the more innocent aspects of love, and I don’t think I’m the only one. It creates an emotional attachment to said-characters which is vital for keeping readers’ interest.
No Love Triangle, or Any Cliche, Really
By now you should know my stance on love triangles. If not, check out this post here. I am a passionate hater of cliches, as they hinder true creativity and often drown other potential plot lines. They’re extremely over-used and stale, so why are we still using them? Surely not all readers find them amazing, because I certainly don’t. If you want your romance to stick out among other novels, then it needs to bring something special. It’s honestly so rare to find a story without a love triangle. Cliches, while popular, show a lack of creativity and, to me, a lack of talent. If you have to use cliches to make your novel likable or popular, than I’m not sure you should be publishing a novel. Now before I bash them completely, I have seen some used quite well and I do understand the appeal–to an extent. So, if you feel the need to add any–because let’s be honest, most things are cliche in some way–please just use them sparingly! There is so much potential for a solidly developed couple if there’s no one annoyingly sabotaging their relationship.
Allow the Relationship to Develop!
Again, this might seem like an obvious one. The amount of times I’ve read about a poorly developed couple? Too many times to count. Why must we sacrifice quality for what’s popular? Characters need time to develop as people as well as part of the relationship they’re in. I honestly have a hard time connecting with characters if they’re quickly shoved into a relationship 1/4 of the way through. Most of the time, they lose their opportunity to grow and it’s so disappointing. And, being realistic, they don’t fall in love by chapter five. There might be some physical attraction, but there shouldn’t be a relationship until at least the middle of the story. On that note, why can’t they start as friends? The best relationships are built on friendships. And I don’t mean the best friend cliche where it doesn’t even end up working out. I mean people who meet, form a bond over something trivial, like music, become close friends, and then realize they feel something more.
I hope these three simple ways to improve the romance in your novel have helped. As someone who doesn’t usually write romance, perhaps my thoughts won’t help or matter, but I also am a reader and these are definitely points I think need to be addressed in the novels I have read. No matter what, never give up writing and improving your craft. You never know what might happen.
Thank you so much for letting me feature your post, Ocean!
Again, if you liked this post and would like to see more of her stuff, go check out her blog here!
Until next time,