Romance is one of the most beloved genres out there, yet we seem plagued by the inability to find anything good or accurate or healthy. The biggest problem with romance is when people get it wrong; When it’s awkward, when it’s unrealistic, or when it’s just inaccurate.
If it’s one of the most popular genres out there, why are there so many problematic stories out there?
I’ve been writing romance since I first started ((nine years ago)) and I think it’s safe to say I consume a radical amount through reading, movies, and other media. I’ve spent a considerable amount of time picking through my favourite and least favourite aspects, and talking to other readers on their opinions, too.
I’m going to spend this blog post going over all the biggest tips I have on writing romance.
Passionate characters isn’t all you need to tell a good story; You need to be passionate about it yourself.
Write what you’re into. If you have an obscure idea that you’re absolutely obsessed with, don’t hesitate. Start planning it. Allow yourself to be excited about it.
Honestly, obscure ideas are some of my favourites.
If you’re worried about people not agreeing with you, that should be the last of your worries. Jenna Moreci once mentioned coming across dinosaur erotica at one point. Actual fucking dinosaur erotica. If people are into that, I doubt they’ll judge you for whatever you’re writing about.
The only thing you should worry about for certain is whether or not you’re promoting healthy ideas. Whether you admit it to yourself or not, you’re an influencer. If you create something people consume, you’re putting your ideas out there. Don’t forget that.
And don’t just focus on the problems. Romance is so much more than why they can’t be together. It’s why they want to be together, why they should be together.
If all you focus on is what’s keeping them apart, it’ll be really hard for your readers to get excited and ship the couple.
Characters need to complement each other. They should get along, they should respect each other.
Keep in mind that you’re creating people, here. You’re not just creating a love interest. You’re not just creating a protagonist. You’re creating someone will goals, someone with a mental health capacity. Their relationship needs to be mutual; It shouldn’t just aid the protagonist.
Your characters should love and respect each other. I can’t stress this enough. I’ve seen far too many stories where the couples were abusive to each other and it was called a ‘phase,’ or apologized for and moved on.
Abuse isn’t something you can just apologize for. I believe pretty damn heavily in redemption, but by some miracle an abuser decides to genuinely change their ways and be a better person, they better try with someone else.
This goes straight back to the influencer thing. If you’re writing a romance geared towards teenagers and the characters are fighting all the time, throwing things, yelling at each other, what do you think we’re going to take from that? We don’t all have very thick heads; I don’t, not all the time. We’re gonna start to think this is normal ((it isn’t)).
Be careful what you’re preaching.
Craft the relationship around your characters; Their traits, their backgrounds, etc. It’s helpful to start this during the character planning phase. Create your protagonist and love interest at the same time, build their personalities around each other. This will promise the least amount of bumps in the road later on.
Give them quirks. Every relationship is different, from the way the couple interacts to the little things that make them fit. These can be very small things- Kaz’s undercut and Killian’s memes in Conversion Academy -or big things -Lyra naming 72 in Replica -but, either way, they round out the characters. Besides, it’s completely adorable.
Cliches are easier to get around than you think. I particular like Jenna Moreci’s tip, take something familiar and spin it into something new. Dying to write a love triangle? Cool, you could write a story about polyamory, or accepting open relationships. Want to write a really feminine, flamboyant male character? Great! Maybe make them straight; That eliminates the cliche and even takes a step towards gender equality.
This could very well be the most important tip on the list. This doesn’t just pertain to romance. Feedback is a vital part of the writing process.
For example, I’ve been playing around with the idea of a disabled love interest- Someone missing an arm or leg, something like that. Imagine me writing that and, innocently, accidentally writing something super offensive. I wouldn’t know- I don’t know any disabled people and research doesn’t tell you everything.
This is why critique partners, beta readers, any kind of feedback is important. I can take that feedback and apply it correctly to my story.
Consume romance. To an extent, you don’t really need to be reading this. To get the ideas of basic tropes, characters types, etc., that you like, that you hate, that you notice other people liking and hating, it can be any media. Video games, comics, anything. But you won’t improve without exposing yourself.
And see what other people are saying, too. There’s not a concrete route to doing this- You aren’t definitely going to change your mind or definitely going to disagree with everything everyone says, but you never know. It’s good to get a couple different perspectives.
Finally, ask other’s opinions. Especially the opinions of people who have first hand experience in what you’re trying to write.
That’s all I’ve got for this week! I thoroughly enjoyed writing this, and I hope you enjoyed reading it just as much. If you found this helpful, be sure to subscribe to my mailing list, when you can read my posts an entire week early.