So you’ve got a kick-butt plot with lots of action, humor, friendship…but romance? Ehh…
I consider romance one of the hardest aspects of writing. Give me a magic fight or a clash between armies any day, but a kiss scene? Noooo! (See, even us full time authors have stuff we need to work on!) The good news is that as I’ve worked to improve the romance in my books over the years, I’ve amassed some helpful resources, which hopefully can help You!
The Writing Gals: this youtube show is held by four sweet romance authors who discuss all aspects of writing and publishing, but they have some amazing videos about romance. (For real, this has been one of the biggest game changers for me when it comes to romance.)
How to Write Swoon Worthy Sweet Romance: This book takes you step by step through the plotting process of writing a romance book, but it’s really helpful even if you write fantasy or thriller because it helps you see the kind of relationship progression you need to have in your subplot romance.
Some of the best advice I’ve received in the realm of writing romance was from my author friend Lindsay Buroker. While speaking at a conference, Lindsay explained that romance can be used as a hook, and should progress with the unfolding of the plot. She specifically pointed out that TV shows are phenomenal at doing this. Shows like Castle, Firefly, Pride & Prejudice, Doctor Who–all of them spawned fans who were invested in the characters’ relationships, even though these relationships aren’t the main point of the show.
I’ve also found watching K-dramas to be a huge help! My choice of poison are the comedy-romance K-dramas–or Korean Dramas. (You can watch them on Netflix, Hulu, and a few are available on Amazon Prime.) K-dramas are masters of pacing. They know when to nudge the characters through the various levels of a relationship, how to intermingle it with humor or the main plot of the series, and they are masters at making chemistry for sweet romance. It’s worth it to watch a few shows to see the various ways they ignite the romantic ‘spark’ so to speak. I can personally recommend “What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim,” “Because You’re Beautiful,” and “Secret Garden.”
That spark is important, because if you can get your characters to have chemistry, that’s half of the romance battle. And chemistry doesn’t mean the romance is “hate to love,” though it can be!
You can start with reluctant partners–like Fyn and dear Benji in Royal Magic–or make them more of comrades–like Quinn and Emerys in Twelve Dancing Princesses. Each couple has a very different dynamic, but their characters in each pair balance each other and are able to play together in different ways. (ie: Quinn can joke with Emerys and doesn’t treat him with the suffocating reverence that his own people do. Benjimir treasures Fyn’s fighting abilities and is proud of them instead of being intimidated.)
My personal best tip is to really play with the thing that sparks chemistry and try to make it unusual or different. It was a heck of a lot easier to let Rakel and Farrin’s relationship unfold given that they were originally on opposite sides of a war in the Snow Queen books. Incorporating plot points into their relationship (ie: They start out enemies and have magic battles) makes it a lot easier to write because in order to advance their relationship you have to let the plot unfold. It’s kinda like cruise-control for writing in a way.
On the opposite end of the spectrum you have Severin and Elle of Beauty and the Beast. They were wretchedly difficult for me to push together because they just weren’t interested! (My advice–don’t do this. Indifference is so, so, so hard to deal with unless you have a natural plot progression that will solve it.)
And that’s my advice on writing romance! To all you NaNoWriMo warriors out there, good luck! You’re nearly in the last stretch–you can do it!
And to all my other Champions, thanks for reading! 😀