Romance is such a huge part of our lives – I mean, would any of us be here without it in some shape or form? – that it’s obviously going to be in most texts. But not everyone likes to read romance stories, and sure there are some novels that don’t feature a slither of kisses. Sometimes, however, romance can help ’round-off’ a story and it’s nice to put it in, both for the writer and the reader; although, you don’t want it to overpower the narrative and take over your story. Balance is an important part of anything, and here are a few tips for you to balance the romance and action in your story.
- Build up the romance. Like any romance, if it’s not realistic and happens suddenly, the reader won’t believe it. But people don’t happen to fall in love in a war zone or whilst tackling demons. You have to build up the romance using the things around you – perhaps they meet in a safe zone or one saves the other. Do something to bring them together, rather than have them fall.
- Make the romance relate to the main plot, but also separate it. Katniss and Peeta wouldn’t have fallen in love if they hadn’t been in the arena together. Hermione and Ron wouldn’t have met if they didn’t go to Hogwarts. Having your character suddenly meet another in the most unexpected place could make for an interesting twist, but is it ‘realistic’? – for example, if Hermione had met Ron, somehow, on holiday, would they have remained friends? Probably not.
- Make sure the problems of the main plot still affect the relationship. Back to The Hunger Games, but both of the star-crossed lovers think that they’re going to die when they go back into the arena for the second time. Hermione and Ron can’t be a normal couple because of the Second Wizarding War. The main plot should bend your characters and mould them, but the plot should bend the relationship too, or just both of the characters separately which affects them together.
- Make sure both of the characters are separate from one another. “But he’s a boy and she’s a girl,” doesn’t count. They have to have separate identities, lives, personalities. This is obvious but even more so when it’s a sub-plot and there’s less focus on it. For example, (yes, THG again) Katniss aims to survive her first bought in the arena by being on her lonesome and fighting for herself; Peeta uses strategy and joins the Careers. Would Katniss have done that? No! Would Peeta have survived five minutes on his own? The Nightlock says not.
- Let them enjoy themselves – at least once. Writers these days are so into suffering they’ve forgotten that romance can be happy. Even if they’re just sat by themselves for a moment in a corner of the trench, or steal a kiss before wrestling trolls, there should always be a little part of the reader that roots for the partnership and enjoys seeing them together.
Have fun with romance! Questions, thoughts? Shoot!