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  1. Possibly Awesome Writer
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    Possibly Awesome Writer Member

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    How do you develop romance?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Possibly Awesome Writer, Aug 2, 2011.

    I'm writing a story that is fantasy mainly, but I want to (in fact I basically have to for my plot) add a sprinkle of romance which will be in the background of most of the story. The only problem is that I'm not very romantic (neither in writing or real life but that's another story) and I don't know how to effectively but rather subtly convey romance.
    I seem to come up with the two extremes (either a gentle hug and suddenly they're in love or creeping into the others room in the middle of the night) but I can't get the middle balance I want.
    They're around 17 years old, both main characters, boy and girl, set in medieval style time and neither are nobles nor incredibly poor or anything like that so no class restrictions.

    I really do need help on this one!
     
  2. yazzy
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    yazzy New Member

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    Well, im no expert in romance but what I do know is that, as i reader, if i dont see it progessing from something small to beautiful and REALISTIC, i will bash it against the wall and feed it to a paper shredder. the whole I-hate-you-but-lets-get-into-bed thing just gets on my nerves. SO...i say, ever read romance novels or watched the movies ( sheesh even they are getting too cliched), look into those. i cant pick up any from the top of my head now but just treat it like any other plot.

    like in your novel, do the readers witness their first encounter, if so, what happens? what's their first impression of each other, thoughts and emotions. do they hit off from the beginning or do they bicker and fight all the time? you said its a fantasy novel right, let the plot help you move it along. i cant give you tips on how since i dont know what the plot is about, but some factors may help or hinder the story. like for instance, it takes place in medieval times. so you cant have your lovers getting at it in broad daylight. there was the whole chastisy of woman and virginity thing going on! so if you decide that 'oh let them just make love in a hotel', readers are not dumb...they WILL shred the book.

    like i said, im no expert in this stuff. i dont even like reading romance or watching it for that matter. to me this has been over done. i'm mostly into thrillers which is why im not well versed in this genre. BUT i tell you this....dont let it happen over night. there's got to be drama and tension.

    hope i helped.

    PEACE :D
     
  3. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Possibly Awesome Writer,

    If you're not skilled at or just learning to write romance into your works, the best thing to do is to read published works that have the elements you're looking for. Read them, study how the author accomplished adding romance to the storyline. Watch words, actions, movements, pacing, thoughts, etc. Take notes and then employ the relevant techniques, blended with your writing style.

    As with many thhings, really there isn't a 'short answer' of how to do it--or at least do it very well.
     
  4. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Good advice you've had so far.

    I think romance needs to be allowed enough room to breathe, to grow organically. Think about all aspects of first meeting - first glances, that instant impression people get of one another, what it is like talking to someone of the opposite sex when you are attracted to them... Then go from there.

    Think also about what people may feel but don't say.

    The gentle hug you mention is fine as a start. Perhaps the two were friends and from there is develops into something more?
     
  5. Ollpheist
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    Ollpheist Member

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    I do not typically read romances, but I have a friend named Angel Smits. She recently published a book entitled A Message for Julia. As a courtesy to my friend, I picked it up and read it. I was under the previous impression that "romance novelist" was a euphemism for "smut writer", but oh, how I was proven wrong. I'd highly suggest Angel's work to show how to develop a romance.
     
  6. Motley
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    Motley Active Member

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    I think most romances start with a physical attraction of some sort, and it doesn't have to be a, "wow, she's hot" kind of thing. He suddenly realizes he's trying some goofy thing that made her smile once so he gets to see that smile again. Or beings to notice a certain way she bites her lip when thinking hard or whatever.

    Romances can grow out of friendship easily I think, if they already know each other. If they don't you need an excuse to get them in each others company frequently.
     
  7. Ella Frank
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    Ella Frank Member

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    Hi there!

    I thought I would come in here and give you a hand if you like to see if I can offer a suggestion or two for your romance "block". I read and like to think I write family fiction that involves romance and different dynamics between people.

    When it comes to romance I always find that a nice build up makes for a good romance, you want to know the characters and you want to like them. I always ask myself;

    1. How did they meet?
    2. What was the moment where the dynamic changed and one of the characters felt the "ahh" moment.
    3. What kind of ramance is this? Long lasting? A Fling? A Destined/Mated bond? A Tragedy.

    If you are writing about two younger people, you said 17, in medieval times her is my little suggestion..ha :) maybe you could have them meet by one of them defending the other. I always like to change things up a bit so maybe you could have the girl save, or help the boy. Then he feels a little silly and can't believe he had to rely on a girl and she gets her nose out of joint because he is a sexist jerk but somehow they get around these intial feelings and a romance develops....

    Anyway just a few thoughts and suggestions.

    Goodluck!

    Ella
    xx
     
  8. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    Developing romanace is in the little things

    looking him a bit to look
    being caught several times by the other as you find yourself watching them
    hands brushing
    finding an excuse to sit next to them or talk to them
    a smile or wink
    the feeling of jealousy when he's talking to a pretty girl
    girls tend to get giggly (even girls that aren't giggly)
    boys tend to show off or do stupid things
    feeling happy for no real reason except you might see him
    craning your neck to see him
    a kiss and the wondering what that means
    long talks about things you wouldn't tell someone else
    noticing the nice things they do, even the really small things
    feeling comfortable enough with them that you can cry or share a deep feeling
    dancing and having your bodies brush together
    definding them when others are talking trash or something didn't go right
    holding hands
    going for a walk together
    doing something you would never do and might not even like to do but loving every moment because of who you're with

    Not a very complete list but these are a few things that make things seem romantic, maybe it will help spark other ideas of your own.
     
  9. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Bear in mind romance in a novel can be just like romance in this other world. Sometimes it moves slowly and sometimes it's a firecracker on the fourth of July. Usually it's somewhere in-between. A great deal depends upon the characters involved, their personalities, character, personal behaviors.

    Ordinarily, I would never suggest reading another author's work to learn how to do something. I'm more of an observation and research kind of person. But, inasmuch as observation in a romance would be akin to voyeurism, reading may well be the best way to go.
     
  10. Possibly Awesome Writer
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    Possibly Awesome Writer Member

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    Thanks so much! It'll take a while to mix it in because I was already well into the story before I realised that I had no idea how to do romance but with your help I should be able to do it. For the second part of the story I was writing about stuff I hadn't actually done yet so I had a big problem. I really was rather clueless.

    By the way I noticed that out of the eight replies, two were guys and the rest were girls. Talk about cliche!
     
  11. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I'd also like to recommend that you throw in a streak of unpredictability. It can get annoying when all the pairings are exactly the way you'd guess them to be. Treat it like a mystery; throw in some red herrings along with the sexual tension. And some people might not couple up with other characters. There might be someone who turns out to be gay, or who decided he/she prefers being single. The character who has a crush on someone might have a relevation that changes his/her mind, and maybe will fall for someone else by the end.
    Spice things up.
     
  12. LostInFiction
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    LostInFiction Senior Member

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    You've had some great ideas and advice from everyone on here. I would just like to add that I think romance is in the detail. I've noticed that often when a person finds someone attractive they start to analyse every tiny detail of every tiny thing about that special someone. The person subject to the attraction is magnified and takes up more thinking time than anything else.
    Not sure if this says anything that hasn't been said before :confused: but hope it helps :D
     
  13. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I'd like to add one more point. :) it's annoying when the romance is always between a guy and girl who have been friends since page 1, but it's obvious they'll become more (think Ron and Hermione, the triangle in the Hunger Games etc). Come on. Why can't the romance occur between the MC and a character who doesn't show up til later and therefore isn't overly foreshadowed at all the time? I know the nonpredicatbility thing is a rehash of my post above, but my mom and I were having a long interesting phone conversation the other day about romance in YA books (this applies to anything else too, but as I'm writing YA atm books such as the hunger games came up) and I realized, you know, the whole "guy and girl friends who fall in love" gets old easily.
     
  14. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    I disagree on some level.

    There is a vast distinction in creating a sub-plot romance versus having the main plot of the story be the romance in a story.

    If you notice, in books like the ones you mentioned, the focus of the story is not the romance and therefore, the inclusion of the romance has to be carefully handled. If you study sub-plot romances, there is a subtle, if not, distinct pattern in how the romance is handled in many successful novels.

    First, it helps create suspense, allows for extra tension and conflict, and it inciting and teasing enough to make readers to continue enjoying reading the story for parts in which the main plot may for some reason drag or may lose momentum. It helps pick up the lag.

    Second, in my opinion, it's much more believable, especially for stories that requires your MC to trust and rely on people outside of them. Because the main focus of the story is not the romance, the author has to be careful in making sure that the foundation of a relationship is already there and strong enough for a romance to blossom; the attraction, the trust, the friendship.

    It's much more work to develop a romance sub-plot later in the story and have it be a truly satisfying romance as a opposed to starting a friendship from the very beginning. Take even some crime thrillers in which the detective ends up falling for the victim of his case by the end of the story.

    To truly make a character emerge later in the story, you have to answer questions like: Am I only introducing him as a romantic interest for my character? And if the answer is yes, then to me, that can be equivalent to fluff and filler and can easily be cut. So then you ask yourself, okay, he's not just the romantic interest, but he's an important main character. Well then if he's main character, and you're only introducing him much later in the story, then is he really a main character? And if he is, are you insuring that you're properly developing him?

    To me it is much more believable to have a romantic interest start from the beginning. A good romance, relationship doesn't just happen over night, it takes time, and it's similar in writing. If it happens literally over night, then it's more lust and hormones than anything else because any other way has to be properly fleshed out and by introducing it later, you're limiting yourself.

    Also, maybe it is the foreshadowing that you don't like. That can easily be manipulated or not included. Building a good friendship is different building a romantic interest from the start. And turning a good friendship (without formal foreshadowing) to a later love interest can be done to where it's surprising.

    Also, romance form what I see is very much author preference. An author likes friends-to-lover stories, they will most likely build their relationships that way, an author like the enemies-to lover stories, the same thing. Friends to lover's is most likely the easiest route because your main plot is already doing 90% of the work for the romance building, whereas if you go a different route, you'd have to do more work... and with that, there is always the chance of straying away from your main plot to focus on the sub-plot too much.

    I do think there is a good amount of predictably in romantic sub-plots in novels whose focus is not romance, but at the same time, I don't think that predictability has anything to do with when you start the romance but more in how you're handling it.

    In theory, I believe, it's easy to slosh it off to predictability but when you get down to the mechanics of it, a romantic sub-plot works better when you're slowly building it up. Of course, this is if the author has an intention of making the romance actually meaningful. If it's just matter of putting guy with a new gal that showed up in town yesterday for the sake of closure of happily ever after, then yeah.


    On the flip side, you will rarely find actual romance books in which starting friends become lovers by the end of the book unless it's specific trope like a friends-to-lovers book. In most cases, it is someone you introduce a bit later in the book. And it's easy to see why, because the the main story is the romance, that you're using all your time fleshing out the story because the romance takes that much time to properly build.
     
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  15. Tricia
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    Tricia New Member

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    Here's one more idea. Make the romance difficult. If you make it too easy - boy sees girl, girl sees boy, music swells.... ah no.

    There is some problem with them getting together even though they realize they like/are attracted to one another. Perhaps one of them is "promised" to another, or has committed to years in the service of their country, or is employed by a strict taskmaster. You create it within your story.

    And if he happens by where she lives, ensure that she is not always there so he can pause and think about how disappointed he is.

    Good luck!
     
  16. DBock
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    If they are 17, correct me if I'm wrong but in medieval times they should be married with children by now? (Not joking there...)

    That said --- don't forget fourplay. it works outside of the bedroom. Have your characters get each others attention without going too far. Let them come to each other rather than tackling each other. I recommend reading some good old fashioned trashy romance to help you out. I'm reading Anne Aguirre's Sirantha Jax books (Grimspace Series) and they are great at giving great romance throughout an action sci-fi book. I highly recommend giving it a read. :)
     
  17. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    Also, to add on to the the foreshadowing and predictability of sub-plot romances, I have to say that most romance can't help the foreshadowing.

    Think of any romantic situation and how you convey that one person likes another person. Heartbeat quickens, you have slight blush, a smile etc. Even if you didn't want friends to turn into romantic interest later in the story and instead introduced some random person later, you'd most likely carry out the same "foreshadowing" to show the readers that romance is blossoming. I don't think foreshadowing really can be helped because the very nature a romance works in that way. It can be ignored though, but even despite that, you can't deny that it existed under the surface unseen in retrospect.

    Also, the predictability part of it. From a lot of what I have read, many authors use the romantic sub-plot as a crutch or their constant in the story. They work to make the main plot unpredictable, but give their romance some predictability and have it be a constant thing that is growing and it makes sense, because when everything else is falling apart or moving in directions you can't predict, having something that is constant and something that the readers can predict is received a lot better than everything that is unpredictable. Readers want to feel smart on some level when reading any story, and if you're going to make everything unpredictable, upside down and left, it won't be received well. People do better with some predictably than utter chaos. Plus, the reason why the romantic sub-plot is made the constant is that it is one of those rare sub-plots that feeds from unpredictability going on around it and it grows stronger. It works just like a relationship, a relationship grows stronger after trials and tribulations and to have it be a constant is almost like a win-win for authors because it makes for a more cohesive and satisfying read. That is not to say that the sub-plot is predictable in the literal way, but more in the sense that it's constantly moving forward and progressing as opposed to not.
     
  18. TobiasJames
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    TobiasJames Contributing Member

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    I think inner monologue is very important when articulating attraction to the reader, especially when it's done with a light touch of humour. Building on what someone said earlier, if your character is starting to analyse every little thing that he/she says or does, or trying to infer meaning out of trivial little moments like unexpected eye contact, then that's something which happens almost entirely in the character's own head.

    Just as in real life, the level of analysis can be ridiculous, and I don't think there's any harm in drawing attention to that fact (e.g. having your character suddenly put a hand to his face and mutter, "What am I doing? I've been lying here for almost an hour wondering why she wore a blue hairband today instead of her normal red one.")

    Finally, something which I'm sure everyone in here will echo... don't TELL me they're attracted to each other - SHOW me.
     
  19. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Sundae, you've made a pretty good case. I can see how having a romance between the MC and a character we know already will make things deeper, and we'll already see the love interest as a prominent character we know about. Makes sense. But...I still think that it's better when there's at least some element of mystery; i.e. if you're going with the "girl falls for her best guy friend" subplot, give her a small group of several guy friends, so readers will wonder which one she ends up with.

    Now, if the main storyline is the romance (rather than it being a subplot), and we know from the getgo who the MC is supposed to get with, but the entire path there is filled with tension and conflicts, then that's a completely different game, and I agree with what you're saying. But when romance is the subplot, I think it needs to be thought-out well enough to include suspense, mystery, surprise, etc, not just "Pssshh it was obvious the whole time that they'd end this way."
     
  20. Sundae
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    Sundae Contributing Member

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    Lol yeah I agree with that. I think at this point we're talking about predictability and foreshadowing on two different levels. My points were more geared around the handling of the sub-plot itself as opposed to the featured relationship.

    But I do agree that many novels feature a predicable relationships as how romance is carried out.

    It's a difficult plot to handle and this is why I think it's very much an author preference as opposed to any other factor. I'm actually on the opposite end from you. I dislike love triangles and I dislike having x bunches of guys that a girl has to choose from. In my eyes, it becomes more of a competition and cheapens the whole thing because you're constantly comparing and contrasting the guys. It also sucks when the reader falls in love with one character, but the author pairs their MC with the other character instead so you end not liking part of the book because of the relationship. I also don't like it because someone always gets hurt in situations like that and someones always gets the short end of the stick.

    That is just how I am and therefore I prefer reading how a relationship develops with just two people that have a 50/50 shot of either making it or not making it. No one says you need a happily ever after in the romantic sub-plot, and I prefer reading the unexpectedness of a rocky relationship come to solid ground. I rather keep guessing as to will they end up together or will they not, as opposed to will she choose him or will she choose the other guy.

    I prefer creating unpredictability within something that you think is a hundred percent predicable when in reality it is not.

    There are pros and cons a lot to many different plots, it would be interesting to list all the senoras we see in novels and if they follow some sort of trend.
     
  21. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I actually don't like it when the MC has a huge swooning group to choose from, either. I realize my post sounded that way, but I didn't intend for it to. I just mean I think the readers should be wondering who the MC will end up with -- kind of like a mystery, where you wonder which of the few suspects did it. There's several other characters the MC interacts with, and maybe one of them will end up falling for the MC, while the person he/she likes in the beginning might end up not working out - you just don't know. Not a big fangroup, big difference. ;)

    And I wouldn't be happy with a story where the two people you've been reading about the entire book decide it won't work out and the MC hooks up with some random person who appeared on the page from nowhere...I was thinking more along the lines of a character who's been there all along, or at least for a few chapters (middle of the story?) but in a more subtle way. For example, if in the beginning she thinks someone is all that, but as the story goes on, he turns out not to be - but then someone who she'd originally thought was a jerk becomes nicer and she ends up realizing he's a better fit, instead.

    I'm not trying to argue or anything like that, just clarify what I'd meant. I like things being spiced up. And yeah, the short end of the stick sucks, too. That'd be kind of mean, unless the person with the short stick is the nasty villain, which I'd probably do lol.

    And I have great admiration for your preference of creating unpredictability where predictability would normally be common. It takes a strong writer to do that!
     
  22. EAGLE
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    EAGLE New Member

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    I know the stress of the situation, I've tried to do it myself. Although at the time I wrote the pure emotions that I had for the girls I liked at the time and it always bottomed out. The reason being is that I was over thinking and adding to much to the romance and to little to the rest of the storyline. My advice is sit down and brain-storm, but keep your mind open.

    Go for a walk and let your mind wander on the problem, it will solve the issue in the correct manner.

    I've always found it easier to make them long time friends, and one runs into the other and they spark up another relationship. You can add to the back story and it's less explaining in detail how they really fell in love.

    Make sure to add the twists and turns aswell though. Just having an I love you, I love you end of story type romance makes it very very very boring to read. I wrote a few and every time I would go back to before they fell in love and tried to rebuild what I had so carelessly wrote.

    Over all as with any writing, take your time and put thought into the words that you write down. Always keep your mind open, and always write with the flow of how you want things to fan out.

    Your a writer, this is your craft, all you have to do is take the correct steps in mastering it.
     
  23. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Qs in any genre, conflict and obstacles drive the story. When the goal is a harmonic relationship, as is the usual goal of romance, that seems counterintuitive. But a war novel is striving toward peace, so it isn't all that strange after all.

    The struggle is the story, so make it a good one.
     
  24. livingforfun
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    livingforfun New Member

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    Maybe an ordeal can bring them closer. Like they could be stranded on an island for one day or they may run away from enemies and have to camp in the mountains. the way i get it there are several jumps

    glances->holding hands-> hugging-> kissing->... but i don't think you should make it go that far. But i'm a magic action type of guy so i don't know about you.
     

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