1. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    What Makes a Romance Work?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Killer300, Jan 4, 2012.

    Well, more specifically, what makes it work in a story? Is this something so specific from person to person that no such advice can be given? Or are there general tips that can be given?

    I ask this because I MIGHT attempt something in the genre, but not sure where to begin with it.
     
  2. SunnyDays
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    SunnyDays Member

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    There's lot of emotion involved. The words spoken by the adorer ponders the words deep in their heart. They feel that this one person, understands them best, and they feel most comfortable with them. What makes romance dramatic is when it is forbidden or they are worlds apart. I hope this was the kind of answer you were looking for.
     
  3. Froggy
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    Froggy Member

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    Begin with reading a few. Best by different authors. Then decide what you find works or doesn't...
    I just read one with a neat story, but it was written in such a pompous style, I just about tossed it in a corner.
    For me there are a few things I like to see:
    - 'reason' for the attraction (as opposed to superficial infatuation)
    - 'bumpy road' - things can't all go smoothly
    - 'compromise' - they both have to make concessions, get over themselves to make it work

    The usual pattern is a variation of:
    Meeting - attraction - reluctance - courtship - near relationship (usually one-sided affection) - fight - heartbreak - revelation - happy ending

    Just don't go too stereotypical on characters or motivation and it should all work out :p
     
  4. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    The majority of the action should be driven by the decisions etc of the characters, not outside events, but there should be an interesting setup which starts the contact between the characters (they should also be able to meet frequently and naturally). The characters should have clear needs, goals, strengths and weaknesses, and be engaging (although not necessarily madly original). Also, the sex should be an integral part of the plot, not thrown in gratuitously. There should be tension between the characters, but this does not mean they have to argue all the time--in fact, I hate it when the characters argue non-stop. It can be some situation (must look after widowed father? Is too rich?)/problem/personality flaw etc that causes the obstacle to their relationship progressing smoothly. This kind of obstacle is better to use than just having another person (ex-lover etc) turning up. The 3rd person POV should be clear (omniscient distances the reader), and you shouldn't head hop jarringly within a scene. Have clear sections in male or female POV. Often, it's mainly in the female, but with up to 1/3 of the scenes in the male--or vice-versa.
    Good luck with it. The above took me about 2 years to work out. I'm a slow learner :)
     
  5. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    Well, now I must confess... romances are my guilty pleasure ;)

    My favourite book/story of all time is Jane Eyre, and the reason it works (IMO) is because it has all the things Madhoca mentioned -

    Strong and engaging characters who are brought together by circumstance, and through familiarity and frequency of contact discover attraction and common ground; they both have flaws, needs and goals, and these are not always compatible. There is tension, obstacles, reversals, personal tragedy that create many twists and turns in the plot, but in the end it is the magnetism and chemistry between the characters that makes is so enjoyable. Plot may be important, but in a romance I think characterisation is even more important, because your primary focus is on the relationship between your two main characters.

    So, if there is one thing a romance MUST have, it's chemistry between your romantic couple. Without that, it will never be a great romance, just an ok story.
     
  6. Anarchist_Apple84
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    Anarchist_Apple84 Senior Member

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    This post is interesting despite the fact I hate romance! Kallithrix has hit the nail on the head, characterisation is key, if you care about the characters and belive the chemistry between a romantic couple, people will read and enjoy it.

    I'm looking to use the same principles to make my characters more believable, focusing on friendship and familial dynamics instead of romantic, but I believe the principles are the same.

    I've never successfully read a romantic novel (or attempted to, outside of education) and the only romcom I sat through was "Zack and Miri make a Porno" because that was a stealth romcom! It was hilarious but an hour in you've realised you've been duped into watching a romantic comedy! Shocking :O
     
  7. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    It depends on what sort of couple you want to write. I think the style of romance you choose to show should reflect the character's personalities so that the interaction between them doesn't come off as completely out of character. Obviously the characters are going to act differently around/with the love interest but it should at least feel possible/realistic for that character. I think that dialogue* plays a big part in romance - get it wrong and it just sounds silly.

    My favourite romances are those that tone down on the drama and sappy dialogue and spend some time focusing on the everyday aspects: things like cuddling while watching TV and coming home after working overtime to find a home-cooked meal waiting. :)



    * I say this yet I'm currently working on romance where one character is mute and the other is deaf.
     
  8. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Romance is a true feeling and a very personal agenda/concept at the same time to different people.
    Unless you have experienced it yourself then it is less then perfect if you write about without first hand experience I would say.
    One has to first decide what does romance actually mean?
    What are you actually looking for exactly?
     
  9. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    I'm writing an historical novel with romantic elements, where the romance plays a strong role in the plot - it is the subplot that instigates and complicates the main plot. I have to be careful not to let the romance dominate though because, as I said, it's my guilty pleasure ;)

    I show the romance from both POVs but I am more comfortable showing the feelings of the female MC, for obvious reasons (me being female and all). On the male MCs side, his feelings are a lot to do with lust, but also the calm, relaxation and freedom from demands the FMC creates when he's with her. Soon he is starting to neglect other areas of his life (where he is used to being a very high powered and authoritative figure) in order to seek that calmness, and it starts to adversely affect his private and professional life. My greatest problem when writing this is that these are exactly the opposite qualities to the ones that attract me (and many women) to a guy. I usually go for the strong, volatile tempererd men of action whose last wish is to live a quiet, peaceful life ;)
     
  10. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Well, whether these two have chemistry is... I don't know. However, one thing going for me is this isn't quite your average romance, to say the least.:p

    The guy, in this case, uses the excuse of lust to keep on seeing a girl who... well, he really shouldn't be seeing to say the least. She, on the other hand... well, has severe problems, to say the least. She definitely isn't your typical female in a romance story, may actually be a polar opposite in some ways.
     
  11. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    Unbridled passion and unfettered lust.
     

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