Writing realistic romances aren’t always as easy as we writers think it is. If it were, there wouldn’t be an endless stream of books filled with insta-love and toxic relationships. No matter what way we go about it, writing love isn’t a simple task, but these tips for writing realistic romance offer you an easy how-to to an otherwise monumental task.
So how can you write a romance into your story without falling into the insta-love deathtrap so many others find themselves diving headfirst into? How can you avoid the common pitfalls so your novel is filled with healthy and realistic romances your readers will not only enjoy but crave?
Here are my 4 tips for writing realistic romance:
Know your character’s individual personalities.
Each character should have their own likes and dislikes—that’s a simple given in exceptional storytelling. Like with each person you see in your daily life, each character you write should have unique mannerisms and quirks that set them apart from the rest.
So, it goes without saying that understanding who your characters are is the best way to determine what type of person they’d work best with and who they might actually want as a partner—which isn’t always who we want them to be with.
If you have two characters you want to ultimately end up together, you should make their character profiles compliment each other. This doesn’t mean they’ll never have relationship conflicts, but they should be better people overall with the other to support them.
Understand your character’s internal and external goals.
Just like their unique personalities, each character will have different internal and external goals—and different motivations for their goals to boot. These goals and motivations are what they drive them through the plot. It’s what drives the story.
If you have characters that are either too young or too focused to indulge in a romantic encounter, you should know they probably won’t work. At least not at this moment and without a ton of work.
You can always re-work your plot and characters, but this can be a great way to build tension throughout your story—or series—and give them the opportunity to build their friendship first, before trying to build a relationship between them.
Make your characters work for their relationship.
No relationship comes easy. Throw in a few disasters, unexpected surprises, and a secret your character was never supposed to know, and your protagonist’s plate just filled up. With all that going on, it might be hard for your character to even find the time to think about a boyfriend or girlfriend.
Anything romantic takes time to develop and the necessary trust and comfortability that comes with any relationship—and those are both things your characters will have to work towards together.
It takes both parties to create that kind of close-knit relationship. They’ll need to admit to their vulnerability and set boundaries the other not only acknowledges but respects. The best way to do all of this is to recognize your character’s true motivations and how each fits into the other’s new world.
Make your readers crave the relationship.
Everything needs to have a purpose, and the same can be said about romantic relationships. Whether they’re the main plot or a subplot, your characters need to have obstacles set in their path. They need reasons for the relationship and reasons against it.
You do all this to make your readers crave the scenes where your characters are together. They need the tension and the subtle nuances to build dedication to not only your characters as individuals but to your characters as a couple.
Small scenes mean a lot here. Subtle things can leave your readers wanting more, which is something to strive for in this department. You want your readers to want—need—to see your characters together just as much you wanted to write them falling in love.
No matter who the romance in your novel is between, writing realistic romances is never simple. It’s about balancing tension and nuance. It’s about reading between the lines a little bit, but that’s why we love them so much, right?
Next time you find yourself writing a romantic subplot, make sure to keep these four things in mind and you’ll be sure to write a realistic romance that’s worth the amount of time and effort you’re putting into each word.