Random Thoughts on Writing Romance

Exactly what it says on the tin. 🙂

Romance plots come in three types:

  • Major plotline (sometimes only plotline)—the conflict generated by this romance, as well as the scene time dedicated to resolving the conflict, makes up a major portion of the book
  • Subplot—the conflict and resolution of this romance consists of a handful of scenes (or scene parts), but is a minority portion of the story
    • Sometimes could be removed without the major plotline changing
    • Although if it plays into or adds to a minor element that affects the main plotline, this may not be the case
  • Background—the romance has no conflict (or none lasting longer than a scene) and is simply a part of a character’s daily life/background
    • If there is running conflict (such as a wife waiting at home), it is either played as an obstacle of a different plotline (and thus conflict in that plotline) or so minor it is never resolved (it may play as a joke)

Romance scenes come in two types:

  • Romance scenes—these are scenes dedicated entirely to the romance/couple; usually both are involved, but if only one, they are actively thinking about or acting for/against the primary romance; the majority of the scene and its entire purpose is the advancement or conflict of a romance
  • Romantic scene part—the main purpose of the scene is something else (fighting a bad guy, arguing a court case, a lavish party, etc.), but a few lines of dialogue, a single action, even a glance indicates some level of romance—it could contain romantic conflict, it could advance the romance, or it could simply indicate the romance exists; the key difference is that if you took the romantic element out of the scene, the scene would still have a purpose and exist

Both romance scenes and romantic scene parts can play into a romance plotline (either advancing or conflicting with the romance).

Romance scenes come in several flavors:

  • A purely happy romance scene is rare:
    • As a short establishing element prior to the introduction of the conflict (they meet and date and are happy—until her ex comes to town, etc.)
    • As a relief scene between plot scenes (most common in a romantic subplot or background)
    • As a release at the resolution of a conflict but before the introduction of another (they think they’ve solved all their problems, but…)
    • Or as a release at the very end of the story, when the conflict truly is resolved
  • A scene which advances the romance may seem happy, but still have conflict:
    • Perhaps only one partner is aware of the conflict (is hiding it, etc.)
    • Perhaps the conflict is external (on the run, unhappy families, etc.) but the lovers have found a short solace for this scene—or are deliberately ignoring/avoiding the conflict for the moment
    • Perhaps one or both partners is unwilling to commit to a full romance but is spending time together happily (perhaps surprisingly?)—thus the conflict of not committing remains in place (common in romance novels, or early on in stories before commitment is expected/desired)
      • This is actually really common—for example, early in Twilight, Edward is still resistant but spends time with Bella (thus advancing the romance)
    • Perhaps only the reader is aware of the conflict, thus tense that this happiness is only temporary (bad guy approaching, ex still alive, etc.)
  • A scene with direct romantic conflict is one which threatens the romance itself:
    • External conflict may not threaten the romance so much as the individual partners themselves (though this is more common with romance subplots, as the resolution of this external conflict is not romantic in itself)
    • External conflict which would end if the romance ended is part of a direct romance plotline, in which continuing to pursue the romance in spite of this external conflict is the plot (the resolution is often external, but is still a part of the romance since they’re doing it purely because of that)
    • Internal conflict is when one or both partners directly attempts to end the romance because of personal conflict between them (it can be more subtle, such as small fights that suggest larger issues to come; or as is often the case in romance novels, when only one partner has a strong reason to end the romance but isn’t fully sure, thus the other partner persists)
    • Seemingly external conflicts can play on internal conflicts to thus become more dramatic—someone with a trust issue will react more strongly (hence more conflict) to a suggestion of cheating
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About J. Sevick

Just write.
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