Whether you’re writing a contemporary romance, a paranormal epic or the latest erotic romance, there’s one key element – relationships.
When it comes to relationships in novels, I’m a little cruel. As the title suggests, I always make it really hard for the characters to get together and stay together. What’s a romance without a little struggle, right? Most romances are made great, because the couple has to fight through something, if they want to be together.
Whether you’re writing an MM romance, an MF, FF or a various combination of those, you’ll want a little heat, a little heart and a whole heap of trouble to be the basis of your story. What’s the best way to introduce struggle? You make it hard for the characters to be faithful to each other.
Now, I don’t mean that you have to have your Hero MC constantly cheating on the their love interest. That’s not going to win you fans, because there are a lot of people – including me – who lose faith in an MC the moment s/he cheats. But, you can make it hard for a character to be faithful to the love of their life in a million ways:
- possible new love interest, trying to tempt them away
- actual cheating (but, again, be careful with this)
- a new job, that takes them to a new city, country – long term relationships are hard
- an ex comes back and causes havoc
- their ‘relationship’ is a fling for one, but not the other
- there’s an emotional connection with an ex/friend that threatens the relationship
Whatever avenue you choose, you have to make it real and interesting. If you’re just adding it to cause a little drama, then I’d say avoid it. Trust me, I’ve tried to do that and it hasn’t worked. But if the trouble is there to push the story forward, then choose your avenue and stick to it. It’s important that you don’t use too many of these. Sure, you can have a couple in a long distance relationship that gets hard to maintain, then one cheats and it’s an epiphany. Or, you can have one MC getting jealous of the emotional connection their partner has with someone else, then they get tempted by an ex, who returns out of the blue and a possible cheating moment or risk. But be careful that you don’t make it incredulous.
The last thing you want is for your reader to roll their eyes at your attempt to create drama.
In one of my stories, Courage in the Kiss, the female MC has been in love with the male MC for her entire life. When he finally finds out, he admits that he doesn’t want a relationship, but that he’s wanted her for a long time. So they begin a purely physical relationship, though she wants more and knows he doesn’t. The struggle is hers, but then he goes out of town and she’s left wondering what he’ll do and if he’ll meet someone else to take her place. The drama is emotional, putting the MC is a state of constant jealousy and insecurity. But then I introduce the possibility of the male MC starting to develop feelings and fighting that.
In another story, Evander’s book 1, there are two teen boys who go to a magical school, to learn how to hone their gifts. They fall in love, due to a mate bond that hits them hard and fast. But then, halfway through, one of the boys is suddenly attracted to another guy and it causes the kind of drama that simmers in the background for over half the book.
It doesn’t have to be fisticuffs or handbags at dawn. Sometimes the best drama is emotional and, like I said above, it simmers away in the background. It doesn’t have to be in your face or overly obvious. Just a little jealous quip here or a remark there and you can have the reader wondering where this is going to go and how it’s all going to end.
So, what made me think of this? For one, I’ve just finished writing up the new plot for Courage in the Kiss, in which I add the simmering heat and intensity between the two MC’s. But also, I listened to this song the other day and it really helped me capture that soft, gentle approach to the drama that I was looking for.