Romance Writing: Creating Characters Who Are Meant To Be Together
As an avid reader of romance, I have read numerous novels where the hero and heroine fall in love for no reason. It simply serves the plot. This is not what we want as readers. We want characters that fall in love because they are meant for each other. They have to be perfectly matched and have complementary traits. For most writers, this is hard to achieve. However, the solution to this problem is simple.
Character Creation is Key
If you don’t spend time getting to know your characters before you start writing, it is a lot harder to achieve the kind of relationship readers want. Writing before you know your characters requires a lot of editing to get their relationship to where it needs to be.
Trying to fit characters to a plot has the same hindering effect. The choices characters make in a given situation are because of their personalities. It is a lot harder to fit a character’s personality to actions instead of figuring out what a character would do based on who they are.
Build One Character at a Time
By focusing on one character at a time, you are better able to match these characters together. When one character is fleshed out, you get a holistic view of them. You can then build their love interest to both compliment and challenge them.
Let’s say my heroine is stubborn, outgoing, and uses sarcasm to avoid having serious conversations. A stoic, reserved, serious and equally as stubborn hero might both challenge her and force her to face and overcome her fear of all things serious. At first the relationship is rocky, but they have the right mix of opposing and similar traits to have chemistry.
Focus on the Relationship
Most modern readers want a strong heroine in a healthy relationship. This is especially important if you are writing for young readers. Unfortunately, a lot of young adult literature doesn’t showcase healthy relationships and instead glorifies the abusive, manipulative kind. I see you, sparkling vampires.
The best way to create a healthy relationship is to build it with mutual respect and a balance of power. Don’t always save the heroine. She’s not helpless. The hero is her partner, and she can hold her own with or without him. The heroine deserves the respect of her hero.
As you are writing, ask yourself what each character would do, based on their personalities. I recommend writing the same scene from each character’s point of view in order to achieve this effect. As you evolve as a writer, it becomes easier to make the characters act true to their personalities without this exercise.
A great example of a healthy relationship between two characters is Four and Tris in the Divergent series. They both respect one another and are both strong characters that can hold their own in tough situations. They rescue each other, in different ways. They have equal standing in terms of power in their relationship.
For more tips on character creation you can read my article “Character Creation: Why Is It Important and How Can You Do It?” Remember, both the hero and the heroine need a character arc. They both grow and change as people, together and as individuals.
Creating a meant-to-be relationship comes down to creating characters that complement and challenge each other and have an equal balance of power in their relationship. Taking the time to build your characters before writing ensures the characters have chemistry that jumps off the page.