The Secrets of Getting Romantic Tension into Your Novel

12 Jun

Last year the romance genre generated 1.4 billion in revenue. That’s crazy huge!

Even if you’re not writing a romance, do you have a romance subplot in your novel? If you don’t, maybe you should. Quite obviously, it sells books, and having a strong romance can help you get published.

But getting romance into your novel correctly is easier said than done. How do you get your readers to yearn for your characters to fall in love, to cheer when they do?

Here are two formulas to do just that.

Love at First Sight, but it’s Impossible that it Will Work Out

Your two characters meet, look into each other’s eyes, and it’s love. Or they already know each other and secretly are in love with each other. Whatever the back story, they are attracted to each other already.

Here’s the catch. These two characters cannot be together. The better the reason is, the more your readers will be drawn to it. They will cheer, watching those two characters fighting to get together. And when they do, it will be oh so satisfying.

Here’s an example I know some of you won’t appreciate, but it has sold 116 million copies (1.3 million in one day!), so we’ve got to consider it. Edward and Bella.

They meet, and they’re both attracted to each other. The reason they can’t be together? Edward is a vampire and has some secret desires to drink Bella’s blood. Yeah, I know. It’s a little weird, but it’s perfect for creating romantic tension. Because the reason that Edward and Bella can’t be together is so strong, the reader longs for them to fall in love.

Two Characters Hate Each Other, but Slowly Come to Realize They’re in Love

Here’s the second formula. Your two characters meet and, for whatever reason, they absolutely detest each other. One is rude to the other, they’re mortal enemies, etc. Again, the stronger the reason, the more your readers will fight for them to get together.

Over the course of your story they come to realize that they love each other. When they overcome whatever was keeping them apart, readers cheer.

Here’s a perfect example – Beauty and the Beast. What are all the reasons they dislike each other? Well, the beast captured Belle’s father and then he imprisons her. On top of that, he’s an animal! This is perfect stuff for building romantic tension. We love it when they begin to change and see each other in a new light.

These two strategies can be used so many different ways in so many different scenarios. What are your favorite love stories and how did that author get it to work? Can you think of any other techniques for adding romantic tension to your novel?

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2 Responses to “The Secrets of Getting Romantic Tension into Your Novel”

  1. quirkywritingcorner June 15, 2013 at 4:21 am #

    I was a bit surprised to read that there are only 2 reasons for romantic tension, and realized you were right. I had planned to write mystery/romance. My first novel is more mystery than romance. It is to be a serial, so I plan to introduce more romance later.
    My second novel is a mystery/romance. After reading your article, I now have to edit in a few places to better bring out their reasons for not getting together. They have a mutual attraction when they first meet, not really love at first sight, more like a familiarity. With a few changes I think the novel will read better as well as make the characters more real. I tend to expect my readers to be able to read what’s in my head. I should be thankful they can’t. Thank you for such delightful and clear insight.

  2. Jessica Flory June 15, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

    You’re so welcome! I’m so happy these tips helped you out. Haha I’m sure it’s not a complete list on how to get romantic tension in there, but these two methods are tried and true and will definitely work.

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