Dear Editor, why can’t my hero and heroine just get along?

Dear Editor,

The characters in my new story have stolen my heart, but I keep getting feedback that they fall in love too quickly. Why can’t the hero and heroine of a romance just get along?

Love, Amy

Dear Amy,

Thanks for this. To help answer this question, firstly think about the type of romances you enjoy reading. Do you love to know what’s going to happen by the end of chapter one, all the mystery and excitement laid out in front of you? Or do you like to be swept away on a journey that twists and turns until the end, when the hero and heroine find their happy ever after in the most spectacular way? Fans of the genre always know that in a romance there is a guaranteed happy ending, even if the path towards it looks impossible. Keep this guarantee in the back of your mind when you are writing, because then it gives you the licence to challenge your characters – and let yourself be challenged too!

The path to a happy ending…

  • Let’s start with your characters! In order to believe that two people are meant to be together forever, then they need to overcome a number of obstacles to strengthen them and bring them closer. If there is no tension, and no sizzling chemistry, then it is hard for your readers to invest their time. You as the writer have made the effort to think about your characters, to know them inside out and to fall in love with them yourself, so give your readers that same opportunity. After all, if you love them, let your readers love them too!
  • Find the distinction between a real-life romance and one created for the purpose of entertainment. Of course, in real life we would all prefer for to meet our Prince Charming and live happily ever after. But sadly, this doesn’t make for a gripping read. So, don’t be afraid to add more drama and tension in your book than you would ever want from real life. It is the only safe place to do it!
  • Plan, plan, plan! If you do find your general feedback is that your characters fall in love too quickly, then before you start writing, and with your characters in mind, write yourself an action plan. Perhaps think about the types of challenges that would work in your story. For example, what would an infertile heroine have to face and overcome when her hero is a prince who must marry and have an heir? These types of life-changing, relationship-altering scenarios need the time and space to be explored. Therefore, by mapping them out and finding the solutions before you start writing, you will have a road map of the ups and downs, twists and turns your journey should take on the page. And with each challenge your hero and heroine overcome, the stronger they become too!
  • Keep in mind the reader’s expectations. Don’t forget that readers come to romances for the roller-coaster of emotions. The highs are all the more satisfying because of the low, dark moments they have had to endure. By adding the light and shade in your book, the ending will always be that bit more satisfying. You want to give your readers a book to remember, and a book that will stand out from the crowd. So don’t play it safe, let yourself and your characters go on a journey they were least expecting!

We hope this advice helps you get those twists and turns into your romance, Amy!

Happy writing,

The SYTYCW editors x