I would love to write a whirlwind love story, but I’m worried I won’t be able to make a 24-hour-romance believable. Advice please?
You are right to ask the question – how can you make a romance, told over a relatively short time period, believable and credible? The answer is that for this type of story, you have to completely immerse your reader in the world and characters you have created from the very first word! We talk about this a lot, and in this case it’s even more relevant – your characters are the gateway into your story!
There are lots of ways to ensure your ‘quick’ romance is believable: let me outline a few key areas…
Get your characters talking!
There is no time to lose if you want your readers believe in the possibility of falling in love and getting to the happy-ever-after in no time! Using dialogue is a fantastic tool to share information, character emotions, or even to explain what is happening around them. Therefore you must make every conversation count. In this type of story, filler conversations or even lengthy chats with secondary characters are a waste of precious time. Beware also the info dump – we don’t want everything to come spilling out at once. Think about how you are going to layer the information at a steady pace.
Use conflict wisely
This may not be the type of story where you can slowly and skilfully drip-feed the conflict of two strangers in throughout. Instead, think about giving your characters a strong foundation to build upon. Shared pasts, for example, are a great way to imply knowledge and have your characters start where they left off! Perhaps it is the return of a wayward wife, or a ‘working together again’ story or a secret baby. Using the past off the page to start the drama means you can kick off at a point of action and maintain that pace over the short time frame.
Show your reader why they should be together
Whilst conflict is essential to create challenges which ultimately make your hero and heroine stronger, for whirlwind romances in particular it helps to pull out what makes your characters especially compatible, as there is little time to build it up. A great way to do this is using flashbacks to points in the past where they demonstrated their sexual and physical compatibility, for example. Or even to an emotional turning point where they were able to comfort each other. This way, for all the challenges they are facing in the front story, your reader will know that there were good times, and they can absolutely get back to that point.
Let your reader see every encounter
There shouldn’t be time for any of the action to happen off the page and to be recounted later on. Instead, if their romance is to be believed, then you need to show everything. Because every little detail will be a building block to the moment everyone wants to see – the fireworks of falling in love. Readers will want to feel they are on the whirlwind journey you have created, and not as though they are simply observing it, or having to fill in the blanks.
Sweep your reader off their feet!
Lastly, if your reader or an editor isn’t aware of the time frame, chances are they just got swept up in the story and you wrote a convincing story! Therefore think about the bigger picture of creating something so intense, emotionally heart-racing and unforgettable it was essentially timeless. By just focussing in on what matters, and sweeping everyone off their feet, time won’t be the issue. The romance should speak for itself. So if you are aware of the short timeframe, chances are your reader will be too. Instead, let yourself go with the story, pour your heart and your characters’ onto the page and see if you were convinced.
Most of all, have fun with it and good luck!
Megan & The Harlequin Editors