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#1 Edited by Joygirl (20045 posts) - - Show Bio

Wuv. Twoo wuv.

Love is a beautiful, magical, whimsical, and tragic thing that makes everyone tick. It causes our hearts to stop and our heads to spin (or is it the other way around? I'm never too sure). But whatever love does to you, it's a driving factor in all our lives. We cherish our successes and mourn our losses, but whichever way it goes, love shares a common symptom -- we want to see other people in love, and we want specific things from these fictional romances.

Since people are, in fact, so particular about what they want to see in romance, it can be very tricky to write. Don't worry -- I'm here to help. Call me Joygirl, the Love Doctor.

Act I: Tension

You have to start your romance off somehow. Whether boy meets boy, boy meets girl, girl meets girl, or anything in between, the couples in question have to meet each other somehow. This is the easiest part to play with -- you can change and alter things from the normal course in various ways without affecting the ultimate outcome (happy ending), without upsetting your reader. This is a great place to make your romance unique. For my example, we'll use the very malleable couple-to-be, Azrael DeLioncourt and Belladonna Valentine (made up one second ago by yours truly).

- Maybe they hate each other? This is always fun, and about 80% of romance novels have used this particular formula to their benefit. Think Xander and Cordelia (Buffy the Vampire Slayer), or some such. Perhaps Lord Azrael is a bit of a noble prankster, playful and a bit naughty, whereas Belladonna is prim and proper. They could despise each other initially, but, forced in some way to interact with each other, could slowly grow accustomed to one another until they realize they aren't so different. This is a good formula if you have a non-romantic storyline that you also want to play through, forcing Azrael and Belladonna into adventures together through some misadventure. When Belladonna starts laughing at Azrael's jokes and Azrael starts to act a little more responsibly, romance can blossom.

- Love at first sight? This one's a little simpler but it can always work. Love at first sight stories tend to be simpler but cuter overall. Some examples are John Carter and Dejah Thoris (Edgar Rice Burroughs's Mars series), Westley and Buttercup (The Princess Bride), or another couple that experiences true love almost before the story even starts. These storylines have to focus more completely on romance, and will depend heavily on Act II.

- Unrequited? Maybe Azrael is mad for Belladonna, up in her little tower with her pale, flowing tresses blowing in the breeze out her window. Think along the lines of Anthony and Johanna (Sweeney Todd). Maybe he's watched her for ages, and can't get enough of her. And maybe she's never even noticed him. These scenarios are fun but tragic, and when things turn out sweetly in the end, can garner a very strong reaction. Maybe they finally meet due to Azrael's efforts, or perhaps the storyline forces them together in some way.

You have a ton of options in this category -- these are merely a few.

Act II: Conflict

Things get tricky here. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, both in real life and in fiction. When the love interests are separated in some way, in urges the reader to press on, desperate to find out what happened to Azrael and Belladonna. These challenges have less forms in which they can take place.

- Outside influence. Belladonna Valentine has been kidnapped by evil space pirates, and it's up to Azrael to save her! Perhaps Azrael has been imprisoned for a crime he didn't commit, forcing Belladonna to either wait for him (possibly fending off the advances of his rival, Rodrigo), or save him from the corrupt magistrate that had him locked up in the first place. This category involves something happening that separates the love interests against their will, forcing them apart. During this part of the story, the will of the prospective romantics will be the only thing that can keep them together.

- Personal influence. Lord Azrael DeLioncourt's father is forcing him into an arranged marriage, something he must agree to as part of his responsibility to his family. Belladonna, however, loves him, as he does her. The fact that Azrael has to specifically avoid her for the good of his family is the conflict here. Maybe Belladonna is a mystical seer who will lose her powers should she lay with Azrael, forcing her to avoid him. This category comes into affect when the players avoid one another of their own free will, despite being crazy about each other.

However, all things must come to an end.

Act III: Payoff

Somewhere along the line, things have to come to an end. Whether or not Azrael and Belladonna have always loved each other, no matter what they've had to endure, they have to have their happy ending (or do they? more on that later). Act III involves Azrael killing the space pirates, Belladonna exposing the evil magistrate's plans and freeing Azrael, or Azrael creating a clone of himself to take part in the arranged marriage he is desperate to avoid. This is where the payoff happens. This is the big damn kiss. The happy ending. Congratulations - you've written a romance.

"You're spoiling it! You're spoiling EVERYTHING!"

Sometimes authors decide that basic romantic storylines are FOR THE WEAK. They challenge traditions in various ways, maybe they create a love triangle or decide to end the story as a tragedy. This happens, and it's all too possible. It can garner even stronger reactions than a normal romance, at times. But you have to be careful.

For fear of making this article way too long, however, I'm not going to go into the literally infinite variables that can so easily take place in a romantic storyline. Take this much, and see what you can do with it. Once you've written a few successfully cute and touching romances, see how you can spice things up.

This concludes "How to Write Romance". Hope you enjoyed, hope you learned.

#2 Posted by Irishlad (578 posts) - - Show Bio

Great Job!

#3 Posted by Ravager4 (1627 posts) - - Show Bio

Excellent! Very insightful information for writing heart warming romance.

P.S. Love the pic

#4 Posted by Joygirl (20045 posts) - - Show Bio

@Ravager4: Thanks so much. ^_^ I always feel so honored when you like a thing. :D

And yeah, that's my very favorite Harley/Ivy pic, even if it looks like Harlz has a pretty severe hernia.

#5 Posted by The Poet (8338 posts) - - Show Bio

Huzzah!

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#6 Posted by Project_Worm (3431 posts) - - Show Bio

Great job Doc, I suck at all the mushy stuff so this will definitely help.

#7 Posted by Imagine_Man15 (1801 posts) - - Show Bio

I needed this. Romance is the only area in writing that I struggle with. I'm great with every other element of writing that I've encountered, but romance always throws me off... I tend to either drag out the tension too long, or jump the gun and have the lovers falling all over each other too early.

#8 Posted by Joygirl (20045 posts) - - Show Bio

Not a problem. ^_^ Glad it helped!

#9 Posted by GR2Blackout (2564 posts) - - Show Bio

You said you were horrible at writing romance.

@Joygirl: Great job!

#10 Posted by TheCannon (18916 posts) - - Show Bio

THANK YOU!!!

#11 Posted by Joygirl (20045 posts) - - Show Bio

@TheCannon: You're welcome. 8D

#12 Posted by AweSam (7375 posts) - - Show Bio

Great guide, I'm currently working on a fic that should involve romance. I also like the picture... a lot.

#13 Posted by primepower53 (5686 posts) - - Show Bio

Awww....I wanted to hear more about how to spice things up.

#14 Posted by Joygirl (20045 posts) - - Show Bio

@primepower53: Maybe I can make a sequel sometime... but I really have no idea where I'd go with it.

Or were you talking about actual... "spice"...? Because that article I don't think I could put on this site.

#15 Posted by primepower53 (5686 posts) - - Show Bio

@Joygirl said:

@primepower53: Maybe I can make a sequel sometime... but I really have no idea where I'd go with it.

Or were you talking about actual... "spice"...? Because that article I don't think I could put on this site.

O.o

#16 Posted by Joygirl (20045 posts) - - Show Bio

@primepower53: ...Whut?

#17 Posted by primepower53 (5686 posts) - - Show Bio

@Joygirl: oh nothing *innocent whistle*

#18 Posted by CapFanboy (5262 posts) - - Show Bio

@Joygirl: Great job

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#19 Edited by Joygirl (20045 posts) - - Show Bio

@CapFanboy: *squee*

The Gah! writer approves!

#20 Posted by 4donkeyjohnson (1689 posts) - - Show Bio

I thought the begining was going to be the lyrics of the Love Boat "Love...exciting and new. Come aboard, we're expecting you!" Ha ha ha {I'm not going to go into the literally infinite variables that can so easily take place in a romantic storyline} Great job

#21 Posted by ekrolo (434 posts) - - Show Bio

Pretty good write up and it will serve me well once the romance in my story starts, will anyone write how to write tragedy? Like how to deal with the loss of a loved one or a colosal failiure with grave consiquences for our hero?

#22 Posted by CapFanboy (5262 posts) - - Show Bio

@Joygirl said:

@primepower53: Maybe I can make a sequel sometime... but I really have no idea where I'd go with it.

Or were you talking about actual... "spice"...? Because that article I don't think I could put on this site.

50 Shades Greener (The Comic Vine variant)

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#23 Posted by Project_Worm (3431 posts) - - Show Bio

@CapFanboy said:

@Joygirl said:

@primepower53: Maybe I can make a sequel sometime... but I really have no idea where I'd go with it.

Or were you talking about actual... "spice"...? Because that article I don't think I could put on this site.

50 Shades Greener (The Comic Vine variant)

SOLD!!!

#24 Posted by poze (225 posts) - - Show Bio

@Joygirl: Thank you it will help me a lot!

#25 Posted by xxxddd (3572 posts) - - Show Bio

@Joygirl: Would it be good to have two characters(a man and a woman) meet as children because of a tragedy, they hate each other at first, but grow into good friends(with the man never making a move due to not having faith in himself),blah blah blah, the world is about to end, he realizes it's now or never, and proclaims his love to her. When she shows she loves him back, this gives him the faith to save the world?

#26 Posted by Joygirl (20045 posts) - - Show Bio

Sounds perfectly plausible to me.

#27 Posted by Pyrogram (39503 posts) - - Show Bio

@Joygirl:

Why can' life just be meet , greet , and sleep?

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#28 Posted by Joygirl (20045 posts) - - Show Bio

Because you touch yourself at night.

#29 Edited by Pyrogram (39503 posts) - - Show Bio

@Joygirl: If you call that romance. cliche.

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#30 Posted by RazzaTazz (9647 posts) - - Show Bio

@Joygirl said:

- Love at first sight? This one's a little simpler but it can always work. Love at first sight stories tend to be simpler but cuter overall. Some examples are John Carter and Dejah Thoris (Edgar Rice Burroughs's Mars series), Westley and Buttercup (The Princess Bride), or another couple that experiences true love almost before the story even starts. These storylines have to focus more completely on romance, and will depend heavily on Act II.

I would offer as another variant is the "We have known each other forever, but I actually just discovered that I love you" version (this is the one I am writing right now.) I am also building in the act 2, but love in itself can lead to small discoveries, like in the Princess Bride the phrase "As You Wish" became relevant later. It can be nice to build in these little Easter Eggs to build on.

Good advice though, I like it.

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#31 Posted by Joygirl (20045 posts) - - Show Bio

@RazzaTazz: Absolutely. As I said there are infinite variables really, I was just going over some basics for those who were truly clueless as to where they should even start.

#32 Posted by Pyrogram (39503 posts) - - Show Bio

@RazzaTazz: Hmm. That made me think, sort of like foreshadowing?

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#33 Posted by RazzaTazz (9647 posts) - - Show Bio

@Pyrogram: It can be foreshadowing or just other things to move the plot along.

Moderator
#34 Posted by Pyrogram (39503 posts) - - Show Bio

@RazzaTazz: ok thanks.

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#35 Posted by benben178 (163 posts) - - Show Bio

@Joygirl: Thanks I'm a writer, but romance is my achilles hill

#36 Posted by Pyrogram (39503 posts) - - Show Bio

@benben178: heel don't you mean?

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#37 Posted by benben178 (163 posts) - - Show Bio

@Pyrogram: Sorry I got a habit of doing that.

#38 Edited by Frenemy (1240 posts) - - Show Bio

@Joygirl: What the heck, I can't believe I've been here since the summer and I've only now gotten around to this. Great guide, thorough and on point :3

#39 Posted by Joygirl (20045 posts) - - Show Bio
#40 Posted by SpideyIvyDaredevilFan26 (6503 posts) - - Show Bio

Interesting...Been trying to develop an Ivy x Spidey romance in my Gotham City 21 series. Obviously it has a while to go, but they just had their first kiss, though I was thinking of making Ivy become more angsty and angry after that because she's angry at herself for accepting anyone else. Think maybe you could check the series out and tell me what you think?

#41 Posted by Jokergeist (4935 posts) - - Show Bio
#42 Posted by SpideyIvyDaredevilFan26 (6503 posts) - - Show Bio

@spideyivydaredevilfan26: Are ya talking about Poison Ivy? Because a kiss with her may not be ze best idea.....♡

I was doing it under the impression that she can control her toxic kiss.

#43 Posted by Jokergeist (4935 posts) - - Show Bio
#44 Posted by Joygirl (20045 posts) - - Show Bio

@jokergeist: Because they don't inhabit the same universe. :3

#45 Edited by SpideyIvyDaredevilFan26 (6503 posts) - - Show Bio

@spideyivydaredevilfan26: But why wouldn't she intoxicate Peter?

I built up Gotham City 21 in a world where pretty much only the most evil and sociopathic villains were the ones banding together, and Ivy and her best bud Harley had almost gotten herself killed plenty of times before Spidey arrived. Spider-Man saved her, recruited her for the Gotham City 21, and showed a fair amount of confidence in her abilities to change, probably more-so than Ivy herself. She's usually pissed at him, but I tried to make some chemistry there...Does that explain things better for you?

@joygirl said:

@jokergeist: Because they don't inhabit the same universe. :3

It's a crossover series...Does this mean you won't check it out?

#46 Posted by Joygirl (20045 posts) - - Show Bio

@spideyivydaredevilfan26: Probably not. Still have to finish reading the Lucifer Grimm series and a lot of others, in addition to juggling as many different creative projects as possible. Plus, you hate Killer Frost. ^_^

#47 Posted by Jokergeist (4935 posts) - - Show Bio

@spideyivydaredevilfan26: Indeed it does! ^_^.....could you lend me some navigational directions to this "Gotham City 21" place? My GPS isn't working.

#48 Posted by SpideyIvyDaredevilFan26 (6503 posts) - - Show Bio
#49 Posted by SpideyIvyDaredevilFan26 (6503 posts) - - Show Bio

@joygirl said:

@spideyivydaredevilfan26: Probably not. Still have to finish reading the Lucifer Grimm series and a lot of others, in addition to juggling as many different creative projects as possible. Plus, you hate Killer Frost. ^_^

Oh come on! I love Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy, and I TOTALLY agreed with you on how Harley would be great without the Joker! (Though I remain pessimistic that DC will ever see Harley like we do, it just won't happen)

#50 Posted by Jokergeist (4935 posts) - - Show Bio