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Writing Tips: Difficult Romance

Today I’m reverting back to answering reader questions!

Shaylee said I really love your books and I really want to know who the hardest romance for you to write was? And how did you finish writing it even though it was hard?

Oh-ho-ho-ho, this is a question I am so looking forward to answering!

Hands down, Elle and Severin from Beauty and the Beast were the most difficult couple I have ever written. Never before (and hopefully never again) have I written a pair of characters who were so completely disinterested in each other. Their lack of interest comes from their fascinating backgrounds, and it provided a great backbone for the story, but when I hit the halfway point I was pulling out my hair because neither of them would speak to each other. The entire story hinged on their backgrounds, so it wasn’t something I could rewrite, but I knew I needed help, or the pair would never fall in love. Disinterest between a couple is much more difficult to handle than dislike.

You have to be aware of someone to dislike them, but disinterest is dangerous because it means you don’t notice the other person is alive. If you have two characters like this, it will be a real challenge to make them shed their apathy.

Having painfully learned this while writing B&B, I knew if I wanted to make the romance happen, I had to have a massive intervention with the entire cast of B&B. I took an afternoon where I sat down and asked Severin and Elle what it would take to make them get interested in each other. I ended up concluding that the duo would not willingly start down the path of friendship, but I realized that they both prized their relationship with Severin’s servants. I swapped my attention to their servants, and Emele enthusiastically volunteered and became the vehicle used to brow-beat Elle into befriending Severin. Once Elle was convinced an attempt at friendship was necessary, she was going to force Severin into talking to her, whether he wanted to or not. This opened up interactions between the duo, which is what allowed their relationship to blossom.

Most times the couples I write are self sufficient—like Ahira and Azmaveth from Princess Ahira, or Gemma and Stil of Rumpelstiltskin. If I give them enough “screen time” together, they will make the romance happen themselves. Sometimes the characters need a little nudge—or a big wallop, like Elle and Severin. It’s important to have a strong cast of supporting characters, or several outside factors, which can impact the hero and heroine and open a path for them. Even my books where the couple falls in love on their own have strong supporting characters, because it provides a deeper canvas for their relationship to be displayed on. Having dowdy secondary characters will not make the magic of the romance stand out more, it will make it less believable.

Another helpful trick I’ve learned in trying to jump start character relationships, is to collect real-life examples of romance. Ask married couples how they met and how the proposal was pulled off. You’ll get some sweet and some hilarious stories, you’ll learn a lot about romance and how it affects the way a couple interacts, and it will also teach you what won’t work. In example, the invasive persistence Colonel Friedrich of Cinderella displays would have utterly terrified Tari of Red Rope, and the relationship never would have gotten off the ground.

That’s all for today! Next week I will receive the corrected draft of the Little Selkie, so I will have a better idea when it will be released. Also, I updated the “Coming Soon” tab with a tentative/estimated release schedule, so check it out when you have time. Thanks for reading, Champions! I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

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