We love love. A good romance story or storyline captures the attention and adoration of readers – a love triangle can elicit the strongest of opinions from a fandom.
Australian author C S Pacat writes about the maintenance of tension across a storyline here. In her words:
Sexual tension exists when the force of sexual desire pushes against the force of restraint and/or the obstacle to that desire: we want to but we can’t, or won’t, or mustn’t, yet, for some reason.
So let’s unpack that. When one writes a love storyline, we take a boundary, keeping two love interests apart to maintain interest. There are a variety of ways in which the love interests can be kept apart, of what forms that ‘boundary’ and how it is maintained. For example, two people who may be compatible except for the fact that they come from countries which have historic acrimony between them, both individuals are more or less in competition for the same prize or goal; why does that boundary exist – the fear of rejection.
One of the easiest ways that romantic tension can be created is by denying the character or characters knowledge of the other person’s feelings. This is particularly effective for readers. Fearing rejection is an almost universal experience, so readers can almost automatically buy into the experience of uncertainty, of not knowing what’s in someone else’s head, when we have an interest in that person. What of course raises the dramatic tension of the storyline is if we are given an insight into how the other character feels, and they too are rendered inert by an uncertainty of whether or not their feelings are reciprocated. The bonus here is that it is particularly effective at keeping readers frantically turning pages as they desperately seek the resolution of one character breaking and admitting their feelings.
According to Nicholas Sparks, DON’T make it easy on your characters. What makes a love story a story, and not just a romantic episode, are the hurdles the characters encounter on their paths.
If the obstacles confronting the lovers define the love story, then what makes a great love story is their willingness to go to almost any lengths to overcome them – whatever the cost.
Do you have any tips on writing a love storyline? Tell us in the comments below!
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