Conveying a Romance of the Heart
What Makes a Love Story Great—In Fiction Writing
by J.M. Troppello
Plain and simple, the formula for a romance novel is man meets a woman and they fall in love. Of course, they run into various obstacles along the way, but there is always a happy ending. However, what sets a romance novel apart and makes it irrefutably memorable?
Think about one of the most dramatic love stories through the ages—Romeo & Juliet, young love of the forever kind. Yes, this story ended tragically, but it shows the ingredients of a great love affair. Even death could not keep them apart.
“’Romeo & Juliet’ is the classic love story. When two lovers are separated and trying to get back to one another, that’s fiercely romantic and something you become glued to.” – Saoirse Ronan
Let’s look at a more contemporary example, The Notebook, by Nicholas Sparks. Two young people experience a passionate summer romance and life threatens to pull them apart. The heroine goes away to college while the hero enlists in the army. The hero wrote to her, but she never received his letters. She thinks he doesn’t want to be with her.
She gets engaged to a man from an affluent family. Eventually, circumstances bring the hero and the heroine together again. They marry and have a family, living a good life. Eventually, the heroine has dementia, and her loving husband stands by her, trying to help her remember the happy life they had. Even when she has lost her mental capacity, he stands by his wife. They die together in their sleep. Now that is a true testament of an everlasting love affair.
“The best love is the kind that awakens the soul; that makes us reach for more; that plants a fire in our hearts and brings peace to our minds.” – Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook
Creating an Unforgettable Love Story
So how do you create such an unforgettable love affair that breaches the limits of the run-of-the-mill romance novel? You start by thinking outside the box. The formula is the same, but you need to make the plot your own.
I write inspirational romance, so I bring an element of faith into my stories. In my opinion, that adds the cement to hold the romance together. If a couple wants to weather the storms of life, they need a higher power to give them the foundation to succeed. I believe that foundation is God at the center of their relationship.
Now, I don’t want to get too preachy here—and I never do in my books either because I believe in real life. Not everyone believes the same way or has a strong faith in God, yet many people experience a great love affair in their lives. So, even if you don’t add an element of faith to your novels, you too can write a memorable love story.
Your hero and heroine need to love each other unconditionally. That is real love. They love body, soul, and spirit, every part of each other. A great love affair is one that begins in the realm of friendship or at least intellectual or emotional connection, before any inkling of physical intimacy enters the picture.
Passionate connections are wonderful, but passion eventually fades. When it lessens, what remains? That agape, unconditional, love remains. It’s a love that knows no bounds. They overcome hurts and offenses and learn to forgive. It’s not about winning but learning to compromise and serve one another’s needs first.
A great love affair turns from friendship into passionate love with your best friend. Physical intimacy obviously comes into play, but depending on the type of genre you write in, that will determine the amount you show the readers.
“Every love story needs a catalyst of some sort.” – Ian Somerhalder
Your novel may not span the length of your hero and heroine’s years like in The Notebook, but you need to convey the same sense of long-term commitment. Your readers must get the sense that your characters are in it forever. However, if you write a sappy romance novel, most readers won’t appreciate that, and it won’t be a memorable love affair.
In real life, we face problems. Make your novel real and add reality to your story. If you do that, it will be believable and readers will relate. Own your own story. If you believe the love affair you are creating, your readers will believe it too.
Article syndicated by Mustard Seed Sentinel on Medium.com.
About the Author
J.M. Troppello is an author, writer, and poet. She is the publisher of the online Christian lifestyle magazine, Mustard Seed Sentinel.
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