History SoYouWantTo / WriteALoveStory

1st Apr '18 6:06:27 PM Malady
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While most romances have focused on a man and a woman--say, one of the [[Literature/{{TCWGTHAH-Heroes}} Romantic Heroes]] who meets one of the [[Literature/{{TCWGTHAH-Heroines}} Romantic Heroines]]--today those rules are bending, and guy-on-guy and girl-on-girl is becoming more acceptable. Heck, today it [[{{Polyamory}} doesn't even have to be only two people!]] Of course, there will be outcry from MoralGuardians if you choose to go in those directions; but there's NoSuchThingAsBadPublicity, so maybe this is something you'll want to invoke. Having said ''that'', remember that most readers treat the RomanceNovel as comfort food: they want something reassuring and inoffensive, as opposed to being challenged to their core. There's a time and a place for everything, and a love story may not be the right place to try and make people re-evaluate themselves. (Feel free to take that as a challenge.)

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While most romances have focused on a man and a woman--say, one of the [[Literature/{{TCWGTHAH-Heroes}} Romantic Heroes]] who meets one of the [[Literature/{{TCWGTHAH-Heroines}} Romantic Heroines]]--today today those rules are bending, and guy-on-guy and girl-on-girl is becoming more acceptable. Heck, today it [[{{Polyamory}} doesn't even have to be only two people!]] Of course, there will be outcry from MoralGuardians if you choose to go in those directions; but there's NoSuchThingAsBadPublicity, so maybe this is something you'll want to invoke. Having said ''that'', remember that most readers treat the RomanceNovel as comfort food: they want something reassuring and inoffensive, as opposed to being challenged to their core. There's a time and a place for everything, and a love story may not be the right place to try and make people re-evaluate themselves. (Feel free to take that as a challenge.)
20th Mar '18 1:02:44 PM slvstrChung
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There are two basic layers in any relationship. One layer is that oft-used word, '''Chemistry''' and has to do with your desired traits. Ask yourself right now: what do you look for in a potential mate or significant-other? TroubledButCute? {{Adorkable}}? CloudCuckooLander? [[SupernaturalGoldEyes Eyes of gold]], [[YouGottaHaveBlueHair hair of blue]]? Well, those are your desired traits. If Quinn wants to be swept up into the arms of someone TallDarkAndSnarky, then when such a person walks into "Quinn's Books and Stationery" some time during the second page of the novel, The Reader expects them to end up together. Likewise, Robin is looking for someone feisty and independent who won't just play the fainting violet. Oh, and maybe HeroesWantRedheads. When Robin walks into that bookstore and sees the fiery-haired proprietor chewing someone out, The Reader expects Robin to be interested. Why? Because of desired traits; because of chemistry. That makes Quinn's presence in Robin's life (and vice versa) a ChekhovsGun. This is how LoveAtFirstSight justifies its existence, incidentally, and it's also where OppositesAttract comes into play; in general you don't want to date someone who's an exact clone of you. ([[ScrewYourself Unless you do]]. If you do, please keep it to yourself.)

The other layer is '''Compatibility'''. This one doesn't get as much press, partially because it's harder to explore in the time frame of a love story, and partially because a lot of Americans (the predominant consumers and producers of the RomanceNovel) think "love" is some sort of magic black box which they have no hope of understanding. "Look! WhenThingsSpinScienceHappens!" So here's the inside of that black box: shared values. If "desired traits" are what you look for in a partner, shared values are what you look for in ''yourself''. Ask yourself right now: now that you've met this girl/guy whom you have chemistry with, what are you going to do now? Are you going to have mad hot sex? Are you going to recline upon a sun-drenched meadow and quote poetry to each other? Are you [[ImGoingToDisneyWorld Going To Disney World]]? ''What kind of life do you want to live'', and how is this potential mate going to help you live it?

This is one of the ways the WrongGuyFirst plot or BettyAndVeronica situation can get resolved: Quinn spends some time with both Robin and Tracey, and distinctly enjoys having a relationship with Robin because Tracey is TheNondescript. But Robin is living a life that goes in a different direction than Quinn's, and in a way unsuitable for long-term entanglement. True, Tracey is kind of boring, because they share so much in common... But consider where Quinn stands with Robin. Quinn wants to travel the world, but Robin hates airplanes. Quinn loves animals and wants a dog, but Robin is allergic to animal dander. Quinn wants to be a full-time doctor, and Haley wants to have a fulfilling law career... and they both want their spouse to abandon their career, stay home and have BabiesEverAfter. With this in mind, do OppositesAttract anymore? Do you ''really'' want to spend your life with someone who's going to be at cross-purposes to you, all the time?—whose happiness ''requires'' your misery, and vice versa? Or do you want someone who dreams your dreams? Like Tracey, for instance?

(Pro tip: When you love someone, it's not just because you love them; it's also because you like who ''you'' are when you're with them.)

So, do you see what we're getting at here? In order for you to write this romance well, your characters need a fair bit of CharacterDepth: personality, BackStory, hopes and dreams, etc. You need to know each character's Desired Qualities ''and'' Shared Values. And you, The Writer, need to set ''all'' of them up as {{Chekhovs Gun}}s, where the firing / pay-off / [[IsThatWhatTheyreCallingItNow bang]] ([[IncrediblyLamePun ha-ha]]) is the blossoming of love. If you want to go even further, you'll need to start coming out with facets to each character. Remember, each of us acts differently depending on context: when you are in private with your spouse or significant other, you act differently than you do when alone with your parents ([[ParentalIncest unless you don't]]. If you don't, please keep it to yourself). Likewise you act differently around your children, your friends, your coworkers, etc. News flash: well-realized characters have the same level of complexity.

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There are two basic layers in any fictional, on-page relationship. One layer In RealLife it might be different; a blogger named Kris Gage has identified [[https://medium.com/@krisgage/the-only-3-things-i-need-in-a-partner-602f1bc765f0 emotional self-sufficiency, critical thinking and friendship]] as the three most important things ''she'' looks for in a partner, and she's made a good case for it; but writing such a character isn't particularly interesting. Pro Tip: '''''TrueLoveIsBoring.''''' This is a fact that really, really cannot be overstated. But boring fiction doesn't sell well, so, as writers, we need to spice it up a little. And so let us consider the two basic layers to any fictional, on-page relationship:

# '''Chemistry'''. This
oft-used word, '''Chemistry''' and has to do word deals with with your desired traits. Ask yourself right now: what do you look for in a potential mate or significant-other? TroubledButCute? {{Adorkable}}? CloudCuckooLander? [[SupernaturalGoldEyes Eyes of gold]], [[YouGottaHaveBlueHair hair of blue]]? Well, those are your desired traits. If Quinn wants to be swept up into the arms of someone TallDarkAndSnarky, then when such a person walks into "Quinn's Books and Stationery" some time during the second page of the novel, The Reader expects them to end up together. Likewise, Robin is looking for someone feisty and independent who won't just play the fainting violet. Oh, and maybe HeroesWantRedheads. When Robin walks into that bookstore and sees the fiery-haired proprietor chewing someone out, The Reader expects Robin to be interested. Why? Because of desired traits; because of chemistry. That makes Quinn's presence in Robin's life (and vice versa) a ChekhovsGun. This is how LoveAtFirstSight justifies its existence, incidentally, and it's also where OppositesAttract comes into play; in general you don't want to date someone who's an exact clone of you. ([[ScrewYourself Unless you do]]. If you do, please keep it to yourself.)

The other layer is '''Compatibility'''.
)
# '''Compatibility''', the second layer.
This one doesn't get as much press, partially because it's harder to explore in the time frame of a love story, and partially because a lot of Americans (the predominant consumers and producers of the RomanceNovel) think "love" is some sort of magic black box which they have no hope of understanding. "Look! WhenThingsSpinScienceHappens!" So here's the inside of that black box: shared values. If "desired traits" "chemistry" are what you look for in a partner, shared values are what you look for in ''yourself''. Ask yourself right now: now that you've met this girl/guy whom you have chemistry with, what are you going to do now? Are you going to have mad hot sex? Are you going to recline upon a sun-drenched meadow and quote poetry to each other? Are you [[ImGoingToDisneyWorld Going To Disney World]]? ''What kind of life do you want to live'', and how is this potential mate going to help you live it?

it? Because if we're talking about a relationship that's meant to go on indefinitely, then at some point they are going to have to become a ''part'' of this life you want to live. So we'd better make sure they fit in.

This is one of the ways the WrongGuyFirst plot or BettyAndVeronica situation can get resolved: Quinn spends some time with both Robin and Tracey, and distinctly enjoys having a relationship with Robin because Tracey is TheNondescript.TheNondescript in comparison, almost identical to Quinn in some respects. But Robin is living a life that goes in a different direction than Quinn's, and in a way unsuitable for long-term entanglement. True, Tracey is kind of boring, because they share so much in common... But consider where Quinn stands with Robin. Quinn wants to travel the world, but Robin hates airplanes. Quinn loves animals and wants a dog, but Robin is allergic to animal dander. Quinn wants to be a full-time doctor, and Haley Tracey wants to have a fulfilling law career... and they both want their spouse to abandon their career, stay home StayInTheKitchen and have BabiesEverAfter. With this in mind, do OppositesAttract anymore? Do you ''really'' want to spend your life with someone who's going to be at cross-purposes to you, all the time?—whose happiness ''requires'' your misery, and vice versa? Or do you want someone who dreams your dreams? Like Tracey, for instance?

dreams?

(Pro tip: When you love someone, it's not just because you love them; it's also because you like who ''you'' are when you're with them.) (This is also why TrueLoveIsBoring. Whatever it is that you wanna do, well, eventually it's going to be your routine. Ideally, you want someone who fits into your routine. Ideally, you want someone who wants to be bored the exact same way you do. Ideally, you'll find them.)

So, do you see what we're getting at here? In order for you to write this romance well, your characters need a fair bit of CharacterDepth: personality, BackStory, hopes and dreams, etc. You need to know each character's Desired Qualities Chemistry ''and'' Shared Values.Compatibility desires. And you, The Writer, need to set ''all'' of them up as {{Chekhovs Gun}}s, where the firing / pay-off / [[IsThatWhatTheyreCallingItNow bang]] ([[IncrediblyLamePun ha-ha]]) is the blossoming of love. If you want to go even further, you'll need to start coming out with facets to each character. Remember, each of us acts differently depending on context: when you are in private with your spouse or significant other, you act differently than you do when alone with your parents ([[ParentalIncest unless you don't]]. If you don't, please keep it to yourself). Likewise you act differently around your children, your friends, your coworkers, etc. News flash: well-realized characters have the same level of complexity.



Now, you get to choose how much you want to play up all these things and levels and facets. Most Hollywood Romance doesn't follow the same lines as most RealLife romances, because, hey: Reality Is Boring. For that matter, TrueLoveIsBoring. ItsUpToYou what you end up with, and how much of what. But this is where you ought to ''start''.



Speaking of WishFulfillment, it's quite easy to fall into a situation where just one of the two romantic leads is saddled with all the CharacterDevelopment. He or she was BeautifulAllAlong, but they end up needing an external agent--the other romantic lead--to draw that out of them. The other lead, though? InvincibleHero. StaticCharacter. UnequalPairing, though a bit downplayed. And, by strange coincidence, often of the same gender as the author. Aside from how thoroughly The Reader can psychoanalyze you from such a character, it's good policy in general for ''both'' leads to have problems they must overcome. Not only does it make a better story, not only does it avoid creepy allegations of WifeHusbandry (or DistaffCounterpart of same), but the whole point of ''any'' social relationship is that it improves both parties somehow. That's difficult if one of those parties is in no need of improvement.

It's been iterated already, but let's continue to re-iterate: ''you must have characterization.'' Romance is incredibly vulnerable to the EightDeadlyWords ("I don't care what happens to these characters") because a romance arc is nothing ''but'' Things Happening To These Characters, with almost no chance for a DeusExMachina like ChandlersLaw. There must be characters and they must be likeable. What does it matter if two people you don't know fall in love with each other? Because that's happening ''now'', right this very minute, somewhere out in the wide world. Strangers are falling in love! Are you excited? No, of course not; you don't know them, they don't matter to you personally. There's no reason for you to be excited about this, beyond a vague sense of altruism. The same applies to characters. If The Reader doesn't know them, care about them, empathize with them, and root for them, your story has already failed.

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Speaking of WishFulfillment, it's quite easy to fall into a situation where just one of the two romantic leads is saddled with all the CharacterDevelopment. He or she was BeautifulAllAlong, but they end up needing an external agent--the other romantic lead--to draw that out of them. The other lead, though? InvincibleHero. StaticCharacter. UnequalPairing, though a bit downplayed. And, by [[BlatantLies strange coincidence, coincidence]], often of the same gender as the author. Aside from how thoroughly The Reader can psychoanalyze you from such a character, it's good policy in general for ''both'' leads to have problems they must overcome. Not only does it make a better story, not only does it avoid creepy allegations of WifeHusbandry (or DistaffCounterpart of same), but the whole point of ''any'' social relationship is that it improves both parties somehow. That's difficult if one of those parties is in no need of improvement.

It's been iterated already, but let's continue to re-iterate: ''you must have characterization.'' Romance is incredibly vulnerable to the EightDeadlyWords ("I don't care what happens to these characters") because a romance arc is nothing ''but'' Things Happening To These Characters, with almost no chance for a DeusExMachina like ChandlersLaw. There must be characters and they must be likeable. What does it matter if two people you don't know know, and don't care about, fall in love with each other? Because that's happening ''now'', right this very minute, somewhere out in the wide world. Strangers are falling in love! Are you excited? No, of course not; you don't know them, they don't matter to you personally. There's no reason for you to be excited about this, beyond a vague sense of altruism. The same applies to characters. If The Reader doesn't know them, care about them, empathize with them, and root for them, your story has already failed.



Romance and relationships are fairly intrinsically linked to sex, and the romance genre is one of the few mainstream genres where eroticism is permissible. Such stories often verge into ExplicitContent, which doesn't help the romance genre escape its trashy reputation. But hey: SexSells. Whatever the case, you are not required to include sex in your story; you can go SexyDiscretionShot, or have the characters stay chaste until the back cover has closed, or even just avoid the topic entirely, as Disney films do. But if you ''do'' want to include it, you can.

As a caveat: do ''not'' throw in a sex scene just because you can. Needless, gratuitous sex depiction is called {{Fanservice}}, PanderingToTheBase, or--let's be frank--pornography. If you are going to include a sex scene, it should ''provide CharacterDevelopment.'' Believe it or not, that's possible. In Literature/TheBible, the phrase "[[GetTheeToANunnery to know]]" is sometimes a euphemism for getting it on... and when you have sex with someone, you certainly do learn things about them that most everyone else on the planet will never learn. ''Voila'', character development--particularly if the revelations ''are'' sexual in nature. But if you're not going to go for character development--if the only important fact is that your characters are ''having'' sex--don't rub The Reader's face in it. Use the discretion shot, or a SexyShirtSwitch, or whatever. (Or ''do'' go for it, embrace the smutdom, and aim for the sex sites. [[TheInternetIsForPorn There's a market for that too!]])

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Romance and relationships are fairly intrinsically linked to sex, sex; in fact, as Sternberg's Triangular Theory points out, you can have Commitment and (Emotional) Intimacy with friends and family, but typically only have Passion with your spouse, which would make sex (and its attendants) the '''defining''' element of a romantic relationship. With that in mind, it should not surprise you that romance genre is one of novels typically focus on Passion, up to and including the few mainstream genres where eroticism is permissible. Such stories often verge into ExplicitContent, which decision to include ExplicitContent. This doesn't help the romance genre escape its trashy reputation. But reputation, but hey: SexSells. Whatever the case, you are not ''not'' required to include sex in your story; you can go SexyDiscretionShot, or have the characters stay chaste until the back cover has closed, or even just avoid the topic entirely, as Disney films do. But if you ''do'' want to include it, you can.

As a caveat: do ''not'' throw in a sex scene just because you can. Needless, gratuitous sex depiction is called {{Fanservice}}, PanderingToTheBase, or--let's be frank--pornography. If you are going to include a sex scene, it should ''provide CharacterDevelopment.'' Believe it or not, that's possible. In Literature/TheBible, the phrase "[[GetTheeToANunnery to know]]" is sometimes a euphemism for getting it on... and when you have sex with someone, you certainly do learn things about them that most everyone else on the planet will never learn. ''Voila'', character development--particularly if the revelations ''are'' are sexual in nature. But if you're not going to go for character development--if the only important fact is that your characters are ''having'' sex--don't rub The Reader's face in it. Use the discretion shot, or a SexyShirtSwitch, or whatever. (Or ''do'' go for it, embrace the smutdom, and aim for the sex sites. [[TheInternetIsForPorn There's a market for that too!]])




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!! The Happy Ending



!! The Genders of the Leads



A lot of romance stories, particularly movies, involve young unwed characters who are HollywoodHomely at worst, attractive fit types most of the time. Divorcees, widow/ers, the honestly unattractive and desperate ChristmasCake types don't get a whole lot of attention. And yet, with about one in four marriages in America ending in divorce, a significant portion of the dating pool is going to be "previously owned" or "past their sell-by dates". Want to tackle this? For that matter, how about a story about husband and wife putting the spark back into their marriage? This may sound boring, but you could end up with a ''huge'' readership: for all that romance novels offer escapism, there are readers who like to be able to take something useful out of their fiction, something they can actually apply to their own lives. If there weren't, we wouldn't have an "UnfortunateImplications" index.

There is room for a sort of "inside-out love story." Romances typically focus on BoyMeetsGirl and what happens next. But for most people, meeting the [=wo/man=] of your dreams isn't the first act of the story, it's the ''last''; and there's a great deal of set-up, CharacterDevelopment and {{Foreshadowing}} leading up to it. So how about a story where the LastGirlWins? How about, for that matter, a story that focuses on what happens ''before'' they meet, and on what makes the two characters compatible? If you think it's impossible, I advise you to check out ''Series/HowIMetYourMother''. Ted doesn't meet The Mother until the series finale, and the prior nine years are spent setting up, in detail, his Chemistry and Compatibility needs. The story isn't about how Ted fell in love with her, but ''why''. And it works, because--again--romance is all about personality. Since we've spent nine years learning why Ted and The Mother are perfect for each other, the HappilyEverAfter is a ForegoneConclusion. (Also, the title of the show is a WalkingSpoiler). Additionally, while Ted spends a lot of time dating the [[WrongGirlFirst Wrong Girl(s) First]], the thing is that this is ''very'' much TruthInTelevision. When you get down to it, dating is all ''about'' dating the wrong people first, and figuring out ''why'' they are wrong for you, so that you can find your OneTrueLove and/or recognize them ''as'' your One True Love when you find them. (Unless you live in a fairy tale where you can expect your soulmate to drop into your lap. [[CaptainObvious Most people don't]].) While most love stories have the leads meet at the beginning of the first chapter, if you look at the dating life of an actual human being you'll note that they meet their (eventual) life partner at the beginning of the ''last'' chapter.

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!! The Attractiveness of the Leads
A lot of romance stories, particularly movies, involve young unwed characters who are HollywoodHomely at worst, attractive fit types most of the time. Divorcees, widow/ers, the honestly unattractive and desperate ChristmasCake types don't get a whole lot of attention. And yet, with about one in four marriages in America ending in divorce, a significant portion of the dating pool is going to be "previously owned" or "past their sell-by dates". Want to tackle this? Because there is an obvious market for it. For that matter, how about a story about husband and wife putting the spark back into their marriage? This may sound boring, but you could end up with a ''huge'' readership: for all that romance novels offer escapism, there are readers who like to be able to take something useful out of their fiction, something they can actually apply to their own lives. If there weren't, we wouldn't have need an "UnfortunateImplications" index.

!! Chronology
There is room for a sort of "inside-out love story." Romances typically focus on BoyMeetsGirl and what happens next. But for most people, meeting the [=wo/man=] of your dreams isn't the first act of the story, it's the ''last''; and there's a great deal of set-up, CharacterDevelopment and {{Foreshadowing}} leading up to it. So how about a story where the LastGirlWins? How about, for that matter, a story that focuses on what happens ''before'' they meet, and on what makes the two characters compatible? If you think it's impossible, I advise you to check out ''Series/HowIMetYourMother''. Ted doesn't meet The Mother until the series finale, and the prior nine years are spent setting up, in detail, his Chemistry and Compatibility needs. The story isn't about how Ted fell in love with her, but ''why''. And it works, because--again--romance is all about personality. Since we've spent nine years learning why Ted and The Mother are perfect for each other, the HappilyEverAfter is a ForegoneConclusion. (Also, the title of the show is a WalkingSpoiler). Additionally, while Ted spends a lot of time dating the [[WrongGirlFirst Wrong Girl(s) Girls First]], the thing is that this is ''very'' much TruthInTelevision. When you get down to it, dating is all ''about'' dating the wrong people first, and figuring out ''why'' they are wrong for you, so that you can find your OneTrueLove and/or recognize them ''as'' your One True Love when you find them. (Unless you live in a fairy tale where you can expect your soulmate to drop into your lap. [[CaptainObvious Most people don't]].) While In fiction, most love stories have the leads meet at the beginning of the first chapter, if you look at the dating life of an actual human being you'll note that chapter; in real life, they meet their (eventual) life partner at the beginning of the ''last'' chapter.



!! Courtship



Infidelity is another issue you could approach. Obviously, you need to be ''very'' careful with this one, because it could easily devolve into a FamilyUnfriendlyAesop. But the simple fact is that people become unhappy in their relationships sometimes, and begin to look outside that relationship for emotional and/or sexual satisfaction... and, perhaps more worryingly, sometimes this can be a reasonable response. Consider what happened just before the camera started rolling on the SitCom ''Series/{{Friends}}''. Ross Geller learns that Carol (née Wittick), his spouse of several years, has just had her ClosetKey turned, and is a confirmed lesbian. They divorce, and Ross's introduction in the pilot episode is moping over the end of his marriage. What did Ross do wrong? ''Nothing''--aside from marry a lesbian; but, in both his and Carol's defense, neither of them ''knew'' she was a lesbian at the time, and you can't really avoid something you don't know about. The thing about long-term relationships is that ''people have CharacterDevelopment''. They change job, change wardrobe, pick up new hobbies, start drinking like a fish (or stop), discover a new angle on their sexuality, etc. (It doesn't even have to be sexual orientation; maybe, in another version of the story, Carol gets ''really'' into a particular kink, while Ross doesn't.) Suddenly, Carol wants to live a completely new life... and, through no fault of his own (or anyone's, really), Ross and Carol are married to the wrong people.

Now, the traditional marriage vows address this: when you say, "For better or for worse," what you're saying is, "I promise to not only love the person you are today, but [[UndyingLoyalty the stranger you will be tomorrow]]." And generally, [[ThePromise one should keep one's promises]]. But the fact is that a spouse ''can'' become a stranger... and, like it or not, love is completely voluntary. It's something you choose to do. Push comes to shove, you can probably learn to love ''anyone''... but should you ''have'' to? But then what about your vow? You could write some ''very'' interesting stories about the GrayAndGreyMorality of this situation. (And notice that we haven't even ''added'' a third party into the fray yet; we're still talking about why someone might want to cheat in the ''first'' place.)

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!! Pre-Existing Entanglements
Infidelity is another issue you could approach. Obviously, you need to be ''very'' careful with this one, because it could easily devolve into a FamilyUnfriendlyAesop. But the simple fact is that people become unhappy in their relationships sometimes, and begin to look outside that relationship for emotional and/or sexual satisfaction... and, perhaps more worryingly, sometimes this can be a reasonable response. Consider what happened just before the camera started rolling on the SitCom ''Series/{{Friends}}''. Ross Geller learns that Carol (née Wittick), his spouse of several years, has just had her ClosetKey turned, and is a confirmed lesbian. They divorce, and Ross's introduction in the pilot episode is moping over the end of his marriage. What did Ross do wrong? ''Nothing''--aside from marry a lesbian; but, in both his and Carol's defense, neither of them ''knew'' she was a lesbian at the time, and you can't really avoid something you don't know about. The thing about long-term relationships is that ''people have CharacterDevelopment''. They change job, change wardrobe, pick up new hobbies, start drinking like a fish (or stop), discover a new angle on their sexuality, etc. (It doesn't even have to be sexual orientation; maybe, in another version of the story, Carol gets ''really'' into a particular kink, while Ross doesn't.) Suddenly, Carol wants to live a completely new life... and, through no fault of his own (or anyone's, really), their own, Ross and Carol are married to the wrong people.

Now, the traditional marriage vows address this: when you say, "For better or for worse," what you're saying is, "I promise to not only love the person you are today, but [[UndyingLoyalty the stranger you will be tomorrow]]." And generally, [[ThePromise one should keep one's promises]]. But the fact is that a spouse ''can'' become a stranger... and, like it or not, love is completely voluntary. It's something you choose to do. Push comes to shove, you can probably learn to love ''anyone''... but should you ''have'' to? But then what about your vow? You could write some ''very'' interesting stories about the GrayAndGreyMorality of this situation.situation: the need to balance HonorBeforeReason, the HappyMarriageCharade, and the very human and normal desires to participate in love and sex. (And notice that we haven't even ''added'' a third party into the fray yet; we're still talking about why someone might want to cheat in the ''first'' place.)
)

!! Gender Roles
3rd Mar '18 8:08:50 PM nombretomado
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This article is focused on the creation and execution of a love story: two people meeting, discovering they really like each other, and deciding to stay together for the forseeable future. Since this can be a subplot in just about any genre, this article aims to be relatively generalized, as opposed to being specific a "Write A RomanceNovel" SoYouWantTo. (That's why it's named the way it is.)

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This article is focused on the creation and execution of a love story: two people meeting, discovering they really like each other, and deciding to stay together for the forseeable future. Since this can be a subplot in just about any genre, this article aims to be relatively generalized, as opposed to being specific a "Write A RomanceNovel" SoYouWantTo.[[SoYouWantTo/SeeTheIndex So You Want To]]. (That's why it's named the way it is.)
8th Feb '18 12:02:14 PM slvstrChung
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And finally, just about any real-world romantic-advice column will have something you'll find useful. You can't be a good writer if you aren't a student of human nature. You're not playing in a world of abstract fantasy; you're trying to create characters who fall in love the same way real people do. So why not just ''study'' how real people fall in love and apply it to your characters? Just as one example, John Cheese of ''Website/{{Cracked}}'' also wrote a column, [[http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-ways-you-know-its-time-to-get-married/ Five Ways You Know It's Time To Get Married]], which does an excellent job of describing what it's like to be inside a working, functional relationship--something Cheese would know, having been in a crap-ton of dysfunctional ones before. (It also doubled as a WackyMarriageProposal.) Another is Tim Urban of Waitbutwhy, who wrote a double article on "How To Pick Your Life Partner" -- [[http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/02/pick-life-partner.html one part]] focusing on all the things people get wrong, and [[http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/02/pick-life-partner-part-2.html the other]] on what to do instead.

to:

And finally, just about any real-world romantic-advice column will have something you'll find useful. You can't be a good writer if you aren't a student of human nature. You're not playing in a world of abstract fantasy; you're trying to create characters who fall in love the same way real people do. So why not just ''study'' how real people fall in love and apply it to your characters? Just as one example, John Cheese of ''Website/{{Cracked}}'' also wrote a column, [[http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-ways-you-know-its-time-to-get-married/ Five Ways You Know It's Time To Get Married]], which does an excellent job of describing what it's like to be inside a working, functional relationship--something Cheese would know, having been in a crap-ton of dysfunctional ones before. (It also doubled as a WackyMarriageProposal.) Another is Tim Urban of Waitbutwhy, who wrote a double article on "How To Pick Your Life Partner" -- [[http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/02/pick-life-partner.html one part]] focusing on all the things people get wrong, and [[http://waitbutwhy.com/2014/02/pick-life-partner-part-2.html the other]] on what to do instead. And there's always Mark Manson, an extraordinarily talented columnist who has written extensively on dating and relationships. Just as one example, he polled 1,500 people who had been married for at least 10 years and found [[https://markmanson.net/relationship-advice the list of 10 things all those couples do]].
2nd Feb '18 5:31:07 PM nombretomado
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Here's another bit of advice, proved perfectly by Patrick Rothfuss' debut novel ''TheNameOfTheWind'': don't make the character ''attractive'', make the character ''lovable''. A lot of beginning writers (especially in NSFW and/or {{Lemon}} fics) fall into this trap: they go into excruciating detail about Heather's blonde hair that flows in a shining river to just past her 16th vertebra, blue eyes that stretch precisely 4/5ths of the way towards her temples, perfect 34DD breasts, and so on and so forth. They are trying to create a "perfect woman," someone The Reader will inevitably find attractive. Well, they've already failed, because any reader who prefers PetitePride and RavenHairIvorySkin may--well, they may not be ''turned off'' by Heather, they're not exactly panting like a dog either. (Plus, all this detail about Heather's looks is often boring... which is the last thing you want, especially in the opening paragraphs of your story, which is where it's most likely to appear.) We have a trope on this very phenomenon, called "InformedAttractiveness," but no real sense of how to avert it. At least, before Patrick Rothfuss.

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Here's another bit of advice, proved perfectly by Patrick Rothfuss' debut novel ''TheNameOfTheWind'': ''Literature/TheNameOfTheWind'': don't make the character ''attractive'', make the character ''lovable''. A lot of beginning writers (especially in NSFW and/or {{Lemon}} fics) fall into this trap: they go into excruciating detail about Heather's blonde hair that flows in a shining river to just past her 16th vertebra, blue eyes that stretch precisely 4/5ths of the way towards her temples, perfect 34DD breasts, and so on and so forth. They are trying to create a "perfect woman," someone The Reader will inevitably find attractive. Well, they've already failed, because any reader who prefers PetitePride and RavenHairIvorySkin may--well, they may not be ''turned off'' by Heather, they're not exactly panting like a dog either. (Plus, all this detail about Heather's looks is often boring... which is the last thing you want, especially in the opening paragraphs of your story, which is where it's most likely to appear.) We have a trope on this very phenomenon, called "InformedAttractiveness," but no real sense of how to avert it. At least, before Patrick Rothfuss.
19th Jan '18 12:33:18 PM slvstrChung
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So: required reading. So You Want To...
* SoYouWantTo/MakeInterestingCharacters
* SoYouWantTo/DevelopCharacterPersonality
* SoYouWantTo/WriteACharacterOfTheOppositeGender (this one is less necessary, but a lot of romance novels switch back and forth between the [=POVs=] of the leads, so you may be expected to have facility with characters who are not your gender)



There are two basic layers in any relationship. One layer is that oft-used word, '''Chemistry''' and has to do with your desired traits. Ask yourself right now: what do you look for in a potential mate or significant-other? TroubledButCute? {{Adorkable}}? CloudCuckooLander? [[SupernaturalGoldEyes Eyes of gold]], [[YouGottaHaveBlueHair hair of blue]]? Well, those are your desired traits. If Quinn wants to be swept up into the arms of someone TallDarkAndSnarky, then when such a person walks into "Quinn's Books and Stationery" some time during the second page of the novel, The Reader expects them to end up together. Likewise, Robin is looking for someone feisty and independent who won't just play the fainting violet. Oh, and maybe HeroesWantRedheads. When Robin walks into that bookstore and sees the fiery-haired proprietor chewing someone out, The Reader expects Robin to be interested. Why? Because of desired traits; because of chemistry. That makes Quinn's presence in Robin's life (and vice versa) a ChekhovsGun. This is how LoveAtFirstSight justifies its existence, incidentally, and it's also where OppositesAttract comes into play; in general you don't want to date someone who's an exact clone of you. ([[ScrewYourself Unless you do]]. If you do, please don't tell me about it.)

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There are two basic layers in any relationship. One layer is that oft-used word, '''Chemistry''' and has to do with your desired traits. Ask yourself right now: what do you look for in a potential mate or significant-other? TroubledButCute? {{Adorkable}}? CloudCuckooLander? [[SupernaturalGoldEyes Eyes of gold]], [[YouGottaHaveBlueHair hair of blue]]? Well, those are your desired traits. If Quinn wants to be swept up into the arms of someone TallDarkAndSnarky, then when such a person walks into "Quinn's Books and Stationery" some time during the second page of the novel, The Reader expects them to end up together. Likewise, Robin is looking for someone feisty and independent who won't just play the fainting violet. Oh, and maybe HeroesWantRedheads. When Robin walks into that bookstore and sees the fiery-haired proprietor chewing someone out, The Reader expects Robin to be interested. Why? Because of desired traits; because of chemistry. That makes Quinn's presence in Robin's life (and vice versa) a ChekhovsGun. This is how LoveAtFirstSight justifies its existence, incidentally, and it's also where OppositesAttract comes into play; in general you don't want to date someone who's an exact clone of you. ([[ScrewYourself Unless you do]]. If you do, please don't tell me about it.keep it to yourself.)



So, do you see what we're getting at here? In order for you to write this romance well, your characters need a fair bit of CharacterDepth: personality, BackStory, hopes and dreams, etc. You need to know each character's Desired Qualities ''and'' Shared Values. And you, The Writer, need to set ''all'' of them up as {{Chekhovs Gun}}s, where the firing / pay-off / [[IsThatWhatTheyreCallingItNow bang]] ([[IncrediblyLamePun ha-ha]]) is the blossoming of love. If you want to go even further, you'll need to start coming out with facets to each character. Remember, each of us acts differently depending on context: when you are in private with your spouse or significant other, you act differently than you do when alone with your parents ([[ParentalIncest or at least I hope so]]. If you don't, don't tell me). Likewise you act differently around your children, your friends, your coworkers, etc. News flash: well-realized characters have the same level of complexity. You know you've really achieved a RoundedCharacter when you can't decide how s/he should react to a situation because s/he gave you multiple options, and they're ''all'' in-character. But back on topic.

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So, do you see what we're getting at here? In order for you to write this romance well, your characters need a fair bit of CharacterDepth: personality, BackStory, hopes and dreams, etc. You need to know each character's Desired Qualities ''and'' Shared Values. And you, The Writer, need to set ''all'' of them up as {{Chekhovs Gun}}s, where the firing / pay-off / [[IsThatWhatTheyreCallingItNow bang]] ([[IncrediblyLamePun ha-ha]]) is the blossoming of love. If you want to go even further, you'll need to start coming out with facets to each character. Remember, each of us acts differently depending on context: when you are in private with your spouse or significant other, you act differently than you do when alone with your parents ([[ParentalIncest or at least I hope so]]. unless you don't]]. If you don't, don't tell me).please keep it to yourself). Likewise you act differently around your children, your friends, your coworkers, etc. News flash: well-realized characters have the same level of complexity. complexity.

(Pro tip:
You know you've really achieved a RoundedCharacter when you can't decide how s/he should react to a situation because s/he gave you multiple options, and they're ''all'' in-character. But back on topic.
in-character.)



Speaking of WishFulfillment, it's quite easy to fall into a situation where just one of the two romantic leads is saddled with all the CharacterDevelopment. He or she was BeautifulAllAlong, but they end up needing an external agent--the other romantic lead--to draw that out of them. The other lead, though? InvincibleHero. StaticCharacter. And, by strange coincidence, often of the same gender as the author. Aside from how thoroughly The Reader can psychoanalyze you from such a character, it's good policy in general for ''both'' leads to have problems they must overcome. Not only does it make a better story, not only does it avoid creepy allegations of WifeHusbandry (or DistaffCounterpart of same), but the whole point of ''any'' social relationship is that it improves both parties somehow. That's difficult if one of those parties is in no need of improvement.

to:

Speaking of WishFulfillment, it's quite easy to fall into a situation where just one of the two romantic leads is saddled with all the CharacterDevelopment. He or she was BeautifulAllAlong, but they end up needing an external agent--the other romantic lead--to draw that out of them. The other lead, though? InvincibleHero. StaticCharacter. UnequalPairing, though a bit downplayed. And, by strange coincidence, often of the same gender as the author. Aside from how thoroughly The Reader can psychoanalyze you from such a character, it's good policy in general for ''both'' leads to have problems they must overcome. Not only does it make a better story, not only does it avoid creepy allegations of WifeHusbandry (or DistaffCounterpart of same), but the whole point of ''any'' social relationship is that it improves both parties somehow. That's difficult if one of those parties is in no need of improvement.



As a caveat: do ''not'' throw in a sex scene just because you can. Needless, gratuitous sex depiction is called {{Fanservice}}, PanderingToTheBase, or--let's be frank--pornography. If you are going to include a sex scene, it should ''provide CharacterDevelopment.'' Believe it or not, that's possible. In Literature/TheBible, the phrase "[[GetTheeToANunnery to know]]" is sometimes a euphemism for getting it on... and when you have sex with someone, you certainly do learn things about them that most everyone else on the planet will never know. Voila, character development--particularly if the revelations ''are'' sexual in nature. But if you're not going to go for character development--if the only important fact is that your characters are ''having'' sex--don't rub The Reader's face in it. Use the discretion shot, or a SexyShirtSwitch, or whatever. (Or ''do'' go for it, embrace the smutdom, and aim for the sex sites. [[TheInternetIsForPorn There's a market for that too!]])

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As a caveat: do ''not'' throw in a sex scene just because you can. Needless, gratuitous sex depiction is called {{Fanservice}}, PanderingToTheBase, or--let's be frank--pornography. If you are going to include a sex scene, it should ''provide CharacterDevelopment.'' Believe it or not, that's possible. In Literature/TheBible, the phrase "[[GetTheeToANunnery to know]]" is sometimes a euphemism for getting it on... and when you have sex with someone, you certainly do learn things about them that most everyone else on the planet will never know. Voila, learn. ''Voila'', character development--particularly if the revelations ''are'' sexual in nature. But if you're not going to go for character development--if the only important fact is that your characters are ''having'' sex--don't rub The Reader's face in it. Use the discretion shot, or a SexyShirtSwitch, or whatever. (Or ''do'' go for it, embrace the smutdom, and aim for the sex sites. [[TheInternetIsForPorn There's a market for that too!]])



A lot of romance stories, particularly movies, involve young unwed characters who are HollywoodHomely at worst, attractive military types most of the time. Divorcees, widow/ers, the honestly unattractive and desperate ChristmasCake types don't get a whole lot of attention. And yet, with about one in four marriages in America ending in divorce, a significant prtion of the dating pool is going to be "previously owned" or "past their sell-by dates". Want to tackle this? For that matter, how about a story about husband and wife putting the spark back into their marriage? This may sound boring, but you could end up with a ''huge'' readership: for all that romance novels offer escapism, there are readers who like to be able to take something useful out of their fiction, something they can actually apply to their own lives. If there weren't, we wouldn't have an "UnfortunateImplications" index.

There is room for a sort of "inside-out love story." Romances typically focus on BoyMeetsGirl and what happens next. But for most people, meeting the [=wo/man=] of your dreams isn't the first act of the story, it's the ''last''; and there's a great deal of set-up, CharacterDevelopment and {{Foreshadowing}} leading up to it. So how about a story where the LastGirlWins? How about, for that matter, a story that focuses on what happens ''before'' they meet, and on what makes the two characters compatible? If you think it's impossible, I advise you to check out ''Series/HowIMetYourMother''. Ted doesn't meet The Mother until the series finale, and the prior nine years are spent setting up, in detail, his Chemistry and Compatibility needs. The story isn't about how Ted fell in love with her, but ''why''. And it works, because--again--romance is all about personality. Since we already know that Ted and The Mother are perfect for each other, the HappilyEverAfter is a ForegoneConclusion (even aside from how the title of the show is a WalkingSpoiler). Additionally, while Ted spends a lot of time dating the [[WrongGirlFirst Wrong Girl(s) First]], the thing is that this is ''very'' much TruthInTelevision. When you get down to it, dating is all ''about'' dating the wrong people first, and figuring out ''why'' they are wrong for you, so that you can find your OneTrueLove and/or recognize them ''as'' your One True Love when you find them. (Unless you live in a fairy tale where you can expect your soulmate to drop into your lap. [[CaptainObvious Most people don't]].)

For that matter, how about AnachronicOrder? The story does not need to be told in the normal manner. Music/ViennaTeng has a song called "[[http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=vienna+teng+recessional Recessional]]" which tells the love story backwards. An insane composer of musical theater named Jason Robert Brown decided to do both orders at once, and penned ''Theatre/TheLastFiveYears''. It's about a man and a woman who fall in love, get married and eventually divorce, but the difference between them is that all of Cathy's scenes take place BackToFront, whereas Jamie's happen in the normal order. (Brown elaborated on this structure by making every single song a monologue, with the other character not present, or at least not allowed to respond. It also creates even more energy and excitement around the single moment when their timelines cross, on their WeddingDay.) And finally there's ''Film/FiveHundredDaysOfSummer'', which is roughly front-to-back but does a great deal of skipping around, its narrative sequence more shaken up than a salad.

Because most {{Romance Novel}}s are written by Americans, the ArrangedMarriage doesn't get touched upon much, and when it does it's inevitably a PerfectlyArrangedMarriage. Why does this have to be so? A love story is about two characters discovering that they love each other, regardless of when (or if!) they get married. Now, Western sensibilities declare this must happen ''before'' the wedding bells ring; MarriageBeforeRomance is basically unknown in those cultures. Simply put, this is ValuesDissonance. It is ''entirely'' possible for a person in an arranged marriage to develop love for their spouse as time passes, and, in RealLife, many do. Besides, if networking can find you jobs and new friends, why not try it for finding a spouse? It might be more successful than doing it yourself (as some of those divorcees might remind you).

Infidelity is another issue you could approach. Obviously, you need to be ''very'' careful with this one, because it could easily devolve into a FamilyUnfriendlyAesop. But the simple fact is that people become unhappy in their relationships sometimes, and begin to look outside that relationship for emotional and/or sexual satisfaction. Sometimes the cheater is a heartless bastard. But sometimes their spouse changes. Consider what happened just before the camera started rolling on the SitCom ''Series/{{Friends}}''. Ross Geller finds out that Carol (née Wittick), his spouse of several years, is a lesbian, because she's just had her ClosetKey turned. They divorce, and Ross's introduction in the pilot episode is moping over the end of his marriage. What did Ross do wrong? ''Nothing''--aside from marry a lesbian; but, in both his and Carol's defense, neither of them ''knew'' she was a lesbian at the time, and you can't really avoid something you don't know about. The thing about long-term relationships is that ''people have CharacterDevelopment''. They change job, change wardrobe, pick up new hobbies, start drinking like a fish (or stop), discover a new angle on their sexuality, etc. (It doesn't even have to be sexual orientation; maybe, in another version of the story, Carol gets ''really'' into a particular kink, while Ross doesn't.) Suddenly, Carol wants to live a completely new life... and, through no fault of his own (or anyone's, really), Ross and Carol are married to the wrong people.

Now, the traditional marriage vows address this: when you say, "For better or for worse," what you're saying is, "I promise to not only love the person you are today, but [[UndyingLoyalty the stranger you will be tomorrow]]." And generally, [[ThePromise one should keep one's promises]]. But the fact is that a spouse ''can'' become a stranger... and, like it or not, love is completely voluntary. It's something you choose to do. Push comes to shove, you can probably learn to love ''anyone''... but should you ''have'' to? But then what about your vow? You could write some ''very'' interesting stories about the interplay of emotions and the GrayAndGreyMorality of this situation. (And notice that we haven't even ''added'' a third party into the fray yet; we're still talking about why someone might want to cheat in the ''first'' place.)

to:

A lot of romance stories, particularly movies, involve young unwed characters who are HollywoodHomely at worst, attractive military fit types most of the time. Divorcees, widow/ers, the honestly unattractive and desperate ChristmasCake types don't get a whole lot of attention. And yet, with about one in four marriages in America ending in divorce, a significant prtion portion of the dating pool is going to be "previously owned" or "past their sell-by dates". Want to tackle this? For that matter, how about a story about husband and wife putting the spark back into their marriage? This may sound boring, but you could end up with a ''huge'' readership: for all that romance novels offer escapism, there are readers who like to be able to take something useful out of their fiction, something they can actually apply to their own lives. If there weren't, we wouldn't have an "UnfortunateImplications" index.

There is room for a sort of "inside-out love story." Romances typically focus on BoyMeetsGirl and what happens next. But for most people, meeting the [=wo/man=] of your dreams isn't the first act of the story, it's the ''last''; and there's a great deal of set-up, CharacterDevelopment and {{Foreshadowing}} leading up to it. So how about a story where the LastGirlWins? How about, for that matter, a story that focuses on what happens ''before'' they meet, and on what makes the two characters compatible? If you think it's impossible, I advise you to check out ''Series/HowIMetYourMother''. Ted doesn't meet The Mother until the series finale, and the prior nine years are spent setting up, in detail, his Chemistry and Compatibility needs. The story isn't about how Ted fell in love with her, but ''why''. And it works, because--again--romance is all about personality. Since we already know that we've spent nine years learning why Ted and The Mother are perfect for each other, the HappilyEverAfter is a ForegoneConclusion (even aside from how ForegoneConclusion. (Also, the title of the show is a WalkingSpoiler). Additionally, while Ted spends a lot of time dating the [[WrongGirlFirst Wrong Girl(s) First]], the thing is that this is ''very'' much TruthInTelevision. When you get down to it, dating is all ''about'' dating the wrong people first, and figuring out ''why'' they are wrong for you, so that you can find your OneTrueLove and/or recognize them ''as'' your One True Love when you find them. (Unless you live in a fairy tale where you can expect your soulmate to drop into your lap. [[CaptainObvious Most people don't]].)

) While most love stories have the leads meet at the beginning of the first chapter, if you look at the dating life of an actual human being you'll note that they meet their (eventual) life partner at the beginning of the ''last'' chapter.

For that matter, how about AnachronicOrder? The story does not need to be told in the normal manner. Music/ViennaTeng has a song called "[[http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=vienna+teng+recessional Recessional]]" which tells the love story backwards. An insane composer of musical theater named Jason Robert Brown decided to do both orders at once, and penned ''Theatre/TheLastFiveYears''. It's about a man and a woman who fall in love, get married and eventually divorce, but the difference between them is that all of Cathy's scenes take place BackToFront, whereas Jamie's happen in the normal order. (Brown elaborated on this structure by making every single song a monologue, with the other character not present, or at least not allowed to respond. It also creates even more energy and excitement around the single moment when The only time their timelines cross, cross is on their WeddingDay.) And finally there's ''Film/FiveHundredDaysOfSummer'', which is roughly front-to-back but does a great deal of skipping around, its narrative sequence more shaken up than a salad.

Because most {{Romance Novel}}s are written by Americans, the ArrangedMarriage doesn't get touched upon much, and when it does it's inevitably a PerfectlyArrangedMarriage. Why does this have to be so? A love story is about two characters discovering that they love each other, regardless of when (or if!) they get married. Now, Western sensibilities declare this must happen ''before'' the wedding bells ring; MarriageBeforeRomance is basically unknown in those cultures. Simply put, this is ValuesDissonance. It is ''entirely'' possible for a person in an arranged marriage to develop love for their spouse as time passes, and, in RealLife, many do. Besides, if networking can find you jobs and new friends, why not try it for finding a spouse? It might be more successful than doing it yourself (as some of those divorcees might remind you).

Infidelity is another issue you could approach. Obviously, you need to be ''very'' careful with this one, because it could easily devolve into a FamilyUnfriendlyAesop. But the simple fact is that people become unhappy in their relationships sometimes, and begin to look outside that relationship for emotional and/or sexual satisfaction. Sometimes the cheater is a heartless bastard. But satisfaction... and, perhaps more worryingly, sometimes their spouse changes.this can be a reasonable response. Consider what happened just before the camera started rolling on the SitCom ''Series/{{Friends}}''. Ross Geller finds out learns that Carol (née Wittick), his spouse of several years, is a lesbian, because she's has just had her ClosetKey turned.turned, and is a confirmed lesbian. They divorce, and Ross's introduction in the pilot episode is moping over the end of his marriage. What did Ross do wrong? ''Nothing''--aside from marry a lesbian; but, in both his and Carol's defense, neither of them ''knew'' she was a lesbian at the time, and you can't really avoid something you don't know about. The thing about long-term relationships is that ''people have CharacterDevelopment''. They change job, change wardrobe, pick up new hobbies, start drinking like a fish (or stop), discover a new angle on their sexuality, etc. (It doesn't even have to be sexual orientation; maybe, in another version of the story, Carol gets ''really'' into a particular kink, while Ross doesn't.) Suddenly, Carol wants to live a completely new life... and, through no fault of his own (or anyone's, really), Ross and Carol are married to the wrong people.

Now, the traditional marriage vows address this: when you say, "For better or for worse," what you're saying is, "I promise to not only love the person you are today, but [[UndyingLoyalty the stranger you will be tomorrow]]." And generally, [[ThePromise one should keep one's promises]]. But the fact is that a spouse ''can'' become a stranger... and, like it or not, love is completely voluntary. It's something you choose to do. Push comes to shove, you can probably learn to love ''anyone''... but should you ''have'' to? But then what about your vow? You could write some ''very'' interesting stories about the interplay of emotions and the GrayAndGreyMorality of this situation. (And notice that we haven't even ''added'' a third party into the fray yet; we're still talking about why someone might want to cheat in the ''first'' place.)



You can set a love story anywhere. A TokenRomance is not defined by setting, but rather by the tone and focus of the story. Does your romance integrate smoothly into the rest of the story? If it doesn't, can you ''change'' the story to make it fit? If you decide to do this make sure you get it right; The Reader will call foul if you don't. A romance novel revolves around a love story but the Reader can tell if you have too much hand in moving events.

to:

You can set a love story anywhere. A TokenRomance is not defined by setting, but rather by the tone and focus of the story. Does your romance integrate smoothly into the rest of the story? If it doesn't, can you ''change'' the story to make it fit? If you decide to do this this, make sure you get it right; The Reader will call foul if you don't. A romance novel revolves around a love story but the Reader can tell if you have too much hand in moving events.






Here's another bit of advice, proved perfectly by Patrick Rothfuss' debut novel ''TheNameOfTheWind'': don't make the character ''attractive'', make the character ''lovable''. A lot of beginning writers (especially in NSFW and/or {{Lemon}} fics) fall into this trap: they go into excruciating detail about Heather's blonde hair that flows in a molten river to just past her 16th vertebra, blue eyes that stretch precisely 4/5ths of the way towards her temples, perfect 34DD breasts, and so on and so forth. They are trying to create a "perfect woman," someone The Reader will inevitably find attractive. Well, they've already failed, because any reader who prefers lesser endowments and RavenHairIvorySkin may--well, they may not be ''turned off'' by Heather, they're not exactly panting like a dog either. (Plus, all this detail about Heather's looks is often boring... which is the last thing you want, especially in the opening paragraphs of your story, which is where it's most likely to appear.) We have a trope on this very phenomenon, called "InformedAttractiveness," but no real sense of how to avert it. At least, before Patrick Rothfuss.

Rothfuss avoids this whole mess with his female lead by, instead of spending any amount of time on her appearance, making it clear that his [[PointOfView First Person Narrator]] is absolutely smitten. He {{lampshades}} the whole process via a wonderful interlude where the FirstPersonSmartass is reduced to spluttering when he ''tries'' to describe Denna's appearance, knowing there is no way he can do it correctly. In the end, he just admits straight out that he never saw her with eyes of flesh; he always looked upon her with eyes of love. "She was beautiful, to Kvothe at least. At least? To Kvothe, she was most beautiful." Even better, Rothfuss makes Denna interesting as a character, one that The Reader respects and cares about, even if they aren't necessarily head-over-heels with her the way our poor besotted narrator is. And now we're solidly on Denna's side, so that we (to quote [[Literature/TheGreatGatsby Nick Carraway]]) "concentrate[d] on [her] with an irresistible prejudice in [her] favor." Now it doesn't matter what she looks like, because our regard for her is based on something far deeper than the shallow accidents of appearance.

to:

Here's another bit of advice, proved perfectly by Patrick Rothfuss' debut novel ''TheNameOfTheWind'': don't make the character ''attractive'', make the character ''lovable''. A lot of beginning writers (especially in NSFW and/or {{Lemon}} fics) fall into this trap: they go into excruciating detail about Heather's blonde hair that flows in a molten shining river to just past her 16th vertebra, blue eyes that stretch precisely 4/5ths of the way towards her temples, perfect 34DD breasts, and so on and so forth. They are trying to create a "perfect woman," someone The Reader will inevitably find attractive. Well, they've already failed, because any reader who prefers lesser endowments PetitePride and RavenHairIvorySkin may--well, they may not be ''turned off'' by Heather, they're not exactly panting like a dog either. (Plus, all this detail about Heather's looks is often boring... which is the last thing you want, especially in the opening paragraphs of your story, which is where it's most likely to appear.) We have a trope on this very phenomenon, called "InformedAttractiveness," but no real sense of how to avert it. At least, before Patrick Rothfuss.

Rothfuss avoids this whole mess with Denna, his female lead by, instead lead. Instead of spending any amount of time on her appearance, making Rothfuss makes it clear that his [[PointOfView First Person Narrator]] narrator is absolutely smitten. He {{lampshades}} the whole process via a wonderful interlude where the FirstPersonSmartass is reduced to spluttering when he ''tries'' to describe Denna's appearance, knowing there is no way he can do it correctly. In the end, he just admits straight out that he never saw her with eyes of flesh; he always looked upon her with eyes of love. "She was beautiful, to Kvothe at least. At least? To Kvothe, she was most beautiful." Even better, Rothfuss makes Denna interesting as a character, one that The Reader respects and cares about, even if they aren't necessarily head-over-heels with her the way our poor besotted narrator is. And now we're solidly on Denna's side, so that we (to quote [[Literature/TheGreatGatsby Nick Carraway]]) "concentrate[d] on [her] with an irresistible prejudice in [her] favor." Now it doesn't matter what she looks like, because our regard for her is based on something far deeper than the shallow accidents of appearance.



18th Jan '18 7:01:30 PM slvstrChung
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This is one of the ways the WrongGuyFirst plot or BettyAndVeronica situation can get resolved: Quinn spends some time with Robin, and enjoys the mechanics they have together; Robin is a good person, but is living a life that goes in a different direction than Devin's, and in a way unsuitable for long-term entanglement. No, it's the other love interest Tracey, TheNondescript, the plain one, who really fits. True, Tracey is kind of boring, because they share so much in common... But consider where Quinn stands with Robin. Quinn wants to travel the world, but Robin hates airplanes. Quinn loves animals and wants a dog, but Robin is allergic to animal dander. Quinn wants to be a full-time doctor, and Haley wants to have a fulfilling law career... and they both want their spouse to abandon their career, stay home and have BabiesEverAfter. With this in mind, do OppositesAttract anymore? Do you ''really'' want to spend your life with someone who's going to be at cross-purposes to you, all the time?—whose happiness ''requires'' your misery, and vice versa? Or do you want someone who dreams your dreams? Like Tracey, for instance?

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This is one of the ways the WrongGuyFirst plot or BettyAndVeronica situation can get resolved: Quinn spends some time with Robin, both Robin and Tracey, and distinctly enjoys the mechanics they have together; having a relationship with Robin because Tracey is a good person, but TheNondescript. But Robin is living a life that goes in a different direction than Devin's, Quinn's, and in a way unsuitable for long-term entanglement. No, it's the other love interest Tracey, TheNondescript, the plain one, who really fits.entanglement. True, Tracey is kind of boring, because they share so much in common... But consider where Quinn stands with Robin. Quinn wants to travel the world, but Robin hates airplanes. Quinn loves animals and wants a dog, but Robin is allergic to animal dander. Quinn wants to be a full-time doctor, and Haley wants to have a fulfilling law career... and they both want their spouse to abandon their career, stay home and have BabiesEverAfter. With this in mind, do OppositesAttract anymore? Do you ''really'' want to spend your life with someone who's going to be at cross-purposes to you, all the time?—whose happiness ''requires'' your misery, and vice versa? Or do you want someone who dreams your dreams? Like Tracey, for instance?



Make sure the two characters bring out good things in each other. This was a major criticism leveled against the OfficialCouple in ''Literature/HarryPotter'': that Ron and Hermione encourage each other to be flawed instead of virtuous. Well, maybe not Ron so much; but whenever Hermione goes around doing bad things, like punching idiots or breaking school rules, this raises Ron's opinion of her. (Add in the [[FanPreferredCouple Harmonian]] faction and things get really heated.) Similar irritations have been leveled against the immortal [[Literature/{{Twilight}} Bella Swan]]: she's {{wangst}}y and self-absorbed before Edward comes along, and ''even more'' wangsty and self-absorbed after. He's not encouraging growth, he's [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enabling enabling]] her dysfunctional behavior (to use the shrink terminology). Of course, that's a tricky line to walk; while there's clearly such thing as being too positive and supportive (and not calling someone on their baggage), there's such thing as being too negative as well. Besides, loving relationships aren't based on yelling at each other to improve; they're based on loving a person for who they are. But, conversely, a person who loves you no matter what is the only person it's worth improving yourself for. (This, incidentally, is where Devin and Haley get off the love train; they are such different people that they ''can't'' encourage each other to become better.)

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Make sure the two characters bring out good things in each other. This was a major criticism leveled against the OfficialCouple in ''Literature/HarryPotter'': that Ron and Hermione encourage each other to be flawed instead of virtuous. Well, maybe not Ron so much; but whenever Hermione goes around doing bad things, like punching idiots or breaking school rules, this raises Ron's opinion of her. (Add in the [[FanPreferredCouple Harmonian]] faction and things get really heated.) Similar irritations have been leveled against the immortal [[Literature/{{Twilight}} Bella Swan]]: she's {{wangst}}y and self-absorbed before Edward comes along, and ''even more'' wangsty and self-absorbed after. He's not encouraging growth, he's [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enabling enabling]] her dysfunctional behavior (to use the shrink terminology). Of course, that's a tricky line to walk; while there's clearly such thing as being too positive and supportive (and not calling someone on their baggage), there's such thing as being too negative as well. Besides, loving relationships aren't based on yelling at each other to improve; they're based on loving a person for who they are. But, conversely, a person who loves you no matter what is the only person it's worth improving yourself for. (This, incidentally, is where Devin Quinn and Haley Robin get off the love train; they are such different people that they ''can't'' encourage each other to become better.)



It's been iterated already, but let's continue to re-iterate: ''you must have characterization.'' Romance is incredibly vulnerable to the EightDeadlyWords ("I don't care what happens to these characters") because a romance arc is nothing ''but'' Things Happening To These Characters, with almost no chance for a DeusExMachina like ChandlersLaw. There must be characters and they must be likeable. What does it matter if two strangers fall in love with each other? Because that's happening ''now'', right this very minute, somewhere out in the wide world. Are you excited? No, of course not; they are strangers to you, you don't know them, they don't matter to you personally. (I mean, you probably don't hate them or anything, but you're not excited either.) The same ''must'' be true of your characters. If The Reader doesn't know them, care about them, empathize with them, and root for them, your story has already failed.

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It's been iterated already, but let's continue to re-iterate: ''you must have characterization.'' Romance is incredibly vulnerable to the EightDeadlyWords ("I don't care what happens to these characters") because a romance arc is nothing ''but'' Things Happening To These Characters, with almost no chance for a DeusExMachina like ChandlersLaw. There must be characters and they must be likeable. What does it matter if two strangers people you don't know fall in love with each other? Because that's happening ''now'', right this very minute, somewhere out in the wide world. Strangers are falling in love! Are you excited? No, of course not; they are strangers to you, you don't know them, they don't matter to you personally. (I mean, There's no reason for you probably don't hate them or anything, but you're not to be excited either.) about this, beyond a vague sense of altruism. The same ''must'' be true of your applies to characters. If The Reader doesn't know them, care about them, empathize with them, and root for them, your story has already failed.
3rd Nov '17 12:31:52 PM Koveras
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A quick word on love itself, particularly the "[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangular_theory_of_love Triangular Theory of Love]]" developed by Robert Sternberg (link leads to Wiki/TheOtherWiki). Simply put, Sternberg believes that love can consist of any combination of the following three qualities: '''Intimacy''', '''Passion''' and '''Commitment'''. With your friends you have intimacy—emotional intimacy, by the way, not physical—so that you feel you can tell them anything, and they will still stand by you; a very close friendship can also involve commitment as well. Having a crush is passion only. [[FourthDateMarriage Commitment and Passion]] together result in fairly shallow relationships: yeah, you have great sex, and you're with them, but do you really ''know'' them? Get all three together, and you're in good shape... but, as any mother or father can tell you, then you have to work at maintaining it. Passion is generally the first to go in a marriage, resulting in DeadSparks.

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A quick word on love itself, particularly the "[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangular_theory_of_love Triangular Theory of Love]]" developed by Robert Sternberg (link leads to Wiki/TheOtherWiki). Simply put, Sternberg believes that love can consist of any combination of the following three qualities: '''Intimacy''', '''Passion''' and '''Commitment'''. With your friends you have intimacy—emotional intimacy, by the way, not physical—so that you feel you can tell them anything, and they will still stand by you; a [[TheNotLoveInterest very close friendship can also involve commitment commitment]] as well. Having a crush is passion only. [[FourthDateMarriage Commitment and Passion]] together result in fairly shallow relationships: yeah, you have great sex, and you're with them, but do you really ''know'' them? Get all three together, and you're in good shape... but, as any mother or father can tell you, then you have to work at maintaining it. Passion is generally the first to go in a marriage, resulting in DeadSparks.
30th Sep '17 12:53:02 PM SeptimusHeap
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Rothfuss avoids this whole mess with his female lead by, instead of spending any amount of time on her appearance, making it clear that his [[PointOfView First Person Narrator]] is absolutely smitten. He {{lampshades}} the whole process via a wonderful interlude where the FirstPersonSmartass is reduced to spluttering when he ''tries'' to describe Denna's appearance, knowing there is no way he can do it correctly. In the end, he just admits straight out that he never saw her with eyes of flesh; he always looked upon her with eyes of love. "She was beautiful, to Kvothe at least. At least? To Kvothe, she was most beautiful." Even better, Rothfuss makes Denna interesting as a character, one that The Reader respects and cares about, even if they aren't necessarily head-over-heels with her the way our poor besotted narrator is. And now we're solidly on Denna's side, so that we (to quote [[TheGreatGatsby Nick Carraway]]) "concentrate[d] on [her] with an irresistible prejudice in [her] favor." Now it doesn't matter what she looks like, because our regard for her is based on something far deeper than the shallow accidents of appearance.

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Rothfuss avoids this whole mess with his female lead by, instead of spending any amount of time on her appearance, making it clear that his [[PointOfView First Person Narrator]] is absolutely smitten. He {{lampshades}} the whole process via a wonderful interlude where the FirstPersonSmartass is reduced to spluttering when he ''tries'' to describe Denna's appearance, knowing there is no way he can do it correctly. In the end, he just admits straight out that he never saw her with eyes of flesh; he always looked upon her with eyes of love. "She was beautiful, to Kvothe at least. At least? To Kvothe, she was most beautiful." Even better, Rothfuss makes Denna interesting as a character, one that The Reader respects and cares about, even if they aren't necessarily head-over-heels with her the way our poor besotted narrator is. And now we're solidly on Denna's side, so that we (to quote [[TheGreatGatsby [[Literature/TheGreatGatsby Nick Carraway]]) "concentrate[d] on [her] with an irresistible prejudice in [her] favor." Now it doesn't matter what she looks like, because our regard for her is based on something far deeper than the shallow accidents of appearance.
14th Jul '17 12:44:27 AM justanid
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While most romances have focused on a man and a woman--say, one of the RomanceGenreHeroes who meets one of the RomanceGenreHeroines--today those rules are bending, and guy-on-guy and girl-on-girl is becoming more acceptable. Heck, today it [[{{Polyamory}} doesn't even have to be only two people!]] Of course, there will be outcry from MoralGuardians if you choose to go in those directions; but there's NoSuchThingAsBadPublicity, so maybe this is something you'll want to invoke. Having said ''that'', remember that most readers treat the RomanceNovel as comfort food: they want something reassuring and inoffensive, as opposed to being challenged to their core. There's a time and a place for everything, and a love story may not be the right place to try and make people re-evaluate themselves. (Feel free to take that as a challenge.)

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While most romances have focused on a man and a woman--say, one of the RomanceGenreHeroes [[Literature/{{TCWGTHAH-Heroes}} Romantic Heroes]] who meets one of the RomanceGenreHeroines--today [[Literature/{{TCWGTHAH-Heroines}} Romantic Heroines]]--today those rules are bending, and guy-on-guy and girl-on-girl is becoming more acceptable. Heck, today it [[{{Polyamory}} doesn't even have to be only two people!]] Of course, there will be outcry from MoralGuardians if you choose to go in those directions; but there's NoSuchThingAsBadPublicity, so maybe this is something you'll want to invoke. Having said ''that'', remember that most readers treat the RomanceNovel as comfort food: they want something reassuring and inoffensive, as opposed to being challenged to their core. There's a time and a place for everything, and a love story may not be the right place to try and make people re-evaluate themselves. (Feel free to take that as a challenge.)
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