Romance’s Role in Fiction

Happy Valentine’s Day! Since we’re all thinking about love, let’s consider romance’s role in our novels. I don’t mean only those writing romances (although I’m trying to learn). When you think about it, most successful novels have some type of romantic angle or subplot. Why?
Writing Tip for Today: Whether your genre is mystery, fantasy, sci-fi or literary/mainstream, adding a romantic element makes sense.

  • Sexual tension (even if the characters never act on their affections) is, well, tension. The more tension between characters, the better.
  • Romance as a subplot layers in richness to the story.
  • Romance appeals to readers on a very primal level, pulling them forward in the story.
  • Romance enhances the emotional appeal of the story, and often balances the negative feelings as a protagonist fights her way toward the goal.

If you already have a romantic angle in your story, consider these things:

  • Most readers are women, who value emotion and loyalty over physicality. Many times, there’s no real need for explicit sex in order to exploit the reader’s need for romance.
  • Even novels with racier scenes should emphasize the before and after details over the pearly nodes and thrumming thighs.
  • Although your story may have little to do with romance, a subtle love story adds texture and assures the reader that your character is human.

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About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

2 comments on “Romance’s Role in Fiction

  1. Ah, romance. I think the reason many people like Jane Austen is because of the condition of romance in that time. The couple lived with different social and moral expectations, and though they had challenges, the woman was expected to marry and care for the family. That kept a lot of modern complication out of the picture. People love Jane Austen. There is a lesson in that- to me, keep some feel good romance in there. Let it work out in the end!

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