Writing Tips: Writing Romance Realistically

Hey guys! I was debating on whether or not I should do my Writing Tips for this month on writing romance to go with my themed posts, and I even considered reposting my Writing Tips from two years ago about romance tropes. The only reason why I didn’t do that was because, well, I don’t like my writing from a year ago, let alone two years ago. Second, I don’t like reposting things (I don’t know why, haha!). Finally, I decided to go with the themed posts, because why break away from it? For this month’s tips, I’m going to be breaking down how to write a great romance (and how NOT to write a great romance). Check it out! MAJOR Spoiler Warnings!

Establish Characters

Obviously, you can’t have a good romance if you don’t have good characters to begin with. Establish each of your characters beforehand; know them inside and out. Figure out what things they like or dislike. What do they want, and what are they willing to do to get it? This may vary depending on the genre of your story. If you’re writing a romance, the main conflict for the character may be actually getting the boy or the girl. If you’re writing fantasy, the main conflict probably wouldn’t be romance. So figure out your story and establish your characters accordingly.

Example: If your readers don’t like the characters, they most likely won’t care about the romance between them, either. This is why it’s important to establish who the characters are beforehand. Think of Arc of a Scythe by Neal Shusterman or Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Before we see the romance between any of the characters, we see who they are first.

Choose Your Romance

What kind of romance will you write about? First of all, whichever romance trope you choose, you can tie it in with any genre, whether it be Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, etc. But will you be writing a Second Chance Romance? An Friends-to-Lovers? Think of what sort of romances you have read, and which ones you like. Personally, I’m a big fan of Second Chance Romance and Enemies-to-Lovers, so I often include those in my writing. Which tropes do you like?

Example: In The Folk of the Air trilogy, we see an Enemies-to-Lovers romance, which is when the characters start out disliking each other for one reason or another (or maybe it’s the actual villain and hero of the story), but slowly begin to fall in love. This is a pretty common trope, but a beloved one. Another popular trope is Slow Burn, which we see in the Webtoons thriller comic Purple Hyacinth (yes, I’m referencing a webcomic because it DESERVES it). Also, a perfect example of a Friends-to-Lovers would be Percy and Annabeth in Percy Jackson in the Olympians. Lots of great stuff to choose from! If you want to see more tropes and go into more detail with them, check out my post from 2021!

Keep It Real

If there’s one thing that grates on my nerves, it’s unrealistic romances. Honestly, unrealistic writing in general can be a turn-off for readers. Obviously things are going to be unrealistic in Fantasy or Sci-Fi novels, but I’m talking about the actual actions and dialogue of the characters. What do they talk like? What do they act like around each other? Think of how people talk and act in real life. If you have been in a relationship before, this will be easier. If not, you might need to do a little research, or observe couples you see (without like, being creepy of course). I myself have never been in a relationship before (heck, I’ve never even been on a date before), so I have to rely on real-life observations and things my friends have told me. And, of course, after you’ve written your story you can get feedback on it from people who might be more experienced. This goes for any type of writing, not just romance.

Example: Good examples on how to write a realistic romance can be found in books like Invictus by Ryan Graudin (excellent representation of the Pre-Established relationship trope), Lovely War by Julie Berry, and Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Nothing seems forced or cringy. The authors followed their story, and the romance went along with it. Obviously is you’re writing a romance, the relationship between the characters are at the forefront of the story, but it’s still the same here. Focus on building up the characters and the story, and the romance will flow with it if it’s meant to be. If not, never force it! I had trouble with this when I was writing my dystopian series a couple years ago. I originally wanted the main character to be in a relationship with his friend, but it was difficult to write them together since they had no chemistry and it was incredibly forced and unrealistic. However, I introduced a new character later on, and they naturally gravitated toward each other. After some persuasion from my bestie, I decided to axe the original idea.

How Does It End?

Don’t leave your readers hanging unless you’re writing a series! Think of how you want your romance to end. Does the couple get married? Do they break up? Maybe they find other people they like instead? Your ending doesn’t have to be concrete, either! Just simply ending with the couple being together in general is enough, perhaps so the reader can go off from there in their own imagination. That’s what open endings are for! This is also good advice for those of you who are writing a genre other than Romance. In Romance, we’re forced to find where the relationship goes by the end because that’s the main point. But in Fantasy or Science Fiction (or other genres), the romance is more of a subplot and may get lost in the cracks of the main plot. Don’t let this happen! Actually, don’t let this happen for any subplot! Whatever you start, make sure you end, too. Tie up all the loose ends.

Example: In The Folk of the Air trilogy, we may have had a terrible cliff hangar in book 2, but at the end of book 3 the plot was tied up and Jude and Cardan were still together. At the end of Every Other Weekend by Abigail Johnson, Adam and Jolene end up dating. At the end of Lovely War, James proposes to Hazel and they get married. How does your romance end?

That’s all from me! I’m a sucker for good romance plotlines, so it’s important to me that they are written well! If you have any more tips to add, feel free to sound off in the comments. I’d love to hear from you! As always, God bless y’all and have a wonderful weekend!

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