I can’t advise on writing category romance, because I don’t.
However, relationships in general, are central to all good fiction. This is by no means restricted to romantic relationships, but definitely includes them. For advice on writing about friendship in your fiction, I would suggest reading my post on that subject.
It’s worth noting that many of the most popular love stories, such as “Wuthering Heights” and “Gone With The Wind”, don’t come under category romance. They’re love stories, but not romance, because they don’t have happy endings.
Character development is so important, and your romantic story aspects or subplots should ideally be approached, with character arcs in mind.
One reason why stories of forbidden love are so enduringly popular is because, when done well, they provide an excellent opportunity to explore human psychology. They push characters to their limits, in so many ways.
Consider character backstory.
Past experience, when it comes to relationships, will be influential – such as, if your MC’s parents, siblings or close friends, have been through divorces or separations.
And, of course, you will need to know about the character’s own relationship history.
You will also need to know all of this for the MC’s love interest. And for any other couples, in the story.
Character flaws are essential – for providing conflict and interest, and creating characters, to whom readers can actually relate.
For example, maybe your protagonist, love interest or both, are prone to jealousy and insecurity. It’s easy to imagine how this could lead to potential drama.
Suspense and tension are important in romance, as much so as in other aspects of your plot.
There need to be sufficient obstacles, preventing a couple from being together – or, else, where is the story?
Romance is not erotica.
Whether or not to include sex scenes is an individual decision, but if the sex, and not the emotion, is the primary focus, then it isn’t romance. And entirely different rules and boundaries apply.
So, love triangles.
Yes, they’re a cliché, but they can and do work. It’s a case of ensuring that character development is thorough, and that the plot, as a whole, contains original elements. Use them with caution, but don’t feel that they must be avoided, at all costs. This simply isn’t true.
Instalove – also known as, love at first sight.
This is definitely a cliché, and extremely difficult to write successfully. Instalust, which one or more partner initially believes to be love, is considerably more realistic.
Look at it this way. Can you imagine meeting a complete stranger at the local store, and instantly knowing that you were destined to be together eternally, and make babies? And what are the odds that both of you would feel it, and somehow have this connection, out of the blue?
The chances of seeing someone you were simply attracted to, and exchanging looks, that could potentially lead to more, if you happened to bump into each other again, multiple times? That is instant mutual attraction, and love can eventually develop from the initial spark. To me, that isn’t unrealistic – and it also isn’t instalove.
I hope that these tips help you to create believable romantic relationships, even if, like myself, you don’t write category romance.