Apart from the actual genre, romance remains to be one of the top subplots in fiction. Readers love to route for couples, plus romance lends itself toward numerous opportunities for tension. But before you go creating a love interest for your MC, I have a couple recommendations . . .
SIDE NOTE: Before you read on, note that I write YA Fantasy and most of what I read is YA, Fantasy or Sci-Fi. The comments below are geared toward these genres though most of it also applies to fiction in general.
1. Know your main character.
This may seem obvious, but so often writers create a love interest that would be perfect in any match, not specific to their MC. When creating the love interest, that character should undeniably be meant to end up with the MC.
Let’s look at Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew for example. Do you know anyone else who could possibly be a match for Katherina other than rambunctious Petruchio? Or who else could survive Petruchio’s antics other than tenacious Kate? Shakespeare creates a match for Kate that not only tames her but also fills the loneliness she hadn’t realized she had.
If you haven’t read/watched Taming of the Shrew, do so! For a filmed version, I recommend the taped stage version by the Broadway Theatre Archive staring Fredi Olster, Marc Singer and Stephen St. Paul. You can find it on Amazon.
2. Don’t make your love interest perfect.
This is just piggy-backing off #1. First off, a too-perfect LI makes for a boring story. Second, even if it manages to not be boring, a perfect LI can make your audience stop caring about the MC.
For this one, I’m turning to the Disney Classic, Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs. Does anyone actually remember the Prince is this movie? I have too many bones to pick with Disney’s rendition of the original Grimm fairytale to fit into this one paragraph, so I’m just gonna stick with the topic at hand.
Apart from the dwarves and the Evil Queen, there is little to no real characterization for Snow or Prince Charming. Snow’s love interest is literally just meant to look handsome and kiss her in the end. DON’T DO THIS! THIS IS NOT A LOVE STORY!
- Remember that love is a journey.
Even though we’re writing fiction, I think it’s important that we remember that as writers, we’re supposed to make our characters jump off the page and become as real as possible for our readers.
Because you can’t write an article of literary romance without mentioning Pride and Prejudice . . .
The reason none of us ever forget the romance between Lizzy Bennett and Mr. Darcy is because the characters had to overcome personal and social hurdles to find their love for one another.
Just like in real life, nothing worth having is easy. So when writing your romance subplot, make your characters work for it. Whether it’s “love at first sight” or a “friendship that grows into something more”, making your characters go through hell to get what they want will make their romance that much more memorable.