The 4 F’s Every Good Romance Needs

Is anyone here a hopelessful romantic? 🙂

You know, the kind of gal (or guy) who prefers to watch sappy, predictable chick flicks, listen to boy bands from the ’90s, and daydream about that special someone with the blue/green/brown eyes that can light up your whole day?

Haha. Okay, I’ll be the first to admit that I’m that person. I’ve always been drawn to love stories and still enjoy a good happily-ever-after. I just don’t get the same thrill from reading (or watching) a story where people point fingers, or things get blown up or are genetically altered—though there is a time and place for mystery, action, and science fiction (because certain folks don’t appreciate “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” as much as “Batman vs. Superman”—ahem, hubby). 😉

Since I love romance so much, I decided to write romance books. (Here’s my first completed series!)

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And through my experiences, I’ve discovered there are 4 things every good romance needs (which all happen to have the letter F in them).

1) Flawed characters. Okay, let’s be honest, the flaws I’m talking about are not physical. The main characters don’t have to be model material, but they do need to have some physical traits that appeal to the reader. But they need to also have something internal—such as a past mistake, a fear or a loss—that makes them relatable and realistic. Because nobody’s perfect, even in a fictional world.

2) The Feels. I once heard that readers read romance because they are buying a “basket of feelings”. They want to experience the spark that comes with an initial attraction, the sweetness of new love, and even the angst of lost love. It sounds like an emotional roller coaster, doesn’t it? But one that we can experience vicariously without any real side effects (ie. drowning your sorrows in a tub of Cherry Garcia ice-cream). A good romance story should let readers into the characters’ minds and hearts enough that they feel for them and want to root for them.

3) The Fallout. As with real life, fictional stories should not always go according to plan. There needs to be some kind of conflict that drives the story. Sometimes the guy you like doesn’t like you, so you swear off all relationships … until you meet the one who’s different from all the rest. Or if he does like you back and everything is fine and dandy, one day you find out something about him that’s hard to swallow. Whatever the scenario is, every love story needs some kind of conflict or fallout. Because a good roller coaster ride takes you in all directions—up, down, over and under—before you arrive at the destination. Likewise, a good romance should keep you guessing and surprised.

4) The Grand Finish. I don’t know about you, but I prefer happy endings to not-so-happy ones. Real life is hard enough, so I’ll take all the happiness I can get, even if it’s fictional. 😉 But even if a love story turns “Nicholas Sparks” on me, I can still appreciate it as long as there’s a grand finish. The ending to a romance story is what a reader turns the pages for. It’s the payoff, the result of all the lovely and angsty emotions you experienced and pushed through to see the conflict(s) resolved. It’s knowing that the characters you fell in love with changed and grew during the course of the book, just as we learn to do in real life. Whatever the ending turns out to be, a good romance should leave you wanting more. To go back to page one and reread the story again, to renew your faith in love, to hug your spouse or child or friend … or maybe even to write a book of your own.

Sigh. 🙂

All this talk of romance has gotten me in the mood to get back to work on my WIP (work-in-progress). Stay tuned for more details about it! My deadline to finish it is July and the publication date is the end of September. I can’t wait to share these new characters with you all. 🙂

In the meantime, enjoy Pentatonix’s beautiful and sweet cover of “Valentine” by Jessie Ware and Sampha.

What is your favorite genre to read or watch? Why?

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