Part 2. Romance is all about Characters.
“I’m not a morning person!” Angela growled.
George grinned, picked up his mug and stepped outside to enjoy the sun rising over the peak of the barn’s hay loft.
We not only know Angela is grumpy in the morning, but George knows and gets out of her way. And he finds something he enjoys doing while he’s waiting for Angie to become human. Both characters are established by the word “growled.” We know George is patient AND kind. Therefore, despite Angie’s growl, we understand there is something implicit in her character that keeps George from snapping or getting angry. What that is we don’t know – but the mystery will keep us reading.
Writers have the difficult task of using words, without inflection or body language, to convey the character of the person they want to write about. But those words need to reflect ALL the senses not just what we see and hear. Make your characters 3-D, not one dimensional, and they will be memorable and intriguing. Show, don’t tell. Help the reader smell and taste the meatloaf, touch a flower, kick a stone, feel the drama of Mom with her hands on her hips at the edge of the playground. A heroine who kneels to kiss and hug a child, winks at an old man, cuddles with a kitten conveys more of her character than if she simply said, “I like children, old men and kittens.”
Your job, as a writer, is to help the reader understand and relate to the emotion and motivation of your characters. One thing we need to remember is the hero and heroine must always be heroic. Being heroic is not the same as being perfect. Being heroic is about doing something for the greater good. Nothing less. They can be angry, they can lie, they can get cruel, they can even kill. But the underlying reason for ALL those negative emotions must be heroic – they are angry because the villain kicked a dog, they are lying because they’re protecting a witness, they are cruel because they’re undercover and must show they’re a member of the gang, and they kill because the villain threatened to set off the warhead. In each of these cases, they need to have a crisis of conscience. We must understand they suffered for having the negative emotion.
Emotions develop motivation, motivation develops character, and characters form relationships.
In a romance, we know the story is going to end with “happily ever after,” that is part of the definition of a romance. But, the relationship between our heroine and hero, ah--that is everything. Build it wisely.
Posted by Jamie West, Senior Editor, Donna Bas, Editor, and Mary Albright, Editor.