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5 Ways to Make Readers Root for Your Romance

It should be the goal of every story to make readers rally behind the characters. In the romance genre, this is more important than ever, since so much of the plot and endgame is typically driven by the emotions of those characters. Here are five tips for writers to make sure your readers feel the connection!

1. Create dynamic characters.

The most important ingredients to a successful romance are your two main characters (duh). But it’s sometimes easy to forget that when you’re creating a relationship between characters they need also be individuals—engaging, dynamic, and full-bodied all on their own. Before you start thinking about how two characters will fall in love, take a few minutes and consider who each character is. What do they like and dislike? How do they spend their free time? Often, when you explore the personalities of your characters independently you’ll discover or create more reasons as to why they make sense as a couple.

2. Establish realistic attraction.

There’s nothing worse than insta-love. So take some time to establish why these characters are interested in pursuing a relationship. Chemistry, physical attraction, and emotional support are all great reasons, but readers want and need to see all that stuff happening on the page. Do they go through a rough time together and come out on the other side with a better understanding of who the other person is? Do they hate each other for some reason that they overcome? Your characters can even be instantly physically attracted to one another, but give them time and space to get to know the other person and for the reader to understand why they should be and how they came to be in love.

3. Build tension.

You can do this in a lot of different ways: Miscommunications. Arguments. Lies. Kisses that happen too soon, or worse, not soon enough. There needs to be something working against your lovers so that the reader has time to become invested in their story.

Both external and internal obstacles can create tension. On the external side, maybe there’s a parent who thinks her daughter or son can do better. There could be a socio-economic disparity or even a physical barrier like a wall or a crazy ex. Internally, there might be feelings of guilt for some reason, or an inability for a character to allow him or herself to love. Use tension to build uncertainty, and when your characters finally end up together, your readers will love it even more.

4. Raise the stakes.

There should always be something that can ruin everything. The couple should be tested. The tension you build should keep building until you get to the climax, but things should always feel like they could get worse, or fall apart at any moment. Even once your characters get together initially, don’t be afraid to drive something between them. Surprise your readers by raising the stakes when they didn’t think they could get any higher.

5. Build intimacy.

This is the best part of writing a love story, in my opinion. Long conversations, road trips, dates, and of course make out sessions. You want your readers to see what it would be like for your characters to be together, even before they’re all the way there. You want your readers to want it to happen. So don’t be afraid to mix in some really intimate scenes very early in your novel (like the characters getting locked in a stairwell, or having to sit very closely together on a bus). Anything that puts them in close quarters and lets us get a glimpse of what they could be, will only ratchet up all the other work you’re doing to create a believable (and awesome) romance.

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Ashley W.

Even though I work in marketing, I’m a consumer in every sense of the word: I love shopping, indie movies, …

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