Today, multi-published author Carol Rose is here talking about romance relationships. Welcome, Carol.
The back bone of all romances is the relationship between the heroine and the hero. Depending on the
length of the story, other relationships may be present, but all revolve around the process of the main
couple falling in love. Everything else—and there is a wide variety of everything else—hangs on the
relationship between these two.
Relationships, however, vary as widely as body style. We are all so different and we don’t want the
same things—except that we do want to feel loved by our beloveds. We want to feel that we are the most
important individuals in their lives. How to convincingly write this has long been the subject of much
discussion among my critique partners. How does a character convey that he or she has fallen deeply in
love? A love that is long lasting and profound? This is what we readers want from romances.
First off, no matter whether our characters are profoundly beautiful or physically deformed in some way,
we need them to be changed by their deep love for their mate. This is terribly important. They have to be
changed and better for their love. Whether they live on this planet or another; whether they have amazing
and usual abilities; if they live in this time period, the past or the future—readers need to see that being in
the loved one’s life has changed the character. Character change is vital.
In our critique group brainstorming, we quickly decided that how well a writer showed this change made
all the difference to whether or not the romance was convincing. I’m certainly not going to claim that we
came up with the only ways to demonstrate this, but we decided on several ways to do it. Probably the
most classic method of doing this is to show both protagonists giving up an important thing or goal for the
loved one. Think of the classic O. Henry story when the characters each sold their most beloved thing—
his watch, her beautiful hair—to give a special gift to the other.
In my book, Mr. Personality, the hero Maxwell Tucker starts out as a snarling pain-in-the-ass. He’s very
successful and he’s nice to look at, but he’s very difficult to be around. It’s only as the story unfolds
that we begin to understand how he got to where he is and why he can’t forgive himself. Max meets his
match in Nicole, however, and through his interactions with her, he learns to confront his past and move
beyond the choices he so regrets. In the process, he helps Nicole, too, in challenging her to stop saving
her sometimes-foolish father.
This is the essence of relationships—good ones help us grow and love ourselves more.
Characters show change and growth in relationships in different ways, but if we writers don’t demonstrate
the results of the powerful effect of falling in love, we can’t convince readers that our characters matter
all that much to each other. Showing character growth through relationship is what makes our stories