The Romance Plot — Part II

Physical attraction is what some used to call “love at first sight.” But do the main characters have to be handsome princes and beauty queens? Yes and no.  Click to Tweet #WritingRomance101 @donnalhsmith @a3writers #TheRomancePlot

To review: In our contemporary romance, Tovah has rejection issues, and Judah is a beta male who’s hiding something. They met at synagogue when Tovah’s homily papers flew right at Judah’s feet. She found him so attractive, she stuttered. Very unlike her, because she is usually an accomplished public speaker. We’ll set them aside this week and talk generalities.

Physical Attraction

Synonyms of attraction: magnetism, lure, pull, desirability, hold, charm, fascination, allure, temptation, draw, appeal, enticement, etc.

If there is no physical attraction between our heroine and hero, they probably won’t get together. How do we deal with this? Last week, I mentioned a classic movie called “The Enchanted Cottage” with Robert Young and Dorothy McGuire. The point of that story is that the lead characters, though disfigured and unattractive, found beauty in each other and fell in love. It’s a touching, moving story and instructive of how we “fall in love.”

Everyone has some feature that could attract a potential mate. For instance, I was attracted to my husband by his sweet nature, his lean figure, and his lovely dark hair, his expressive brown eyes, just-the-right-size nose, and full lips. Others might not think he was attractive. But I do.

That’s what we do with our characters. They are attracted to each other. No, they don’t have to have won, (in fact, that would be unusual) a beauty or handsome contest, but in the eyes of the beholder, they are indeed handsome or gorgeous.

How to Deal with It

Since I write Christian romance, my lovebirds may kiss from time-to-time, but they won’t go farther, because they mutually respect each other. Even if one of them isn’t a committed Christian, they’ll still be chaste, because that’s my belief.

I’m a firm believer in less is more. A romance is all about tension. Romantic tension. Once they’ve resolved that tension through lovemaking, what else is there? Just think of the romantic television shows, “Scarecrow and Mrs. King” and “Remington Steele.” Once the two leads got married on the show, that story basically ended. In Scarecrow, Amanda was seriously wounded, and we never saw her again. In Steele, one season of marriage and the show ended.

Nowadays, people hop in and out of bed—but where is the real romance?

To keep romantic tension, we should:

  1. Apply beats to intensify tension. What does the POV character feel?
  2. Dialogue kept to a minimum. Essential replies short. This is about their physical responses to each other.
  3. Create pauses to keep reader on their toes. That look. That pause just before their lips touch.
  4. Shock the two leads by their own surprise at how they feel.

In romance, the story is all about keeping up the romantic tension. Only resolve physical attraction at the end of your story. Ramp up the emotional tension, the inner turmoil. #WritingRomance101 Click to Tweet @donnalhsmith @a3writers #TheRomancePlot

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