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EmpressTuiLa's Guide to Writing Romance Stories

Welcome, welcome! I recently got a request to create a guide to writing romance stories which, I would like to say is my specialty but alas I don't want to sound conceited, so I will say it is definitely my favorite genre to write! I'm no expert and this is not the definitive way to write romances, but hopefully this will give you a good idea on where to start and what to do.

Also, please do comment about what I have written and what else you would like to see! Sometimes I want to put something in but forget, or you'll have an idea that I didn't even think of and would love to put in the guide!

--

#1 FriendxFriend

I would consider this the most common romance out there, two friends falling in love which is uberly cute in my opinion.

In my opinion, some of the best ways to approach this is to establish the friendship these two have, either starting the story with the two characters as friends already or have them become friends through the first couple chapters. Remember my rule in my 'Guide to Writing Fanfiction,' stories need to have gradual plot progression. So I believe ultimately that the love (or liking) confession scene should be the climax of the story, however that depends on what you're writing and your own opinion of what the climax should be in your story.

What I love about friendxfriend is all of the awkward scenes that come when they start to like each other but doesn't want the other to know. It makes for very comedic scenes such as quickly hiding blushes, or hastily looking away because they didn't want to be caught staring, and often leads to losing footing, tripping, and comedic fall. Not to mention you can add an element of drama by bringing in a third or even a fourth person whom makes the characters jealous, thinking they're out to steal their girl/guy and it can help lead to the climactic confession.

Another good element that the friendxfriend brings is that strong trust element between friends, the loyalty and ability to lean on their shoulder for comfort. This can help to create moments to show how strong their friendship is and also can create some romantic moments.

#2 GoodxBad

No this does not automatically mean the good girl and bad boy scenario. I'm actually referring to mostly a hero/heroine and enemy pairing because it's always a fun one. There is just something enticing about this type of pairing that everyone just loves, probably because it could be categorized under a forbidden romance.

Anyway, definitely establish a scene that clearly defines that they are enemies, why they are enemies, and a fight scene. By fight scene I do not mean a battle, though if that's the type of enemies they are then yes, but I mean some sort of conflict that establishes their rivalry or whatever. Whether it be a battle, a verbal fight, a double agent/betrayal, etc. However, it might be interesting to establish that the protagonist (hero) is interested in the antagonist (enemy) in the beginning, or vice versa, but the first option is generally more believable. This will of course lead to drama beyond belief from the protagonist's friends trying to convince him/her otherwise of their affections.

Something fun about starting out with them hating each other's guts is the verbal arguments you can get them into. Something a little expected but always a classic is to get them into a situation they have no way out of other than to trust each other to get them out of it. This helps to eliminate the mistrust and hate of each other, forcing them to work together. In my opinion, a change in their relationship cannot happen without something drastic occurring and causing them to trust each other. I'm no expert so I'm certain that there are other ways to go about this, feel free to suggest!

#3 BadxBad

I personally love this type of pairing because it's kind of the same as the previous one mentioned, but instead they share a common enemy. I love to rp, and my rp buddy and I have a couple whom originally hated each other with a passion but reluctantly decided to work together to take down one of their common enemies, and to humiliate another.
With the common enemy, the two baddies can work together and pull of some great stunt that by themselves they wouldn't have been able to do, so that helps to establish a relationship between them. Often with cheeky villains, they love to banter with and tease each other which can lead to some rather…interesting situations~ if ya catch my drift~

Anyway, there are many ways to go about this, but the common enemy leading to a team up is the only one that I'm familiar with. And there are different ways to go about that particular scenario. Say one has a weakness that is the other's strength, and vice versa, so they realize they need each other in order to accomplish their goals.
I will most likely add to this later because there are so many possibilities for this genre.

#4 Love Triangles (or more)

I'd say this is the next most popular pairing(s?) after friendxfriend. Love triangles are everywhere. I've even written a couple! In case for whatever reason you don't know, a love triangle is generally when one person likes two people at the same time. Or guy #1 likes girl and girl likes guy #2, clueless to guy #1. Also, guy #2 probably likes girl #2 and is unaware of girl #1's affections. Love triangles are more or less endless rather than an actual triangle.

A common love triangle often falls under the friendxfriend category. Where a guy has a crush on his best friend, but best friend is head over heels for a different guy. The best friend goes through a journey of discovering that the crush is a jerk/taken/or just not their type. Then the guy finally gets the courage to tell their friend how they feel and they end up together.

Another scenario is a guy likes girl A and is aware that girl B likes him too, and decides to date both without either of them aware of it to see which girl he would really prefer. Pretty jerk-face move if you have a jerk-face character, or a guy who is just really clueless. And the best way to resolve that is that the girls find out, catfight, then realize that the guy is to blame, dump him, and they become best friends!

Well silly/crazy scenarios aside, love triangles are really common because they happen to everybody. I know I have crushes on multiple people right now! Anyway, a major key to love triangles is that one character is generally too hesitant to admit their feelings and then the bulk of the story comes down to that character developing the courage to tell the person of their affections what they're feeling before the object of their affections ends up with someone else that they are attracted to at generally the same time. Your protagonist could confess at the right time, or just when their crush agrees to go on a date with someone else.

As I sort of mentioned earlier, love triangles often do lead to fights between the two people who share the same crush. So if you want dramatic and a verbal/physical fight scene, a love triangle is a good way to go. There's a lot of things you can do with love-triangles. It's all about what you want, the personalities of the characters involved, and even the friends of those characters.

Keep in mind, with all of these scenarios I've presented, the genders can be interchangeable. 

#5 Forbidden Romance

I promised a friend a mine a looong time ago to add this in, now I'm finally doing it!

I personally don't have much experience in writing this type, but there are some great examples out there. The most common forbidden romance story type is Romeo&Juliet, because it works. However, in my personal opinion, this type is over-used. And it is because it works, it's classic, and a favorite for most reading audiences. However, if your goal is to be original, I would highly suggest not following this story-line. But if it's what you want then hey go for it!

My friend gave me some great insight to those who write in this style, especially in a modern sense. Many writers, both beginning and best-sellers, are now writing in the style that demonizes parents (the antagonists) and gives teens (protagonists) the power, knowledge, and maturity of adults. I personally don't want to broadcast to the world that young people shouldn't listen to their parents, but it is definitely a stage that everyone goes through. There will always be disagreement between parents and children, but not so much that the parents are portrayed as evil...Unless you're doing the Cinderella thing where it's a wicked evil parent bent on destroying happiness. That's a different story all together. 

Anyway, that's a matter of opinion I happen to agree with. As for advice on actually writing this genre, this is what I have. Do keep in mind that I don't have as much experience on this as I do other genres. 

It's really hard to go against the Romeo&Juliet grain because that is the basis of what the "forbidden" part of forbidden romance is. An outside force or forces keeping two people apart, and it has been portrayed in many different ways through different books, tv shows, movies, etc. But you can have a happy ending, tragic ending, twist ending, etc. Your plot and ending really define whether or not you're following the cookie-cutter story-line. 

So let's look at the "forbidden" part of forbidden romance. It can be:
  • Feuding families
  • Opposing countries
  • Opposing sides during a war
  • Social taboo
  • Two socially different parties (bad examples follow)
    • Jocks and nerds
    • Republicans and Democrats
    • Upper and lower classes
And so on and so forth. You can get really creative with the opposing forces. 

Another idea is that it could be twisted into a sort of love-triangle. One of the stories my co-writer and I created was a girl who was forcefully betrothed to a cruel prince and she fell in love with the servant assigned to her. So it still falls under the forbidden romance side of things, but there's only one force trying to break them up rather than two from each side. 

The main characters themselves don't have to fall in love instantly. Shoot, they can hate each other for a long period of time (they're from opposing sides after all) before they even remotely get along and eventually fall in love. 

Also, the main characters could be both the protagonist and antagonist. In other words, the goodxbad relationship. You know you've thought about your hero/heroine falling for the villain instead of the sidekick~ Anyway, you could take it a step further and make the protagonist a person of high rank on one side and the antagonist the big bad leader of the opposing side. Maybe they actually talk and the protagonist begins to see things in the way that the antagonist does and actually *gasp* switch sides?! Dun dun DUNNNN. 

--

Alright I know that's not very specific, but so many different types of romances can fall under these categories. But by no means are these three the only ones. I would also like to see what specific genres you would like me to do because I'm always open to suggestions! So it's vague for now, but after I get some feedback, more detail will come.

Thank you all!
Disclaimer: My word is not law!!! 
I've gotten a lot of flack from some flamers who just enjoy poking holes in people's tutorials, pointing out "but this" "but that" but this." Enough, please. I am a hobbyist writer with most of my work being fanfictions. I have written a handful of original short stories as well, but I am not a professional. However, I've been writing for a long time now and I have come a long way in my craft so I decided to take my knowledge and offer advice to beginning writers. 

--

Look! EmpressTuiLa is alive! And she's back with another guide! OMG!!! It doesn't have any threats in it!!!

:XD: Yes, sorry folks but I can't really insult people with this one.

ANYWAY

This is the first draft of my Guide to Writing Romance Stories, I'm really depending on you, the readers, to tell me what more you would like to see. These three are obviously pretty general and several genres can fit underneath these.

Please know that I won't do specific genders in my writing because I don't want to sound biast. I know nothing about yaoi/yuri because I favor writing about traditional male/female stories. However, that doesn't mean these genres can't apply to the others. Just letting you know I won't be specific so it's up to you to decide because hey, it's your story, not mine :XD:

Let me know what you think/suggest! :D
Add a Comment:
 
:iconkinzie-chan:
Kinzie-Chan Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2014  Student Digital Artist
Romeo x Juliet is a story about a 17 year old man and a 13 year old girl who's romance lasted 3 days and ended in 6 deaths.

:iconrainbowplz: Romance! :iconrainbowplz:
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:iconempresstuila:
EmpressTuiLa Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Yes, but I was referring to the "forbidden" aspect of it in the fact that their families hated each other. I wasn't referring to their whirlwind romance. 
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:iconkinzie-chan:
Kinzie-Chan Featured By Owner Aug 31, 2014  Student Digital Artist
I know I just felt like pointing that out

It seemed like a good idea after not sleeping for 3 days
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Hidden by Owner
:iconempresstuila:
EmpressTuiLa Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Forbidden love is kind of an acquired taste. Some like it and some don't. 
Reply
:iconaspara-gus:
Aspara-Gus Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013
Adding on to Whisper's teacherxstudent narrative, I think just the "forbidden love" genre in general could benefit from an extended look. I think this mostly because the most famous example is Romeo and Juliet which I think makes the genre seem generic and 'old hat' when there is certainly opportunity to mix it up. I think the idea that gets used the most is that it's forbidden because mommy and daddy said so. This to me is a bit of a cop out that is too easily slid into coming of age stories that emphasize too much that idea of the parent/child clash that inevitably proves one side "right" or "wrong". Mostly targeted at younger readers, we're supposed to empathize with the youth and demonize the parents, or if done differently as a cautionary tale the teen is stereotyped as someone who follows no rational advice and relies solely on hormone driven impulses.
Coming away from that and back to the forbidden love, I do enjoy the idea of the Romeo and Juliet scenario in a modern setting. Not just two families who hate each other for no apparently good reason but more like two business tycoons who see the other as competition. This gives the opportunity for betrayal between the two lovers as one is sent in as a spy and either intentionally or by circumstance gets romantically involved with the child from the other family. I think the most important aspect of making this genre work is making sure that the reason for the forbidden love is legitimate and well founded instead of being blind hatred or some minor misunderstanding.
There needs to be multiple forces working against the couple (including themselves) this way the pay out seems well earned and satisfying.
Reply
:iconempresstuila:
EmpressTuiLa Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I see you got onto a bit of a tangent there :XD: But I love your point. I really love this!!! I will add it in sometime this weekend :D Thanks! 
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:iconaspara-gus:
Aspara-Gus Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2013
Yeah XD I realized half-way through that I started talking about something that had nothing to do with my original intentions XD I'm really glad you liked it :3
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:iconempresstuila:
EmpressTuiLa Featured By Owner Sep 5, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Don't we all do that? :XD:
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:icontwisted-ember-roses:
twisted-ember-roses Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2013  Student Interface Designer
Oh I wonder who that buddy is and what situations those are~~~ 

:rose:
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:iconempresstuila:
EmpressTuiLa Featured By Owner Aug 19, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
:XD:
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:iconwhisperer-of-winds:
Whisperer-of-Winds Featured By Owner Oct 1, 2012  Professional Writer
There is one type that I am actually fond of.... teacherxstudent,

but of course, not the awful kind between a teacher and an underage or a professor and a college student.

The scene that I talk about is like this: some times in anyone's life, there happen situations in which two people of the same age and the same status get involved in a certain manner in which one would become the unintended teacher for the other as the other (student) does his/her best to be better or live up to the first's (teacher's) expectations.

I am working on one with the student (of a practical nature) doing her best not to fall for the teacher (of a kind and generous nature) who is not aware of her growing fond of him until a certain twist makes him realize that Earth no longer pulls him; she does.

I think that it is a classic. The description I just wrote does not give the male an advantage of any sort over the female... it should contain a sort of biased equality that favors the student so that she, in her own way, would become the eventual teacher.

Its fairly complicated, yes, and having never fallen in love before, this thing is of at most challenge to me.
Reply
:iconempresstuila:
EmpressTuiLa Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I actually adore teacherxstudent :XD: I avoided it though because there are so many mixed feelings about it that I thought it would be best to just leave it off so as to not spark hate comments.

However I do really like your description :D You put it in a very nice, artistic way.
Reply
:iconwhisperer-of-winds:
Whisperer-of-Winds Featured By Owner Oct 2, 2012  Professional Writer
well... why not mention it and put the rules of your description so that no one would dare misunderstand you? just as I made the scene.

and thanks. I will post it to you when I finish it in a week or so. its the same one I told you about with different POV's since, to make it understood right down to the smallest detail, the switch is needed ;P
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:iconempresstuila:
EmpressTuiLa Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Unfortunately people are not that kind. I've put in friendly reminders and made points in my story and basically asked "if you don't like, don't read" and I still got some haters. Even still dealing with one currently *siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh* So I just try to avoid conflict as much as possible.

Alas I probably won't be able to read it. I have very little time on my hands as it is that getting on here can be random at times. :(
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:iconwhisperer-of-winds:
Whisperer-of-Winds Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Professional Writer
oh its alright, you do not need to at the moment :D

well, I truly have only one way to deal with unpleasantness... I just shrug them off like the flys that they are with a simple little ban.
It would make you wonder, actually, that if your story was such a hit that it got discovered and made into a movie, would they dare annoy you?
think about it ;)

I have always believed that, if well mannered and brought up, I can practically do anything because my "anything" will always have its boundaries and limits that will not make any of my works as something that is sick in its nature...and I am pretty sure that such conviction is valid :)
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:iconempresstuila:
EmpressTuiLa Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Well I doubt my story would become a movie because of copywright issues, not to mention it would spark a riot among TNBC fans...

I would just rather avoid conflict personally. Less of a headache.
Reply
:iconwhisperer-of-winds:
Whisperer-of-Winds Featured By Owner Oct 3, 2012  Professional Writer
perhaps... kkep writing, though. you never know ;D
Reply
:iconwhatdreamsaremadeuv:
WhatDreamsAreMadeUv Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I'm just asking of your opinion right now, but for the friendxfriend pairing; suppose that the story includes when they meet, is it okay to skip a few months ahead of time to when they've known each other better? Or would that make it too rushed? (I'm making a short story.) Sorry for taking up your time and thank you for reading this.
Reply
:iconempresstuila:
EmpressTuiLa Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Oh you're not taking up my time :XD: I appreciate any and all questions! :D More than happy to help!

Well since it is a short story, I think a time-skip is more than justified with that as long as you clarify maybe some major parts of the relationship. Such as, "In a few months time, Jane and Thomas grew to be very close friends. Thomas, because of his more closed-off nature, took some time to warm up to Jane but now they get along easily. Jane has become very comfortable sharing her troubles with him as well as little happy moments in life." Etc. etc. Just go over what has happened in that time in a brief summary and you should be good to go! That way your readers aren't totally left in the dark.

Happy writing!
Reply
:iconwhatdreamsaremadeuv:
WhatDreamsAreMadeUv Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Okay! Thank you very much! I can't wait to see more of your deviations!
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:iconempresstuila:
EmpressTuiLa Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Why thank you! :D
Reply
:iconwhatdreamsaremadeuv:
WhatDreamsAreMadeUv Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
You're welcome!:)
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:iconjeffthewolfsage:
JeffTheWolfSage Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Im actually trying to work on a story for my girlfriend on DA! and i think i have one! Thank you for the tips and advice! :D
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:iconempresstuila:
EmpressTuiLa Featured By Owner Feb 25, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Not a problem! :D Glad to be of service ^^
Reply
:icongamer-of-games:
gamer-of-games Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2011
no love triangles???
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:iconempresstuila:
EmpressTuiLa Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
*slaps forehead* How could I forget that one!? Thank you!
Reply
:icongenerallaserfist:
generallaserfist Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
what about StrangerxStranger? Characters who don't know each other at all.
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:iconempresstuila:
EmpressTuiLa Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Ah, good point. I'm not really familiar with that type though, but would love to put it in the guide! Could you give me a brief generic scenario?
Reply
:icongenerallaserfist:
generallaserfist Featured By Owner Jun 27, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
Two people who don't know each other meet in a very interesting way that bonds them together. An example of this is when the female lead is rescued by the male lead. Or they get in a car crash and have to exchange information. These are two examples I could think of off the bat.
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:iconempresstuila:
EmpressTuiLa Featured By Owner Jul 4, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Hmm, yeah, but I would relate that more to the friendxfriend situation because I assume that they would form some sort of friendship afterwards, however I will be sure to add that. It's a very good idea :D Thanks!
Reply
:iconnekomataonna:
nekomataonna Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I love it
but i wanna learn more of the BadXGood type

since i wanna engross more into it for my story :3

And frankly, i love this pairing so much XD

Great job :heart:
Reply
:iconempresstuila:
EmpressTuiLa Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Okay so more on the BadxGood, alright ^^ Anything specific you want me to look at and explain?
Reply
:iconnekomataonna:
nekomataonna Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
The reaction to each other and how they act.

How one of them will cope with one another and what kept them being attracted to each other?

Opposite attracts i guess :XD:
Reply
:iconempresstuila:
EmpressTuiLa Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Well you see that all depends on the author's decision and what they have in mind. That's something I can't decide :XD: How they act around each other all depends on personality, and there are a bajillion personality types and another bajillion ways how those types act around each other. Just like how you act nice to a person because you like them for their good qualities and how you act not so nice to a person who has what you consider bad qualities.

So that's really all up to you because you're the author, that's part of the fun! :D
Reply
:iconnekomataonna:
nekomataonna Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
:XD:

It's kinda difficult since
a good girl tries to make a bad guy be a bit good but won't change his spots no matter what he does but she accepts him on who he is.

But the result in the end, is it love?
Reply
:iconempresstuila:
EmpressTuiLa Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
That is difficult. The only thing I see happening is that either he does change some of his ways for her because he's starting to fall for her, or she in turn starts being on the "bad" side a little.
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:iconnekomataonna:
nekomataonna Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2011  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
*laughs a bit*

His bad side is rubbing off on her. :XD:

That i did. How does an evil vampire mend his evil ways?
Reply
:iconempresstuila:
EmpressTuiLa Featured By Owner Jun 21, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Like I said, that all depends on you and what you have going on in your story. It could be that it starts out with him doing just one little good thing, seemingly insignificant, and then he gradually starts to change a little more. Or it could be drastic such as he does something that the girl tries to prevent him from doing and it almost costs her her life so he starts to change so he won't risk her life again.
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