Love stories have always been popular because everyone can identify with them. We all want to give and receive love.
I write and read romances which are good, old-fashioned, classic love stories, novels with compelling stories and lots of sexual tension between the man and woman, but without explicit sex, the kind that would make you blush if you read it aloud to your young daughter or granddaughter. These "sweet" romances are like "PG" or "PG-13" movies, as far as sexual content is concerned.
Sweet romances are getting harder and harder to find, even though many Readers prefer this type of love story. There are, however, a number of writers like me who continue to provide classic romance, high in conflict and sexual tension, but low is explicitness.
Any good love story, whether is "PG" or "R," is made up of the following:
1. The hero and heroine of a love story must be highly attracted to each other, physically and emotionally.
2. At least one major obstacle must stand in the way of their being able to be together. The conflict may be either exterior, (happening outside of the individual, such as in Romeo and Juliet's family issues) or interior (a woman who was terribly hurt by a first husband might be afraid to trust a man again).
3. An external force must cause them to have to be together. (Example: a child goes missing. The heroine is the detective on the case, the hero is the widower whose child is missing)
4. Emotion is key in a love story--love, hate, regret, longing, sorrow, misery, laughter, anger--but it should never be contrived. The emotion must be natural to the characters and realistic in the way the plot is developed.
5. As the hero and heroine struggle to defeat the external force causing them to be together, a relationship grows between them. It might begin with a sense of loathing for each other, even though there's plenty of sexual chemistry between them, but it eases into mutual respect, friendship and eventually true love by the time they finally defeat the external force and decide whether or not they should be together. (The widower of the missing child in the example above might blame the detective for not doing enough to find his missing child, but, as they work together, they begin to respect each other, find common ground, friendship and realize their mutual admiration has blossomed into true love.)
6. The hero and heroine must be loveable to the Readers as well as to each other--but they must not be perfect. They should have flaws, sometimes major flaws, and they must struggle to overcome their shortcomings and thus be worthy of loving and of being loved.
7. Most Readers prefer a "happily ever after" ending. I know I do. But it isn't necessary to end a romance that way. A few writers have found a following by writing stories which end in tragedy. Every author who writes love stories must decide which type of ending they want to give their Readers, and their Readers will decide whether or not it's the type of ending they want in their love stories.
I hope your March, 2013 is filled with a special love story of your own...
Fran Shaff, Award-Winning Author
Fran's Web Page