Happy Valentines Day!
Only problem is, love stories are my weakness.
I’ll admit it, I don’t know much about writing love stories. I haven’t done a whole lot of them yet, and I find them immensely challenging. HOWEVER.
What I do know about is developing my female characters, so they don’t fall into the traps of either being a total pushover, or being the “strong female character” that equates being masculine with being strong.
So many female characters in young adult books push away love because they--or rather, their author--doesn’t want them to appear weak. Others end up doing anything for that boy they like, and completely forget who they are in the process. How do you find the balance?
- Know your character. What is her main goal? What are her interests? How does she like to dress? If her character is firmly established, it’s less likely to change when her love interest comes along. It’s also wonderful to see her love interest support her in her goals, and to have her support him.
- Remember, it’s perfectly okay for a teenage girl to get a little silly over a crush. I repeat, IT IS PERFECTLY OKAY FOR A TEENAGE GIRL TO GET A LITTLE SILLY OVER A CRUSH. Love in the teenage years is incredibly exciting. It’s a new experience, and it brings out a side of us we didn’t know before. Letting your girl get giggly and have some fun is not going to weaken her.
- Know her limits. What are her previous experiences in romance? Is she ready for sex? Is sex age-appropriate for your book? However far she’s willing to go is perfectly fine, as long as she sticks to what she’s ready for. Even if she is ready, do take your audience into account before adding a sex scene.
- Develop your boy just as much as your girl. These experiences are probably just as new and exciting for him as well. We often see female characters who are insecure about their appearance, but this is normal for boys, too. Even if most of the story is from her perspective, you can let the reader know how he feels.
Other things I enjoy in romance
- When couples have cute, unique names for each other. Not just “honey” or “baby,” but something you don’t always hear. This isn’t from a book, but my favorite people on Youtube, Jenna and Julien, call each other “otter,” because otters hold hands while they sleep. How cute is that?
- When the characters who fall in love aren’t the most beautiful people in the world. I know, we all want to describe beauty to make the love interest seem even more desirable. But loving someone’s flaws makes the relationship even deeper.
- When they are both each other’s hero. She isn’t weak if he rescues her. I just also want to see her rescue him.
Also, I’d like to note that I love seeing same-sex couples in fiction, and I know this post focuses mainly on heterosexual relationships. But many of these points are also applicable to same-sex couples. Develop both partners equally, let them have some silly fun without letting them lose who they are, and you’ll be on your way to writing a much better love story than I could ever pull off!