by Sarah Perchikoff
Who doesn’t like a bit of romance? Whether that’s in a romance novel or as a side plot in a mystery, fantasy, or sci-fi novel, romance can give your story lots of complexity, especially when it comes to writing the lover or love interest character.
The lover can play many roles in your story; they’re not limited to just the “love interest.” They can be the enemy, the friend, or the reluctant partner in crime. It all depends on the kind of relationship and story you want to tell. Do you want a lot of tension and conflict? Maybe the enemies-to-lovers relationship is one you want to go with? Writing a bit of fluff? Maybe the love interest is a friend or someone the main character meets for the first time during the span of your story.
No matter what kind of relationship the love interest and your protagonist has the love interest needs to be just as interesting and compelling as your protagonist.
Readers need to want this character to be with your main character. They need to be invested which means the lover needs to draw the reader in just as much as your main character. No bland, one-note, undeveloped love interest is going to work. Even if the romance is just a side plot in your story, make sure you take the time to fully explore the lover.
We’ve all read a book or watched a movie where the main character doesn’t end up with the love interest we want. In your story, if you really connect the protagonist to the lover well, the reader should lose their minds with joy when they finally get together (who doesn’t like a slow burn??).
Think of the classic romances. Even when we only get one side of the story, we know as much about the love interest as we do about the protagonist. Think of Pride and Prejudice. The story is in Elizabeth’s point of view, but because of the way Austen used letters and dialogue and description, we know Mr. Darcy’s past, his inner thoughts, and most of his feelings towards Elizabeth.
Sure, we aren’t all Jane Austen or we’re not all writing straight romance, but there are still lessons to be learned from her writing.
Even if it’s not in the story, mapping out the love interest like they are the main character can be really helpful. Who are they as a person and what is attracting them to your protagonist? What things do they have in common with your MC? What does their past look like? Is it complicated enough that they tend to keep secrets or are they pretty open? Comparing and contrasting traits with your MC can make the relationship that much more fascinating to your reader.
Also...it’s just really fun to write. The back and forth of a relationship, the banter, the sparring, or even the romantic declarations can be some of the most fun to write. They're the parts that really need to be right, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be fun to work through.
No matter what the dynamic is between your protagonist and your love interest is, whether it’s a Beauty and the Beast retelling, a couple of robots on another planet, or two wizards who hate each other (but do they??), as long as you make sure their relationship is well-paced, the characters are well-developed, and decide what their roles are in your world, your readers should fall in love with them as much as you do.
And don’t worry! Your protagonist doesn’t have to verbally punch your love interest in the throat like Elizabeth Bennet. While it certainly makes things interesting, your story might need a relationship that is less complicated. As you work through your story and edit and revise, you’ll know what works best for your story.
About the Author: Sarah Perchikoff is a writer and bookworm. She lives with her miniature dachshund named Gracie. You can find her on Twitter @sperchikoff or at her book review blog, Bookish Rantings.