10 Ways to Build Romance in Your YA Novel

If you’re writing a YA novel, odds are there’s going to be some sort of romance. And it’s not enough to simply have your characters look at one another and instantly know they’re in love. So how can you make sure the romance in the story builds and feels believable? Follow these tips on how to make characters fall in love.

  • Give them something in common

Characters who have something in common will have an immediate bond. Are they both adopted? Did they both grow up in the same small town? Did they lose a parent at a young age? Are they wearing the same band’s T-shirt? All these are little hints that they might get along because they have something that ties them together- something to talk about with one another. For example, in the movie A Cinderella Story, the main characters connect over wanting to escape their overbearing parents/stepparents and go to the same college.

  • Start with small bodily gestures

A touch on the arm, focusing on how he flips back his hair all the time, a small glance as one walks away- especially after they’ve just had a talk about something they have in common. These can go a long way to conveying what a character may be starting to feel.

  • Characters start to change

Maybe where a character would’ve snapped before, they treat the other more gently. Or, perhaps, one gives something up that they would’ve kept for themselves earlier on –food, a blanket, the more comfortable bed. Think of Mr. Darcy going out of his way to help save the reputation on Elizabeth Bennet’s sister in Pride and Prejudice.

  • Nicknames/Inside Jokes

Is your hero still making jokes about the time the heroine fell off her horse? It means he’s thinking about her. Teasing someone can be a way to show you care without having to admit it. Plus, laughing at the same jokes counts as having something in common. Additionally, nicknames used in jest at first can be endearing later on. A new book that I loved but won’t name so it doesn’t ruin anything for anyone does this well with a character named Scarlett who gets called Crimson.

  • Jealousy

Does your character jump to conclusions when they see their crush with someone else? Jealousy can be an easy way to show they care without them having to say it. Think of Hermione not wanting to be around Ron and Lavender Brown in the Harry Potter series.

  • Atmosphere

If you’re writing a high-paced thriller, recognize that it’s hard to fall in love when you’re constantly running for your lives. Make sure you take breaks from the action for characters to bond. The right setting can enhance this- talking at sunset, strolling through the woods, hiding out on a rooftop with a great view, etc. might make for a romantic setting.

  • Shared experience

As I mentioned with high-paced thrillers, it can be hard to find time for love, but having that shared emotional experience can also drum up some passion. Surviving something together can cause people to cling to each other, and going back to my first point, it will give them something in common.

  • Think about the 5 Love Languages

Figure out if your character needs gifts or words of emotional support. Make sure their beloved can respond in turn.

  • Don’t forget about banter and passion

Your characters don’t have to get along at first. That fast-paced, biting banter they use can quickly turn into passion under the right circumstances, like surviving something together and then realizing they’re more alike than they think because….say it with me now…they have something in common. If you’re looking for a good example of this, checkout the book Frostblood.

  • Physical attraction (teamed with something they admire)

It sounds shallow, but physical attraction is something that relationships do need. It’s okay to have a fluttering heartbeat when you look at someone the first time…or the hundredth time. But make sure there’s more to the relationship than just looks; that’s why I put this last on the list. More than this, they’ll need something to admire in the other person because when you see something you like in someone, then you’re more likely to find them attractive. They may not discover what they admire until later in the story, but when they do, that’s when the physical attraction becomes more about what’s inside than outside.

 

Now you’re ready to go out there and start building a relationship. But before you do, stop over in the comments and let me know who your favorite literary couple is! I’ll start. Mine’s Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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