Hate to say it, but that quote is pretty spot on. The human heart is a very fragile thing when it comes to love. If one person in a relationship changes without the other and no attempts are made to bridge the gap then pain is the only result. Our emotional state is tied to our physical and mental states, so heartbreak can have a domino effect that some people never get out of. Depression, gaining weight, anxiety, phantom pains, lethargy, and the list of ailments that can be traced by to heartbreak is pretty long. Geez, I’m started to get some phantom chest pains just writing this one. We’re going to see how far I get because this is a subject that hits pretty close to broken home.
As authors, I think many of us enjoy the concept of romance. There’s a complaint that it’s found too often in fiction, but it’s a journey that most people go through or hope they can experience. If we are to create believable heroes then we have to consider if they would be interested in dating or getting married. Romance makes sense for some heroes because they are already caring about other people, so it’s almost like they’re destined to fall for somebody. There’s a higher level of emotional connections from them and love is the most powerful positive one in the book. That isn’t to say it’s mandatory, but it can make a lot of sense that these characters have romantic encounters. A way to avoid this is to make them cold and interested only in sex if they have any interest in relations at all. Still, I think this is one reason why relationships turn up even in non-romance stories.
The other side of the coin is heartbreak. With romance, you always have the risk of things not working out. That’s just how reality works and this might be harder to do than the initial connection. You need to build up a reason for things to go south because a sudden ‘we are through’ might hit with a dull thud. The dumper would be seen as a jerk and, if a hero, would have a cloud over their heads for the duration of the story. If it is sudden then you need a reason such as a villain forcing them to do it or something that clears up any mystery. Yes, there are break-ups that happen in real life where one party will never learn the reasons, but fiction does require more. Even shock value heartbreaks need to be explained later or they come off as empty. This can be as simple as the character no longer being in love and admitting that they didn’t know what else to do. My point here is that you need to plan your breakups almost more than you plan the initial romances.
Another part of the romance and heartbreak that some authors forget is that you need to maintain the emotions. Lovers need to show their affections to some extent either physically or verbally. Almost used the wrong word there. You can’t have them start a relationship and never act like a couple. Saying ‘I love you’ means nothing if you don’t act like it too. On the other side is heartbreak where at least one of the characters needs to be in pain. I’m sorry, but very few people shake off heartbreak after one night of drinking and a pep talk from friends. Even if they are significantly better, you can still see flickers of the anguish from no longer being in a relationship. Much of this is determined by the degree of the relationship too. Breaking up after a week won’t hurt nearly as much as a divorce after decades. Unless there is a mutual agreement to split, you’re going to have to write about the characters getting through the inner turmoil. This is a great place for growth and development too. We talk about how obstacles build heroes and heartbreak can be one of the worst.
I’m running out of steam here since this is a difficult topic for me. I’m writing this up in late June too, so I might be in better spirits come September. Anyway, tell me what you think about romance and heartbreak in fiction? Not if it belongs in there, but how you think it should be used and any tips you have for using it.