Romance and Heartbreak

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.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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17 Responses to Romance and Heartbreak

  1. It is amazing that you wrote this in June with such calmness. Well anyway, I was struck with the idea that characters in love need to act like a couple. Writer tendency is to write scenes and then move on. I think that your reminder is once the love scene is written the couple have to be in love for the rest of the story (unless they break up) A good reminder indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. L. Marie says:

    Great topic! I enjoy romance in stories. I’m not a fan of instalove, however. I’m not debating an author’s right to craft a story involving a couple who instantly love each other. This kind of story lacks tension, at least for me.

    While I love conflict in relationships, I prefer conflict that goes beyond the kind of conflict that can be solved with a five-minute conversation. Give me obstacles that seem almost insurmountable. However, I’m not a fan of couples who hate each other for 95 percent of the book and then suddenly get together at the end. I’m not convinced about those relationships.

    Many authors of young adult novels go the love triangle route. A lot of readers love those. I wish I had tips for writing those.

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    • I think love at first sight can work if done well. Just because the emotions are there doesn’t mean it’s smooth. You have awkwardness and stumbling to get through. The opposite is rather strange at times because you wonder how they even recognize love if they’re always fighting. It can work if you have it happen midway or show signs there’s an attraction, especially when it’s only one of the characters. They might talk more fondly when that person isn’t around.

      I think I made a love triangle post long ago.

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  3. This is a good post, and I love the reminder to keep up the situation emotionally no matter what it is. Love doesn’t evaporate suddenly, and heartbreak takes time to get over. We can’t just write our scenes like a checklist, then move on.

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  4. Reblogged this on Where Genres Collide Traci Kenworth YA Author & Book Blogger and commented:
    Charles makes good points about having your characters fall for each other or the dreaded break-up.

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  5. When people go through intense circumstances, sometimes they may be drawn together whether they expected it or not. That could happen with a group of super-heroes or other adventurers. But, of course, once the circumstance is not there, then the common bond can dissipate. Even so, this kind of romance is one that grows organically from times that the couple share.

    What I suspect many people dislike is the instant, intense, love-at-first-sight thing that many authors do. It just seems arbitrary, doesn’t it?

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    • The trick is to use the circumstances as a starting point. You need to have more to make things last or it feels like the author simply checked something off a list. I don’t know if I’d call love at first sight arbitrary since it has been known to happen. I think it comes off that way because authors have been using it as an easy answer for centuries.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I think a build up of slow burn works well with heartbreak. The tension and attraction between characters builds and takes the reader along with it. Then when heartbreak comes, the reader is more affected because they are more emotionally invested in the characters.

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  7. Pingback: Seven Links 9/7/19 Traci Kenworth – Where Genres Collide Traci Kenworth YA Author & Book Blogger

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