I want to expand on what I said in my earlier post about Longing, and talk a little more about ways to answer the “What’s the Attraction?” question.
Before you start writing a romantic relationship, the very first thing you MUST know is why these characters like each other. And it’s a really, really good idea to have those reasons extend beyond “she’s hot,” or worse, “she’s in the right place at the right time.” One of the things that sets a satisfying romance apart from an easily-forgotten one is an understanding of why these two particular people are so attached to each other.
Now, the reader doesn’t necessarily have to have the entire background before the story starts. It’s entirely possible to jump right into the action, the good stuff, and fill the reader in on the characters’ motivations as the story goes along. But if you get to the end and the reader still has no idea why these characters even like each other, the whole story will fall flat once they’ve put the book down.
Take Romeo and Juliet, for example. Perhaps the most famous romance of all time… And yet, does anyone really know why these characters like each other enough to kill themselves at the end? Anyone? Because Mr. Shakespeare sort of skimmed over that part. We are left to assume that they probably just find each other hot. Or maybe they like the idea of defying their families. Perhaps it’s possible that Shakespeare left the attraction part out on purpose, because his intent was to write a senseless tragedy, not a romance. I’ll tell you right now that I would have very different feelings about the story if I knew that, say, Romeo didn’t feel like he could go on living without Juliet’s compassion and sweet singing voice, and Juliet couldn’t bear to lose the sound of his laugh and the way he always made her feel safe… As it is, though, every time I watch a performance of R&J, I just walk away feeling like they were both really dumb kids. :P
As I mentioned earlier, attraction can consist of several components. To keep this from getting too long, I’ll make this a daily series and talk about each component individually, starting tomorrow with attraction factor #1: Looks.