Tuesday, November 2, 2010

5 Essential Ingredients for Romance

I love a good romance novel: it's a great escape from the troubles and boredom of everyday life to fantasize about exciting, romantic adventures worlds away. Having read so many of these exciting detours from reality, I've boiled down 5 essential ingredients for romance. This is what every romantic novel needs to be tantalizing, riveting, and give me butteflies. DIK ladies read on and compare notes!

1. A "spark" moment: Towards the beginning of the novel, there needs to be some kind of happening to spark the romance, to lay the foundation for the love, heartbreak, and (hopefully) happy ending waiting at the end where the lovers drift off in the sunset, content in each others' arms. There needs to be something to create the romantic tension and see the possibility of romance between two often opposite characters.

2. Conflict to keep the lovers apart: Love is not easy, we all know that, and so the characters in these fantasies shouldn't have it easy either! Plus, if they were ever to live happily ever after right off the bat, it wouldn't make for a very exciting story. My favorite conflicts are another lover, or an impending war, or class issues keeping the characters apart. That way, when they do come together at the end, it's all that much more satisfying after seeing their budding love in peril.

3. A good climax: I'm a sucker for endings where the romance is in danger of succumbing to some outside force. The climax of the novel should be the moment of jeopardy or danger, the moment when the conflict keeping the lovers apart comes to a breaking point, one readers obviously hope goes in romance's favor. Races against time, like interrupting a marriage ceremony, get my heart racing -- but not as much as when the lovers embrace after overcoming this obstacle in the name of love.

4. A unique setting or circumstance: To add to the illusion, I like it when romance novels are set in a different time or place than our own. Often, a historical background adds to the excitement and conflict, like novels set in World War II. I also like novels set in contemporary times but in exotic settings, like Peace Corps volunteers finding love during relief efforts in Africa; something to add to the fantasy of it all.

5. A hopeful ending: We all love happy endings, where the lovers whether the storm and end up together against all odds, more in love with each than ever. However, that's not always realistic, and can be an easy way out for the author. I want a satisfying ending, and if the lovers aren't together, I at least want it to be hopeful. A good romantic novel will show that love endures at the end, even if the characters aren't together.

Kameron Lo is a guest blogger for An Apple a Day and a writer on ultrasound technician schools for the Guide to Health Education.

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