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Writer Wednesday: Spicing it up with Romantic Subplots

Happy Writer Wednesday all. With this past weekend being Valentine's Day (and Galentine's Day for those inclined to celebrate the power of friendship) we are continuing our series on that spiciest of genres, Romance, and that even spicier topic of discussion- the Romantic Subplot.

Romantic Subplots- Take 'Em or Leave 'Em?

So you are writing in one of the other myriad genres, be it Science Fiction, Horror, Mystery and so forth. You have a good storyline, you have characters you love writing about, so why even bother adding something like a romantic subplot? Well for starters, not every story calls for one. Slapping a romantic subplot into any old story doesn't always work out well and can sometimes ruin a perfectly good adventure or tale of suspense. Maybe you don't want anything to do with romance in your story and that is perfectly okay too, but sometimes, pieces of the story align in such a way that the door opens for the possibility of romance in a storyline. Three big hints you can include romance in story?

  1. Your characters have amazing chemistry- Bravo author! Your characters skip the conversational fandango so well their chemistry is undeniable. Now you can choose to push that banter, bickering, and teasing to the next level with some good old fashion lip locking. Or not. That is the beauty of romantic subplots- the steaminess can be all but non existent if you so choose.

  2. It makes sense within the context of the plot- If you are writing about a cutthroat gang of mercenaries in a grim dark fantasy, it might not be the best set up for gushy romance moment. Or it might be the greatest. It would certainly be interesting. That aside, the ongoing story line in your novel might lend itself to a romantic subplot, one that may even enrich the storytelling and provide your main character with a side goal to strive for, or a true distraction from their ultimate goal.

  3. You wants it!- There is no shame in putting a bit of spice into your story if you want it there, though keep in mind, there is a line between Romantic Fantasy and Fantasy Romance. Aside from the big divider of the 'Happily Ever After' a big hint your story has veered into latter territory is the relationship aspect becomes a central driving focus of the story line over other elements. Now, this doesn't mean your romantic subplot can't have a happy ever after in Romantic Fantasy, but there should be a greater over all focus to over arching events and character goals beyond getting together with their partner.

What A Romantic Sub-Plot Can Do For Your Story

They Ship it! Ah yes, the great character ship. A romantic subplot can provide another avenue of investment for readers who are hoping for two characters to get together. If you are writing a series and readers pick up on character chemistry possibly before even you do, it might be worth it to tease a little 'will they or won't they' action for those key characters. Though also take it with a grain of salt, readers ship all kinds of pairings and some are more oil and water than sugar and water.

A Satisfying Ending for Your Character- So you've put your character through absolute hell. It's your job as an author to do so. A romantic subplot can do some interesting things for a main character's drive and motivations. Maybe they give up on a goal of vengeance that will end their life because they have found something else to live for. Maybe they become ruler of a kingdom or people and now have a partner by their side. Maybe its been a long great adventure and their romance was the cherry on top of the ride. However the romance comes into play, it can enrich the end of a journey for a character on top of the growth and goals they accomplished.

Plot Enrichment- Including romantic character interactions can provide pivotal plot enrichment. That romantic subplot can also provide some incredible defining moments for your character, and as this is a sub plot and not a romance, you don't have to fulfill the happily ever after requirement. This means you can explore heart break, terrible choices, characters growing apart, loss, separation, and the wide array of relationship woes and highs. Your romantic subplot might ultimately implode due to the choices the character is forced to make. You could go from lovers to enemies or lovers to reluctant allies.

There are other benefits as well to do with readers and your own satisfaction as an other but the great thing about writing romantic subplots into other genres is that it is entirely the author's prerogative and you should enjoy whatever you are writing about. Until next time, remember to write what your heart desires!

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