"Your romance is dorky."
If this sounds familiar, congratulations! You're a writer, Harry. Welcome to the first episode of:
Ellie Raine's School of Wordcraft and Scribery!
Romance can be the most intoxicating part of your story. It can also be the most nauseating.
That’s why it’s imperative to pay close attention when crafting a novel, movie, or comic. Even if your story’s central element isn’t romance, you must pay close attention to it. A little romance on the side can be a great improvement, or a great wart on your manuscript’s otherwise handsome nose.
I’ll speak as a reader for a moment. There seems to be a trend with romance (non-erotica) in stories that have the same cringe-worthy beats that I’d like to bring to light.
**Please keep in mind, I'm primarily a fantasy writer. My focus is typically on worldbuilding and adventure, so this advice is for romance as a side-plot**
Now let's get started!
First: Less is more.
Your characters know their names well enough. While slipping in a few oh, John’s andoh, Jane’s can add an effective conveyance of deep emotion, it lessens the thrill each time it’s said. Less is more. Repeat: less is more. While writing, placing softly spoken names in your manuscript is a strategy game. Add too many all over the pages, and it sucks away any romantic implications you were trying to make. In short, it gets old. It gets wrinkly, smelly, dementia-ridden old.
And from an erotica standpoint, the same advice may apply, though loosely. Sex scenes are awesome, and having a name moaned in the heat of things can get a reader hot and bothered like no tomorrow. HOWEVER, again, saying names too many times can grow bunions on your manuscript’s feet. And don’t get me started on blatantly saying the words ‘penis’ and ‘pussy’ like a thirteen year old. Innuendos are far more effective. Make it a challenge, think of all the colorful names you can give a guy’s juicy squirt-gun or a girl’s moist cavern. Don’t just vomit ‘penis’ every three words. Tone it down. Less is more.
Second: It’s about what you DON’T say.
For me, as a reader, I want the couple to finally say those three magic words: “I love you”. It’s the focal point of a budding romance, the fireworks finale on New Years Eve; it’s what we’re all waiting for.