When Ginger Monette wrote a post on "the progression of love" on an email loop we both belong to, I knew I had to have her talk about it on my blog. Unless the writer gets progression from simple attraction to undying devotion right, the love story doesn't feel real to the reader. So if you've ever read a romance novel and found yourself doubting that this couple was going to get past their first argument, the writer probably missed a step. To explain, please welcome romance writer Ginger Monette!
Falling in Love: Writing Romance that Goes Beyond Attraction
by Ginger Monette
Have you ever wondered how couples fall in love?
As a romance novelist, it's my job to weave a story that gives readers a front row seat to watch the unfolding of a beautiful love story.
But how does a couple get from “Hello my name is” (or even “I despise you”) to “You're my soulmate and I want to spend the rest of my life with you?”
Having been disappointed by numerous novels where the couple claimed to suddenly “be in love” without actually “falling in love,” I went on a quest to investigate this mysterious process of falling head over heels. What I discovered changed my writing.
I dissected some fifty romance novels and made notes. All the couples had hefty doses of attraction, but the most satisfying stories went beyond attraction to something deeper. They showed the characters passing through four phases that moved them step by step from “meh” (or downright hatred) to “wowie-zowie he's the most wonderful person in the world.” And each phase seemed to be characterized by distinct thought patterns. See if you think these phases and thought patterns ring true to real life—particularly if at first Prince Charming seemed to be more of a frog than a prince.
Acknowledgement of him:
-Acknowledges some good quality about him (talented, kind, generous, etc)
-Finds him attractive
-Hyper aware of him, or hyper critical of his shortcomings (which often signals preoccupation or a subconscious denial of admiration)
-Acknowledges an attraction, but blows it off
Appreciation of his good qualities:
-Defends his character while not necessarily liking him
-Is genuinely thankful for a good quality
-Beginning to warm towards him
-Not so judgmental towards him
-More willing to consider his opinion on a matter
-Takes his advice
-Imitates quality or action of his
-Admits her initial criticism or objections were exaggerated or biased
-Curiosity grows—willing to spend more time in his company
-Acknowledges similar values or mutual interests
-Finds she is thinking (fondly) of him more and more
-Openly acknowledges her love/warm feelings for him
-Desires to be in his company
-Thinks he is wonderful
-Thinks he is perfect match
-Misses him painfully when he is gone
-Thinks about him constantly
So how did this awareness of stages change my writing? In my novel Darcy's Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes, I kept these stages and behaviours in mind as I crafted scenes. When my characters, Jane Austen's iconic Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, are reunited at a WWI field hospital, Elizabeth is none too happy to encounter Darcy. And although she disdains him, she acknowledges that he is handsome and there is something between them. This cracks the door to romance and gets readers rooting for the couple.
Then, without even realizing it, Elizabeth slips into the appreciation stage when, to her own surprise, she praises Darcy, admitting that their field hospital conditions have greatly improved under his leadership. Readers can feel her coming along, but with the baggage between them, (and the fact that Elizabeth is the prime suspect in a conspiracy plot that Darcy's been charged to investigate), readers can't help but anxiously read on to find out how in the world the couple will possibly reach a happily-ever-after.
As truths of Darcy's past are dramatically revealed and Elizabeth comes to understand him better, she confesses to herself that her initial criticisms were misplaced, and appreciation slowly gives way to admiration. Now, not only does she find herself attracted to him, but she admires his leadership, work ethic, and drive. And after an ah-ha moment where she realizes they both share a similar deep-seated insecurity, her disdain turns to empathy. Her feelings are almost there! By now readers are waiting with bated breath to find out what it will take for him to fully win her heart.
With a softened heart, she is able to look at him more objectively. She discovers they have quite a lot in common and actually enjoys his company. Now fully aware of his good qualities, their compatibility, and her attraction to him, she finds herself cheering for him in a sporting event. And after they share a heroic act and laugh over a hospital tent in the whipping wind, she realizes that in fact she adores him.
You can see how the storyline was intentionally crafted to move the couple through the four phases. By giving them ample opportunity to interact on a deep level and by showing the evolution of their thoughts along the way, readers get a deep sense of satisfaction watching the heroine's tiny bud of acknowledgement open into appreciation, then expand with admiration, and finally blossom into full adoration.
Don't we all ultimately desire a romance built on a foundation of compatibility and emotional intimacy rather than just a pitter-pattering heart?
Blurb: The Darcy's Hope Saga
Downton Abbey Meets Pride & Prejudice!
Escape to the era of Downton Abbey and experience all the drama of World War 1 alongside Jane Austen's iconic Elizabeth Bennet & Fitzwilliam Darcy. You'll watch their tender love unfold as they learn to work together and reconcile their differences at a field hospital only miles from the Front. When injury and espionage separate the couple, Darcy is crushed. But Donwell Abbey holds a secret that just might change everything.
“…a stellar example of fine Austenesque literature. …an exceptionally moving story complete with a compelling plot, danger, mystery, action, introspection, vivid detail, and an emotionally wrought romance.” ~Austenesque Reviews
The Darcy’s Hope Saga:
Vol 1: Darcy’s Hope ~ Beauty from Ashes
Vol 2: Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey
Video Trailer: youtu.be/px2fUiZdpGI?t=3s
-Darcy’s Hope Beauty from Ashes:
Universal link for all retailers. https://books2read.com/u/47kXOj
-Amazon USA : http://bit.ly/2cy01KFBlogTourAmaUS
-Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey:
Universal link for all retailers. https://www.books2read.com/u/3GMPaK
The teacher always learns the most. And in homeschooling her children, Ginger Monette learned all the history she missed in school. Now she's hooked—on writing and World War I.
When not writing, Ginger enjoys dancing on the treadmill, watching period dramas, public speaking, and reading—a full-length novel every Sunday afternoon.
In 2015, her WW1 flash fiction piece, Flanders Field of Grey, won Charlotte Mecklenburg Library's “Picture This” grand prize.
Ginger lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she happily resides with her husband, three teenagers, and two loyal dogs.
Author’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Ginger-Monette-Author-612096318934524/