Today I have a special treat for you guys--kickbutt author and uber blogger, Janie Hardy. If you guys aren't following her writing blog The Other Side of the Story, your're truly missing out. She has some great information over there. And it's all so neatly organized that I'm totally jealous. (*eyes my haphazard tags cloud over in the sidebar*)
So today Janice is going to share tips on building a slow burning romance...
A Slow Burning Romance
I ran into a snag when creating the romance in my fantasy adventure trilogy, The Healing Wars. Since entire first book (The Shifter) takes place over three days, there wasn’t much opportunity for romance. Nya, the main character, is eyeballs deep in trouble all the time and really didn’t have time for love. She was too busy trying to keep herself and her friends alive and safe. If I was going to make this work (and I really wanted to for these crazy kids), it had to be a romance that developed over the course of the series. I needed a slow burn, not a quick blaze.
It wasn’t my original plan, but I think this worked well considering the younger ages (15-16) of my characters. I got to play with a lot of fun situations that everyone can relate to. Such as having inopportune thoughts at the worst time, like when Nya notices hottie Danello while he’s pointing a rapier at her. And the awkward moment when Nya realizes she’s wearing old, ripped clothes and might possibly smell (she lives on the street). And the really cute exchanges when Danello clearly doesn’t care about any of that and likes her anyway.
It’s also fun because it never occurs to Nya that a boy actually could like her. Readers can see that Danello is clearly smitten the first time they meet, but it takes Nya a while to figure this out. Danello is also a good enough guy to understand that pushing Nya is only going to make her run away – something she’s exceptionally good at.
If you’re considering a slow-burning romance, here are some things that I did to let this romance evolve over time:
1. Let my love interest earn that love
Nya has had a lot of bad things happen to her in her short life and she doesn’t trust anyone. Danello really had to prove that he wasn’t going to let her down, and that she could count on him no matter what. That gave me lots of opportunities to let him be a hero, even though she’s the star of the book. He’s just a quieter hero. Nya’s hero. Which isn’t easy to be considering how strong a girl she is. But because he tries anyway, he’s even more the hero.
2. Let my girl realize she has people she can count on
Part of Danello’s value is that he helps Nya see that she really does have people in her life that she can trust. His actions often surprise her, and his loyalty gets her to realize she isn’t alone in all this. She has more than just her sister in the harsh world they live in. He doesn’t always agree with her, and is willing to stand up to her, but even that shows her she can depend on him for whatever she needs him for.
3. Let my love interest keep my girl off balance
Nya is the type of girl who immediately judges a situation and acts. Her life depends on making fast decisions. But Danello gets her to question some of those actions, and gets her thinking before jumping in. He really grounds her, and that is something that might save her life.
4. Let my love interest be there for my girl, yet ask for nothing
Everything in Nya’s life has been fleeting. Parents, safety, food, home. There hasn’t been a lot of constants, except that people want things from her. They want to use her for their gain. Except Danello. He just wants to love her. He’s the one safe place she can go to when everything else is in chaos.
These two go through a lot together over the course of three books, but their experiences connect them in a way I don’t think I would have gotten had they hooked up in book one. They got to know each other over time, trust each other, and rely on each other. Their romance got to simmer, not burn, but I think that means this romance will last.
Janice Hardy always wondered about the darker side of healing. For her fantasy trilogy THE HEALING WARS, she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her books include THE SHIFTER, and BLUE FIRE. DARKFALL, the final book of the trilogy, is due out October 4, 2011. She lives in Georgia with her husband, three cats and one very nervous freshwater eel. You can visit her online at www.janicehardy.com, chat with her about writing on her blog, The Other Side of the Story (http://blog.janicehardy.com/), or find her on Twitter @Janice_Hardy.
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