Though I consider myself a bit of a heavy romance reader, I do admit that I’ve read my fair share of not-so-cute love stories. These are instances where nothing feels authentic, like it almost feels impossible to believe what’s happening within the pages. I understand that’s often the point of fiction, but not romance. The genre’s goal is to make readers wish they were in the characters’ shoes. Who doesn’t want to be swooped up by their dreamy beau during a sunset on the beach?
Here’s a list of traits that make a romance novel real––think of it as a helpful guide to a future read!
Actual human language
Nothing irks me more than fictional characters communicating way too formally or too loosely. Just have a normal conversation! Of course, the occasional dry humor here and there is nice. Also, I don’t mind a cheesy line about how much the couple love each other. But when it takes up the entire book? No thanks.
As much as we want every relationship to be perfect, they’re not. We as humans all have flaws, but we grow and learn from any mistakes. So it’s refreshing to see the occasional novel where the characters are genuine. Writers, make your couple color outside the lines! Have them persevere through their own adversities, we’ll still like them.
Where it takes place
How a fictional couple meets is just so important. Cute coffee shop? At a supermarket? Christmas party? It needs to be perfectly sweet, like something that feels like fate. Even after the first encounter, the scenes should be detailed enough that we can picture it happening right in front of us (to a certain extent).
For some weird reason, romance writers like to give the protagonist a quirky best friend who has a sassy comment for everything. And while it can be a stress reliever at times, like during conflict, I find it very annoying. Yes, our real life friends can be goofy and fun, but they aren’t like that 24/7. Let’s not make every romance a total rom-com.
Going back to the quirks of a romance novel, any pop culture references being made shouldn’t be performed so…awkwardly. I’ve read books where the characters jump up and down talking about how much they sing Beyonce or make out with their Harry Styles posters, hoping for a real SO, and I’ll say it––it’s really weird. Either make it less try-hard or don’t bring it in at all.