Ann Evans: Hints & Tips For New Writers #8
25 November 2020
Opposites attract so if you bear that in mind when creating your hero and heroine in your love story you won’t go far wrong.
But in what way do you want them to be opposites? I’d say in practically any way possible. He’s a serious workaholic, no time for play – obviously due to some major factor in his past – not just because he’s a misery! While she is a happy soul, she sees fun in many situations, For her the glass is always half full. She might appear (to him) frivolous, carefree, maybe she is. But as her creator, you know that she takes life seriously when she needs to especially when someone is threatening the happiness or livelihood of those nearest and dearest to her.
Turn it around. Maybe she’s got a lot on her plate right now. All kind of dilemmas and problems that need sorting out – while he – well he could be the cause of her problems, or he’s adding to them.
Here’s a few random examples of opposites: Let’s say one of the main characters is wealthy, way out of the other one’s league. Or one is adventurous, the other is more of a home bird; perhaps one is ambitious a real go getter, the other is satisfied with their lot – or imagine that the ambitious one has set his or her eyes on what the other one is content with.
While one might seem the weaker character if they are satisfied with their lot – threaten to take it away and they will fight tooth and nail.
By creating characters with steely determination – even if it’s only to stay put with their cats and their knitting, they become ferocious in their efforts not to lose their choices in life. But given that the other player is just as determined to get what they want – you then have a battle on your hands.
You must have conflict in any story – and certainly in a love story. Without conflict there is no story. Two people thrown together by circumstances, both with goals that mean the world to them – and both with very good reasons, morally sound reasons, and you’ve got a hot story. Because along with the situation and the conflict, there’s the vitally important point that they both fancy the pants off each other, even if they haven’t realised that yet.
So, while the battles and arguments may rage over the situation they are both in, the senses are at play. They both like/love the sound of the other’s voice, they like to see how they move, or love the colour of the other one’s eyes, and especially love the tiny creases at the corners, or they love the way their gaze holds them longer than necessary; or they can’t get enough of the scent of the other, or the feel of their skin, or the touch of their hand. There’s a million little nuances you can work into your narrative related to the senses and emotions.
Remaining with the opposites attract theme, you can make the dialogue be in total opposition to what’s being thought by the viewpoint character in a scene. She might be having a raging argument because he wants to demolish her garden wall, but while she’s fighting her corner, a tiny bit of her subconscious is aware of the muscles rippling beneath his shirt, or the stray curl of hair flopped over his forehead – I’m trying not to be too cliched but I’m sure you get the idea! What you’re seeing and what they are thinking/feeling are two very different things.
You could put them in opposite corners in relation to moral standards; or inbuilt beliefs about life; or personal aims and goals. Maybe one longs for marriage and domesticity, the other yearns for freedom and life without ties. One want kids, the other has good reasons why they don’t.
The more conflict you have between the two main characters, the more you have to write about. Conflict does not mean all guns blazing. There’s inner and outer conflict – or emotional and physical. Inner (emotional) comes from a character’s own moral standing, their beliefs, background, upbringing, personality, etc. Outer (physical) conflict comes from things beyond their control such as other people, the weather, physical obstacles, health issues, problematic situations etc. But if you remember that little saying – opposites attract, it will help your romances to blossom.
I thought I’d end with a little scene from my romance Champagne Harvest. Can you see the start of an attraction between Philippe and Laura? Her perception of him is of a rich playboy type. She’s a humble writer on a small newspaper following up a story he might be involved in. He however doesn’t see himself as a playboy at all. He’s quite shy in some ways. However, he hates journalists with a passion (see backstory!) so she’s just given him a pack of lies, which she feels terrible about. So lots of opposites here, plenty of situations that could lead to conflict. And beneath everything, cupid is playing with their heart strings.
In this scene, Laura has just left French playboy Philippe’s art exhibition, believing more than ever he’s involved in the mysterious disappearance of a young woman from her home town back in England.
Oh my God, he’s found me out, she immediately thought. Her second thought was, can I out-run him?
But then she saw that there was a smile on his face, a ridiculously boyish smile that made her heart do an unexpected cartwheel.
“Philippe!” she exclaimed as he came panting to a halt beside her. He rested his hands on his upper thighs, bending double. She stared at him. “Are you okay?”
He straightened, still smiling, taking in a great lungful of air. “Yes! Yes, I am good. Perhaps not as fit as I thought I was, but good.”
She waited, confused, as people stepped around them, one or two casting them curious glances, no doubt recognising Philippe. “Did I forget something?” she asked, anxiously checking she’d still got her bag.
“No – but I did,” he said. “I forgot something.”
She frowned but guessed there must have been a token of some kind to mark the exhibition’s launch which she’d left without. “What?”
His fingers swept his hair back, and he looked suddenly incredibly shy. He hesitated, and then said, “I forgot to ask you for your phone number, or where you are staying. And, most importantly, I forgot to ask if you would like to end this evening with supper and a glass of wine with me – not champagne,” he added with a wry smile.
Laura’s mouth literally fell open. “You’re asking me out?”
“I would be honoured.”
“Why?” The word was out before she could stop it because all she could think of were those photographs of him with glamorous women. Even his fan club at the exhibition looked more his type. By comparison, she literally felt a real plain Jane.
A dark shadow passed over his eyes. “Why would I not? You are a lovely young woman – you said you did not have a boyfriend you are in Paris unaccompanied. And…” the shyness was back, making Laura catch her breath. “And I like you. I don’t know if you like me, but maybe you will let me know once we have sat down together and got to know each other a little better.”
She was completely dumbfounded – and more than a little flattered. “I don’t know what to say.”
“It is simple. You just say, I would love to have supper with you, Philippe.”
She had the sudden urge to giggle. She looked at him, standing there, one black eyebrow arched, waiting hopefully, his expression that of a little boy, peering through a toy shop window on Christmas Eve. Finally, she did giggle. And mingled with her laughter, she said. “Oh, go on then!”
“Ah bravo!” he said, taking her hand and threading it through the crook of his arm. “I am a happy man.”
So remember to create scenarios for conflict, and remember that opposites attract.
Happy writing and stay safe everyone.
Ann Evans writes romance under the name of Ann Carroll, she also writes thrillers, books for children, YA and reluctant readers. She is also a freelance feature writer for various magazines.
Find more writing tips in Ann Evans’ book, Become a Writer – a step by step guide.