Relationships, especially in beginner writer’s works, have a tendency to feel forced. Even in some popular and famous works of fiction, the relationship doesn’t feel natural. It seems like a boring afterthought which the writer added in at the last minute. Far too often, I find myself completely indifferent to a character’s romantic life. A good romance in a story will give the reader a bit of second-hand infatuation. They’ll root for the relationship, beg for it. If the romance is well written, you can make a reader smile and blush just by reading a few sentences. When done properly, it can even compensate for a weak and cliché plot.
But first, decide whether the romance is needed. If you’re adding a character to the plot simply for the sake of being a love interest, it’s probably not a needed romance. You can still add it, of course, but it will be much harder to keep your story focused on the central plot.
Make sure the characters have chemistry.
The characters should compliment each other’s personalities. If he’s loud, stubborn, and aggressively opinionated, a more tranquil and soft-spoken love interest would suit him well. Two headstrong people wouldn’t be likely to have a lasting relationship in real life, unless they (impossibly) agreed upon every subject. But, there should be some similarities. While opposites do attract, polar opposites will not and the whole relationship will feel forced. The characters should have something in common. It could be morals, a parallel backstory, the same motivations, whatever. As long as there’s a reason for them to be drawn to each other, there’s potential.
Slow burn ships are fantastic.
Don’t make your characters fall in love right off the bat. There can be attraction, of course, but genuine feelings of true love don’t happen instantly. Your characters should become closer as people, feel at ease around each other, and truly know the other before they fall head-over-heels. The readers will crave the relationship far more, like dangling a treat right in front of a dog’s nose, but keep pulling it away. Teasing is a beautiful thing.
Find ways of showing (NOT TELLING) the characters are falling for each other. Have them stand up for one another, be protective. Have them break their own normal routine for the other. For example, a callous, guarded character could lower their walls for a moment if their love interest needs emotional support. These scenes can be awkward for the character changing their typical behavior and that discomfort can demonstrate how much they care for the other, altering their own selves for the other’s benefit.
Howeve, make sure that you combine these cute emotional moments with distance. Make the characters deny their true feelings or even distance themselves from their love interest upon discovering their feelings. The more the characters long for each other, the more the reader will long for them to be together. Build barriers between them for your characters to have to work to knock down. Keep them close, but maintain that distance until the moment is right.
“_____” translates to “I love you”
The first example of I think of when I think of this is The Princess Bride, where the male protagonist tells his soulmate “as you wish” when he really means “I love you.”
This falls under the category of show, don’t tell. Hearing a character say “I love you” has become so boring. Unless it’s done in a surprising confession or unique way, it’s boring and stale.
Come up with a phrase that you can repeat in moments throughout the story until it has a meaning of love for the characters and both know exactly what the other means when it’s spoken.
Taking a break can help create tension.
You know you loved someone if you leave them and feel awful. Apply this into the writing. Your characters can break up, then get back together in a joyous reunion.
Not every couple has a happy ending.
Sometimes, things don’t always work out for different reasons. An ending that leaves readers craving more can be a good move.
keith talking to some random stranger about lance and complimenting him like he did with him in beta traz while looking down fondly. “i have a…friend who always complains about my mullet. he’s a very good sharpshooter and also my right-hand man i don’t know what i would without him.” “you seem fond of him.” “I am.”
training session together where 50% of the stuff they do is flirting
another solo mission together where they fight back to back
they find an alternate reality where they’re together and this makes them think a lot about what they could be in theirs
lance starts wearing something red to match his new lion and keith tells him “you look good in my colors”
the team starts noticing lance flirts less than usual
one of those clichè scenes where one character makes a decision that makes their loved one proud and has them looking softly at them
keith and lance offering to wingman for each other but ending up describing each other as their ideal partner while talking to someone
“ofc you would like lance who wouldn’t he’s beautiful i mean what”
they’re facing off an enemy who’s making fun of them for not being strong enough and lance is lie “he’s strong!! he cradled me in his arms once!!” and keith deadass stops in the middle of the battle to shout “YOU REMEMBER”
a parallel of the shut your quiznak scene but this time lance is saying it fondly and keith laughs while saying “i still don’t think you’re using that correctly”
“he’s not my boyfriend!!” “but you want him to be”
lance making a cryptid joke for keith
lance leans in for an hug and keith blushes bc he thinks he was gonna kiss him
“well i do have a boyfriend!!!” *points at keith panicking*
awkwardly asking each other out for a date in the pool but both make sure they don’t mention the word “date” at all
lance distracting keith during a plan exposition by putting his hand on his shoulder or on his own hand
keith sees that someone is trying to make lance feel bad and he’s furious and goes up to that person like “yo take that back immediately”
lance being slightly jealous of seeing someone talking to keith and masks it with an excuse like “i don’t want him to find someone before me cuz ya know…rivals” (no one believes that though) keith: lance i’m not with xx i just wanted to see if u were gonna confess
keith gets asked if he likes someone and he’s like “well there is someone…” *looks at lance while sighing*
they take a selfie with lance’s space phone. (bc duh, needs to happen)
keith looking fondly at lance while everyone else is looking at something else. “cute right?” keith, looking at lance: yeah “i’m not sure we’re talking about the same thing”
keith gifting lance with something and blushing while handing it to him. idc what it is it can be whatever and lance being almost speechless. “you got this…for me?”
keith: please be careful!! lance: always am!
keith to lance: man you are cuddly
lance: did i miss something pidge: oh just keith complaining about bonding moments lance: ok so nothing new then
keith telling lance “i’ve never met anyone like you” because i live for the clichè stuff dont judge
the classic “ we got stuck somewhere alone together and now we gotta talk about our feelings” kind of thing
lance showing off his bf once they’re dating “yep! i’m dating him!!!”
more alone conversations where lance tells keith about his life as an uncle
hunk accidentally mentioning that lance had a crush on keith at the garrison.
like at the garrison you clearly like ke—” “KEN I LIKED KEN REMEMBER KEN?? AHHA GOOD OL’ GUY” “there was no one…named ken”
running after each other for something? because i’ve realized we’ve never seen that in canon and soft music is playing in the back
keith gifting lance with his bom blade once they’re together “i want you to have this”
an “i thought you were dead!” moment where keith kisses lance without hesitation and lance replies with “well i am know”
lance fingergunning at keith pls and thank u
the “fine” “fine” “fine” “FINE” thing when they get into arguments and they end up giving each other the silent treatment but it lasts like one minute and if it starts seriously, it ends jokingly
the pool scene becomes an inside joke like the bonding moment: “we went to the pool together!!!!” “keith you wanted to stay away from me??” “well you forgot our bonding moment!”“oh god not this again….”
a moment where they both turn at each other smirking and everybody is like “lol ur smiling at each other” and they’re like “no we’re not” but their mouths are still curved in a smile
they become very clingy with each other and don’t realize it until someone points it out
they swap clothes for one day and no one questions it. “they’re doing their thing as usual”
“are you hugging me?” “looks like i am” “thank you i needed that”
“when i said that I don’t hate you….i meant something else also”
can we uhhhh get mind-reading aliens that can sense their feelings for each other
“lets do this” and then they smile at each other
keith slipping that he likes lance in the middle of a very tough battle bc he doesnt know what will happen OR “if i dont make it…tell lance i love him”
keith at 2 am: hey pidge lance looked at me for more than one second today what do you think i should do
they try to make sure they always stand next to each other
This in 12x16 felt like another solid character moment, to me; not just the fact that Dean left, but that Sam stayed. I think it’s the same difference in attitude that prompts Dean to squash down and deny the things that worry him (or, the flipside of the same coin, to accept them with fatalistic helplessness) whereas Sam will stare steely-eyed and insistent into the face of his problems. (Of course, that can certainly be problematic too.)