Romantic Plot Candies and Writing Tips

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Queen of Konafaces
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Urban Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic Quest, Sci-Fi, Time Travel and World Hopping, Steampunk, Action/Adventure, Modern Drama, Mystery, Slice of Life, Romance, and many more.

Although writing romance is not my personal preference, I read a fair bit of it whilst doing my skimming of the roleplay sections, and there seems to be a common point where a lot of romance writers get stuck: Two characters meet, they fall in love, they spend time together, they kiss a lot and tell each other how happy they are, and they do very little else beyond that. The story just seems to dissolve into a perpetual wheel of kissing, cuddling, and declarations of happiness.

So the question then becomes; after your character has found, fallen for, and gotten together with their significant other, what else can you do with the story? Well, first, there's one aspect to writing romance that I'm gonna pound into your twitterpated head.

Break out the pliers!
If you unglue your characters from each other for two minutes, you'll find all kinds of doors opening for plot candies. It is true that when you first fall for someone, it tends to be difficult to think of or desire anything else - this is called infatuation, and it doesn't last forever. People in healthy relationships give each other space, and pursue their own ambitions and interests seperately from their significant other. When you just can't STAND to go anywhere without your SO, or do anything that doesn't involve your SO, that's not cute, it's obsessive. But more on that later.

It's super important that your character have a life outside of their romantic relationship. Especially if this is a group roleplay, spend time with characters other than your love interest! Make friends, make best friends, make enemies!

"Interact with other characters too, not just your love interest!" because that is a big problem I see in group roleplays. A player finds their interest or target love interest, and then they are eternally bounce to always interact with that other character, not giving themselves or anyone else the chance to develop...well... anything! Breaking apart from your love interest can make your romance BETTER cause they you're adding in stuff like "Oh, I can't stop thinking about that guy I met.." or "Man! I wish I remembered to get her number!" and "Oh hey! what a coincidence seeing you again!"

Not to mention potential love triangles, making best friends, and other relationships you wouldn't get a chance to play because you were too busy making out in a closet. D:'s "Healthy Relationships" Article:
Sure, new relationships will take up some time, but don't have your characters completely or almost completely stop hanging out and doing things with old friends. Healthy relationships do not mean the annihilation of one's former social life as one knows it.
13 Signs of a Clingy Girlfriend Article:
#12 You can’t accept the fact that his life doesn’t revolve around you.

Love makes the whole world go round. It can be frustrating to see that you are not the center of the universe in your man’s eyes. Instead of nagging about it, learn to make him want you more.

Do you get pissed off if he’s watching a movie and wants to call you back in a while? That’s probably because you’re too jobless. Make him miss you by keeping yourself busy. If he sees that you’re not easily available for him, he’ll appreciate you and love you more.
Check out lists of phases in the following resource; if these remind you even a little of the relationship in your roleplay (ie: becoming infatuated within minutes of meeting, assigning 'magical'qualities [ie: knight in shining armour, goddess comparisons] the need to always be in contact), then the relationship needs some serious work!
The Obsessive Love Wheel

Here's some simple things you can add to your characters and include in the roleplay that will give you lots more to do than cuddle, kiss, and declare happiness.

  • A job
    Does your character spend money, or have things they bought for themselves? Then they have to be earning it from somewhere; if they're too old to be given an allowance, then they probably have a job. Your character can get to know their coworkers, or simply be occupied with their job sometimes. It's not necessary to write out whole shifts (Unless someone else is playing a regular customer or coworker, in which case it's a great opportunity to get to know those characters!), but have it be present in their lives.

  • Club activities/Hobbies
    If your character is no longer in highschool, it doesn't mean they can't be part of a social activity. Book clubs, swim clubs, gym groups, hiking clubs, poker clubs, and even videogame tournaments are all popular group activities for adults. It doesn't mean much to say your character has a hobby if they're never seen spending any time exploring that hobby.

  • Friends
    If you haven't made friends with any of the other characters yet - and I highly recommend you try getting to know the other characters in a group roleplay - playing multiple characters and exploring the relationships between them can be a rewarding experience. Have your character go explore activities with their friends - see a movie, go for a walk, study together, play videogames, go on an overnight camping or fishing trip, have a movie night.

  • Family
    What kind of relationship does this character have with their parents? Siblings? Cousins? Aunts? Uncles? Grandparents? If they're abused at home, do they have more sympathetic family members they can take refuge from? What kind of activities do they enjoy sharing with their family? My family enjoys weenie roasts in the back yard; my mom works near my house, so sometimes I'll visit her on her lunch break, or she'll come to my house after work. I have a friend who loves to go shopping with her sister, and I know a guy who lives far from his family, but Skype calls them every weekend to keep in touch.

Got it?

I don't believe you. Write it down and pin it by the desk or wherever you do your writing. Tie a string around your finger. TATTOO IT ON YOUR FACE.


Okay, I guess I'll trust you now.

Onward to the Plot Candies!
Okay, you've unglued your characters, and they have lives outside of each other. By necessity, a lot of these plot candies will involve characters other than your character's significant other. If you are not involved in a group roleplay, I highly recommend bringing in new characters in addition to the ones in play. Just having other people involved in your character's lives gives lots of openings for non-kissing activities, and develops the romantic relationship at the same time, but here's some more specific ideas:
  • Double Date with another couple in the roleplay. If your romance is a one x one, you can invent new characters to play. Double dates are popular couple activity because watching another couple helps people in new relationships see what they want to have, and what they want to avoid. Having something in common (a love life) also helps the characters to bond with each other.

  • Have a non-romantic Group Goal. In a High School roleplay, this is made simple by looking at school events. Is there a play that everyone should be rehearsing for? Are your characters working together on a float for a local parade? Booths for a fair? A class project or presentation? Adult characters may have more personal goals that they might need other character's help with; like setting up or advertising a business - especially careers in the arts require a lot of promotion to get a start. Planning a trip is a viable goal as well. Look at the goals of the adults in your life; what are they working toward at the moment? Buying a house? Finding a better job? Advertising their business? Family Reunion coming up?

  • Direct thine eyes towards the television. Look at the romance stories you love; what obstacles do these couples have to overcome to develop their relationship? What scenarios serve as the catalyst for these obstacles? In Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Serpent's Pass" episode, Sokka manifests his guilt over Yue by being overprotective of Suki. He has to learn to respect Suki's abilities to protect herself, and she has to learn to respect his struggle and listen to him when he needs to talk about it. In How I Met Your Mother "Zoo or False", Marshall lies about getting mugged so Lily will feel safe, but the story gets muddled, and eventually he must come clean and the couple must learn about trusting each other and being truthful regardless of what the other might think.
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