Thursday, June 5, 2014

What is Romance - Cake, Icing, or both?

In general, much of today’s society would have us believe that the most important factor in romance or a serious relationship is sexual attraction and compatibility. That very well may be why our divorce rate stays around 40-50 percent in the US. Sexual compatibility is like icing on a cake. However, how many people do you know order as desert,  icing ONLY? I’d safely say none. It can make the cake we like so much better, but if given a choice between the cake alone, or just the icing, the majority of us will choose cake.

What does this have to do with writing good romance? For me, it means making sure that there is always a large, scrumptious piece of cake with just the right amount of icing. Translated, that means that the male and female leads must have more substance in their relationship than just sex. It means giving a believable and motivating foundation in which a relationship can grow. Physical attraction will play a part in that, but it won’t be all there is. So, if sex alone isn’t what makes a great love story, what other factors will attract. Let’s take a look at a few from both the female and male perspective.

Let’s start with our HERO first. What things play a pivotal part in his choosing of one woman over another. And what factors will impel him to completely commit his heart to this woman? There are many that could be listed, but these are a few of my favorites.

1. He feels a compelling need to protect this woman from all danger, hurt, and disappointment; and when he thinks about a daughter of his own, he’d like her to be just like this woman. She’s the only one he can envision holding his child.

2. He likes that her independence doesn’t take the place of her need of him. He’s convinced that he can trust her with his heart, his dreams, and his life.

3. He’d rather be with her than alone, or even with his best friend. She feels like HOME. Her smile, the warmth in her eyes, the feel of her arms are synonymous with: shelter, comfort, refuge, and love.

4. She inspires him to reach higher, to explore the limits of his potential. She’s his best helper, no matter how small or large the task. And he loves the small things she does to please him. He knows she’s always got-his-back.

5. He loves her quick smile and easy humor. But he’s also attracted by her feisty side. She’s a woman he’s always proud to have at his side.

6. He knows in his heart that with this woman, sex will transcend mere physical satisfaction or casual entertainment, it will be an expression of his lasting love and commitment.

Now for our leading lady, to what kind of man does she dream of giving her heart. Again, here are a few of my favorite reasons.

     1. She respects this man because he respects her as well as others. He’s strong, just, and reasonable, qualities he balances with uncompromising love for her.

     2. She adores the way he is attune to her emotions and strongly held beliefs. She’s appreciative of his attentive attitude when it comes to small things like a new hair cut or clothing choice. In fact nothing that concerns or affects her seems to escape his notice.


     3. She trusts his sense of responsibility, knowing that he will always be at her side through the good and bad times. He’s a responsible provider, hard worker, and shows a high level of maturity in financial matters. She has no problem putting her life in his hands.

    4. She likes his sense of humor and the effort he puts forth to really listen, even when it’s difficult. His laugh and heart-stopping smile are from the heart and light up her life.

    5. When it comes to this man’s heart, he gives it for keeps. He believes in fidelity. And when it comes to sex, he’s an exciting mixture of selfish and generous, aggressive and laid -back, forceful and gentle, familiar and creative. He’s loving, teasing, exciting, and finds his greatest pleasure in pleasing his lady.


These character traits for both hero and heroine, when blended well, will create a one-of-a-kind romance that a reader can enjoy every bit as much as a big slice of double-rich chocolate cake with icing.

These are my thoughts. When it comes to reading romance, what do you think makes a memorable pairing or unforgettable couple?

14 comments:

  1. What a great post. Now I want some cake!

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  2. Great post, Lynda! In my books, I always like a spiritiual component to the connection that forms between the hero and heroine. By that, I'm not talking any sort of religion, but a recognition between soul and soul, commitment on the spiritual level. As you say, from the moment they meet, these two people should be unable to imagine continuing on without each other. In a typical romance novel, that encompasses the sex and, I feel, adds a delicious facet. By no means does that say it's all icing -- but this icing goes with this cake oh, sooo well!

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    1. Laura,
      Soul to soul, what could be better? That kind of deep commitment makes for deep characterization. Thanks so much for your thoughts.

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  3. Yep - I'd order a slice of this cake - and I don't eat sweets. (grin) I think you've made a great case for motivation - now add conflict and stir. Thanks for a thoughtful post.

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    1. Ashantay,
      So true, conflict is the spotlight that illuminates our characters and their motivations. Thanks for taking the time to visit and comment.

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  4. Great post. Worth reading again and again! Ready for my cake and generous amt of icing!

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  5. Great post! I like to think of my hero/heroine pairs as true soul mates. They were meant to be together no matter how rocky the twists and turns of the relationship as the novel evolves.

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    1. That's a beautiful and motivating concept. Thanks for your thoughts, Susan.

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  6. I try with my couple that even if it starts out bad, there are things inside both of them that are incomplete with out the other.

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    1. Hi IIona,
      The things inside are what I as a reader look forward to seeing revealed. I love when they discover new things about themselves and their ability to love. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  7. I completely agree, Lynda. I love writing scenes where my characters discover the admirable trait hidden below the surface of the other. They have to earn each others respect and trust. It's an emotional process more than a physical one.

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    1. I so agree. Attraction may be instant, but true love is a journey of discovery. Thank you for stopping by.

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