The Plot of a Love Story

Rules of the Love Club

1. The prospect of love should always meet with a major obstacle. Your characters may want it, but they cannot have it for any variety of reasons. At least not right away.

2. The lovers are usually ill-suited in some way. They may come from different social classes-beauty queen/nerd; Montagues and Capulets, or they may be physically unequal; one is blind or disabled.

3. The first and always thwarted attempt is made to solve the obstacle. Success does not come easily. Dedication and stick-to-it-love must be proven.

4. As one observer once put it, love usually consists of one person offering the kiss and the other offering the cheek, meaning one lover is more aggressive in seeking love than the other.
The dynamic partner is the seeker, who completes the majority of the action. The passive partner, who may want love just as much, still waits for the aggressive partner to overcome the obstacles. Either sex can play either role.

5. Love stories do not need to have happy endings. If you try to force a happy ending on a love story that unmistakably doesn’t deserve one, your audience will refuse it. Genuinely, Hollywood prefers happy endings, but some of the world’s best love stories; Anna Karenina, Madame Bovary, Heloise and Abelard, are very sad.

6. Concentrate on your main characters to make them appealing and convincing. Avoid the stereotypical lovers. Make your characters and their circumstances unique and enjoyable. You will have to feel deeply for your characters, however. If you do not, neither will your readers.

7. Emotion is a primary element in writing about love. Not only should you be convincing, but you should develop the full range of feelings: fear, loathing, attraction, disappointment, reunion, consummation. Love has many feelings associated with it, and you should be prepared to develop them according to the needs of your plot.

8. Understand the sentiment and sentimentality in your writing and decide which is better for your story. If you are writing a formula romance, you may want to use the tricks of sentimentalism. If you are trying to write a one-of-a-kind love story, you will want to avoid sentimentality and rely on genuine sentiment in your character’s feelings.

9. Your lovers need to go through all the love. Be sure they are repeatedly tested; individually and collectively, and that they finally deserve the love they seek. Love is earned; it is not a gift. Love untested is not true love.