Sex Ruins Everything – And Love Makes It Worse

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Karyn Connor

© Carrie De Simas

Karyn Connor

Senior Editor @ GoneWithTheWord

Most new writers of romance make the same mistake. 

In real life, a mind-blowing sexual encounter is good. Falling in love is better.

In romantic fiction this is all wrong.

Attraction, lust and love all have to make the situation worse for the protagonist. Otherwise, the conflict and sexual tension eases. Conflict and tension are what keep the reader up at night turning pages.

When Romeo first sees Juliet—Blammo! Instant desire. In his gut (and lower too, I assume) was an immediate pull towards this one girl—the one.

A few scant pages later, all this perfumed prose turns to poison when Romeo and Juliet learn that their families are mortal enemies.

Conflict for Romeo. Conflict for Juliet.

Conflict for the reader who desperately wants to see these young lovers find a way to live happily ever.

Readers of romantic fiction want to believe in happily ever after and love triumphs all.  

At each stage of Romeo and Juliet’s relationship their lives worsen. They know a moment of pleasure at the first kiss, the first declaration of love, the first night together and then immediately after, things go to crap again.

This is how to write a romance novel or romantic sub-plot. Each step of the courtship should make things increasingly worse.

The characters will then have to do their damnedest to avoid thinking about any genuine feelings or attraction. But this works about as well as motorists not looking at a traffic accident as they drive by. The harder you try to avoid something, the more it seems to pull you in.

Author Jennifer Crusie is a master of this. In Strange Bedpersons, she uses her sharp, witty prose to have the character verbalize this smack down of awareness and the desperate dodging of feelings and desire:

He’d been telling himself ever since that his attraction to her was just sexual, but the relief he felt when she finally kissed him was a lot more than just pleasure that he was finally going to have her body. He realized with a sinking heart what he’d known all along and had preferred to ignore—his feelings for Tess weren’t just about sex.

            It was possibly the worst revelation he’d ever had … No, this wasn’t just about sex, but for the next hour or so, it was going to be mostly about sex. (Strange Bedpersons,  Jennifer Crusie)

Whether you’re a new writer or established, review your manuscript. The development of attraction and love should make the lives of your protagonists go from bad to worse to horrible until they can’t stand it any more and thus ultimately make the changes required to get over their fear or issue and establish healthy happiness. 


#BeBold, by Karyn Connor is available noweBook and Paperback

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