Sans-serif fonts
Serif fonts

Balancing Act: Crafting Well-Paced Romances in Non-Romantic Novels

When you think of love, do you envision a Harlequin cover with a chiseled protagonist and an elegantly dressed partner caught in a passionate embrace? If yes, you might be channeling a bit too much Austen. But here’s the catch – romance doesn’t just reside in romance novels. The smoldering glances, the stolen kisses, the dramatic confessions can sneak into any genre. So, how do you strike that balance between developing a heart-throbbing romance and ensuring the core plot doesn’t play second fiddle?

1. Subtlety is Sexy:
Remember, it’s not a romance novel. Introduce attraction slowly. Gradual build-up is key, and tension, oh sweet tension, can be an absolute winner. Janice Hardy’s blog elucidates more on mastering this slow burn.

2. Use Romance to Advance the Plot:
If a romantic interaction doesn’t move the plot forward or develop the character, it might feel forced. Writers Helping Writers have a stellar article about intertwining subplots (like romance) seamlessly.

3. Diversity in Relationships:
Not every relationship should be the “love at first sight” type. Explore friendships, rivalries turned relationships, or old flames. Each adds a unique flavor. Diversifying romance in fiction is further elaborated in this insightful article by Writing Cooperative.

4. Don’t Neglect Character Development:
The core plot and character arcs should remain the main focus. Relationships should complement, not overshadow. Understand the dynamics of well-balanced character development with this guide from The Writer’s Edit.

5. The External Conflicts:
Romance doesn’t exist in a bubble. The external events in your narrative world will impact the relationship. Wars, famines, zombie apocalypses – they all add layers to the romance.


  • Q: How explicit should my romance scenes be in a non-romantic novel?
    • A: Tailor it to your audience and the novel’s tone. A middle-grade fantasy would differ greatly from an adult sci-fi.
  • Q: Can I have a tragic ending to the romance subplot?
    • A: Absolutely! Tragedy can amplify emotional depth. Just ensure it aligns with the story’s overall mood and arc.

For those diving deep into subplots, this episode of the Writing Excuses podcast is a goldmine on how to juggle and interweave them without turning your novel into a narrative mess.

Dabbling in romance within your mystery, fantasy, or horror? Remember, a love subplot, like a delicate seasoning, can enhance the main dish but shouldn’t overwhelm it. Ready for the next narrative nuance? Let’s dive right in!

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *