Writing Romance: No Cheating Allowed!

by Rachel Hauck

No, I’m not talking about the characters and story line.

I’m talking the author taking shortcuts to achieve a goal without motivation.

I love romance.

God loves romance. Look at human history. It’s a romance!

In fact, I was flying home from Dallas the other day, sitting behind a young newlywed couple, and as I caught them interacting, I teared up.

“What God? Do You have something for them?”

“No,” He said. “I just wanted to share with you I love marriage, romance.”

Wow! God’s on board with love. And He loves sharing with His friends.

Anyway, on occasion, as I read romances, I find authors cheating.

Meaning, they move the characters through the story without motivation.

Well, not with character motivation but with author motivation saying, “I need the hero and heroine to be together in every scene.”

So, after a fight between he H & H, or a “I don’t want to be with you!” argument, the H & H are in the next scene together, getting along famously.


Even if the fight or argument was “I just want to be friends,” what’s the motivation for them to be together in the next scene?

There has to be romantic tension. Meaning, they’re saying and doing one thing but feeling and wanting another

She says, upon rejecting his invitation to a date or even after a spontaneous kiss, “Let’s be friends.”

He says, “But, um, yea, whatever…”

The next scene or even the next two cannot be the hero and heroine hanging out!


Because their romantic feelings have surfaced and one is standing off the other.

BTW, make sure you have a good reason and motivation for that stand off, too.

If you want your H & H to be together, which is great because it increases tension, then create a viable scenario.

This is why I love when an H & H are somehow forced to be together by circumstances, job or pressure.

In How To Catch A Prince (Feb 24th from Zondervan) I needed the H & H to be together but there were NO reasons.

The Prince was fighting being together.

So I had the heroine, Corina, be invited to the palace for dinner and then applied family pressure for them to attend a movie premier together.

In Denise Hunter’s Barefoot Summer, the heroine is forced to be with the hero to learn sailing.

So no matter if they are getting along or not, there’s another sailing lesson on the horizon to keep them on the same page.

I know we try to always have motivation, but sometimes we inadvertently lack in the motivation department.

Next up…

Another motivation issue.

If your hero or heroine chose to do something against their nature, or in the face of their pain or fears, show proper reason and motivation.

If your heroine is afraid of cemeteries, and you’ve made that clear throughout the first part of the book, (with proper reasons of course) then don’t have her go visit her Granny’s grave because she wants to “talk things over with her.”

Show the heroine or hero kicking and screaming into that scene! They have to be pushed by some external circumstance.

But when they DO enter into that painful place, take the reader along and let them feel the pain and emotion with the characters.

Don’t sum up the scene, “And so she went to see Granny’s grave.”

Or, “Finally, she could face her fear. Later, while eating with Bob…”

Take us inside the heart and mind of the character. Give us the emotion. Let us see and feel what the characters see and feel.

No cheating.

No shortcuts.

Now, go write something emotional and brilliant. 


Writing Romance: No Cheating Allowed! by Rachel Hauck (Click to Tweet)

There has to be romantic tension.~ Rachel Hauck (Click to Tweet)

Take us inside the heart and mind of the character.~ Rachel Hauck (Click to Tweet)

Main Photo Copyright: lawren / 123RF Stock Photo

New York Times, USA Today ​and Wall Street Journal best-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a past ACFW mentor of the year. A worship leader and Buckeye football fan, Rachel lives in Florida with her husband and ornery cat, Hepzibah. Read more about Rachel atwww.rachelhauck.com.