what makes readers fall for the love interest? And how to avoid being trite?

editing_for_authors
Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

Lone Wolf

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 15, 2018
Messages
209
Reaction score
14
Location
Australia
I googled books of similar genre (memoir that is BDSM flavoured love story) that I am writing to see what what the market/competition is like. Reading reviews gave me some tips on what to avoid.
One reader complained that the romance was trite. Another review of another book said she was given no reason to fall for the 'hero' - the author said repeatedly how much she (the MC) was in love with her partner, but the reader could see no reason for it.

These are pitfalls I'd like to avoid, but how? This is perhaps too general a question, but any tips on how to ensure/help the reader fall for the hero/love-interest in my story?
What makes a romance sound trite? Definition of trite is lacking originality or freshness; dull on account of overuse. It's hard to see how a love story can be completely original
 

Marian Perera

starting over
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Dec 29, 2006
Messages
14,170
Reaction score
4,050
Location
Heaven is a place on earth called Toronto.
Website
www.marianperera.com
These are pitfalls I'd like to avoid, but how? This is perhaps too general a question, but any tips on how to ensure/help the reader fall for the hero/love-interest in my story?

As ElaineA said, which one are you writing, a romance or a memoir?

There's no point in, for instance, our offering romance-based tips and getting a reply of, "Thanks, but that didn't actually happen in the real-life story I'm telling, so I can't use it."

What makes a romance sound trite? Definition of trite is lacking originality or freshness; dull on account of overuse. It's hard to see how a love story can be completely original

Could you define "completely original"? For example, does it mean a romance/love story (not the same thing, by the way) where every single trope or idea is one that has not been used in this genre before?

I can think of a lot of romances I've read which were unusual and fascinating. But I'd rather not waste time mentioning them if we've got different ideas of what's original.
 
Last edited:

Lone Wolf

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 15, 2018
Messages
209
Reaction score
14
Location
Australia
Thanks. Yes it is a memoir (with the aim of it reading like a novel), so yeah I can't invent a heroic action for him. In real life, to fall in love, it's enough to have a connection and chemistry and for him to be a nice, decent person. But is this enough to make the reader fall for a character on a page?
When writing a romance, are there particular qualities you need/like to demonstrate in your hero to make him swoon-worthy? Are there some particular traits that translate better across the page than others?

In terms of originality vs trite - I guess I don't really know what I'm asking. I wish I knew why the reviewer described a particular memoir as trite. It was surprising to see this in regards to a memoir; it's not like it was simply a formulaic romance. Obviously I can't change what happened to make it more original (I think it is somewhat atypical anyway, but I also suspect that any love story, true or fiction could be fitted into a trope so I doubt the value or possibility to completely avoid tropes.) I wonder if it's not the plot that makes something seem trite but the way it's written?
 

Marian Perera

starting over
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Dec 29, 2006
Messages
14,170
Reaction score
4,050
Location
Heaven is a place on earth called Toronto.
Website
www.marianperera.com
Thanks. Yes it is a memoir (with the aim of it reading like a novel), so yeah I can't invent a heroic action for him. In real life, to fall in love, it's enough to have a connection and chemistry and for him to be a nice, decent person. But is this enough to make the reader fall for a character on a page?

It depends. Different readers look for different things from the characters they fall for. Plus, I don't know what else is there for your character besides his niceness and decency - e.g. his past, what he wants or believes in, what he does, and so on.

Finally, when I pick up a romance, I want to fall for the hero. I don't feel that way when I pick up a memoir. Which is not to say it won't or cannot happen, just that I don't have that mindset for memoirs.

When writing a romance, are there particular qualities you need/like to demonstrate in your hero to make him swoon-worthy? Are there some particular traits that translate better across the page than others?

Yes, but is this applicable to writing a memoir?

In terms of originality vs trite - I guess I don't really know what I'm asking. I wish I knew why the reviewer described a particular memoir as trite.

Once you finish your memoir, see what your beta readers say about it. If the reviewer didn't say what was trite, it doesn't seem like a productive use of time to wonder about this.
 

frimble3

Heckuva good sport
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Oct 7, 2006
Messages
8,896
Reaction score
1,615
Location
west coast, canada
What memoir did the reviewer describe as 'trite'? If you've already mentioned it, I'm sorry, I must have missed it.
If your character had an unspectacular life, no need to make stuff up to make him more heroic, or more impressive. There is dignity and worth in a simple life lived to the best of one's ability.
The man who lives his life in a small, circumscribed world, but lived that life while struggling with the usual difficulties of life: job, wife, children, etc. Ethical dilemmas, hard choices, and the like, that's what shows what an actual person is made of.
Fictional characters have to have 'big' things happen, because a made-up story of regular day-to-day events seems sort of pointless.
 

Marian Perera

starting over
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Dec 29, 2006
Messages
14,170
Reaction score
4,050
Location
Heaven is a place on earth called Toronto.
Website
www.marianperera.com
Fictional characters have to have 'big' things happen, because a made-up story of regular day-to-day events seems sort of pointless.

I actually read a historical romance like this. The hero and heroine go through old papers together and install interior plumbing. Then the heroine learns to bake a certain type of cake, plus she adopts a dog, while the hero talks to a close friend.

It was one of the most boring stories I've read, because nothing happened. It was just a chronicle of the ordinary lives of two nice people, and as you said, small and routine just doesn't work for fictional characters, especially not when the same simple, mundane events are happening day in and day out.
 

Lone Wolf

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 15, 2018
Messages
209
Reaction score
14
Location
Australia
I actually read a historical romance like this. The hero and heroine go through old papers together and install interior plumbing. Then the heroine learns to bake a certain type of cake, plus she adopts a dog, while the hero talks to a close friend.

It was one of the most boring stories I've read, because nothing happened. It was just a chronicle of the ordinary lives of two nice people, and as you said, small and routine just doesn't work for fictional characters, especially not when the same simple, mundane events are happening day in and day out.

What a waste of reading time! It doesn't work for memoir either. I've read a few too many that include too much mundane.
 

Lone Wolf

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 15, 2018
Messages
209
Reaction score
14
Location
Australia
What memoir did the reviewer describe as 'trite'? If you've already mentioned it, I'm sorry, I must have missed it.
If your character had an unspectacular life, no need to make stuff up to make him more heroic, or more impressive. There is dignity and worth in a simple life lived to the best of one's ability.
The man who lives his life in a small, circumscribed world, but lived that life while struggling with the usual difficulties of life: job, wife, children, etc. Ethical dilemmas, hard choices, and the like, that's what shows what an actual person is made of.
Fictional characters have to have 'big' things happen, because a made-up story of regular day-to-day events seems sort of pointless.

The reviewer said the romance part of the memoir was trite, but not why or how. As Marian says, it's probably not worth worrying about.

I don't need to make stuff up about my hero to make him more impressive. I guess I'm worried I haven't shown enough of him and who he is for the reader to see what I see. I want to avoid a thing I've seen in both fiction and memoir - she's swooning all over him but the reader doesn't really get why. I guess I'll find out when I get some beta readers.
 

frimble3

Heckuva good sport
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Oct 7, 2006
Messages
8,896
Reaction score
1,615
Location
west coast, canada
I actually read a historical romance like this. The hero and heroine go through old papers together and install interior plumbing. Then the heroine learns to bake a certain type of cake, plus she adopts a dog, while the hero talks to a close friend.

It was one of the most boring stories I've read, because nothing happened. It was just a chronicle of the ordinary lives of two nice people, and as you said, small and routine just doesn't work for fictional characters, especially not when the same simple, mundane events are happening day in and day out.

I think the difference is that if you're writing a memoir, well, you play the hand you're dealt: sometimes people just live boring, average lives. (Although there are ways around it - for instance, show all the little ways two people's small routines enhance their lives and bring them together.)

But if you're writing fiction, you knowingly chose to give them boring, average lives and the reader has to ask why? Why are they reading your book rather than calling Aunt Jane and asking her how it's going, which would have much the same effect and make an old lady happy.
 

Carrie in PA

Write All The Words!
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Aug 25, 2006
Messages
1,942
Reaction score
1,075
Location
in my own little world
Did *you* read that memoir? Do you agree/disagree with the reviewer? Does their review make sense? If you just googled the book and read the reviews, then they're out of context anyway, so I'd heartily second Marian's advice to not spend any more time worrying about it.
 

veinglory

volitare nequeo
Staff member
Moderator
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 12, 2005
Messages
28,726
Reaction score
2,902
Location
right here
Website
www.veinglory.com
I don't see any need for me as the reader to love the love interest, I just want to see why/how the person who loves them fell for them.
 

ElaineA

All about that action, boss.
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jan 17, 2013
Messages
6,865
Reaction score
3,033
Location
The Seattle suburbs
Website
www.reneedominick.com
There is a piece of “writing advice” to the effect of, “I don’t need to like the character, I just need to find them interesting.” I think this is double true in memoir. Ideally, I want to like the narrator, but I don't necessarily have to like (or love) the people in the narrator's life.

So, the question for me is, what is the primary focus of the memoir? Is it primarily about the romance, or is the romance just one of many elements of the overall story the memoir is telling?

If it’s the first, then I would expect to see what it is the narrator sees and feels about this person in a lot of depth. Why they are attracted, what it is about the other person that is so compelling to them. I don’t need it molded into a trope, because I’m reading someone’s true experiences. My expectation is that I will see and feel the development of that relationship and how it affects the narrator's life.

If it’s the second, then I suppose I can understand how it could come across “trite” if the love interest is just slotted into the story as “one more thing in my life.” In the second case, I still think it's important for the reader to see and understand the how's and why's of the narrator’s attraction, it’s just a matter of showing it in a less comprehensive way. I suspect making sure the love-interest-person is a full-bodied character, not a cardboard cut-out, will go a long way to avoiding it feeling like an element of the narrator’s life that is shallow or meaningless. Or “trite.”
 

Kbars

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Apr 13, 2019
Messages
81
Reaction score
10
Location
Willamette Valley, Oregon
One reader complained that the romance was trite. Another review of another book said she was given no reason to fall for the 'hero' - the author said repeatedly how much she (the MC) was in love with her partner, but the reader could see no reason for it.

I have a different perspective. First of all when someone says the romance was trite it is difficult to reason why the reviewer felt that way. The other reviewer said they did not fall for the hero. I suspect it was because the author did not develop an emotional connection with the reader. A character doesn't to even be likable to be well...um...liked.

Look at Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies. He definitely was not likable. I hated him! But I did like him. Now examine young Anakin Skywalker in episode I, II, and III. Likable? Yes, young Anikin was a cute kid that was of good character. Was he liked? No. He came off as one dimensional. Episodes II, and III Anikin? Same result. I suspect it was more the acting and not the writing. Actors get scripts and have to improvise emotion. The two actors they picked failed in that task.

Here is what I recommend. Don't worry about whether your character is likable or not. This can help, but people are funny. If they can develop an emotional connection with the hero they will like him even if he is bad.

How is this done? Fist step is to avoid writing stuff like,

Eric smiled happily and said to Alexandra "Good morning."
The reader will not experience his happiness. You need to instead say,

Eric had a relaxed appearance as his prominent cheekbones raised as he smiled. He grasped Alexandra by the shoulder and said, "Good morning."
This isn't the best example. I made that up on the fly. Do you see the difference? In example two, the reader will know that Eric is happy without the author saying so. As a side benefit, the reader should experience this as well. The reader may even interpret many other emotions as well. Love, desire, adoration.

This is not easy. You need to choose the correct words to express the correct emotions. You may not want someone to misinterpret desire for lust for instance. It is so much harder to express emotions than saying them. But it is definitely worth it.

I know, I know...this is getting off topic. When I answer questions on these boards I like to think I am helping others, but as a side benefit, I am refining how I feel or think about a subject and I go with it.
 

Lone Wolf

Super Member
Registered
Joined
Jul 15, 2018
Messages
209
Reaction score
14
Location
Australia
Thanks Kbars! I'm keep that in mind.
I actually thought lust and sexual desire was the same thing
 

Jan74

Kind Benefactor
Super Member
Registered
Joined
Feb 10, 2017
Messages
1,072
Reaction score
134
Location
Canada
First off I take all reviews for what they are: someone else's opinion. And...you know what they say about opinions right?

One of my favorite books ever, is Morning Glory by LaVyrle Spencer but for some they would consider it boring and mundane, and yet I liked the everyday things that happen in the book. What captivated me were these two people who were down on their luck and came together.

I think you need to write what you like. I guarantee not everyone will like what you write. Take Fifty shades.....millions of people loved that series, and yet you can find bad reviews on it...I for one hated those books....but so what....other people enjoyed them. I loved Twilight....and many others hated it. I could go on and on, but what matters is other people's opinions didn't stop these authors from publishing. There are many best sellers out there that I think are total crap....but people buy them and love them.

As for originality...when it comes to romance, I think everything has been written, but what makes it unique is how it is written. Love triangles have been done over and over...but that shouldn't stop you from writing one if you want to.

My w.i.p has been painful to finish....I'm almost at the end of my first draft, and I get those self doubts of "everyone will hate this, this is corny, stupid etc" but I won't let that stop me. If one day I publish it and nobody likes it, I will be hurt yes...but I will learn and move on and keep writing what feels good to me.
.
 

Happy Thanksgiving

Autumn image for Thanksgiving