Often a novel revision benefits from the addition of a love interest. It may be a first love between 12 year olds or a more passionate teen love. Or it could be parental love or love of a pet. Emotional attachment or spicy relationships make the perfect subplot.
The Classic Romantic Plot
In the classic romance plot, there are three steps: Boy Meets Girl; Boy Can’t Have Girl; Boy Gets Girl. Of course, there are many variations on this plot, depending on your characters, so make the necessary substitutions as needed. (Character A meets Character B, and so forth.)
Boy Meets Girl:
The love interests must meet in the first act, often in the first scene, and they should be immediately attracted to one another. They may not admit this attraction, or this may be a “forbidden love” for some reason. For example, Mom may say that the family can’t get a cat because Grandma is allergic to cats. Or, it could be a more serious clash of two rival clans that keeps the pair apart.
Things to include in Act 1: First meeting of Boy/Girl.
Any setup needed to split the two apart.
Boy Can’t Have Girl:
At the end of Act I, there is usually an inciting incident. For this subplot to work, the inciting incident needs to also separate the pair. Handsome Fella buys the factory, only to close and move it, which infuriates Gorgeous Dame, whose father started the factory and her allegiance is to the displaced workers. Everything in Act II and most of Act III puts the romantic pair at odds.
Things to include in Act II and most of Act III: conflict. Never let the two have a moment of intimacy — unless there’s a stolen kiss, of course. With immediate bittersweet regret.
Boy Gets Girl:
Ah, but not until the main plot is solved. The climax of the main plot takes up lots of space, but you should leave the resolution of the romantic subplot until after the climax. All the excitement of the climax scene is brought to bear on the resolution of the pair’s feud. And in the end, they kiss (the perfect kiss!) and ride off into the sunset together.
It’s one of the most often used subplots for good reason; it allows characters one last emotional tug at the audiences heart.
Don’t think that all has to end in successl.
Tragedies serve just as well: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
Fiction Notes by Email
When a new post appears on Fiction Notes, we'll send it to you by email.
We love to make it easy for you!