Why You Should Add Romance to Your Story

Celeste Davidson
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Look at her, I would die for her. I would kill for her. Either way, what bliss.
— Gomez, The Addams Family

Which genre would you say The Addams Family falls into? Maybe you think “supernatural,” “comedy” or the best of both worlds: "dark comedy." What may not spring to mind is romance.
Yet, Morticia and Gomez’s relationship is iconic, and quintessential to the cartoon turned sitcom turned movie series. Without this romantic element, the family dynamics would, well, flatline. (Not to mention we’d miss out on 11/10 hilarious but also sweet lines like the one above.)
In a recent poll, we asked which non-romance story you believe has the most interesting couple. Who won? Well, unsurprisingly, “they’re creepy and they’re kooky, mysterious and spooky!”

Which of these non-romance stories has the most interesting couple?

The Addams Family (Morticia and Gomez) 75%

Star Wars (Han Solo and Leia) 12%

Charlie Brown and the Little Red-Haired Girl 6%

Toy Story (Woody and Bo Peep) 3%

Orange Is the New Black (Piper and Alex) 2%

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (Aunt Viv and Uncle Phil) 2%

What this confirms is that romance isn’t limited to the romance genre—and shouldn’t be. Even when it’s secondary to the plot, it offers a range of possibilities to liven up your narrative. Here are several ways you can make your non-romance story stronger by including a romantic element.

Six reasons to incorporate romance into your story
1. Romance is the most popular subplot, and rightfully so.
The story world is full of romantic subplots, from The Hunger Games to Anne of Green Gables. When done right, they don’t feel like a dead end but a secondary layer of conflict that is equally exciting. Many readers love romance (see our earlier blog, “You Should Take Advantage of Romance's Popularity”), and it can act as a most intriguing subplot.
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Characters are story. And any great plot or subplot is driven by the characters' wants and desires.
— Robert Gregory Browne

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2. It makes your story world and characters more believable.
Romance is something we all want in our lives. When we see characters grappling with it, they come across as more relatable. Since it’s so desired in our existence as humans, story worlds often feels incomplete without some element of love. For example, even though it’s a plastic, battery-powered world in Toy Story, Woody's blossoming relationship with Bo Peep humanizes him.
3. Romance raises the stakes and offers character motivation.
What is your character fighting for? Are they driven by a significant other waiting for them at home? Or maybe they’re trying to impress a potential love interest. Love is a powerful motivator. When there’s a relationship hinging on the outcome of the plot, we become more invested. Once we see how passionately Gomez loves Morticia, danger to her well-being feels earth-shattering.
4. Relationships drive character development.
Our experiences with love, good and bad, change us. Romance is an excellent catalyst for character transformation in stories as well. Maybe your protagonist grows to realize they deserve love too, or that they’re better off alone for the time being.
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All my characters start a little selfish and grow in compassion. There's nothing more important! Romances are not just about sex, they're about personal growth and relationships.
— C. D. Reiss

5. Romantic scenes can provide relief from the tension of your story.
Sometimes your reader needs a break from the stress of that galactic battle or investigation of a serious crime. Think of romance as a palate cleanser. Like a moment of humor, it gives your reader a chance to exhale and relieve tension. Then back to the action! For example, in The Empire Strikes Back, not only does Han and Leia’s kiss alleviate the strain between them, but it’s provides a break from making repairs on the Falcon after an intense pursuit from the Imperial Fleet.
6. Romance lets us see another side of your characters.
Not sure how to work in that backstory? Let your character explain it to a new love interest, so we can learn alongside them in a natural way. Plus, since your character speaks differently to a love interest than to a friend or colleague, this offers the opportunity for us to see another side of them.

Having said all this, not every story needs an element of romance. But don’t discount its value just because you aren’t writing a romance story, per se. And, however you choose to incorporate love, don’t sprinkle some in for the heck of it. Once incorporated, take a step back and ensure that your story wouldn’t be the same without it.
Try this: Write a few lines of a letter in which a character expresses their love for another in a passionate but comedic way, like Morticia and Gomez. Be sure to send us your paragraph so we can share our favorites next week!
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Update, some of the best responses to the prompt:
Dear Suzanne,
You make me tremble like a babbling brook. The feelings I have for you are endless. I feel attached to you like jam on a graham cracker. This attachment is spine tingling to me. I wish you well as I love you with great passion.
Regards,
Hamilton
— Keith
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