I have kind of a weird problem…
How do you stop two characters from having romantic tension?
I know…I said it was weird. Usually I would be asking how to create romantic tension. In fact, I have asked that question many times in my life. Not this time of course, oh no. This time, I’m over 20k deep into a novella and I’m finding that the two characters—who I absolutely need not to have any romantic tension in order for the whole plot to work—keep making eyes at each other.
What even is this? Where was this energy when I wrote that Regency Romance two years ago?
And I keep trying to steer the characters away from each other and then on the next page I accidentally steer them right back. It’s a very strange problem to have, but one that got me thinking…
The thing is. I don’t actually know that they have romantic chemistry. I mean, I think they do. I see it all over the place. But maybe I’m just seeing it because I don’t want to see it. Maybe I’m just worrying over nothing. Maybe I could hand this story to a hundred different people and none of them would see what I see in it. How do I know whether to trust my instincts or not?
Writing is an uncertain game. There are no concrete rules. No time limits. No points to be won. I can’t know that what I think is in this novella is actually there until I finish, edit, and actually show it to other people, but there’s a lot of time and work that needs to go into it before I can get someone else’s opinion on it. And frankly, that’s a big time investment only to find out that I’ve written something that’s not at all what I’d intended. But that’s writing, specifically long-form writing. You can never know you’re doing the right thing for a story until you’re done, and even then, there are no guarantees. Every reader is going to see things just a shade differently than the next.
It sounds like I’m getting down on the process of writing here. I don’t mean to. I love it. And I hate it. And I’m confounded by it.
But it’s all I want to do.
So, if anyone has any suggestions about how to stop characters from having romantic tension, I’m totally open to them because I’m going to have to rely on my gut here that the story is going in the direction I think it is. And if you have any suggestions on how to feel more certain of my own assessment of my work, I’m here for that, too.