What Makes a Good Love Story?

I just finished reading Clockwork Princess by Cassandra Clare--and I cried my eyes out because it was just SO good!! And one thing I know about myself is that I'm a total sucker for a good love story. I love the tummy tingly feeling of two people finding out they like the other, of their touches, the obstacles, their kisses--I'm a sap and I love it ALL!

So I've come to the conclusion that I want to write a love story. Not just a love story, but a die-hard, kickbutt, do-or-die love story where you just love and admire the characters and root for them at all costs and think about them once you close the pages and swoon over the guy (because, hello, Will Herondale, anyone? :-p).

And that's gotten me thinking----What makes a good love story?

I put together my favorites (Jane Eyre, Romeo and Juliet, Twilight, The Infernal Devices trilogy, and Wuthering Heights) and tried to find the common factors.

Here's what I've come up with!

1. They all have a charming/intriguing (sometimes hot) dude with some type of mystery. Edward's a vampire; Heathcliff is a gyspy child from who-knows-where; Will has a heart-wrenching secret reason for being a jerk; Romeo is from the family Juliet's family hates; Rochester has a wife that Jane doesn't know about.

2. There always seems to be a 3rd, interfering party that makes them question or that challenges their love. Cathy and Linton, Jacob, Jem (though I LOVE Jem too for Tessa, which I think is why their story was so heart-wrenching!), Paris wants to marry Juliet, and Rochester's wife.

3. They all have high stakes where the characters face the prospect of NOT being with the one they love. In some cases that's death. As for Jane, Tessa, and Cathy, it's marrying someone else; for Bella it was Edward disappearing on her.

4. And many end in death or misery because they risked EVERYTHING for their love, and lost. In this case, I'm thinking of stories like Anna Karenina, Romeo and Juliet, Lancelot and Guinevere, and Tristan and Isolde. I much prefer the happy endings though!!

And Jane Eyre is my favorite favorite favorite of them all. Sigh.

Can you think of any common factors I've missed? And what's your favorite love story?


Erin L. Funk said...

First of all, I love the picture of La Belle Dame Sans Merci you posted. The Keats poem actually plays a role in my WIP. I also love the description of the "do-or-die" type romance you want to write. In my opinion, those are always the best stories. It's really hard for me to pick a favourite romantic book, because there are so many that I would willingly read again and again just for the swoon factor: Jane Eyre, The Night Circus, Lola and the Boy Next Door, Grave Mercy...The list is very long! Great post and I hope you end up writing a kick butt romance!

Carrie-Anne said...

I like saga-length love stories like Gone with the Wind and Forever Amber, with a star-crossed couple who's constantly prevented from being together permanently, with other romantic partners in between.

I couldn't finish Jane Eyre when I chose it as my novel for my 7th grade English 8H novels unit, though I scored an 82 on the test by picking the essay section. It still squicks me out that Mr. Rochester is old enough to be Jane's dad, something I don't find at all romantic.

Leigh Covington said...

Love stories can be so great! I like that you've captured some of what makes the best ones so special. I'm still working on my romance skills, but I LOVE reading them!

T Drecker said...

I devoured this post! I'm currently working on my first romantic WIP (my kids are laughing, saying I don't have a romantic bone in my body -nice, huh?), but I'm determined. It WILL be romantic and these tips just helped :)

ilima said...

I think I was summoning Mr. Darcy when I wrote one of my books...the two characters hated each other for much of the book and grew to love each other. People who have read it say that was their favorite part, that they didn't like each other at all at the start. I'm writing another book with that element in it too now and it's so much fun.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

I do love Romeo and Juliet. You definitely hit some great points and wish you the best in writing your love story.

Emily R. King said...

A man with a mystery is hard to turn away from, that's for sure! Great post, Courtney. So wonderful to finally have met you in person!

ilima said...

Hi Cortney...you won a $20 B&N giftcard on my blog! Email me your mailing address so I can get it to you. ilimatodd AT gmail DOT com. Congrats!

Nas said...

Great post. And congrats on winning Courtney!


Leigh Covington said...

I'm a sucker for a good love story too, and I haven't read that book so I need to get it on my list. I love Pride & Prejudice!

Morgan said...

Ohhhh... and I can't wait to read YOUR epic love story, Cort!!!! Totally spot on---great post!!!!

Unknown said...

Oh, Will Herondale--be still my beating heart. Oh, Edward--really be still my beating heart. I love a great love story too. I enjoyed reading your points of what makes a great love story. Spot on, girl and great post.

My favorite love story is... from a book called Traitor by Saundra Grey (WWII LDS fiction). Rolf and Marie--love their story of overcoming all odds.

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