How to Write a Love Story: The Definitive Guide to the Most Popular Type of Story

by Joe Bunting | 0 comments

Love stories appear everywhere in the films we watch, books we read, and shows we binge.

How to Write a Love Story

Sometimes these love stories are the center of the plot, like in Pride and Prejudice or The Notebook, popular examples of romance novels and film. Sometimes they're a subplot, like in The Hunger Games or Ready Player One. Other times they're hidden, looking more like a journey of friendship than a traditional romance, like in The Shawshank Redemption or Good Will Hunting or even The Blind Side.

Love stories make up a popular genre in and of themselves, the romance genre, but they also are at the heart of many of the most well-regarded stories in history, including Homer's Iliad, Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises, and also more recent, prize winning novels like All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer and Less by Andrew Sean Greer.

Which is all to say, if you want to write novels or screenplays, you probably need to know how to write a love story.

In this guide, we're going to explore love stories of all kinds, from the ones that end “happily ever after” to tragic love stories and even stories that don't look like love stories but actually are. We'll talk about the elements of love stories, their structure and arcs, the best love story examples to study, and finally how to actually write one of your own.

Here's a table of contents for this guide:

But first, what is a love story, really?

What’s your plot type? Find out with our new Plot Type Assessment, a short quiz that acts like a personality test for your book. Plus, you’ll get a our new course, Plot Type Mastery, free for a limited time. Take the plot type assessment.

 

What Is a Love Story: Love Story Definition

A love story is a narrative centered around the progression of two characters' relationship as they deal with internal and external obstacles to be together. Love stories explore the value of belonging and love, usually romantic love, and deal with the emotional and interpersonal forces of attraction, connection, desire, trust, vulnerability, betrayal, and commitment.

That being said, not all love stories are about romantic love. Some involve friendship, community, and belonging, and we will explore these types of stories as well.

So there you go. That's what a love story is, now let's talk about their different components.

Elements of Love Stories

There are nine types of stories, and each type has its own unique elements, structure, and conventions that readers expect. Love story is no different.

If you want to write love story, it's important to understand the expected elements, even if you choose to circumvent them. While story types are extremely flexible, allowing infinite variations within the established forms, there are almost always a few of the following things in every successful story within this type.

Let's look at the elements and conventions of love stories:

1. Core Value Scale: Love/Belonging vs. Hate/Isolation

Maslow's hierarchy of needs places love and belonging on the third level of universal human values.

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs for Writers

To have your needs met, to be truly fulfilled, humans must have a sense of belonging, of tribe, family, and connection with each other. Belonging has a deep link to feelings of safety, since being part of a tribe meant protection and shared resources to our early ancestors (not to mention any characters stuck in a dystopian plot!).

But historically, humans have also believed that we can't be fully ourselves, to reach our true potential, until we find not just our group but our partner, usually a romantic partner.

In fact, the way that storytellers have usually shown belonging within a group or society as a whole is through the relationship between two people, in the form of romantic love.

Mixed in with this human need and value of belonging are the forces of desire and sexual attraction, which is what makes this story type, and often storytelling itself, so vibrant, complicated, and exciting!

Of course, many great stories don't involve romantic relationships: think Frodo and Sam in The Lord of the Rings or the relationship between Harry, Ron, and Hermione in Harry Potter or the caring love between Jean Valjean and first Fantine and then her daughter Cosette. These are all still powerful love stories, that follow the love story plot type, while also not being romantic.

Love story truly is one of most powerful and flexible plot types.

Love story value scale: love vs. hate

Sub values: attraction/desire vs. repulsion, trust/commitment/vulnerability vs. betrayal

2. High Stakes

All stories must have stakes, things at risk if things don't go well in the story.

For a romance story, the stakes usually center around isolation and loneliness, as well as losing their soul mate, the loss of future happiness, and potentially even ruining their lives.

For historical romance stories about women, there was also a real physical threat, since the loss of a prospective partner could mean financial destitution, ruin, and the lack of physical safety.

Whatever the stakes are for your story, they must be significantly high enough and the consequences must be clearly shown if the character doesn't achieve them.

3. The Character Archetypes of Love Stories

All stories are about characters, and in love stories, there are certain types of characters who have appeared so many times over so many years, even centuries, that they've become character archetypes, patterns for characters that are near universal in storytelling.

You should have one character (and sometimes more) for each of these categories (i.e. protagonist, love interest, rival, and sidekick), but you certainly don't need to use these or any archetypes. Hopefully, though, they will help inspire a character of your own and clue you into the common patterns and structures in love stories.

Below are some of the common character archetypes specific to love stories.

Protagonist Archetypes

First is the protagonist, the character the story is about. This character appears in every story, not just love stories. While I usually only recommend having one protagonist, because it drastically increases the complexity and difficulty of the writing process, love stories are the only type that I'm begrudgingly ok with having two protagonists, the couple. There are also some common archetypes for protagonists, including, but not limited to:

  • The Idealist. A character who believes in “true love” and “soul mates” and has been desperately waiting to find theirs.
  • The (Loveable) Rake. A character with plenty of romantic experience and who has a long history of using their charm and self-confidence to pursue (and possibly manipulate) their love interests, but one who also has a vulnerable, even soft-hearted side few ever see that makes them sympathetic. (Without the vulnerable side, they would make a better villain than a protagonist!)
  • The Lone Wolf. A character with a dark past and history of emotional pain who has become distrusting of people as a result and must let their guard down in order to experience love and connection.
  • The Knight in Shining Armor. A protective, loyal, and competent character who may attempt to rescue their love interest in the process of the story.
  • The Rebel, With or Without a Cause. A character who is independent, unconventional, and perhaps cynical, and finds themselves challenging the expectations of society and potentially the love interest. This type often blends with other archetypes.

Love Interest Archetypes

Of course, for it to be considered a love story, the protagonist must also have a love interest. This may be a co-protagonist in some stories or romance books.. Here are some common character archetypes for love interests:

  • The Girl or Guy Next Door. A familiar yet newly exotic character who has recently emerged to capture the protagonist's attention.
  • The Out of Reach Love Interest. A character who, due to their status, wealth, or other factors, seems unattainable (but of course, they eventually fall for the protagonist, since this is a love story!).
  • The “Best Friend.” A longtime friend who, at some point in or before the story, begins to foster romantic feelings

Rivals Archetypes

Almost all all compelling romance stories have a rival, either a second love interest to make the protagonist's choice more complicated, or someone also pursuing the love interest, increasing the obstacles. The presence of the rival creates a love triangle, one of the central elements of love stories, which we'll talk about in a moment. Here are some common archetypes for the rival:

    • The Ex. A former romantic partner who reappears just at the right time to cause emotional mayhem.
    • The (Unlovable) Rake. A charming but manipulative character who attempts to seduce either the protagonist or love interest for selfish reasons.
    • The Unrequited Love. Someone likes someone else, but they don't feel the same way. Drama!
    • The “Perfect” Match. A character who seems perfect for the protagonist, but who just doesn't have the right “spark.”

Sidekick

Nearly all love stories have a sidekick character, a friend of the protagonist who characterizes and aids the protagonist and usually gives to story some humor. Often these sidekick characters will even have their own subplot story arc. Think about Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet or Jane from Pride and Prejudice. Sidekick characters can have their own archetypes in love stories, including:

  • The Promiscuous Sidekick. The promiscuous sidekick is more experienced (or at least more interested) in romantic pursuits, particularly of the more carnal variety, and is usually pared with a more inexperienced protagonist to draw them out and challenge them. Example: Casey from 27 Dresses.
  • The Idealist Sidekick. Believing in “true love” and “soul mates,” the idealist is best paired with a protagonist who is more cynical. Example: Casey Sedgewick from Hitch (what's up with all the sidekicks named Casey?).
  • The Funny and Supportive Sidekick. Caring, kind, and always supportive, this sidekick is best paired with a protagonist with a difficult past.
  • The Nervous Sidekick. Rule-following and concerned, this supportive sidekick should be paired with a protagonist who is more daring. Example: The Nurse from Romeo and Juliet.

Again, you don't need to use any of these specific character archetypes, but you should create at least one character for each of these broad categories: protagonist, love interest, rival, and sidekick. Feel free to use the above archetypes as inspiration or invent your own!

Which of these character archetypes are your favorite? Which do you have in your story? Let us know in the comments.

4. Obligatory Scenes

Every story type has certain scenes that the audience expects, scenes that if you don't provide, romance readers will be disappointed. These scenes provide emotional payoffs, contribute to character development, and advance the narrative in a way that is both satisfying and familiar to the audience.

However, there is a tension there, too, because you must both provide something that is both familiar and new to the audience.

These obligatory scenes vary based on the story's arc, as well, but here are the obligatory scenes that need to exist in most love stories:

Obligatory Scenes in a Traditional Love Story

  1. Meet-cute (inciting incident): The “meet-cute” is a hollywood term for the first meeting between the protagonist and love interest that sets up their relationship. These scenes are often funny or awkward and evoke strong feelings in the characters either of attraction or anger. At the same time, the meet-cute is often where the first obstacles to the couples potential relationship emerge (see below for obstacle examples).
  2. First connection: A moment when the characters share a meaningful connection or experience, hinting at the potential for a deeper relationship.
  3. The breakup: As the couple grows closer, there is an event or realization that causes creates tension and highlighting the seemingly insurmountable obstacles to the relationship.
  4. The realization: Now separated after the breakup, one or both of the couple realizes any obstacles are meaningless in the face of their need and desire for their partner.
  5. The proof of love (climax): One or both of the characters undergoes a dramatic declaration or proof of their love, resolving or proving their willingness to resolve the obstacles in the way of their relationship.
  6. Last kiss (denouement): In the final scene of the story, the couple close with a final kiss, showing how they have overcome their obstacles and begun a bright future together.

Keep in mind that these obligatory scenes almost completely describe a specific love story arc called the Cinderella Arc, which is the most common arc for romantic comedies. See the story arc diagram below.

However, love stories come in all shapes (or ways to map their story arcs), including man in a hole (or double man in a hole), rags to riches, icarus, and Oedipus. Some of the above obligatory scenes might be tweaked or even removed depending on the story's arc.

For example, a man in a hole love story plot will feature a seemingly happy couple, who through circumstance or betrayal, find themselves facing new obstacles in their relationship.

Obligatory Scenes for a Relationship Testing Plot

Here are the obligatory scenes for a man in a hole love story arc:

  1. Obstacles arise (inciting incident): A happy couple faces new challenges in their relationship, either through outside circumstances or internal betrayal, but in their naïveté, optimism, or loving commitment, they resolve to deal with the obstacles.
  2. The breakup: After attempting to deal with the obstacles,  they appear to be insurmountable, and the couple breaks up.
  3. The realization: Now separated after the breakup, one or both of the couple realizes they must overcome the obstacles in the face of their need and desire for their partner.
  4. The proof of love (climax): One or both of the characters undergoes a dramatic declaration or proof of their love, resolving or proving their willingness to resolve the obstacles in the way of their relationship.
  5. Last kiss (denouement): In the final scene of the story, the couple close with a final kiss, showing how they have overcome their obstacles and begun a bright future together.

As you can see, this structure is fairly similar, but the different inciting incident causes a change to the shape of the story and the feel of the following obligatory scenes.

Also, if you're writing a tragic love story, you might just have a different denouement, changing the “last kiss,” for example, to a last goodbye, or something similar.

The point is that these obligatory scenes are flexible enough to tell any love story but also will deliver the emotional payoffs your audience expects.

4. Obstacles

As with real life relationships, couples in love stories face obstacles that keep them from experiencing the sense of belonging and intimacy they desire. All love stories include obstacles, and some include many different obstacles. Here are the types of obstacles your characters might face, but draw from your own real life experiences too:

External Conflict or Obstacles:

  • Social barriers: Differences in class, religion, or culture.
  • Distance: Physical distance can test the characters' commitment and communication skills.
  • Love triangles or rivals: There's nothing like a good love triangle! Rivals create competition for one of the character's affections, which may create jealousy, force a choice between potential partners, or cause one character to betray the other.
  • Disapproving friends or family: Friends and family may not support the relationship, causing tension (and if you're the Capulets and Montagues, lots of death!).
  • Work or personal responsibilities: Careers, duties, or goals that conflict with the characters' ability to prioritize their relationship.
  • Physical limitations or deformities: physical limitations like paralysis (Me Before You), impotence (The Sun Also Rises), or illness (The Fault in Our Stars) will create major obstacles in a relationship, but physical scars or perceived deformities can also cause issues, like Cyrano's nose or the phantom of the opera's burned face (these also tend to create internal obstacles like insecurity in one or both lovers).
  • External events: natural disasters, evil vampires, car accidents, or sociopathic killers at the office Christmas party are all examples of external events that can act as obstacles to a love story.

Internal Obstacles:

  • Emotional baggage: Past trauma, heartbreak, or unresolved issues can affect the characters' ability to trust or be vulnerable.
  • Insecurity or self-doubt: One or both characters may wrestle with unworthiness or uncertainty about the relationship's viability.
  • Miscommunication or misunderstanding: Conflicts about misinterpreted actions, words, or intentions can create emotional distance between the characters.
  • Personal flaws: issues like mental health, addiction, or career pressures can create conflict.
  • Conflicting ambitions: Characters who have life goals, career aspirations, or values that challenge their compatibility and future together.
  • Infidelity or attraction to another person: Cheating or breaches of trust, whether fulfilled or felt internally.

There are as infinite number of obstacles in stories as the ones humans face in our own relationships. Use the above as inspiration or as a prompt to dive into your own experiences and the experiences of those you know to find obstacles for characters to face in your story.

How your characters deal with the obstacles to their relationship will ultimately determine whether your story ends happily or tragically.

What obstacles are your characters facing? Let us know in the comments!

5. Other Conventions or Tropes in Love Stories

Tropes are familiar patterns that recur in stories. Tropes don't appear in every story of a certain type, but they're common enough that audiences easily recognize them.

This means that tropes can be overused, even turn into clichés, but can also provide a sense of comfort and enjoyment for the reader when employed effectively or subverted.

Here are some common tropes or conventions in love stories:

  1. Opposites attract: Two characters with contrasting personalities or backgrounds find themselves drawn to each other despite (or because of!) their differences.
  2. Secrets, “if they only knew…”: Secrets that, if revealed, could significantly impact the characters' relationship.
  3. Secret identities: One or both characters conceal their true identity, creating complications, often humorous ones, in their romantic relationship (Shakespeare loved this one!).
  4. Mistaken identities: Similar to secret identities, characters are mistaken for someone else, leading to unexpected romantic complications.
  5. Forbidden love or “star-crossed lovers”: A romance that is seen as unacceptable or ill-fated due to family, group, or cultural barriers.
  6. Fake It Till You Make It: Characters pretend to be in a romantic relationship, only to develop genuine feelings for each other.
  7. Back in (Small) Town: A character returns to their hometown and either rekindles an old fling or meets someone new.
  8. Friends-to-lovers: Characters who start as friends gradually develop romantic feelings for each other.
  9. Enemies-to-lovers: Characters who begin the story in conflict or in a rivalry but eventually fall in love.
  10. Second Chance Romance: Former lovers reunite, often after overcoming past issues or misunderstandings.
  11. Love at First Sight: Characters instantly fall in love upon their first encounter, setting the stage for a passionate and whirlwind romance.
  12. Cinderella Story: A character from a lower social or economic background falls in love with someone from a much higher background.
  13. Disaster romance: A catastrophic event, like a volcano erupting in Los Angeles or assassins trying to murder them or while being chased by the soldiers of half of a kingdom, serves as the catalyst for characters falling in love.

Remember that you don't need to use all or any of the above tropes. Use them as inspiration, not as rules, and even if you do use them as inspiration, make sure to transform them somehow to serve your writing style and unique voice.

Masterworks: 27 Love Story Examples to Study

Good writers read. They study other great books within their genre, stealing and transforming what works, and subverting or putting their unique touch on the rest.

Here are twenty-seven love story masterwork novels and films of all different types that you can study to improve your own story:

Traditional Love Story

The following are traditional love stories that either end happily or tragically:

  1. Pride and Prejudice: Elizabeth Bennet navigates societal pressures and her own prejudices to find love with Mr. Darcy.
  2. Romeo and Juliet: Two young people from families with a vendetta against each other fall in love and vow to be together despite everything.
  3. Jane Eyre: An orphaned governess falls in love with her employer, Mr. Rochester, and must navigate his secret past.
  4. Gone with the Wind: During the American Civil War and Reconstruction, Scarlett O'Hara fights to survive and find love.
  5. The Notebook: A poor boy wins the heart of a rich girl and fight to stay together despite family opposition and later, the challenges of aging.
  6. Outlander: A World War II nurse is transported back in time to 18th century Scotland, where she falls in love with a Highland warrior and navigates political and personal challenges.
  7. Titanic: A wealthy young woman falls in love with a poor artist aboard the Titanic, but their romance is challenged when the ship begins to sink.
  8. Casablanca: In Morocco during World War II, a cynical nightclub owner must decide between his lost lover and his moral and political ideals.
  9. When Harry Met Sally: Can men and women be friends? Two friends attempt to be friends and possibly more over the course of many years.

Love Stories About Group Belonging

Some love stories are as much about belonging to a group as romantic love with an individual. After all, belonging is one of Maslow's main levels in his hierarchy of needs, and the way that writers throughout history have illustrated belonging with a group is through belonging within romantic love. Here are a few stories that show this kind of love story about belonging to a group:

  1. Ian Miller and Toula's Greek Family in My Big Fat Greek Wedding: Ian, a non-Greek man, struggles to win over his fiancée Toula's large, traditional Greek family, eventually finding acceptance and a sense of belonging.
  2. Vianne and the French town in Chocolat: Vianne, an unwed mother of a young daughter, gradually transforms the rigid attitudes of a small French town through charm and delicious chocolates.
  3. Jess and her family in Bend it Like Beckham: Jess, a British-Indian teenager, goes against her family's traditional expectations by pursuing her dream of playing soccer, ultimately gaining her family's support and helping them embrace a new worldview.
  4. Michael Oher and the family in The Blind Side: A wealthy, white family takes in Michael, a homeless African-American teenager, providing him with love, support, and opportunities that lead to his success in football and a sense of belonging within their family.
  5. Hassan Haji and the French restaurant world in Hundred Foot Journey: A prodigy chef, Hassan, faces cultural barriers and competition as he enters the French culinary world, eventually finding success and acceptance as his talent and cultural background win over skeptics.
  6. Joe Rantz and the Washington crew team in The Boys in the Boat: An abandoned young man must overcome the hardships of the Great Depression to bond with his team as they take on the world at the 1936 Olympics hosted by Nazi Germany.

 Love Story Subplots

Love stories don't have to be the main plot. Many of the most popular films and novels contain a love story as a subplot, including:

  1. Hunger Games: The love story subplot in the Hunger Games centers around the protagonist, Katniss and her relationships with Peeta and Gale, two boys she is attracted to for different reasons and must navigate while fighting for survival in the Hunger Games.
  2. The Lord of the Rings: In The Lord of the Rings, there are several romantic subplots that involve characters like Aragorn and Arwen and Faramir and Eowyn, but the main love story is not about romantic love but the deep friendship and loyalty between Frodo and Sam.
  3. Harry Potter: The love story subplot in Harry Potter revolves around the relationship between Harry and Ginny Weasley, but throughout there are subplots involving the bonding and friendship between the major characters, especially Harry, Ron, and Hermione.
  4. Inception: The movie explores the relationship between Cobb and his wife, the deep passion, tragic ending, and final coming to terms.
  5. The Godfather: The love story subplot in The Godfather involves the relationship between Michael Corleone and Kay, whom he marries despite his involvement in organized crime and the loss of his Italian wife, Apollonia.

Friendship Love Stories

Love stories are also not always about romantic love. Here are several love stories that involve friendship or love between a parent figure and child.

  1. Good Will Hunting: A genius MIT janitor is mentored by a psychologist and must confront his traumatic past and fear of intimacy.
  2. Nina, Sofia, and Count Rostov in A Gentleman in Moscow: An unlikely bond forms between the house-arrested Count Rostov and a precocious young girl, Nina (and later, her daughter Sofia), as they navigate life after the Communist Revolution in Russia.
  3. Jean Valjean and Cosette in Les Miserables: Ex-con Jean Valjean raises Cosette, the daughter of a dying friend, forming a deep father-daughter relationship, all while being investigated and chased by Inspector Javert.
  4. David and Jonathan in the Bible: David and Jonathan develop a deep friendship and remain loyal to each other despite the conflict between David and Jonathan's father, King Saul.
  5. Gus McRae and Woodrow Call in Lonesome Dove: Lifelong friends and retired Texas Rangers Gus McRae and Woodrow Call leave Texas with their cattle for Montana, encountering dangers and challenges along the way.
  6. Lt. Cross and Tim O'Brien in The Things They Carried: Lt. Cross and Tim O'Brien form a complex friendship as they navigate the horrors of the Vietnam War, grappling with guilt, loss, and the weight of their shared experiences.
  7. Andy and Red in Shawshank Redemption: A man wrongfully convicted of murder forms an unlikely friendship with a fellow inmate as he works to clear his name.

How to Write a Love Story

Now that we've looked at the elements of love stories and many different love story examples, how do you actually write one?

1. Start with characters you (and your audience) can relate to.

Great stories are about great characters! Begin by creating characters who can carry the plot of the story.

There are at least four that you will need, and you can use the character archetypes above to inspire or develop each of them further.

Main Characters

1. Protagonist. The protagonist carries the weight of the story, centers the plot, and drives most of the action. Make sure they are someone who makes choices and is sympathetic while not being perfect.

2. Love Interest. Love stories by nature must have a love interest!

Secondary Characters

3. Rival. Almost all love stories have love triangles! By adding a rival to your love story, you raise the stakes, create conflict, and add tension.

4. Sidekick. We all need a good wing man or woman. Sidekicks help progress the plot, characterize your protagonist and love interest, and often give the story some much needed humor. The protagonist of a love story nearly always has a sidekick, but the love interest may have one as well!

Not sure how to create great characters? Here are some resources that will help you in your characterization:

2. Create obstacles for the protagonist and their love interest.

All relationships have obstacles that we must overcome to experience true intimacy and belonging, and the relationships in love stories are no different.

Create at least one of each kind of obstacle:

  1. External Obstacles: social barriers, distance, love triangles or rivals, disapproving friends or family, work or personal responsibilities, physical limitations or deformities, or external events.
  2. Internal Obstacles: emotional baggage, insecurity or self-doubt, miscommunication or misunderstanding, personal flaws, conflicting ambitions, or infidelity or attraction to another person.

See the love story obstacles section above for more details on these types of obstacles.

3. Choose your story arc.

The arc of your story has dramatic implications on every facet of your story.

For example, are you going to have a happy ending or sad ending? Does the couple start out together or do they meet at the start of the story? Does the couple have a break up in the middle or do they gradually grow closer throughout the plot?

There are six different story arcs, six shapes that stories make, and all of them can be used in love stories. To learn more about each of them, you can read our story arc guide here.

Which story arc is right for your story?

4. Write your story as a one sentence premise.

A premise is a single sentence summary of a story (you can learn more about what a premise is and how to use it in our full premise guide here). Creating one before you start writing your story is one of the best things you can do to make sure you actually finish.

There are many benefits of summarizing your story in the form of a premise, including:

For a love story, here's a formula you can use to write your premise:

When _____ (protagonist) _______ (situation, e.g. meets the love interest), they must overcome _____ (obstacles) in order to ______ (their goal).

Give it a try!

5. Outline the obligatory scenes.

All love stories have obligatory scenes, scenes that if you don't include them, your audience will feel like something is missing.

We discussed these in detail above, but here are the obligatory scenes in a typical love story (see above for more details on each):

  1. Meet-cute
  2. First connection
  3. The breakup
  4. The realization
  5. The proof of love
  6. Last kiss

There are also variations depending on your particular arc.

These scenes typically follow the six elements of plot, which are:

  1. Exposition. The character's normal life at the start of the story.
  2. Inciting incident. An event that upsets the status quo, e.g. the meet-cute.
  3. Rising action/progressive complications. As the story progresses, things get more complicated! If there is a break up, it will occur in this section.
  4. Dilemma. The character must make an impossible choice. In a love story, this choice is usually whether or not to face the obstacles and do anything they can to be with the love interest.
  5. Climax. The character makes their choice, faces the obstacles, and experiences the consequences of that choice. If there is a proof of love scene, this is where it will occur.
  6.  Denouement. The story ends by illustrating the new normal. In a traditional love story, this is often where the couple ends with a kiss.

For more, view our full guide on the elements of plot here.

Now, just outline each obligatory scene in one sentence. It doesn't need to be elaborate. Just a quick description will be great to help you create a strong foundation for your story.

6. Decide your subplot.

Most novels and films don't just have one plot, they have three. If your main plot is a love story, you will likely need to include a subplot to flesh out the middle of your story and create further complications and obstacles for your characters to overcome.

Love stories can include any story type as a subplot, including:

  • Action
  • Adventure
  • Thriller
  • Horror
  • Mystery
  • Love*
  • Performance
  • Coming of age
  • Morality

*Yes, you can have a love story subplot in your love story! Just look at Pride and Prejudice.

No idea what these mean? That's ok! See a detailed list of the types of stories here.

Different subplots will interact better with different arcs, so choose your subplots carefully.

7. Then, write the first draft!

Once you've written your premise, outlined your obligatory scenes, and chosen your subplots, you're ready to write the first draft.

Easy, right?

Well, maybe not. But we have resources that can help.

First, here's a complete guide on how to write a novel that you should bookmark and save (it's long!).

Next, consider taking a program like 100 Day Book to get the coaching and accountability you need to actually finish your book. We'd love to help you turn your love story idea into published book!

Check out 100 Day Book here.

In the meantime, good luck, and happy writing!

PRACTICE

Today, let's start a character sketch for your own love story or subplot. Look back at the section on character archetypes above and pick one: the Idealist, the (Loveable) Rake, the Lone Wolf, the Knight in Shining Armor, the Rebel, With or Without a Cause. Set your timer for fifteen minutes. Start by describing two things: what this character is afraid of (and why) and what they want (and why). If you finish fleshing out those details, go ahead and begin a scene where they interact with a potential love interest.

When time is up, share your practice in the Pro Workshop here for feedback, and comment on three other writers' work too.

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Joe Bunting is an author and the leader of The Write Practice community. He is also the author of the new book Crowdsourcing Paris, a real life adventure story set in France. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon. Follow him on Instagram (@jhbunting).

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