Writing 101: The Love Interest

I’ve written about a lot of different types of characters at this blog. The main character, the flawed character, the three-dimensional character, the villain, good guys and bad guys. But there’s a type of character you’ll find in a majority of stories that I haven’t covered: the love interest. Do you know how to make yours interesting?

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

All of the greatest authors through the pages of history have written of love. You can even find love stories in the Bible, the best-selling book ever written. People expect to find it in stories, even stories that aren’t in the romance genre, and that means every author has to struggle with the same problem. How do you make a love interest interesting to the reader?

To write an interesting love interest, it’s not enough to make the main character fall in love. The best authors make the readers fall in love, too. So how do you create something out of thin air and make people love it? Now, you’re wrestling with questions like one of the great authors.

  • Looks. Love at first sight requires one very important thing to work: sight. It helps if your love interest is attractive. It helps a whole lot, in fact. However, be careful not to make your love interest too physically perfect. No one is physically perfect in the real world, so don’t make them that way in books.
  • Personality. You can fall in love with a mannequin, but they’re really crappy conversationalists. Having looks just isn’t enough for a love interest. They need personality, too. The best love interests are complex people that have a lot going on. This person should have skills, talents, weaknesses and strengths, just like any real person. That means they also have flaws and challenges to overcome. Give them plenty of this stuff, because that makes them easier to love. After all, you’re not going to root for a person that has no problems, right? There’s nothing to root for otherwise. So give your love interest a lot of complications and a lot of personality.
  • Persistence. The best love interests aren’t easily deterred. Chances are, your main character has a lot of things happening. The main character is facing conflict, possibly a villain of some sort, and plenty of challenges. The love interest should be there to help the main character, not necessarily to solve problems but to provide support. The love interest doesn’t quit, doesn’t give up, doesn’t give in. This makes them much  more lovable, their ability to stick with the main character through all the challenges that are going to come.
  • Likability. Above all, your love interest needs to be likable. Readers aren’t going to fall in love with a person who’s vandalizing property or laughing about a pack of stranded kittens on the road, right? Your love interest should display admirable qualities that people like. Kindness, work ethic, intelligence, sense of humor -- give your love interest a few good traits that you admire, and others will be more likely to admire and like this character.

The love interest is a crucial element in any story, and there are lots of ways to use it. There may be false love interests, or the love interest may eventually betray the main character. But before you reveal your twist or your happy ending, take the time to make the reader fall in love, too. That way, no matter how you use your love interest it’s going to feel a lot more interesting to your audience.

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