The YA Romance genre is probably one of the most popular genres in this day and age, with an incredible amount of readers. However, there are also plenty of YA Romance novels out there as well – which means that your novel might get lost in the crowd. This is why you should make your young adult romance novel the best it can be, and below, we’ve gathered some tips and tools which can help you achieve this goal.
1. Good characterization
Before you begin developing your story, you need to create characters that are real. It’s a requirement for the YA genre that the protagonist, the love interest and most of the other supporting characters are in their teens. But that doesn’t mean that they need to act like spoiled children simply because they’re in “that troublesome, rebellious age.” That is a common misconception that many young authors make – there is a big difference between being rebellious and being a brat. Your characters will be in their teens – but they should also have the maturity to think before they act. But even so, they need to make mistakes and face the consequences, and most importantly, learn from said mistakes.
2. Believable attraction
So, let’s say that the protagonist is a girl that doesn’t have many friends, is bookish and smart, and considers her own self to be plain compared to other girls. And then, the most popular, most handsome guy in the school suddenly falls for her, devotes himself to her and pursues her relentlessly, even if she doesn’t believe in his advances. It sounds familiar? Probably yes, because this scenario is so famous that almost every teenage romance novel focuses on it. What you need to focus on instead is creating believable emotional connection and attraction between the protagonist and their love interest. It cannot happen overnight, it shouldn’t happen on first sight, and it should never, ever happen because both the protagonist and the love interest are simply that good looking.
3. Natural development
The protagonist and the love interest have bonded emotionally, and now it’s time to take it further. This is where the attraction becomes more apparent – especially if one of the characters has been trying to deny their attraction to the other person. Now, they see them through new eyes, and emotions and tension fly all over the place. However, you need to be careful in where the tension between the couple comes from, because the tension needs to come from within the characters. Once the tension, and with it the attraction between the couple builds up, they give in to their attraction and it feels real, and developed, instead of it happening instantly after they meet.
4. Inner demons
Characters that feel real have insecurities, problems, inner demons that bleed into their everyday life and stop them from being happy. They add to the internal tension of each character and create tension between the protagonist and the love interest. Both of them need to overcome an inner obstacle in order to be able to be blissfully happy with their romantic interest. However, make sure these inner demons are within the realm of believability for the characters. They will depend on the life the characters have lived before meeting each other, the people (parents, siblings, and friends) that have surrounded them and everything that has ever influenced the characters and their emotional wellbeing.
5. External obstacles
The external obstacles can come from parents, friends, social status, even teachers and schoolmates. A common cliché in YA is the absent parent figure: they’re either away, or the teenagers are living in a boarding school, etc. Of course, if the story requires it, the parental authority can be omitted, but it’s been done so often, that it’s simply unbelievable. Another cliché is the friendless, bookish heroine that simply doesn’t fit in with the cheerleaders, because she doesn’t care about all that stuff. Why couldn’t a female protagonist be both a cheerleader, and super smart? And why should the parents be two dimensional – super strict, overprotective, or uninterested and away? Friends, family and social status can create many and powerful external obstacles for the protagonist and the love interest. How they overcome them, and the lessons they will learn about love, life and where happiness comes from, should strengthen their connection, and give them the happy ending that not only they wanted, but needed as well.
Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic. As an art student, she’s moonlighting as a writer and is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her laptop, trying to create her own.