Marissa Meyer chats writing quieter romance stories

Marissa Meyer is here to chat about the challenges in writing her contemporary romance novels, Instant Karma and With a Little Luck.

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Marissa Meyer is known for sci-fi fantasy series The Lunar Chronicles but she is here to show us she can write light romance stories too! Faber is publishing not one, but two contemporary romance novels by Marissa Meyer this Valentine’s Day and we have the honour of inviting Marissa to write us a guest post on how to write the best quiet romance novels:

I love writing romance. It’s a central part of every book I write. No matter if I’m writing science-fiction, fantasy, or a superhero action story, I always aim to include enough romance to offset the suspense and intrigue, death and destruction. So making the shift to contemporary romance (with a hint of magic) in my newest novels—Instant Karma and With a Little Luck—didn’t feel like that big of a change after a career of writing sci-fi and high fantasy. Yes, this genre comes with its own challenges (like… how do you keep exciting happening when there’s no villain trying to start a war or kill off the protagonist and all their friends?), but I enjoyed immersing myself in some quieter stories where the budding romances take center stage.

In either case—fantasy or contemporary—much of the process of creating the romance storylines stays the same, as is my ultimate goal: to make readers swoon, smile, and shut the book with a satisfied sigh.
When it comes to writing romance, my first job is to figure out why these two people fall for each other in the first place. What draws them to each other? In what ways do they balance each other out? How would they work as a couple? There are countless ways to accomplish this, and I usually find myself thinking about the things I look for in a partner, the things that make me swoon. Maybe she is attracted to his devil-may-care attitude. Maybe he admires her gumption and quick wit. Maybe they are the only verbal sparring partners that can keep up with each other. Maybe they make each other laugh and are more comfortable around each other than anyone else.

I always aim to include a few key moments over the course of a romance, though they can be subtle. There’s the iconic “I first fell in love with you when…” moment—whether or not the character realizes it. I also try to have a moment in which the would-be couple shows gentleness and compassion toward each other. And—a big one for me—a moment in which each character is in awe of the other. When they see their talents or strengths really shine, and it takes their breath away. After all, what is more attractive than seeing someone do something they are really good at?

But the fun part, the part that makes a romance sizzle, isn’t figuring out why they should be together. It’s figuring out why they shouldn’t. This is, of course, where that delicious romantic tension comes from. The ongoing agony of “I love him, but can never have him!” or “I can’t live without her, but I know we can never be!” You know… the stuff we romance lovers really crave.
Obstacles between lovers can be internal (think Darcy’s pride) or external (think Romeo and Juliet’s families). It’s especially great when a romance can have internal and external obstacles to overcome… to really keep readers on their toes.

In the case of Pru and Quint in Instant Karma—a hate-to-love romance—both characters have a lot of early prejudices to overcome. Ambitious Pru is convinced that Quint is a selfish slacker, while he sees her as stuck-up and overcontrolling. It isn’t until they’re forced to work together to try to save a sea animal rescue center (and some really cute sea lions…) that they start to see past their biases and realize they’re actually perfect for one another.

In With a Little Luck, there are both internal and external forces at work against Jude and Ari—from Jude’s age-old crush on another girl, to his fear of putting his heart on the line, to a magical twenty-sided dice that might just be messing with him. Only once Jude learns to take risks and stop expecting the universe to solve his problems for him can he see what’s been right in front of him the whole time.

Is there a happily ever after in store for these characters? I mean… they are contemporary romances, so you probably know the answer to that already. But I hope reading the books will still bring about a few surprises, and lots of happy sighs!

Instant Karma and With a Little Luck by Marissa Meyer are out now.
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