Top Ten Benefits to Writing an Enemies-to-Lovers Romance

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By Kayla King, Editorial Assistant for Harlequin Intrigue and Harlequin Nocturne

Enemies-to-lovers is one of my favorite tropes, not just to read about but to write as well.  If you’re looking to work out those writing muscles, this trope makes a great challenge and is just so much fun!  Let me tell you why…

1. The build.  One of the greatest writing challenges you can pose to yourself is taking two characters that have every reason in the world to despise one another…and make them fall in love!  Believably, of course.  You can bet it won’t happen overnight, and chapter after chapter you’ll need to be on your best writing game to make that relationship happen.

2. The believability.  The next step is creating that one piece of common ground where they can finally meet.  It shouldn’t be something you uncover for them too quickly, but once you present it, the fun really begins.

3. The tension.  Love and hate are two sides of the same coin, and this can cause some serious sparks to fly.  Don’t make it happen too fast though, or you might just have lust on your hands instead of love.  “I’m so angry I could kiss you.  I mean, what?  Who said that?”

4. Distinct, unique characters. The hero and heroine often come from wildly different backgrounds and have very different mindsets and ideas about how to deal with a situation—it’s part of why they just can’t seem to get along at first. This is an opportunity to hone your character writing skills!

5. The contest.  A huge part of the relationship is often them trying to show up and show off for one another.  Their admiration for each other might be begrudging, but it’s very real.

6. The many tones you can strike. This trope can be high stakes and very dramatic, but it can also be hilarious.  When two people constantly try to outdo one another, or have begun to realize their feelings and don’t quite know how to behave, it can be very funny.  Or perhaps one character has already recognized their feelings and has suddenly become thoughtful and maybe even sweet.  The possibilities are endless!

7. The melting point.  It’s the fact that these two complex, independent people set aside their differences to come together that can make the falling-in-love moment so delicious!  The payoff in the enemies-to-lovers trope is magnificent.

8. The compromise.  This usually comes in the form of someone letting go of some of their pride in order to concede that the other person may have been right—it can even be the moment they realize they have feelings for a sworn nemesis!  Writing this kind of vulnerability is a challenge, but so worth it.

9. The character growth. Related to the compromise, when these characters begin to realize what they like about one another, they also begin to see the flaws in their own behaviors.  Their development takes form in desiring to be a better person.  After all, nothing is as transformative as true love.

10. Better together.  When pride and prejudice are set aside, these two are an undeniably perfect match—and quite a formidable one that that.  Together, they have it all.  Isn’t that an HEA you can’t wait to sink your teeth into?


What’s your favorite enemies-to-lovers romance?  Are you writing one right now?  Tell us all about it in the comments!

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  1. My all time favorite is You’ve Got Mail, which is an updated remake of The Shop Around the Corner from 1940 and my favorite of the two with Judy Garland and Van Johnson, In The Good Old Summertime, late 1940s. All three are where the couple is falling in love through some other means (email or snail mail) and combating each other face to face, not realizing the person is one in the same. A very brilliant trope sort of based on the old Cyrano story.
    I have a historical in progress about a Calamity Jane type female who works for the Pony Express. She pretends to be a lady, what she secretly longs to be, while she corresponds through mail with a man she believes is the mayor of a Western town. When she arrives there, she finds the person doesn’t exist but the man who wrote the letters does. It’s the sheriff and he wrote to her pretending to be someone of importance, never guessing the female would be bold enough to come and seek him out. Being a notorious female gunfighter, she is at odds with the sheriff until she proves her innocence. There is no reason to like this woman who storms into town demanding to know the whereabouts of a man he made up, but fall for her he does and his heart can’t deny him the chance to prove to her he’s a good man too.

    • Oh! I also love How To Lose A Guy In Ten Days with Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey…in fact, they did a movie called Fool’s Gold together too and it is awesome fun.

  2. Roselyn Beck

    One of my favorites is Philadelphia Story – Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant. It’s also a second chance story which layers all kinds of other emotional aspects to it all. I haven’t written one yet, but after this post, I can definitely see the potential!