Advice from the Archives: A Family Romance

Babies, children and family. What have they got to do with romance?

Well, quite a lot actually!

Although you should always, always keep in mind that the main focus of your story is the romance between your hero and heroine, having children and babies as part of the mix can actually help your characters get to their HEA!

Babies

Who doesn’t love a baby? And how sexy is it seeing your hero looking after one? How can your heroine not fall in love with a man who looks at a baby adoringly?

Babies can also be a means to move your story forward.

Secret babies…

…are a great plot device. A heroine who has neglected to mention to the hero that she has had his baby/is pregnant gives rise to a great beginning for a story, with lots of emotional ups and downs before they can resolve their situation.

Miracle babies

A heroine who thinks she can’t get pregnant/a hero longing to be a father is also a good way of ensuring plenty of emotional conflict and really pulling at your readers’ heartstrings. Particularly if she has her miracle baby at the end!

Bringing up baby alone

A hero who is a single dad is automatically sexy, and if he has been left literally holding the baby, he may have trust issues with women, which can form part of his conflict.

A heroine who is pregnant or has a baby can also bring out the hero’s innate protectiveness. Which can give rise to lots of turmoil if the heroine is determined to stay independent, and thinks she doesn’t need a man!

Children

Never work with children and animals, goes the old stage adage, and it could be applied to romance, except that having little people in your story can be another way of helping move the romance forward.

  • A child who isn’t prepared to share his/her parent (of either sex) is a good means of ensuring emotional conflict for your characters.
  • A hero and heroine with a child each have the means of uniting and having a new family and HEA. Particularly if the children act as Cupid!
  • A doting dad hero is also extremely appealing… Fatherhood seems to have enhanced the sexiness of both Brad Pitt and David Beckham. Everyone loves a devoted dad!

Family

Of course, family isn’t all about small children. There are any number of permutations of relatives who can prevent our hero and heroine getting together, from unsupportive dads (how much does our heroine need someone to believe in her!) to overbearing siblings (our hero can have spent his whole life in competition with his older brother), causing your couple endless grief, and providing the root of their emotional conflict.

Family doesn’t need to be all bad, of course… your heroine could be missing the father she was devoted to, your hero could be looking after his sick mum, and unable to commit to a future with the woman he has fallen for. There are any number of emotional situations your couple can find themselves in. Families provide a rich vein of material, so don’t be afraid to mine it for all it’s worth.

But….

Remember, ALL of these characters, be they young or old, are and should always remain SECONDARY to the main romance which has to remain at the forefront. So, if you’re getting too gooey about your hero’s cute little baby, or hung up on the intricacies of your heroine’s weird family dynamic, they’re probably taking over too much. Take a step back and be brutal, cut out the dead wood, and allow your central romance room to breathe so your hero and heroine truly spring to life!

Happy writing!

The SYTYCW Team

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Comments

  1. Kimber Li

    This is a pet peeve of mine. I was raised by a single mom and have had a lot of single parent friends. It is *essential* that the new partner bonds and interacts with the child. I agree that the romance is central, but if the child is not included ***enough*** that book is a wall-banger. There are actually less than a handful of authors I can count on to make it believable in this respect.

  2. Ruby Mae O'Dell

    This is a great post! As the eldest child of eight in my family, I love family stories! Especially ones about large families (More love to go around!). All my stories so far, either the hero or heroine is part of a large family. While the opposite is from or part of a broken family if you will. Which in return makes their HEA all the more Happier and Sweeter in my opinion. So far I’ve used almost all of the above hooks and I expect I’ll use them all before it’s said and done.
    Thanks for the post SYTYCW!

    • Kimber Li

      I totally cannot relate to stories without babies, children, and families in them. I think the fantasy of just the couple and the fireworks is what some readers want. But, after two decades of marriage, I have a hard time suspending my disbelief or relating to Romances without family. 🙂

    • Ruby Mae O'Dell

      I totally agree Kimber Li. While I’m not married, or haven’t even been in a relationship for that matter, I can not imagine a HEA without a family involved. And while I enjoy a couple story now and then, the most believable and most enjoyable to me are the ones with family involved.

  3. Chrissie

    Living in a multi-generation household, I agree that family is an important part of a romance. Though it can be difficult to find time alone. We have to go away to have peace and quiet. But I’ve always had a huge family and the noise and confusion is part of life. If anything, it makes the love grow stronger. I enjoy adding kids into my books and pets too, esp. cats. 🙂

    • Ruby Mae O'Dell

      I totally and completely agree Chrissie. LOL I live with 7 younger siblings, with the youngest being 4yr, so I know the difficulty in finding some peace and quiet alone. But though it’s difficult to find time alone I find that I write my best when they’re around. To me the silence at times is more deafening than the noise a large family brings. 😉