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One of the most popular romantic tropes is opposites attract. We all love to read about two people convinced they have nothing in common only to fall hard and fast for one another. Almost against their will!
When a couple are opposites, they’re meant to be one of a few things to each other:
- An inverse mirror image of each other.
- Complement each other
- balance each other’s flaws
Their archetypes, story arcs, and backstories can either run parallel or opposite to one another, depending on the focus of the narrative. If one character arc had a tumultuous childhood that forced them to grow up fast and become more responsible, their love interest might have had a more nurturing childhood and is there to show them how to be more carefree and have fun. Or, still using the tumultuous childhood example, one character could have overcome their childhood with therapy and a wonderful found family, while the other could be suffering, angry, and unable to move on. However, don’t let these simple explanations fool you. A good opposites attract romance novel can be difficult to write. Too often, these archetypes are distilled into a one-word descriptor like nerd/jock, country mouse/city mouse, wealthy/poor. Yes, those descriptors immediately create a familiar and/or relatable character in the reader’s mind, but true differences go much deeper than that.
One of the easiest ways to think about opposite pairings is to use horoscopes. Not everyone believes in horoscope readings, but they can be an invaluable tool for character creation. Those archetypes can help you explore relationships between two people who are vastly different from one another in terms of their backgrounds, beliefs, and personalities. It creates tension that leads to passionate romantic moments that have readers creating kindle quotes and sharing them on social media.
The real question is, how do authors make sure they deliver the punch these romance novels pack without writing something needlessly controversial or super tropey in a way that makes the story difficult to enjoy?
5 Key Elements of a Good Opposites Attract Romance Novel
1. Strong Characters: Romance novels rely heavily on the development of authentic and compelling characters that bring out opposing qualities to spark a connection between them. it’s important to make sure both characters stand out as individuals who bring something special to the story. Each character should have their own set of values, distinct attitudes, and desires that are in direct opposition to each other. It can’t be superficial! Establishing this contrast is essential for creating an engaging plot with plenty of potential for conflict and romance. This can and should go beyond single-word descriptors like rich/poor, nerd/jock, himbo/intellectual. Having that said, there is nothing romantic about having a racist fall love with a Black woman in order to see her humanity because why would you want a Black woman to be abused that way? And you can probably cross folks off the list who question the humanity of a person because love ain’t enough to fix that kinda wrong.
2. Unexpected Twists: A good opposites attract romance novel will have unexpected plot twists to keep the reader guessing and ensure that the couple’s relationship isn't too predictable. These plot twists should challenge their core beliefs and convince the reader that your characters have insurmountable differences.
3. Humor: a bit of humor is essential to almost any romantic storyline—it adds depth and complexity to the characters while providing comic relief needed during dramatic moments. Those insurmountable differences? They can be illustrated in humorous and intense moments that will show the reader that though they have many differences, they are alike in ways that make love possible for the couple.
4. Emotional Range: It’s important for an opposites-attract story to explore both tenderness and conflict with equal intensity, allowing readers to experience an emotional rollercoaster as they follow the journey of its characters. Of these five tips, I feel showing an emotional range that provides a balance between holding fast to their values and desires while feeling compelled to given in to their love interest is the most important. This shouldn’t be an easy decision to make! For all intents and purposes, they must see that giving in just the tiniest bit as a deep offense to their core beliefs. Emotions are powerful and when written well, they create an impactful experience for the reader. One of my favorite resources for writing emotions is The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman, and Becca Puglisi.
5. Resolution: A satisfying ending is always necessary for a great romance novel—the climax should be meaningful and leave readers feeling inspired by its characters' transformations! It’s super important to give readers this sort of satisfying conclusion. It brings closure to the romance while still leaving room for more stories in the future. This will give readers something to look forward to as they ponder what might happen next between the two characters who were brought together despite all the odds against them.
Opposites-attract romance novels can be an incredibly fun trope to read and write.
With these tips and romance novels for reference, authors can create stories that captivate readers and leave them wanting more.
You can check out my opposites attract series, The Lust Diaries, which features Yves, a brazen free spirit who bucks against the idea of traditional relationship roles, and Elijah, a buttoned-up, kinky, fifth avenue prince who is determined to convince her otherwise. You can purchase the ebooks from me >here< and listen to the audiobooks on Scribd!
Here are some memorable characters from popular opposites attract books:
Ezra from In Covenant with Ezra by Love Belvin - Ezra is a pastor who is into BDSM with a domineering presence who is the complete opposite of his love interest, Lex, who initially presents as a kind-hearted Christian but has her own secrets.
Carolina and Max from The Worst Best Man by Mia Sosa - Carolina is a wedding planner and an ambitious career woman who's determined to take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to change her life, even if it means collaborating with the best man who talked his brother into leaving her at the altar.
Logan and Mariah from Destiny's Embrace by Beverly Jenkins - Logan is a self-important ranch owner who is in need of a housekeeper but not one like high-spirited Mariah who he bickers with constantly only to discover that she’s someone he can’t live without.
Joy and Felix from The Kindred by Alechia Dow - Joy Abara is a commoner from the lowly planet Hali who knows her place and Duke Felix Hamdi is determined exasperate his noble family to the point that they agree to let him choose his own future.
Teagan and Maxton from After Hours Temptation by Kianna Alexander - Teagan’s straitlaced professionalism didn’t stand a chance against the talented, sexy, but extremely off-limits Maxton!
Jada and Donovan from Fake it Til You Bake it by Jamie Wesley - Jada working alongside the uptight owner and professional football player Donovan Dell are a recipe for disaster… or are they?
Mykal and Desmond in ENVY by Brooklyn Mosely - These two definitely got off on the wrong foot and carried a bad first impression of each other. This book asks if love is kind and also patient, can a virtuous love save an envious heart from self-destruction?
Dimitri and Stacey from Forever My Lady by Stephanie Nicole Norris - Dimitri Montgomery has prided himself on being a man collected, oriented, and disciplined. That is until Stacey enters his life and shakes up his world.
Two characters that have very different backgrounds and outlooks on life can make it difficult for them to connect with each other. Despite their differences, they find that they're passionate about the same things. As they learn more about each other and open up to one another, they eventually find common ground that allows them to build a strong bond of love and understanding. That's my favorite part!
🤔 Are you writing or have you written an opposites attract story? Readers, what is your favorite opposites attract story? Share it in the comments!