enemies to lovers

Writing

The fake-out make-out, for great justice

Sparkwood features no less than four of my favorite tropes. At some point during writing I must have said, "By God, you're writing a romance and you're going to have fun with it," though I honestly don't remember, because writing Sparkwood is a blurry nightmare now.

But there was one trope that started it all. One trope that demanded a right to be featured in the story, even more I knew exactly what the plot was.

That trope, my friends, was the fake-out make-out.

Thanks to writing this blog post, I've finally learned how to properly hyphenate it! Anyway, the fake-out make-out is described as follows:

Two characters, who either appear to be attracted to each other but in denial or just hate each other's guts, find themselves cornered during an emergency. They're about to be caught sneaking into the Big Bad's fortress, looking at confidential files, or fleeing the scene of the battle. The quickest solution? Kiss — passionately.

 

How do I feel about using this trope? Absolute shameless. Sparkwood is an enemies to lovers story (more on that here), and there is NO BETTER TIME for people to kiss than when they absolutely don't want to.

For Robin and Finn, my main characters, any sort of kissing has a lot of baggage. Finn is trying to find out how his twin brother died, and he 100% suspects that a fairy is responsible for the murder. As Robin points out at one point, it's not hard to Finn to jump to this conclusion—he hates fairies.

So for Robin, a fairy who has a complicated history with humans... well, this whole situation is just a little emotionally charged.

Other tropes in Sparkwood include fake dating, bed-sharing, and cuddling for warmth.

Sparkwood comes out on Feb. 15! It can be pre-ordered right now at LT3, and is coming soon to other vendors.

Teaser

In defense of boning your enemies

At the beginning of Sparkwood, Robin and Finn have never met, but boy do they resent each other.

Finn has found out that his brother Luke, who ran away to live with fairies a year ago, was murdered. And Robin is a fairy—who knew Luke, and who finds Finn's bias against fairies less than endearing. Actually, really offensive.

I wrote the book for LT3's enemies to lovers call, My Dearest Enemy. Robin and Finn didn't just need to be snarky at each other—they needed to actively dislike each other. They needed tension.

One of my favorite posts on writing tension comes from CS Pacat, the author of the Captive Prince series. I actually read this post when I was doing my second big editing pass. You know, the one after we had fixed the really shitty first-pass mistakes, so that suddenly every narrative problem was blindingly clear, and I was rearranging and deleting and rewriting and weeping.

This post was like a bolt of clarity. Here's some of Pacat's advice:

In my own writing, I often ask myself: Can I play this moment later? If the answer is yes, then I reserve the moment for later. If the answer is no, then I know that I've found the right moment to play the note.

 

There's a moment—as there must be in enemies to lovers romance—where Finn needs help desperately, and there is only one person he can turn to. The poor guy has been put through the wringer, physically and emotionally.

But in earlier drafts, I had played some notes too early. The physical part of being put through the wringer—that was over and done with by the time Finn got the emotional punch in the face. It meant that some of the tension had defused—Finn was less desperate, and since he's the POV character, the stakes didn't feel as high.

What a blessing rewrites are.

Drawing out Finn's misery so that everything came to a head at once didn't just make the story better. It helped the character too: to ask for help from a fairy, Finn needs to be brought to his knees.

Conversely, you know what's great for romantic tension? Forcing someone who hates someone else to take care of them when they're physically helpless.

Sorry, Robin.

Sparkwood comes out next week! It can be pre-ordered right now from LT3.