So, you want to write a love story for a work of fiction?

First things, first. Anything goes. Write for your genre, of course, but readers of fictional stories generally accept that what they are about to read has sprung from your imagination. They’re cool like that.

What will stump them, however, is not giving them a reason to root for the romance. Why else would they devote hours of their time to your story?

Human Experience

To do this, you have to deliver the human experience. As we all know, to be human is to be flawed, resilient, sometimes lucky (and sometimes not), vulnerable, and so many things in between. To love, and to have that love returned, is nothing short of a miracle. The trouble is, we never know when our human experiences will mesh well with someone else’s.

Past trauma, hidden vices, and subconscious desires are not a part of the equation when we first meet someone. Hope is. And as the creator of your story, you must convey that emotion from your characters in a way that resonates back to your reader. It is what will have people not only reading your story all the way through but have them coming back again to reread it.

First Meeting

Creating that spark of hope is also why so many writers stress the importance of crafting a memorable “first meeting” for your main characters. It is the driver of your story. In a series, hope must steer the reader through the first book and again, direct them to the starting point (the story itself) through other installments, until they have reached the final destination (the ending of the series.)

A tall order, indeed. But that is the power of hope.

In romance novels, hope is what makes a long-time reader of the genre take a chance on yet another story where they know what the ending is likely to be. They are hoping to find a story that stimulates their emotions along the way. A lackluster first meeting in your story will not inspire confidence that you will deliver the desired outcome to your reader.


Having said that, it isn’t always the initial meeting that can blow a crater-sized hole in the credibility of your character’s love story. It’s what leads up to it and what happens afterward that can be tricky.

I’ve seen characters start off wanting to kill each other become #relationshipgoals in 300 pages or less. I’ve also fallen asleep waiting for two people who are perfect for each other fumble around for the first few books in a series before they finally get a clue. The former often crosses over into the unhealthy while the latter makes you question the character’s intelligence (how many blatant signals can the average person misread?)

The truth is: your readers will sit through either scenario if you pace the story out in a creative but believable manner.

Elements of Storytelling

By pacing, I don’t mean just figuring out if you are writing a slow-burn or insta-love romance. I’m referring to the ebb and flow of tension, attraction, conflict, seduction, and opportunity that you are responsible for maneuvering your characters through. Writers often refer to the term "arc" to describe this concept.

The Nicholas Sparks novel, The Notebook, employs these elements brilliantly. The story resonates with so many people—even the love cynics—making it an enduring classic. The love story spans an entire lifetime of a couple (barring their earliest formative years) but keeps us enthralled because of the clever roller coaster ride of emotions it takes us on.

For anyone who still hasn’t seen it, here is a simplified spoiler summary:

Boy sees girl and is instantly attracted. Girl resists boy, setting up several scenes of tension while boy does extreme things to win girl over. Conveniently, boy and boy’s father do work on girl’s family’s property (opportunity.) Mutual attraction flairs (seduction) between them until their "opposite side of the tracks" romance is discovered (cue conflict), and the girl’s parents split the young couple apart.

Using variations of that same formula, we are later reunited with the couple (opportunity) as they maneuver through past hurt and current roadblocks (conflicts and tension), rediscover their feelings (attraction and seduction), and reach a bittersweet happily ever after. There is another element to the story that I refuse to spoil but trust me when I say it’s a big reason why this movie is universally loved.

In Love with Love

Most people expect to be challenged, thwarted, and ultimately, rewarded, in love.

They accept these highs and lows as a natural course of the human experience.

It is the job of writers to communicate these human conditions in a believable and compelling arc that ignites a readers hopes and carries them through each happily-ever-after.

Updated: Jan 29

Interview for Rose Walken

Posted on Marilyn Vix’s: Journey of the Soul/Author Blog on Jan. 1, 2021.

See the full posting here:

There is no better way than spending New Year’s Day cuddled up under a blanket, favorite fur baby near by, and a nice cup of tea or adult beverage on hand. Personally, I think reading and great books saved me this year. So, I want to pass along what I’ve found, and give you a chance to read a great new author.

Her name is Rose Walken and she’s written a fabulous CIA mystery romance called “The Raven’s Call”. Rose Walken is a speed-reading, coffee-loving, book-addicted East Coast romance author. She is also a mother of two angelic (while sleeping) children, a brother-sister pair of rescue kitties, and a loving, supportive partner. I had a chance to talk to Rose about her new book. She shares her favorite reading memories and what future projects she has in store for us.

1) What is your favorite memory from reading as a child?

Rose Walken: It is how quickly I would become immersed in the story. My first love was unicorns and horses. When I read books about them, like The Last Unicorn, Black Beauty, or Misty of Chincoteague Island, I imagined myself leaving my everyday life behind and living inside the story. It still happens, although the type of books I read has changed.

2) Who was your favorite author and how did they influence you?

Rose Walken: My favorite romance author has always been Jude Deveraux. There are never more than a few sentences that I am aware of reading in her books. She pulls me into the story right away, and it is something I strive for in my writing.

3) What is writing to you in one sentence?

Rose Walken: Writing is a voice for the myriad of emotions, thoughts, and ideas in my head.

“The Raven’s Call” is a CIA mystery romance that will pull you in and not let you go. Mitch has spent nineteen years with the international elite. But nearing retirement, he decides to do one last mission—and its personal. But when Victoria McKinley walks into his life and becomes his unwilling accomplice, there’s not much he can do but reel her in, use her and carry out his duty. But the difference with this mission and all the others—he doesn’t want to walk away from her. Will he find a way to survive the mission with her? Or will he have to sacrifice his new relationship to save them both?

“The Raven’s Call” is available at several online retailers through this book link.

Updated: Jan 8

**I am so happy to share that I have now released my debut novel, The Raven’s Call,

as an eBook. I will post the link below where you can purchase a copy on Amazon's Kindle Store. The paperback version will be available in February!**

But first, I’d like to share three of the hiccups that were made along the way and offer ways you can avoid them. These are useful tips for any of you who have yet to publish your first book or who have gone through the publishing process but are considering a different approach with your next project.

Do You REALLY Need an Editor?

If you are an indie author, especially an unpublished one, you may be submerged in a soul-clenching debate with yourself: do I need to eat this month, or should I hire an editor for this book?

The answer is: ramen is your friend for the next 30—possibly 60—days and yes, hire the editor.

Why? Consider the following true story:

I wrote a scene in The Raven’s Call, where the hero, Raven, is starving and out-of-sorts after being rescued from a kidnapping incident. In the scene, he, an omnivore, is a passenger in a vegetarian’s car. Undaunted, Raven makes the driver pull into a fast food joint to get some tasty chicken. Said driver pokes fun at the grumpy request, noting that he hopes “the Colonel” sorts him out.

The problem? I had referenced the chicken joint as “Popeyes.” Three people read my story before the mistake was pointed out to me. Sorry, KFC. <slaps forehead>

Having said that, it is important to check your editors work. They are wonderful, but they are human, too.

My story saw vast improvement after each pair of eyes had scanned through it. However, I can’t stress this enough: every set of eyes belong to a very human mind that can, and will, miss things. And even if they do not, an automated process they use to save time, might. One of my editors corrected a “bout” of diarrhea to a “bought” of it. As much as I wanted to give her the benefit of a “dought”—ahem—doubt . . . yeah, you get it.

Your Cover Requires Some Research

As a creative person, I couldn’t wait to work with a designer to see my vision come to life. I found a designer who did just that, and the colors of my world were vibrant … for a week. The agonies I had read other authors going through while designing their covers were not going to be mine! Then, I read an article that put the seed of doubt in my ear and ultimately, saved me from major copyright infringement. The writer of that article was an author, giving advice, as I am now. They recommended doing a search on any graphics/images used for your book cover and marketing materials, to make sure they are OK for commercial use and not under copyright/trademark protection.

The first cover for The Raven’s Call had the bottom half of a woman’s face on top and a fierce-looking raven on the bottom. I knew who the woman was, so I wasn’t worried about the legality of that image. Yet, with the author’s advice still lingering in my mind, I delved into an image search of the raven. What came up was none other than the three-eyed raven used in HBO’s hit television series, The Game of Thrones, based off the fantasy series A Song of Ice and Fire written by American novelist, George R.R. Martin. My cover designer had simply removed the third eye and figured he had altered the image enough to escape detection. Yikes.

Design two came shortly after.

Copyrighted Material Can Trip You Up

You might be wondering why I felt comfortable using a KFC reference but not a Game of Thrones image. I will touch on the reasons why, but it is important that you do your own research when it comes to legal matters, such as whether you are violating the copyright protection of someone else’s work. Since this can differ between geographical areas, constantly changing laws and litigation results, and the preference of individual brands, I would suggest you do this with each book before publication.

Fair use allows, in most cases, the ability to drop the name of a copyrighted piece of work/brand into your own work. However, if where or how you drop that name causes a significant negative effect on its potential or existing market, then there can be legal ramifications. Negative effects could include using a children’s brand in an erotica story (for obvious reasons) or presenting information in a manner that gives away the long-awaited ending of a series because you were lucky enough to travel to a country that saw the release first.

There are many other considerations, such as the context in which the copyrighted material is used compared to its nature, the amount of the work being referenced (stating your character is singing their favorite Jeff Buckley tune in a scene is entirely different than laying out the lyrics, chord progressions, etc. of the song), so again, do your research.

I hope that this information helps you in your planning or action processes of self-publishing. Make sure to subscribe to both the site and blog to get useful writing and self-publishing tips, my book updates, and sometimes, just hard-knock life lessons to learn from (and laugh at!)

**Now, for the promised link to access the ebook version of my debut novel! I hope you enjoy! Tell me what you thought of the story either in a review (these are crucial for indie authors!) on Amazon or Goodreads, or through any of my social media outlets, accessed here. I love to hear from my readers!