5 Keys to Writing a Slow Burn Romance

Anyone who really knows me would happily tell you that patience is not a virtue I possess.

(What Writers Should Know About High-End Weddings)

And yet, patience is key when writing a slow burn romance, because it’s not just the reader waiting to get to “the good parts,” but the writer as well. You have to lay the foundation, create the tension, and amp up the angst, so that by the time your couple finally gives in, all the pining pays off.

Here are a few tips to make that slow burn flame hot hot hot:

1. Build the tension.

Probably the most important part of a successful slow burn romance is the kind of tension that leaves a reader screaming “Just kiss already!” at the pages of their book. You want your readers to be on the edge of their seats, just waiting for that moment when the tension finally peaks. But first, you have to build it. Tension comes from all those near-miss moments. The almost kiss interrupted by a phone call. The hug that lasts just a few seconds too long. Use those moments to ramp up the tension and give those characters plenty of time to stew in it.

2. It’s the little things.

Part of building tension is the little moments—the brush of a finger, the soft smiles, maybe even a wink or two. Those brief flashes of what’s to come give the reader some foresight, and they entice the reader to anticipate what’s coming next. If two seconds of contact produce this much angst, think of how amazing that first kiss is going to be!

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3. So much pining.

We all love a good pine, and pining is an essential element of a slow burn. The readers have to feel that pining coming from both characters, even if the story is only told from one person’s POV. The constant thoughts, the flurry of anticipation, the stomach wiggles, readers want it all, show it with both actions and words.

4. Slow burn, not slow pace.

Most readers do not want to read a slow-paced novel, and slow burn does not have to equal slow pace. What that means is there has to be other plot points happening while the romantic tension is building. The characters need to have other situations to deal with while they are also pining and fluttering and flirting and angsting.

5 Keys to Writing a Slow Burn Romance

5. Make it pay off.

What good is a slow burn without the eventual payoff? When your characters finally give in to their pining and snap that tension, it’s got to be good. Whether it’s a stellar and swoony first kiss or a steamy love scene, give the readers what they’ve been waiting for. Don’t be afraid to really relish in the details of the payoff scene, it’s what the story has been building to!

Slow burn romances can be some of the most satisfying stories to read. Draw out that tension, make your characters pine, and don’t forget to bring it all home with a killer payoff!

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