What Makes a Good Love Interest?

Episode #19 – December 1, 2023

Welcome to episode 19 of the Writing on Caffeine podcast. My daughter (Ragan Franzone) and I (Jonathan Franzone) are a father and daughter who have decided to write our very first novel. In this podcast, we are inviting you to come along on this journey with us.

In this episode, Jonathan and Ragan talking about the great universal language of love. Ah, l’amour. Specifically, we are continuing our study of fiction characters and diving into what makes a good love interest.

Show Notes

A love interest in fiction is a character who forms a significant romantic bond with the protagonist, serving to advance both the plot and the emotional arc of the story. A compelling love interest is characterized by depth and complexity, possessing their own goals, flaws, and growth arc that complement and challenge the protagonist. They should bring out previously unseen aspects of the main character and contribute meaningfully to the narrative, ensuring that their relationship enhances the story’s overall themes and emotional resonance.

  1. Chemistry with the Protagonist: Their interactions should be dynamic, believable, and evoke emotions in readers. Whether it’s through tension, shared humor, deep emotional connection, or flirtation, this chemistry is fundamental.
  2. Shared History or Experiences: Love interests who have common experiences, memories, or backgrounds can deepen their bond. This shared element can serve as a foundation for their relationship or introduce unique points of conflict.
  3. Contrast: Differences in personality, values, lifestyle, or background can create a magnetic pull between characters. This “opposites attract” dynamic can spark interest and tension.
  4. Relatability: The love interest should resonate with aspects of real-life experiences or desires, giving readers a reason to root for the relationship.
  5. Mystery or Elusiveness: A sense of unexplained depth or intrigue can pull both the protagonist and the reader in. This doesn’t necessitate a secret life, but an aura of mystery can be enticing.
  6. Agency in the Relationship: While the love interest should have their own motivations and goals, their active choices and decisions within the romantic context are vital. They should not be a mere passive participant in the romance.
  7. Flaws in the Romantic Context: Imperfections that affect the romance can heighten reader engagement. For instance, a love interest’s fear of commitment or difficulty with vulnerability can introduce relatable challenges to the relationship.
  8. Loyalty and Reliability: Demonstrating loyalty, especially in critical romantic moments or tests of the relationship, can endear the love interest to readers.
  9. Passion or Ambition that Affects the Romance: A clear passion or ambition can add depth to their character, especially if it directly impacts the romance. For example, a love interest might prioritize a career opportunity over the relationship, creating tension.
  10. Physical Attraction: While deeper emotional connections are crucial, physical allure, especially in the initial stages of a fictional romance, can help draw readers into the budding relationship.
  11. Conflict and Resolution within the Romance: Challenges that specifically test the romantic bond, followed by resolutions, can create a roller-coaster of emotions, engaging readers deeply.
  12. Empathy and Understanding Towards the Protagonist: Beyond general empathy, a love interest’s ability to uniquely understand, empathize with, and support the protagonist in romantic contexts can solidify their bond.


  • Lord of the Rings
    • Aragorn and Arwen
  • Harry Potter
    • Harry and Jenny
    • Harry and Cho
    • Ron and Hermione
  • Mistborn / Wax & Wayne
    • Wax and Marris (contrast, complementary)
    • Vin and Elend
  • Hunger Games
    • Katnis and Peta
    • Katnis and Gale
  • Elizabeth Bennet & Mr. Darcy (contrast)
  • Westley and Princess Buttercup
  • “Smalls” (Smalden Joveson) and Heather (Green Ember)
  • Bella and Edward and/or Jacob (Twighlight)
  • Ang and Katara (The Last Airbender)
  • Move Examples
    • Harry and Sallie (When Harry Met Sallie)
    • Neo and Trinity (The Matrix)
    • Will and Elizabeth (Pirates of the Carribean)
    • Anna and Cristoff (Frozen)
    • Shrek and Princess Fiona (Shrek)


Books We’re Reading