I read another post over on Romancing the Blog today (another old one that caught my eye!), in which the author discusses the use of soul mates in romance.
“…the concept that everyone has a “soul mate” is terribly romantic, but it has a tendency to perpetuate what I call “lazy romance.” Instead of showing two people learning to love and understand each other, the author so often just whips out the concept of soul mates and voila! Instant romance!
I’d go along with that, but I would trade the “instant romance” for “instant conflict”. These soul mate stories have an above average chance of having much more conflict to sustain the story and the romantic tension that most other kinds, if written correctly.
Regardless of their soul mate status, the characters still have to fall in love in a way that makes me care about their relationship and what happens to them. Otherwise, I’ve wasted my time reading a mediocre story, and who wants to leave a reader with that opinion of their book?
So, take the soul mate plot and make it work by focusing on the conflict that the characters have to overcome. Give them common goals, even if those goals don’t seem all that similar on the surface. Dig deeper and you might find that the core beliefs, wants, and needs of your characters fit together much better than they appear to do on the surface.
Personally, I like well-written soul mate stories. :-) Along with marriages of convenience, sham engagements, pretend boyfriends/girlfriends…