I have always wanted to write a rivals-to-lovers story, in particular, the variety in which hero and heroine are in pursuit of the same goal, but only one of them can achieve it. One example of this type of story is the humorous contemporary romance Practice Makes Perfect, by Julie James. It features two lawyers in the same firm, and they both want to make partner, but only one of them will be named to the position. So they’re attracted to each other, but also in competition with each other.
Rivalry is a great conflict, one of my favorites in a romance novel, but I see it only rarely. I think the reason is that it’s so hard to end a story like this in a satisfying way.
I knew I wanted to write a rivalry story, and the setup for “Archer’s Sin” had been kicking around in my head. But for a long time I didn’t actually sit down and write the story. Why? I didn’t know how to end it.
The setup is this. Nalica, the heroine, has come to the imperial city to enter an archery tournament. It’s a special tournament because the prize is a job as an officer in the Riat City Guard. She’s out of work, so she badly needs that job. She spends the last of of her money getting there and paying the entry fee. There she meets the hero, Justien, who’s come to town for the same reason. He’s an equally talented archer, also out of work, and he needs to win just as badly. They hit it off immediately, but only one of them can win the tournament.
For over a year, I worked on the story in my head, and even added a subplot featuring a horse race, but I never write down a story when I don’t know how to end it. I hate the idea of writing three-quarters of a story and then getting blocked at the end; I won’t set myself up for that situation.
And then one day I had it. The ending popped into my head.
I sat down at my computer and began to write. It took me less than a month to go from blank document to polished manuscript.
“Archer’s Sin,” a Hearts and Thrones novella of approximately 100 pages, is available now in digital form for 99 cents (coming soon in print). Want to know how I ended my rivals-to-lovers story? I invite you to find out!