The Ultimate Guide to Writing A Romance Novel

By on March 30, 2016
How To Write a Romance Novel - Writer's Life.org

There is big money in writing a great romance novel. While other genres rise and fall in popularity (take fantasy for example), romance tends to be consistently in demand. So if you can write a compelling romance novel then you could potentially see it turn into a timeless classic.

Some people think that writing romance should be easy. All you need is a strong, handsome hero and a beautiful heroine who develop a relationship against all odds. Right?

Well, this isn’t entirely untrue. Romance novels, as with any genre of writing, tend to follow a formula which makes them work.

The typical romance needs a man and a woman who fall in love, yet there must be conflict and struggle to make it interesting. The lovers must be kept apart, they must overcome obstacles, and the readers must be kept wondering and worrying whether they will ever be able to truly be together.

So how do you create this conflict that keeps your main characters apart?

Your characters need goals and reasons for these goals. Their goals should drive the plot forward, and be the main focus in terms of storyline. However, they can also be used to create the conflict between the characters and build up dramatic tension. 

Perhaps their goals and aspirations act as blocks which mean your characters don’t get together until the very end. 

Your characters goals need to be hugely important to them, and the consequences of them not achieving their goals should be severe. There should always be conflict in a romance novel and this conflict should make the readers wonder whether the characters will actually end up together or, more tragically,  not.

How will your characters relationship develop?

Whether their love is forbidden in some way (think Romeo and Juliet), they actively dislike each other in the beginning, they are best friends who never thought of each other that way, or perhaps their histories are intwined somehow but they are actually yet to meet,  thinking carefully about how your characters lives are intertwined and how their relationship develops needs to be interesting from the outset.

Your characters must be likeable, but not boring

Remember that romance novels are generally character driven, therefore it is paramount that readers can engage with the protagonists, identify with them in some way and that they want them to be together. 

Remember to make your characters flawed and imperfect. Your readers need to like them otherwise they won’t care whether they end up together or not, and the success of your romance depends on your readers emotionally investing in the relationship and caring what happens to your characters.

 Try to avoid stereotypes, some hero’s and heroines have been done to death, and if you want to make your romance novel stand out, then think of ways to make them more original, both in appearance and personality.

Your ending makes all the difference

Most people tend to think of romance novels as books that end happily. Of course, this isn’t always the case. 

There are plenty of novels that could be classed as romance novels but are also tragedies.

Deciding on whether your novel will end happily will most likely depend on whether your characters get together and ‘live happily ever after’ or not.

Of course, your characters could end up together, but the sacrifices they have had to make to be together along the way may mean the ending is bittersweet. Your characters might not end up together at all, or perhaps they do, and the story ends with a kiss, a proposal, a wedding.

Writing a romance novel can be lots of fun and by following a few simple rules you have the basic ingredients needed to get started, and then you can really let your imagination run wild!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

About Ty Cohen

2 Comments

  1. Arnelle J. Meyer

    April 11, 2016 at 12:07 pm

    I just finished writing a Romance Novel. I made it spicy which people seem to like as well. Based on my life as flight attendant. It is a story interwoven with surviving a plane crash and various emergencies in the life of airline employees. The main couple, an Airline Captain and Flight Attendant have to overcome all kinds of obstacles to be together. And at the very end , they survive a major air crash, It is a trilogy I have worked on for five years. It is based on a very famous DC-10 crash I did survive in the mid-70s. Fun to write. And yes, people are eager to read a romance novel. Especially, a spicy one!

  2. Joseph McGarry

    May 26, 2016 at 10:14 pm

    You mentioned that some Romance novels end in tragedy. That was Romeo and Juliet.

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