Happy Friday, Writers! I hope you had a happy Valentine’s Day. In the spirit of the holiday this week has been all about love and romance.
The romance novel industry is a billion-dollar a year industry. It is one of the most popular genres in all of fiction. Romance novel fans are extremely loyal to the genre and their favorite authors. And, the romance genre itself has a vast list of sub-genres with a variety and diversity that can entice almost any reader.
Self-published romance novels are thriving in the e-book market. Smashwords reports that 87% of their Top 100 Best Sellers are self-published romance novels.
While romance may seem like the easiest genre to write, and the genre and its authors are often looked down upon by enthusiasts of other genres, it is definitely not easy to write. The average romance reader is smart, discerning and not easily impressed. To create a successful romance, it takes a thoughtful strategy, plotting, and character and world building. A well-written romance novel won’t just happen magically.
If you are interested in writing a romance novel here are a few things you need to know:
Follow the formula.
Romances novels do follow a formula, and romance novel readers expect the formula to be followed.
The tried and true formula is this:
Boy meets girl.
Boy loses girl.
Boy gets girl back.
That’s it. That’s the framework within which you write your novel. Most romance readers will demand that your story follows this formula. But the good news is, there are millions of different ways you can write this story to make it your own unique novel that readers will fall in love with.
Meet the Readers Expectations
The readers of romance novels expect:
- A hero she loves and a heroine she can relate to.
- A believable conflict. Something has to keep the hero and heroine apart, and it can’t be a ridiculous mix-up that could be cleared up with one quick text.
- A happily-ever-after. You need to create a satisfying ending to your novel. If you don’t you will completely ruin the story for your reader and, perhaps worse, discourage them from reading any other romance novels you publish in the future. The couple doesn’t have to get married or vow undying love, but it should be clear that they’ve resolved their differences and are mutually committed to one another.
Choose a Familiar Plot Device
Three of the most popular romance plot devices are:
- Friends become lovers
- Second Chance Love
While there are different devices you can use in your story, such as brooding vampire falls in love with virginal human that looks like his first love, you can’t go wrong with the above tropes. Readers want to see themselves in the heroine. They want to believe that this love interest exists out there somewhere, and this love story could possibly happen to them.
Focus on the emotional payoff of the story
Readers read romance because they want to feel something. Romance novels feed their heart and soul, sometimes providing them with something they long for in their own lives. Romance novels can have difficult subject matter and any number of dark moments, but the ending is always positive with their message of “True love conquers all.” If you kill off your hero at the end, you may have a love story, but you don’t have a romance.
Because of this requirement for emotional payoff, my own paranormal romance series, The Kiss Series, isn’t strictly speaking “a romance novel.” It would more accurately be labeled as a “romantic tragedy” since I have a tendency to kill of characters. (Though, don’t fear readers, the series will , eventually, have a happy ending.)
The love relationship must be front and center.
In many romance sub-genres, such a fantasy or paranormal, a lot of world-building has to take place for the reader to understand the rules of the universe they’ve just entered. But you have to keep the love relationship front and center from the start of your novel to the last page. No random action sequence tangents that don’t feature both your hero and heroine. Readers want to see your hero and heroine together, falling in love.
There’s a difference in romance and erotica.
Not every romance novel requires detailed sex scenes. A physical attraction is required between the hero and heroine, but sex isn’t the main focus of a romance novel, that is erotica. The love story is the main focus in a romance novel and sex is not required to be in the story-line at all.
Learn more about writing romance novels with these books:
Write On, Writers!
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.