Romantic novels are something that have always been and will always be popular. Women (and quite a big number of men, actually) all over the world adore reading either happy or sad love stories and imagine themselves as the main characters. It is a great literature genre and among the easiest ones to write. You don’t have to dig into numerous scientific researches to create it (like with a sci-fi story) or to make up difficult multi-level worlds with unusual creatures (like with fantasy). All you need is a good story in your head and decent writing skills.
Many starting writers wonder how to start writing a romance novel that will be popular among readers. Romantic novel is a genre that has its strict laws. If you follow them, you increase your chances of being published. Here are the basic laws.
Law number 1: Love is in the air
Romance novel is a LOVE story. If you want to include lofty ideas to your novel, they should be about love and nothing more. There should not be any special terminology that you can understand only with a dictionary, abstruse monologues, tricky theories and excessive historical references. What does a reader expect buying your book? Readers expect to worry about the main characters, to feel for them or even to cry a little. They don’t want to get overwhelmed with unnecessary information. Writing a romance novel, always remember that it is light entertaining reading.
Romantic novels can also include detective, mystical or adventurous elements, but you shouldn’t overdo it. Love lines are still the most important.
Law number 2: It takes two to tango
Romantic novels should have characters. It cannot be one beautiful heroine whom you geniously portrayed based on you and added a couple of questionable princes who would emphasize her beauty and intelligence. When you write a romance novel, you need to create a fully-fledged heroine and a fully-fledged hero. Or even two heroes – thus, it is easier to make up a plot. It is also advisable to create a heroine’s friend or several friends so that she can share her feelings with them and get some tips. All the characters should be vivid, memorable and recognizable. Good characters should make your readers worry about them and bad characters – hate them. Try not to make them too cliché; look around and seek for inspiration among people.
Law number 3: Structure, structure, and then some more structure
In the center of every romance novel there is a STORY. It should have all the basic novel’s parts: the exposition, where you introduce your characters and the place of action; the conflict, where you tell the characters stories and name the main problem of a novel; the complication, where the plot thickens; the crisis, where the situation gets heated and you put all the cards on a table and the denouement, where everything calms down and you end your story. Every romance novel has to have a conflict or even several conflicts; otherwise it is boring to read.
If you want to know how to write a romance novel with an interesting plot, the very first tip would be to avoid the stereotypes. Forget everything that you’ve read or watched so far. Search for original situations, turns and moves. The more exciting and intricate the story is, the more popular your book will be.
The difficult question for a starting writer is also whether to add love scenes to a novel. As a writer for New York Times Magazine says, “Sex sells, so don’t shy away from it”. That is probably true, but don’t get carried away with it, otherwise you can end up with a tasteless pornographic book. If you cannot describe a sex scene so that it looks nice, romantic and sexy, better exclude such scenes from your story at all.
Writing romance novels, don’t forget about logic: every move that a character makes should have a motive. Every act should lead to certain logical consequences. Logical discrepancies and strained situations tend to push readers away. Don’t be lazy to reread your work and to correct even the smallest illogical things. It takes time and perseverance to write romance novels that will stand out.
By the way, there can be more than one love story in your novel. Doesn’t your main character’s friend deserve her prince, too? Two clever and well thought-out love lines will only increase your chances for success.
Law number 4: And they lived happily ever after
A romance novel has to have a HAPPY ENDING. The Heroine has to find her prince/get married/have kids. The open ending where she stands and thinks who’ll enter the door – John or Jack is not good enough. At the end of your story all the positive characters should be happy and have their dreams come true. Sometimes writers include some tragic events to the ending such as death of some character. But still, after that the other characters find peace and become happy.
Well, and of course you should proofread and edit your romantic novel as carefully as you can. Readers are very critical about any kinds of mistakes, omissions and non-fitments in a text. If the story in your novel takes place in the past, make sure you know all you need about those times and don’t write that a hero used a phone while the actual phone hadn’t been invented yet. Do some researches before you write. If you want to know how to edit your work in details, read our next post.
As you see, romantic writing has its rules, too. However, you shouldn’t follow them unconditionally. Now and then there are some outstanding novels that break all the rules and make new standards. Anyway, if you read a lot of love stories, if you have some writing skill and if you have a brilliant idea in your mind, these rules would be enough for you to create a great piece. Hopefully, this post clarified at least some aspects of how to write romance novels for you. We are eager to see your stories in bookstores soon!
Alyce is an inspired blogger, private tutor and educational consultant who is passionate about everything related to writing. Now she has found herself as a private consultant/educator, providing seminars and workshops to teachers of English. The focus of her presentations is how to motivate students to enjoy writing and to help them in becoming creative and proficient writers both for their pleasure and coursework assignments. She loves to share her experience in these fields. Stay tuned to get more actionable tips about writing!