Okay, So I have been an elitist asshole who had looked down on the genre of romance for a very long time. I thought romance novels were cliched and was simply easy writing of ‘what sells’. But then, I read Kathleen E Woodiwiss and Nicolas Sparks and was forced to accept that I have been too dogmatic about my opinion of romance novels.
If you can produce literature as good as that and laugh your way to the banks at the same time, then as a writer, not learning how to write a romance novel is stupid. Right?
In this article we will go about answering how to write a romance novel that is an instant hit through 7 steps:
- Know the basics !
- Know your sub-genre! ( how they are not to be confused with heat levels in your story)
- Outlining your story!
- The stages of writing the story!
- The cover and the title!
Know the basics !
Step 1 of answering ‘ how to write a romance novel ‘
What is a romance novel?
A romance novel is a novel that revolves around a romantic relationship between two or more people and ends in a ‘happily ever after’ or ‘happy for now’ conclusion.
Is romance different from erotica (and is that different from erotic romance) ?
Yes, the three are all different terms.
But why bother. All you have to do is write a novel, isn’t it?
It is important to know this because you have to know the genre of books you are writing. Period.
You don’t want to place your novel in the wrong category and have an angry bunch of readers howling at your door, do you?
Coming to the point, romance is about the relationship of love between two people. Both erotic romance and erotica are novel genres that revolve around sexual relationship between two people. The only difference is that the former has a story that revolves around that sexual relationship. Whereas erotica is written to arouse sexual desire among the readers. The book has less of a story and is mostly about the sexual act. There has to be a happily ever after or happy for now conclusion in erotic romance whereas this is not so with erotica.
However, this is not to say that romance novels can’t have sexual scenes or erotic romance can’t have love. They obviously can; but the major part is love in the former and sex in the latter.
Two people can be madly in love with each other and never have sex and also, two people can have sex and never be in love.
Know your sub-genre:
Step 2 of answering ‘ how to write a romance novel ‘
To be able to write some fantastic romance novel, you have to know the sub-genre of your novel.
Once you have figured this, it is way more easier to find and devour some good literature that can help you write your own novel.
As I keep reiterating to be able to write well, you have to read, read and read:)
Click Here to know what are some of the great romance novels that you can read!
So what are the sub-genres that we can have in romance novels?
1.Contemporary romance: The most popular sub-genre of romance novels, these are books set contemporaneously with the time of its writing.
2.Romantic Comedy: As the name suggests, in this story a humorous light-hearted plot drives the story.
3.Rainbow Romance: This is LGBT romance. Same-sex, transgender and gay love comes under this!
4.Historical Romance: As is clear from the name, the plot-setting of historical novels are sometime back in history i.e the past. They are usually set in the 1800s and the time period before that.
5. Paranormal romance: When fantasy, science fiction and horror come together in the genre of romance, what you have is a paranormal romance.
6.Romantic suspense: These romantic novels have mystery and thriller in their stories. But remember the story is all about the romance and not the suspense that revolves in the story. A good example could be a girl stranded somewhere with the bad guys. There is suspense revolving around her abduction and the hero finally gets to her girl and they live happily ever after.
7.Urban Fantasy novel: Urban setting of romantic novels which have magical elements and rules, come under urban fantasy novels.
8.Faith-based romance: When you try to deliver an inspirational message through the romantic relationship between your characters or if your characters are sowing the seeds of some faith in the partner over the course of the story then you are writing in the sub-genre of faith-based romance. In this kind of novels one character’s virtue usually helps the other heal.
9.Erotic Romance: We have already discussed this above.
10. Young adult: Romance novels meant for under 18 readers fall under the category of young adult romance.
Step 3 of answering ‘ how to write a romance novel ‘
There are a number of paths that the couple in your story can take. This is very important to develop the narrative arc of your story. Let’s see what are some of them.
1.Opposite personality love: The people who fall in love are completely opposite personalities. One character say is introvert, shy or even geeky while the other could be an extrovert, chirpy and fun-loving person. This is one of the most used tropes because it introduces a good conflict to the story. If you have seen the movie ‘ A long Walk to remember ‘ then you might know what I am talking about.
2.Friends who turn lovers: This is another widely used trope in romance novels where two good friends who never thought of spooning with each other ultimately get into a relationship.
3.Enemies who turn lovers: The opposite of all we discussed in point number 2 happens here. Two enemies who detested everything about each other, end up falling for each other.
4.The Mistaken lovers: If your character is looking for his/her juliet/romeo and s/he mistakes somebody else to be that person and s/he ends up falling in love with the other, you are playing the mistaken lovers trope.
5.The concealed identity love: When your characters deliberately conceal their identity because they feel that revealing it might not be favorable for the relationship they want to have with the person they have feelings for.
6.May to December: You are writing in this sub genre if your hero and heroine have a huge age-gap between them.
7.Dating best friends sister: No, not Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley, we are talking about romance novels here! You know what we are talking about, don’t you.
8.Uneven class lovers: This happens usually when there is a billionaire guy/girl falls for a poor or indigent partner because of her/his personality or some other trait. In India, this could be about class
9.Fake fiance love: When your characters fake a romantic relationship for achieving a selfish goal, say a showy girl with a sweet handsome boy for a college prompt show, and they end up falling in love, they are playing as the tropes of fake fiance lovers.
10.Amnesia: This is usually when your girl/ boy has met with an accident, suffers a memory loss and they end up falling for the guy/girl who saved him/her. Conflict is best possible if your character forgets the girl/boy s/he was previously in love with. Everything would turn messed up and the writer could then give a satisfying end to the story or the keep up the suspense for the next book in the series.
Outline your story
Step 4 of answering ‘ how to write a romance novel ‘
Whether you are a discovery writer or an outline writer, you have to have a rough idea of where you are going to make sure that your story has a happily ever after. And after understanding all the sub genres of romance novel, this is a piece of cake I presume.
Know your characters, the character arc your story will follow, the plot, the settings of the plot, the kind of society they come from, the conflict central to the story, their first meet cute and how your story will either leave some questions to the readers for your next book, if it’s a series of novels or come to the happily ever after.
The stages of writing the story:
Step 5 of answering ‘ how to write a romance novel ‘
Once you have outlined your story, begin with the task of writing it. Though depending on the sub genre you have chosen the structure of your story might change but generally it has to follow the lines of a basic introduction into your character’s life, their first meet, what keeps them together/apart, the central conflict- what is a hurdle in their relationship, the high moments, their coming together and happily ever after.
The cover and the title:
Step 6 of answering ‘ how to write a romance novel ‘
Your cover and title is the first impression that your readers will have of your book. So make sure it hits a home run. Do not take a cover just because it looks cute or is trending in the market.
You will know what I am talking about if you carefully observe the two different kinds of emotions these book covers evoke!
I have dedicated a separate article on the art of writing a book title ( including kindle keyword research and everything!)
Edit, edit and edit:
Step 7 of writing a romance novel
I have mentioned this time and again, that the process of writing is actually a process of rewriting. No great write-up is perfect in the first shot. You have to keep editing to get to the final polished product.
Enjoyed the blog ? Have anything to ask ? Feel free to comment in the comment section below! I would love to hear from you!