There’s nothing like the feel-good story of a romance novel. There’s a “happy ever after” for most of the characters involved and the reader gets to translate that type of ending to their own life. Yet without some sense of realism to the story involving the ups and downs of love, a romance novel can feel pretty bland, generic, or false very quickly.
These romance novel writing tips can help you find your love and then be able to put that emotion into written words.
#1. There is a difference between romance and sex.
Yes – people who are being romantic may end up doing the horizontal tango at some point over the course of a day. Just writing sex scenes that would make 50 Shades of Grey blush is lazy authorship. Romance is about what leads up to our expressions of love and that is often missed when writing within this genre.
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Think about your first love. How did you feel when you saw that person? What happened when tried to speak with them? If you got to go on a date, how nervous were you? These feelings and emotions should be a majority of what comprises a romance novel.
#2. Change up your voice for each character.
Your writer’s voice is important for the narrative of your story, but each character should approach their feelings differently. None of us are exactly the same, so having your characters think and feel the same way as one another takes away a component of realism from the story.
#3. Love isn’t always just about emotion.
When you speak with couples who have been together 40+ years, you notice that how love is expressed evolves over time. Being romantic is ultimately about the decisions that we make every day. Married couples decide to stay together each day. Some days that choice is easier than others. This is the approach your characters should take as well. Let them choose romance in a natural way and then explore how they feel throughout the pages of their novel.
#4. Romance can be aimless, so give it some structure.
Some authors excel at free-writing a novel, but romance and love is a tough genre in which to do this. The old adage that “love is patient” and “love is kind” really is true. If you’re writing out a narrative without structure, then it may not get to the different plot points you want to reach without excessive rambling. Structure gives you the chance to be clear and precise with each thought and feeling so the romance your characters experience can have a deeper meaning.
#5. Make sure you focus on the emotional payoff.
People tend to read romance novels because they want to be able to feel something. You don’t need to have a book that’s about rainbows and roses. There are paranormal and sci-fi romance novels out there that have avid readership. What matters is that something happens within the text which re-affirms what the reader is already feeling. Many stories like this have the characters making sacrifices for one another so that they can come together.
#6. Sometimes it really is okay to kill off one of your characters.
Many will say that if you kill off a character, then you’re writing a “love” story instead of a “romance.” That’s not necessarily true. Some of the greatest romance stories of our generation in real life involve couples married for decades and dying together in old age because they can’t bear to be apart from each other. Something like that is deeper than love or a decision to stay – and really, it’s the ultimate emotional payoff.
#7. Keep taking forward steps.
The trap of a romance novel is to stay within the thoughts and feelings of the characters and not give the story and action or forward momentum. Then, to compensate for this, meaningless action gets inserted into the story to make it feel like there is forward movement. It’s okay to explore thoughts, but it shouldn’t take up several pages to do so. Let the story progress naturally as your life progresses naturally.
These romance novel writing tips can help you to get started on the structure and content of your story, but the rest is up to you. If you’re interested in romance novels and read them on a regular basis, then your interest will show within your words. Then just sit down, start to write, and you’ll create something that helps readers feel something down to their core.