How to Write a Romance Novel [In 12 Steps]

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How to Write a Romance Novel [In 12 Steps]

On the surface, romance can seem like an easy genre to write in. However, I can assure you that knowing how to write a romance novel takesskillandpractice.

Writing a romance novel takes just as much time, effort, and planning as any other piece of fiction. Following these steps will make the process easier for you, especially if its your first novel:

While it may not require the extensive research and worldbuilding thata fantasy noveldoes, that doesnt mean its easy. If youre going to write a successful romance you really do need to learnhow to write a novelwell.

Romance novels will always hold a special place in the hearts of everyone. Even those who are too tough or hardcore to admit it, will always have a soft spot for a good romance.

This is due to our inherent desire for love and companionship. Everyone craves it - needs it, even. We have many connections throughout our lifetime - friends, colleagues, family - but our partners become the most important.

Its this love of love that has people gobbling up romance like theres no tomorrow. Be it a novel that is entirely romance, or a romantic subplot in a different genre, readers love it when theres love. It adds an element of relatability that lets them connect to thecharacters.

For this reason, it is smart to knowhow to writea romance novel. Whether you want to be known as a career romance novelist or not, writing romance is a crucial skill.

Romance is becoming more and more popular, with many romance novels being turned into movies and TV series.

While there is much to be gained from taking formal classes, there are ways you can learn how to write a romance novel on your own. This includes research, experience, and practice.

Fortunately, you dont have to be head over heels in love at the very moment. Your love life is your business - which is why I have outlined all the essential elements of writing a romance novel. Perfecting the craft will take time, but you can use these strategies to get started.

The steps outlined here will no doubt help you write your romance novel. If you want to make the process even easier, I suggest using a template as well. Squibler has a romance novel template to spark your creativity:

The template will guide you through each step of the process and make sure you dont miss anything that a good romance needs.

Romanceis versatile. If you want to write astraightromance, thats fine! There is a huge market for this.

There are many readers who live for a good, dramatic love story that focuses onlove.

But, fans of other genres want some romance too. This is where you can consider writing in a subgenre of romance. Romantic plot lines can be weaved into almost any other type of story, but the most popular romance subgenres are:

If youve been thinking that your idea isnt appropriate for a romance, youre probably wrong. Even if fantasy or thriller or the supernatural is where your heart is, you can always incorporate romance.

Theamountof emphasis you put on the romance is up to you. It can be subtle or it can be a focal point throughout the plot. In fact, it isadvisablethat you add at least a small amount of romantic tension to any novel.

Even if it is a very small part of the story, it is something that helps the characters become more believable. Because everyone needs love in their own life, readers will relate to the characters yearning for it as well.

If you havent already, its a good idea to read some romance before attempting to put it into your own novel in any significant way. Even if you are a dedicated horror fan, pick up a fewromancenovels. If you dontlovereading them - consider it research.

This guide is not specific to any one subgenre or type of romance. It is here to teach you the important elements of learning how to write a romance novel. What you learn here can be applied to a romance of any kind.

No one who is learning how to write a novel should neglect to create a good setting. However, in a character-driven romance, it is especially important.

The setting creates the atmosphere and the atmosphere can hold a lot of weight in what goes on.

A contemporary romance, for example, often takes place in a simple and modern location. This can include an idyllic small town or a university campus.

These settings are perfect for your main characters to spend a lot of time together and have lots of drama ensue. These locations are also usually small enough where larger scale drama is realistic - such as flying rumors and fast-traveling news.

All of this makes for a perfect contemporary romance setting. An exotic vacation town with lots of tourists or a quiet countryside would not be as effective.

Historical romance can be set anywhere, as long as you have chosen a specific time-period in history. Historical romances can be beautiful, exciting trips back in time. But, they are only successful when you do the proper research on your setting.

You need to know what everything was like in your chosen place at your chosen time. Consider these questions when creating your historical setting:

What was the social hierarchy? Ie - were women and people of color being treated as equals? What was the balance of the poor/middle class/rich?

What was the most common mode of transportation?

How far along was technology at that point?

These are just a few things to get you started. You will need a lot of information before your historical romance will be accurate. But, all this research will be worth it when you have created the perfect setting for the story you want to tell.

Lastly, take paranormal romance as another example. This is a story that could take place in that lonely country town where neighbors are few and far away.

Perhaps the main setting is even a haunted house or street. This creates an effective, gloomy atmosphere for a spooky, ghostly love story with a darker feel.

Of course, you can set your story wherever you want, there arentrules. But, guidelines and common suggestions are in place for a reason - they work.

What matters most about your setting is that it makes sense and captivates your readers. Your goal as awriterofanytype of fiction is to pull your readers in and transport them into your world. Once you have chosen the specific location of your story, keep these elements of a good setting in mind:

Balance description with action. Dont write endless paragraphs that only describe.

Use the location within the conflict. Perhaps a physical obstacle or an unreasonable local law.

Use all the senses when describing your setting.

Make your setting real by using names. Street names, building names, even local nicknames given to landmarks such as a forest or park.

of year your story is happening, and even the time of day. This helps the reader visualize whats going on. It also helps certain scenes make more sense - like something that would

Even if they are not central to the plot, talk about the social and political environment. These things impact everyones lives and your characters are no exception.

Use several different elements to set the mood and atmosphere. Things like temperature, weather, lighting, and the emotional atmosphere will all contribute to how everyone is feeling.

Many cooks and chefs spend years practicing and perfecting their signature recipes. Why? Because when you have that tried and true recipe that everyone loves, the meal will always be a success no matter how many times you make it.

The same can be said for romance. While any novel follows some sort ofstory structure,most successful romance novels have six key ingredients. These ingredients are included because they are proveneffective.Even when repeated throughout different stories, audiences love it.

Of course, these elements can go in any direction. This is the absolute bare bones of your romance. But, its a structure that works.

This recipe can be tinkered with, added to, and expanded. If your story is unique and original, it wont feel like a cop-out just because you stick to the basic romance formula. Why mess with a proven, age-old method?

A plot device or trope is a specific person, object, or situation that is used to advance the plot in the way the writer wants. It is a means to an end - the writer knows what result they want so they figure out a way to get there.

There are many plot devices within fiction that are common. Earlier I talked about certain settings working for certain types of romance - plot devices are no different. There are some plot devices that justworkto drive a romance forward.

Just because a plot device is common doesnt mean its bad. It is up to the writer to make their use of a plot device original and unique.


When two people take their close friendship to another level. Many characters will hesitate, not wanting to risk the friendship.


Perhaps they grew up hating each other, or had a falling out. This creates plenty of conflict leading up to their decision to forgive and be together.

One or both of the lovers pretends to be something theyre not in order to impress the other. They fall in love while under the ruse and must continue the lie.

For whatever reason, the lovers are not allowed to be together. They are kept apart by a third party, such as government or family.

One of the lovers (can be male or female) has a reputation for playing the field and breaking hearts. Until they fall in love with someone and it becomes real.

One of the lovers (can be male or female) is in a perilous situation and the other comes to their rescue.

There are many more but these are some of the most popular. You can probably think of at least one book or movie right away that matches each of these tropes. Take these stories and ask yourself - did you thoroughly enjoy it or did it feel overdone and cliche?

You might have a mix of answers. This is because it is easy to take these tropes and be lazy. This creates a tired story that wont stand out.

On the other hand, there are many writers that make these effective devices work for their story in a fresh, unique, and interesting way.

Dont shy away from plot devices that you know will work, just be sure you are being creative. Put in the effort to write something people will love to read. You can also do this by combining several different plot devices to create a unique flow.

Knowing your readers is an important part of knowinghow to write a bookof any kind - fiction ornonfiction. Being aware of your target audience will help you write in a way you know will resonate with them.

For some books, this can require a good amount of research. For nonfiction especially, you need to find out exactly who needs your expertise, and exactly which parts of it they need at this time.

For romance authors, however, your basic readership is pretty simple and consistent.

About 80 percent of romance readers are women. This is overwhelming compared to most other genres. While this does leave about 20 percent of your readers as male, you know youre writing to a female majority. It is women you want to reach with your story.

Most of the women who read romances are between the ages of 20-50.

Romance makes up about 30 percent of all fiction.

Around 30 percent of regular romance book readers will buy more than one romance novel in a month.

That last one is especially important. This means they are constantly exposed to different romantic plot lines, and will easily spot one that is overdone or boring.

To gain a loyal readership that wont hesitate to pick up your next book, make every effort to stay unique, original, and different.

While you dont want to completely alienate the small number of male readers you have, it is important to know how to write for women. Women are the overwhelming majority of your target audience, so pleasing them is a top priority.

A few tips to help you resonate with your female audience:

Focus on the setting - especially the home. In days past, caring for the home was the womens job. While society is moving forward from this and embracing the working mom and gender equality, the home is still important to a woman. The way things are arranged and decorated, how its kept. Dont neglect this in your story.

Dont be afraid of feelings. Its no secret that women can be more emotional than men. Dont be afraid to write strong and deep emotions into your female characters.

Dont leave out the kids. Not all women have kids, but the reality is that most do. Dont be afraid to use them in the story. They can be a useful source of conflict. Especially if your reader is a mom, she will directly relate to any emotions pertaining to children.

Keep these things in mind, but also ensure you are creating balance. Unless you want to take the dive right into womens fiction specifically, maintain a balance. Remember your small section of male readers.

This is where knowing your reader becomes even more important. Weve established that most romance readers are women. But, there are still different age groups to consider.

Writing a story about a college girl who falls in love with the arrogant quarterback will not always interest a woman in her forties because she wants a character she can connect with.

So as you write about your , keep your specified target audience in mind. Are you writing for the young adult fresh out of high school, or do you want to target the middle-aged mom?

Its an important question to ask yourself, but dont over complicate it either. Its possible for older women to enjoy a story about young women and vice versa. But, its good to keep the general target in mind especially when creating a female .

A romance book will connect with its reader when they have something in common with the . There are a few details you can keep in mind as you begin bringing her to life:

Now that youve chosen what kind ofcharacter to write, you need to make sure they are believable.

Nobody, anywhere in the world, goes through life without struggle. It is imperative that you also give your characters some struggles and obstacles. A character that has the perfect experience every time will not only be entirely unrealistic, but they will also be boring.

Nobody wants to read about a perfect relationship because thats not interesting. Its not real and there is nothing to invest in. This is why temporary separation is part of the basic romance recipe I mentioned earlier.

So, give your characters some flaws and put them through some struggles. These struggles can include any number of things:

Usually, its most effective to write your main character(s) as round and dynamic. Give them deeply complex personalities. In addition, bring them through some change and growth as the story progresses.

Not every character needs to be like this. That would be exhausting and flat characters have special functions of their own. But, your main characters need to be multi-dimensional to create the maximum level of believability and relatability

Much like your heroin, imperfection is the key to creating a successful second character. Or in this case, the love interest.

Like any character, they should be flawed. Perhaps his more prominent flaws cause your heroin to wonder if they made the right choice or if he is the right one.

It can be tempting to write a perfect love interest because a perfect person is easy to fall in love with. However, this is a bad choice. It will take away from the conflict in the story and the believability of the character.

Many stories start with the hating or at least disliking the eventual love interest. This is effective, but it doesnt mean the readers have to hate the love interest as well.

There is usually a specific reason your hates him - a past betrayal, something he has done, who he was before a transformation took place, etc. This makes the distaste personal and your readers dont need to share her opinion.

Give him some redeeming qualities that appeal to the reader, and dont objectify him. Even if your main character hates him for a while, the readers should be able to tell that he genuinely loves her and is a good person at the core.

From here, you can develop him in a positive way. As your begins to fall in love with him, your readers will just like him that much more.

When we speak of romance, our minds often drift to the typical tanned, tall, well-built Don Juan who sweeps her off her feet. He is suave and charming. But, this puts you at risk of creating that too-perfect love interest.

These characters are sometimes effective, but its not the only type of man that can be romantic. Sometimes, a shy, nerdy gamer is what your character will love.

Dont be afraid to go outside the box and create a unique love interest that is charming in his own original way.

In her popular bookGMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict,Debra Dixonsays:External motivation is usually the most important to establish early in the book. Internal motivation can take a bit longer to develop and be woven into the fabric of the story one thread at a time.

This is the perfect illustration of the driving force. There is a difference between goals and motivation. Both of them combined are what create your characters driving force.

For example, lets say you have a character who is training for a marathon. He may have a couple of goals here. One might be to make it to 5k. Another might be to win and get the glory.

These goals are logical and important, but they are not enough. What makes him different from every other person training for that 5k marathon and wanting to win? His motivation.

What isreallybehind that desire to win? It could be a burning desire to feel powerful or superior. Maybe he wants to prove wrong someone who never believed in him. Perhaps he wants to honor a family member or even a beloved coach who has passed.

Each of these motivations will have different people doing the same thing - training for that marathon. But, its whatdrivesthem that really speaks to who they are as a person.

So, what drives your characters together?

To answer that, you need to dive into your characters and figure out every little, personal detail. Motivations often come from their past. This is why its important toknow everything about your character, even if the reader doesnt.

For example, your might struggle to trust in a relationship because she was cheated on by an ex-fiance of five years. This part of her past will drive her behavior within her current romantic relationship as well as other actions and decisions throughout her life.

At some point in the story, this betrayal may be revealed to your audience. But, you need to keep it in mind from the very beginning. Her actions need to remain consistent even before their reasoning is made known.

Within the romance genre, you will find different levels of intimacy.

On one end the spectrum is straight erotica. Here, physical intimacy is the focus. Writers go into excruciating detail with every scene. And there are a lot of scenes.

But, graphic sex scenes are not a requirement for successful romance. If you are writing about teenagers for teenagers, it would be highly inappropriate. On the other hand, if you are writing for grown women and you mention nothing more than a kiss on the cheek, they may feel a bit jipped.

Knowing your audience is crucial in determining how intimate you get in your writing. Your own level of comfort will also come into play. Not all romance writerswantto be known for the straight sex appeal of their books.

You may also just not be into it, and thats fine! If sex scenes arent your thing, your book wont necessarily hurt for it. Much can be implied and well, people have good imaginations.

Regardless of how much or how detailed you get with your more intimate scenes, knowing how to write a romance novel does mean you needsome.

The general show, dont tell rule works well with scenes of physical intimacy, especially between characters who already have a deep connection. You dont have to be graphic to let your reader know, through her reaction, how a kiss from her partner makes your female protagonist feel.

Unless youarewriting erotica, your intimate scenes should have a specific purpose. They should serve to advance the plot in some way. Whether its the moment youve been building up to for half the novel, or its a means to create conflict, it shouldnt be there just because.

If you are interested in writing intimate scenes that are more detailed, there are some things to keep in mind:

Remember that pushing or breaking physical boundaries requires a building of trust.

Dont do everything all at once. Build intimacy over several scenes before finally reaching the finale.

Dont skip steps. In real life, some people will go straight to kissing and straight from kissing to sex. While it may happen at times, it is not interesting. Make the process slow and intense. One thing at a time. This will keep readers turning the page rather than yawning.

10. Secondary Characters are Important in Writing a Romance Novel

While secondary characters are important to any story, they play a unique role in a romance. For a female main character, it is usually her sister and/or her best friend that she seeks relationship advice from.

This right here is a limitless pool of potential conflict. Sometimes, best friends give well-intentioned but very poor advice. And then, the advisee follows said horrible advice and lands in a highly compromising situation.

Sometimes these poor results can be hilarious, other times they are heartbreaking. Either way, they add tension and conflict.

Crazy sisters, eccentric best friends, jealous guy friends, and protective family members all add value and drama to your story. Dont neglect these characters and their relationship to your and/or hero.

Knowing exactlyhow to write a booktakes time. While nobody willeverwrite a perfect book the first time, there are ways you can tighten up the process and make things easier on yourself.

There are many book writing software out there, and most of them have something good to offer.

For editing, you have things likeGrammarlyandHemmingway.  These are powerful editing tools that scan your work and give you a lot of helpful insight.

Grammarly scans for and alerts you to basic grammatical errors:

It will highlight your mistake and offer a solution. To use their correction, simply click on it and the document will change itself. Text can be edited in the Grammarly app, or you can integrate it with Chrome, Microsoft Word, and Google Docs (currently in beta).

Hemmingway is a different novel writing software that checks for readability. It wont tell you if youve spelled something wrong, but it will tell you how easy your piece is to read. It does this by looking at a few specific things:

The editor is available to use online for free, or you can pay $19.99 for access to the desktop version as well as a few other bonuses and features.

Before you can edit, you need to have written something. The writing process has many elements:

Squibleris a book writing software that can help you with all of these. It has a place for notes, research, your books actual content, and everything in between.

It teaches you how to write a book in the most efficient way possible. This will have you on your way to publishing before the novel starts dragging on for months or even years. In the end, this will make you abetter writer.

The drag and drop feature for your chapters and scenes means you dont have to worry about writing in chronological order. Write whatever you want, whenever you want, and reorganize later.

Squibler also offers assistance when it comes time to publish. Once finished, you can export your manuscript to PDF, Kindle, or print publishing formats.

Most book writing software helps youpublish, but not many include print publishing as an option within the software. This is where Squibler is powerful and unique.

There is an unspoken rule within the romance genre. And that is the happily-ever-after. Or at the very least, a happy-for-now. No matter how much trauma and emotional turmoil anauthorputs their characters through, readers justknowthat theyll be okay in the end.

Many criticize romance for being too formulaic. This is because romancedoeshave a formula, which isnt always a bad thing.

But, the formula does include the HEA. Its like an invisible line of trust between author and reader.

There are some who try to break conventions. They write a wonderful romance but end it with a less than happy situation. These often conclude with one or both of the lovers dying. Some argue this would no longer even be considered a romance, but a tragedy.

The issue is up for debate. But, the fact remains that a romance without a happy ending will leave readers, and especially dedicated fans of the genre, feeling betrayed.

Thats not to say you cant think outside the box. Just be aware of what people are expecting. With romance, unhappy endings can lead to failure if you are notverycareful.

If you want to break the mold without enraging your readers, you can try to compromise.

Let the lovers end up together, but one is permanently sick/disabled.

They are together but have a constant thorn in their side - like a nasty and manipulative mother/mother-in-law who disapproves of the relationship.

A historical romance could have them ending up together but still living in a war-torn, poverty-stricken country.

Let them be together, but their relationship has the permanent stamp of someones mistake or betrayal - perhaps a child with another person.

These types of melancholic endings will still give your readers that satisfaction of seeing the lovers together forever. But, it lets you add a sense of realism and tragedy. There are some people who love a darker twist and will appreciate an ending like this.

Whether you wanted to learn how to write a novel with romance weaved throughout, or you want to write in the romance genre specifically, you can now write your first romance novel with confidence.

The basics ofoutliningandstructuring a novelare the same across all genres, but romance does have a few of its own quirks and unwritten rules. Familiarize yourself with these things and youll be able to expertly craft that winning romance in no time.

Learning How to Write a Romance Novel is Always a Good Idea

Write Your Romance Novel With Confidence

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