Fancy a little romance?

(photo by E. Jurus, all rights reserved)

I’m doing this week’s post a day early because I’m sharing a time-sensitive deal for anyone who might want to try their hand at writing a Romance novel: a bundle of tools, resources and training by The Romance Writer’s Super Stack that expires 11:59pm PST tomorrow, April 11th.   

The package is one heck of a deal: three masterclasses, four story-crafting e-courses, ten e-books, a couple of planners, and quite a bit more, all for the great price of $49. That’s not a lot to shell out to learn how to do it well.

In case you’re scoffing, don’t – Romance is one of the highest-earning genres of fiction, bringing in over one billion dollars in revenue each year.

Most books have some form of relationship in them. What exactly makes a novel ‘romance’? Here are the defining elements:

  • The main plot is about the development of a romantic relationship between two people.
  • The novel must have what’s called an “emotional throughline”, i.e. a connecting theme that plays out from start to finish.
  • The story arc must build to an optimistic ending.

If you’ve ever watched a Hallmark movie, you’ve seen all that in action. The ending is a foregone conclusion – what makes the stories interesting is how the happy couple get together, through various trials and tribulations and plot twists, and settings from cozy to exotic that are conducive to how the pair meet in the first place.

Beyond those, there are several plot mainstays that all romance readers expect from their experience.

For one, readers want to read about an experience they’d like to have themselves. Romance novels remind us of what it’s like to go through that first exciting flush of love.The novels are generally told through the woman’s perspective.

Today’s protagonists tend to be smart, strong-willed women, not the helpless females of earlier decades.

There’s always a conflict that needs to be overcome. Although that might sound too cheesy, if the course of true love ran straight there wouldn’t be much of a story to tell.

Like all fiction genres, there are a number of sub-genres within the Romance category:

  • Historical Romance. This includes any novel set before 1945, i.e. before the end of World War II (I’m not sure why that’s the cut-off point).
  • Contemporary Romance. Apparently the social mores of all the years after the end of World War II are lumped under the word ‘contemporary’. Again, not sure why, as mores have changed dramatically within that time period, but there it is.
  • Paranormal Romance. These novels combine a love story with fantastic or paranormal elements. I’ve read some terrific books in this category – the paranormal element offers some really interesting twists to the whole relationship.  
  • Fantasy Romance & Sci-Fi Romance. Generally, romance set in an alternate world/time, though not to be confused with…
  • Time-travel Romance, where the lovers are from different times and somehow manage to meet across the years, decades or centuries. The Outlander novels would fall in this category.
  • Romantic Suspense. Adding an element of mystery or suspense, with a puzzle for the romantic couple to solve. One of them is often in a legal type of job and helping out the other.
  • Young Adult. Centering on the lives of young people, of course, with all the emotions and decision-making that goes with that period in our lives.
  • Multicultural Romance. These novels explore love between interracial couples – less of an issue in  modern times, one might hope, but not always.
  • Inspirational Romance. Stories in which religious or spiritual beliefs impact the central love story. The relationship progresses in a more chaste way, and there is little to no bad language or violence. These contrast considerably from…
  • Erotic Romance. There’s strong sexual content in these novels, usually fairly explicit. While other genres of Romance may feature what’s called sex “behind closed doors”, i.e. we see the build-up, but not the details of the actual act, erotic novels – like the Fifty Shades series – throw the door wide open. If you’re of a mind to write this kind of novel, do your research on how to write the sex scenes effectively. Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander novels, even wrote a how-to book, “I Give You My Body . . .”: How I Write Sex Scenes.

As you can see, there’s a style of Romance for just about anyone, but it’s not as easy to produce as you might think. However, there’s a lot of material online that you can use for research, and a great place to start would be the Superstack bundle mentioned at the start of this post. (Please note that I do not have an affiliate website and get no reimbursement for passing on this type of information.)

One final thought: although writing Romance isn’t something I’ve ever thought of doing, I’d suggest that you should have fun doing it, which will infuse itself into your writing so that your readers will have as much fun when they buy the book.

N.B. I’ve installed a new Theme (WordPress style) and am having some technical issues — hopefully they’ll be resolved soon.

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