Have you ever wanted to be a romance writer? I thought I’d take you along on the journey for how to write a romance novel the way I did it. Did you know about of 100 people who set out to write a novel only 3 finish one? That is crazy!
I’m a little obsessed with romance novels, so this past winter, I decided to write one myself. I finished it about three weeks ago and now I’m in the editing process.
This was my process in learning to write an entire romance novel. You do not have to take my word for it. there’s a lot of successful authors who’ve written all kinds of blog posts and videos for how to write books. This is just what I did.
How I did it:
Here’s a step-by-step guide on what I did to get started. This is by no means comprehensive, just what I found what worked best for me.
Read Romance Books
This one is the most important things to do! Read a TON of romance books. I was already hooked on romance books for years before I ever decided to write one. It’s probably my most favorite genre. This year alone, I’ve read nearly 100 romance books.
Do this because it’s basically research. It will teach you the tropes, the themes, the expectations and the typical way romance stories are written.
Figure Out Your Audience
Define your target audience. Do you want to write historical romance, contemporary, paranormal, young adult, etc.? My book is geared toward people who like to read contemporary romance with a little magical realism thrown in. It’s similar to authors like Abby Jimenez,
If you figure out your audience, you can tailor your story and characters to what they like.
Create Compelling Characters
Write an entire backstory for each character. I write at least a page or two on their life, their family, their job, their hobbies. All this stuff can lead to their motivations and their conflicts. You want them to have flaws and strengths. It’s those flaws that will give you the black moments you need.
Create well rounded characters who are relatable who readers can connect with emotionally. You want them to think, “I see some of myself in that character.”
I recommend using something you know or something you can thoroughly research. There is nothing more annoying than reading a book set somewhere the author has never been, so they make mistakes. That pulls you out of the story so easily. I used a local town near me that I am intimately familiar with.
You might be a plotter or a pantser. What are they?
- plotter – This is a person who outlines the entire story and follows that outline – they create the main events, conflicts, and resolutions of the story. They follow the typical structure where there is a meet cute, some obstacles, fall in love, then they overcome the challenges for the happily ever after.
- pantser – This is the person who starts writing without an intensive outline and lets the story take them where they need to go. This is me. I cannot follow an outline because as soon as I start writing the story, something unexpected happens. I can’t even explain how that works, but it does.
Watch Brandon Sanderson’s lecture series on YouTube. It is amazing! This helped me so much when I first getting started and didn’t know what to do. I think what he talks about really helps with all kinds of fiction, not just fantasy and sci-fi. He talks about plotters and pantsers
However, I wanted help with figuring out magical realism because that’s an integral part of the book I just finished. He talks a lot about magic systems.
Tension and Conflict
One of the most important things is creating the tension and conflict in a romance.
Have you ever seen a caduceus? Here is a picture of it:
This is what you want to do with tension and conflict. You will have your characters come together (fall for each other) and then have conflict over and over until the final black moment and happily ever after.
The Love Story & Tropes
There are many common tropes in romance novels. You can use these tropes, in fact, it’s a little expected there will be tropes. But, put a unique twist or spin on them to stand out from other authors. This will give you a fresh story.
Here’s some common tropes:
- Love Triangle (romance readers HATE this)
- Secret Billionaire
- Friends to Lovers
- Enemies to Lovers
- Stuck Together
- Second Chance Romance
- Soul Mates
- Forbidden Love
- Fake Relationship
There is nothing I love more than to sit somewhere and listen to people talk. It’s how I learn to write good dialogue. You want it to feel natural. You want it to reveal the characters’ personalities.
You can sit in a restaurant, a coffee shop, even the library and listen to people have conversations all around you, and that will help you learn how to write it better. I have totally made my husband sit somewhere even after we’d finished eating, so I could hear the entire fight a couple was having. I took notes, so I could recreate a similar fight between lovers.
When I write dialogue, I come back days later and read it out loud to myself to make sure it sounds like people actually talk.
Pacing Your Story
This keeps the reader’s interest. This also helps you create that tension and romance so that the relationship evolves organically.
Also, if need to understand HOW to pace a romance, read Romancing the Beat. She lays out a simple formula for writing a romance novel.
If you get stuck, you don’t have to give up. There are TONS of Facebook groups for writers where you can bounce ideas off people, ask for advice, and share what you’ve learned.
I worked out reasonings for why something was happening in my book between characters with people in one of my groups. They gave me great ideas.
This is the part I’m currently working on. This is where the real work begins. I know it’s daunting writing a book, but the best advice I got for writing the book is let bad writing happen and fix it in editing. That’s why this part is hard.
Now that I have my first draft, I’m editing and revising. I do better at proofreading and editing when I print out the entire book.
I use Scrivener to write, so I printed my book out in a proof copy, so it makes it less pages and crams the chapters together more closely. This made my 200+ page book down to around 150 pages. I used up my entire ink cartridge and then put it together using binder clips.
Then, I get lined Post – It notes and a bright color pen (pink!) and a highlighter and break the book up into sections to go through. I’m
With the first go round, I’m looking for basic proofreading – missing words, wrong tenses, etc. I also am rewording anything I feel looks awkward.
On the second go round, I plan to leave the story for a week or two and go back and read it like a book, to see where I need development. I’ve already spotted some backstory I need to elaborate on with one of my main characters. He needs some reasoning for freaking out.
There is where beta readers come into play. I’ve heard getting free ones isn’t always the best. I’ve read horror stories of free beta readers from a FB group who stole an author’s book, published it, and then made her look crazy and trashed her. I cannot imagine.
I plan to use paid services, and I’ll update with my experiences when I get to this part of the journey. There are beta readers on Fiverr and other places who will read your book, answer a list of questions for you, and give you a report at a reasonable price.
We’ll delve into this more once I’m at that stage. But there are three things I’m aware of right now.
- Traditional Publishing – get an agent, sell the book to a publisher, and get it published. It can take years!
- Self Publishing – use Amazon Kindle, Vella, to publish and market your book yourself.
All of this takes research, which I’ve only dipped my toe into recently.
If you want to learn more, I suggest looking at Twitter of all places. There are great hashtags where you can get great advice – #askagent, #querying #amquerying #writingcommunity and so many more.
Remember, writing a novel takes time and dedication. Stay committed to your story and enjoy the process. With perseverance, you can create a compelling romance novel that captures readers’ hearts.