Romance might seem like the easiest genre to write, but it is not. The average romance reader has already read many books, so they won’t be easily impressed. To write a successful romance novel, you need a solid strategy. It won’t just happen magically.
A great way to start is to see how other successful authors did it. For some book inspiration or simply for a good read, try a book subscription.
Now, let’s discuss the secrets to writing the perfect romance book.
1) Don’t overthink it, use a formula that works
Romance books are incredibly popular, but there is one common rule in all of them. This tried and true formula is: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, and boy gets girl (or adjusted to any other sexuality). This doesn’t mean that you can’t try something new, but most readers will expect your romance book to follow this format.
The good news is, there are many different ways to tell this story without it sounding like a cliché.
2) A familiar concept is a much better option
There are three concepts that work all the time:
- Friends become lovers
- It’s all about fate; we are meant to be
- Falling in love again
You can choose from the above concepts for your story. For instance, a rich guy meets an unsure girl. When you write, think about what readers want to see. They want the story to be relatable to their own lives.
3) Understand your audience
Writing a romance book can be challenging because you’re not sure who to write for. But when you know the reader, you’ve got a big advantage. Middle-class and middle-aged women from the South are your perfect audience. They like ice tea and hot romance!
Generally, men are not the primary audience for romance books. The majority of romance book buyers are women. According to one report, most women buy more than one romance book each month and read them at least once a month.
So, for romance stories to work, remember that you’re probably not going to surprise your reader with a twist. However, you can still give them interesting characters to invest in and introduce them to something new.
4) Bring the character to life
Now that you know more about your reader, you can create a more relatable character. A teenage girl can’t resonate with an older reader–she wants to see someone she can identify with.
Okay, so what does this mean? It means she should have some things in common with the character. Here are some ideas that may help you reflect the reader in your romance book:
- Physical appearance
5) Introduce the love factor
What makes a perfect love interest? Someone who’s not perfect, of course. Your protagonist shouldn’t fall in love with him immediately, and there should be some factors that make him less-than-perfect for her.
Make the reader fall in love, too, with both the main and the side characters. You can’t make the reader care about one without making them care about the other. In order to do that, you have to create realistic and rounded characters. Take your time to develop them.
6) What’s the motivation?
You can’t create a believable romance without understanding the character’s backstory. A character bible will give you all the tools you need to bring your story to life. But it’s essential in the romance genre. Why?
Man, it’s hard to write romance without anything happening. It’s easy to let the characters just become friends, but readers want an ending where the leads are together. So, what motivation is there for the characters?
Why does your character act in a particular way and that way only? Motivations are usually born in the backstory. Note that you should know the answer to this question, not the reader.
Perhaps the heroine is distrustful of men because her father left her mother. It’s important to know your character well enough to understand where she’s coming from. If you understand her psychology, you can create a character that’s realistic, authentic, and whole without telling the reader every detail.
You may show your reader glimpses of what’s happening in your story, but as the author, you must know the motivation behind every character’s action at every point in the story.
7) Choose the location wisely
Setting is an important aspect of your story. It can set you apart from other regular romance books and become a main character. For example, you can do historical, contemporary, or bucolic. So, the idea is to choose a setting that adds tension to the characters to keep it interesting.
In an otherwise crowded genre, it’s important to make your book stand out from the pack. While “any town, USA” is a tried-and-true setting for a romance story, it might be worth trying something new and unusual: like a mission to Mars.
8) Romance books or stories, in general, should have happy endings
When it comes to endings, you need to consider two things: how it will affect your reader and how it will affect the future of the romance genre. If you don’t have a satisfying ending to your book, it will have a devastating effect on your reader. It could even leave them feeling too cynical to read any other romance book you publish in the future.
The perfect ending for your story is when the boy gets the girl. No matter what, find your way to this conclusion.
The above-mentioned 8 pointers can be used for fantasy romance books or romance books in general. Sometimes it may feel like you are stuck with an idea, and that’s when following a proven and straightforward methodology, like the points above, can get you back on track.