With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, I thought it would be fun to share some tips for writing about romance. These are useful whether your genre is romance or it’s simply a sub-genre for your piece. Whether you’re drafting a novel, short story, creative nonfiction, poem, or other genre, these tips will ensure readers hang on to every word!
1. Understand Your Genre (and Sub-genres)
The most efficiently and effective way to write is by learning about your genre. If you’re writing a fantasy romance, research both fantasy and romance extensively. You should understand common clichés and tropes.
One of the best ways to improve your writing is by reader relevant work in that genre. Start with authors and book (stories, etc.) that you enjoy. Take notes while reading:
Take a look at the infographic below to get a better understanding of clichés, tropes, and an overall idea of the romance genre.
2. Don’t Make Your Characters Surface Level
Before you even begin writing, you should chart out backstories for characters. Backstories are important for a couple reasons:
3. Don’t Create Characters Who Are Solely Defined by Their Love Interest
This is overwritten and boring. Does she really only live for her relationship? What about her goals or dreams? Family? Maybe she needs to break up to follow her dream as an athlete. In reality, people don’t live for relationships, but they are connections are important. This applies to male characters, too. He should have some other interests and happiness than his love interest or lust. Men have goals and dreams as well.
4. Minor Characters
Some genres can have only the love interests as characters, but a novel needs more characters. Minor characters can have backgrounds that cause conflict or interference as well. Just be careful not to create minor characters that your readers love more than the main character(s). The type of characters you write will vary depending on plot and genres. Examples of minor characters include:
If you want to write sequels or prequels for your piece, minor characters could become main characters later and readers will already have some background and knowledge of them. Or, they could become sources of conflict and obstacles.
5. Don’t Glamorize Abuse
You’re free to write about what you like, and abuse can be a great piece of plot, if used correctly. But glamorizing abuse:
6. Write Natural Scenes
No one picks up a romance novel and enjoys reading awkward phrasing or descriptions of intimate scenes. It’s always okay to leave the rest to the imagination. Also, write connection! The characters should have some connection and chemistry, or it feels unnatural and unenjoyable to read. Think about your own experiences. It doesn’t always have to be perfect—there’s definitely room for humor, as evidence by real life experience and intimacy. Example of natural and realistic writing:
7. Star-Crossed Lovers
There’s a reason romances like Romeo and Juliet or Pride and Prejudice are so popular. People love star-crossed lovers! And yes, it can be interesting if done from a creative and original standpoint. Examples include:
Keep in mind that star-crossed lovers can end tragically like it did for Romeo and Juliet, or it could end on a happier note like it does for many modern star-crossed lovers. It’s really up to you and the direction you want to take.
8. Happy Endings
With that being said, I want to touch on happy endings. Many people, including award-winning authors, say a happy ending is necessary for a romance. I disagree. Look at The Fault in Our Stars. I cried an unbelievable amount and felt that although John Greene wrapped up loose ends and wrote a beautiful story—it wasn’t a happy ending. At least, not a typical one.
It’s okay if a love interest dies or is never seen again for whatever reason you decide. Perhaps your plot involves a happy ending that create a newly single character. Not every relationship is happy and not every happy relationship lasts. Just remember, you can be creative!
What your favorite romance work? Let me know in the comments!
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