How can I write a good romantic novel?
If you wanted to fly a plane, what would you do? You'd find a ground school and take lessons.
If you wanted to play the piano, what would you do? You'd find a piano teacher and take classes.
What makes writing any different? Writing is an art, but it’s a learned art.
Most people will tell you to just start writing, and keep writing, but I don't agree.
It's not enough to just write every day if you don't know what you're doing.
That just means days and weeks and months of useless writing.
It's like not knowing how to knit so you just keep making loops with the yarn.
You can't get better, you can't turn that into a scarf .
you have the desire, but you don't know how.
I'm going to give you my stock answer that I give everyone who asks me this question.
I'm going to give you some good advice on how to learn the craft, and give you a place to send in some of your work when you're ready.
In order to write stories that people want to read you will need to understand how to put one together.
There is a definite pattern and rhythm to it.
And there are certain expectations from the editors and publishing houses as to how your story is laid out.
You will need a good imagination, one that can look at a situation and picture all sorts of different scenarios.
You need to be able to ask 'what if' and come up with twists and lines that are new and fresh.
You will need to be able to research things.
For example I wrote a story set in Iran where there was a wedding.
I had to research how the wedding would take place, the food, the customs, common Iranian names, clothing, etc.
in order to write an interesting yet correct story.
Take classes in writing; grammar and punctuation (very important.
lots of self published books are swimming in glaring errors and typos), character building, dialogue, plotting, pacing, point of view (POV), inner and outer conflicts, subplots, scenes and sequels, genres, story boards, twists, chapter hooks, suspense, killer opening lines, and satisfying endings.
If you're going to write sci-fi you will need to take classes in world building.
Each genre of book has its own set of expectations from the reader that you will need to fulfill.
For example a murder mystery must have clues for the reader to try and solve.
A romance needs a happen ever after ending, known to writers as an HEA.
A thriller needs fast pacing and danger.
Where to find these classes? Local community colleges often offer writing classes.
My local library has classes seasonally.
Best of all there are hundreds of classes you can take on-line.
They run about $25-$35 each and range from 2 to 4 weeks.
Google on-line writing classes and you will get lots of sites.
There are sites that offer expensive classes, so be careful.
I’d recommend starting with a few less expensive ones to see if you really like writing and want to continue.
IMO it is not necessary to have a degree or to take an expensive course to write well.
And there is your great idea for a romance novel!
Readers of Romance novels want their heroes to be role models or larger than life.
Romance novels are fantasies, and the reader wants to escape into a world where she can experience the thrill of falling in love with a man who, in real life, might be the tiniest bit too scary to date because he’s so bold, handsome, sophisticated, powerful, witty, rich .
You get the idea! Perfect people make boring characters.
The essence of all fiction is conflict; that’s why Romance novel editors often advise aspiring authors, “Sparks have to fly between your hero and heroine!” When your Romance characters first meet, they are going to be antagonists.
(Surprise!) Your job is to develop the relationship slowly so that the reader can believe that these two antagonists are falling in love.
everyone already knows how the book is going to end (happily ever after), so there is no tension over the outcome; the tension (and the page turning) must come from some other source.
At least some part of the conflict must be between the hero and the heroine.
No romance reader wants to read about how the plucky heroine met the strong, sexy hero and they realized they were right for each other and everything was awesome once they got rid of those pesky cattle rustlers.
That might make an interesting story, but it is not a romance.
A romance must have something (a conflict!) that keeps the hero and the heroine apart.
And what keeps the reader turning pages is wondering how on earth you’re going to get them to overcome that obstacle and reach the happily ever after.
Use these three key questions to achieve just that.
In romance, your two main characters must have internal goals and external goals that they’re trying to reach.
If you can bring your characters’ goals into conflict, and thus the hero and heroine into conflict, you have a good chance of creating believable tension that will keep your readers engaged.
Suppose Greta has always loved her grandmother’s quilts, which remind her of her grandmother’s house, the only place she ever felt safe and loved.
She has the internal goal, perhaps never explicitly stated, but certainly implied, of finding a way to feel safe and loved again.
First question – Have you read any?
Second – there are variations to romance, genre (contemporary, historical, fantasy, paranormal), heat levels (Kiss at the door, the two go inside for a bit of a make-out session with heavier petting but no graphic language, take the reader to the bedroom door and let the reader imagine, love-making (because it not about the sex, although there are variations of erotic romance)
Third – consider it from both points of view, women want ‘romance’, which many men don’t get, while tend to be goal-oriented.
Fourth – if you do write the sex, don’t write it as a male sex fantasy, women get turned by someone they connect with, and for heavens sake please get the details right.
One recent study said the most woman don’t get what they need because a good many men don’t understand female anatomy.
(and some females don’t get male anatomy either – what physically pleases him)
Fifth – make sure that you write compelling characters who grow through the process.
Not all of the women should be beautiful, not all men should have a six pack.
And last – It should always end with a HEA (Happily ever after) or a HFN (happy for now.
That depends entirely on what kind of romance you are writing, and what sort of publication you are seeking.
If you’re writing with the goal of publishing a category romance (i.
Harlequin, Avon, Entangled, etc.
), each category and publisher has its own standards and word count requirements.
Note: The most universal DO regarding romance as a genre is that the story end with an HEA (Happily Ever After) or and HFN (Happily For Now.
Beyond that… you’ll have to discern what you want for the story, and what your preferred publisher will require.
The best resource I can recommend for your purposes would be the RWA (Romance Writers of America.
) As a guild, they provide superb workshops, conferences, contests, and overall advice regarding the publishing industry and the romance genre.
They have local chapters all across the U.
that meet monthly, and helpful members who can potentially spare you a lot of trouble.