How to Start Writing a Romance Novel
How to Start Writing a Romance Novel: When I think about romance, I have this terrible vision that was planted in our brains that romance novels can’t possibly be good. They’re cringy, for little girls, no serious reader reads romance, no serious writer ever thought about writing it. Romance has no heart, no soul, no message, only stupid characters, and stupid situations.
Yet, it’s the most read and sold genre on Amazon and, I’d dare say, on the world.
Of course, I want to cry when I see someone saying that. I love romance. And, yeah, I can admit that some romance novels are plain BAD. The writing is bad, the situations are cringy, everything makes you want to cry. However, that’s not the case with many romance novels.
And you, as a writer, won’t be less of a writer if you decide that you want to give romance a shot.
This image was created by pedant nerds that never got a chance at romance in life. I’m sorry, but the hate that some people propagate towards romance has this explanation only.
And even so, these same writers decide to add a terrible romance arc in their fantasy, sci-fi, horror novel. Usually, this arc makes no sense, it has a stereotypical fragile girl who needs help to tie her shoe. All because many of these writers hate romance and don’t want to learn how to write it properly.
Let’s not forget Jane Austen and Shakespeare with Romeo and Juliet, to say only two. I bet you can name many other amazing writers who get their names in the classics for romance novels.
So, why am I telling you all that? Because I want you to start writing romance with the right mentality: we, romance writers, are great, amazing writers and romance is the most read genre in the world. We can create great stories!
Okay, ready? Let’s do it!
Okay, so, how to make your romance novel not cringy? How to Start Writing a Romance Novel?
1. Characters that people believe in
A romance novel is, foremost, a novel with character development as the central plot.
Many writers don’t realize that and I used to be one of those writers.
I didn’t understand the main fact that differentiates a romance novel from a fantasy novel is the CHARACTER-centered plot instead of an “external plot”.
While fantasy novels are centered in the EXTERNAL factors that surround the main character’s life (such as being in a fantasy world defeating dragons), romance novels are centered in CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. That means that the CONFLICT happens because of the INTERNAL DOUBTS of the characters.
They won’t decide to break up because one of them tripped while walking down the street and injuried their knee (that would be external).
They will break-up because one of them doubts that the other feels the same. One is afraid of compromise. Or maybe they are too scared of repeating the same pattern as their last relationship. All of these are INTERNAL conflicts.
And that’s why romance novels actually get closer to literary fiction (where most of the classic novels are) than genre fiction (commercial fiction… like, well, fantasy. HAH! Who is laughing now?). Literary fiction is centered on internal conflicts, while genre fiction depends on the external.
That means that your characters must be extremely well-developed and fall slowly for each other.
Read here about how to develop a character.
I believe that the secret for that is to base your characters in REAL PEOPLE.
Imagine yourself, for instace. You saw a hot guy or girl in the subway. Okay, you can think about them or even comment about them, but you most likely will FORGET about them in no time. Unless you’re a crazy obsessive stalker.
Why would your character spend pages and pages daydreaming about that guy they saw on the subway? They wouldn’t!
Give your characters FLAWS. They fear, they get angry, jealous.
Having a bad past is an EXTERNAL CONFLICT. Abusive parents, drug addicted mother, or something like that. What they need it the reflection of this in their interior, otherwise cut it.
2. Think about how this flaw affects their relationship
You want the flaws of your characters to create the conflicts that will take the story forward.
Read more here about conflict in a story.
There is no story without conflict. It doesn’t exist. It is not possible. It would simply be a text stating a very positive situation.
What makes a character go from point A to point B is the conflict.
And, in romance, it’s very important that this conflict is generated by INTERNAL FLAWS.
The external plot can help. For example, they might be stuck in the same high school. Even if they hate each other, they won’t change schools because of that.
But WHY do they hate each other? It’s probably because of something they BELIEVE. Character A believes that character B is a terrible mean bully. Character B believes that character A is a shallow girl that wants nothing besides shopping.
3. Put them in believable situations
It’s absolutely ridiculous to fall with your face on the ground, making sheets of paper fly everywhere, for the characters to meet.
Now I can’t blame some of the pedant authors we talked about above there.
Some romance novels don’t even seem to be trying. They write these cringe-worthy scenes that would NEVER happen in real life and expect to be apraised by that. While other authors try to use good storytelling, some romance authors, again, don’t even seem to try.
Pretend that you’re writing something that will be read by the world’s worst critics. Then, really think about if that scene where one of your characters is thinking about the size of the other’s parts is really a good idea.
Why would you spend paragraphs and paragraphs describing women’s boobs? Or the size of a guy’s dick?
Don’t! Please! Good Storytelling is key.
The best resource that helped me is this book here. I use this every time.
I hope it made sense and it helped!