When writing any genre fiction, it’s important to follow the rules. Genre readers have expectations, and your job as author is to entertain the reader and meet those expectations.
Begin with the ending. Romance novels end happily with conflicts resolved and mutual love expressed between the two main characters.
Story formula is basic and as follows:
- Heroine is in her early to mid-twenties, either has a career or is working on one, believes in love.
- Hero is older, established in life (career or wealth), lacks depth in interpersonal relationships.
- Both heroine and hero are attractive to reader in some fashion (physically, vulnerable, sexy).
- Secondary characters are as realistic as the primary, but their job is to produce conflict and complications for the love between the two primary characters.
- Secondary characters are critical to plot development.
- Typically, the two main characters have some misconception about each other, thus fostering conflict.
- Romantic tension (conflict and attraction) permeates the story but admission of love isn’t done until the end of the book.
- The first few pages lay the groundwork for the story.
- Any flashback material comes toward the beginning, but after the reader meets the heroine.
- Reader’s interest must be caught right away and sustained by developing each point in the story and everything in the story having a point.
- Action must be sequential.
Follow the formula, and you’ve written the basic romance. There are variations within the genre, of course. For example, the heroine could be older, more mature. There could be physical characteristics not considered attractive, but endearing, in one of the primary characters. There could be a spiritual element.
And if you’re looking to publish your romance novel with a publisher, look for an agent or at least get the publisher’s guidelines and follow them, along with the basics.