A friend of mine who writes horror was thinking of writing a romance novel as a change, so I thought maybe I’d give her a little advice.

Let’s start with the definition of a romance – it’s a story where two beings (people/creatures/aliens, whatever) fall in love and by the end of the story commit to being together in a “happily ever after”. That’s easy enough.

Now as to how to write one—that’s not too hard either. Writing romance is just like writing any other genre except instead of having one protagonist, you’ve got two. That means that all the in-depth character development—figuring out the protagonist’s “wound” that colors the way they look at the world, determining what the character really wants as opposed to what they say they want, why they want that and how they’re going to get it, and their overall internal and external goals and growth—all needs to be done twice, for two people. No problem.

Then there’s the plot, or I should say, plots because you’ll have a few you’ll be weaving throughout your book. There’s your main plot—the external goal of one of your protagonists, or possibly both if they’re linked. And there’s the internal plots—one for each of your two protagonists, remember? There’s the romance, and usually, there’s some other element that runs through like a mystery or a paranormal element. So that’s… um… probably six plotlines.

Sometimes there’s a secondary romance running through your book, like in my new series (I’m getting really, really close to finishing the first trilogy!!!) where an older couple has a “second-chance romance”.  So, there’s a seventh plot line for you, and you might need to touch on the goals and/or history of one or both of the people in the secondary romance.

You do need to decide beforehand how much sex you’re going to want in your romance. Is it going to be hot and steamy? Better have a good reason for those sex scenes! If you just put in loads of sex scenes you might end up writing erotica or porn (depending on the depth of your characters).

Sex is great for creating conflict because it’s usually either too soon, too late, or not as good as expected.

On the other hand, if you choose not to put in any adult material, you’ve got to work on building up that sexual tension. You would not believe how hot it can be when a couple holds hands for the first time when touch, without wearing gloves, is taboo (yeah, this is me, wiggling my eyebrows!)

And finally, you need to decide on the genre because romance isn’t one genre, it’s many. You can have a romantic suspense, a romantic mystery, historical romance, YA romance, romantic comedy, contemporary romance, LGBTQ romance, science fiction romance, paranormal romance, or a fantasy – you can even have a horror story with romantic elements. 😊 Nothing is off the table here so long as you’ve got two people (or creatures/aliens) who fall in love.

So, there you have it. Writing romance in a nutshell. This is obviously why so many people scoff when authors say that they write romance—because they’re so easy to write! Tell me if you run into any problems. LOL!

Good luck!