Writing Romance is a Different Animal by Carol Malone


Enjoy Carol Malone’s next post on how writing romance is different from writing other genres. Also, check out how you can get feedback on an aspiring author romance contest that closes Dec. 18th.


All fiction genres have plots. A story needs a storyline, something that pushes the characters from page one to the end. When we look at a mystery, we want to see how the main character is going to solve the mystery and save themselves and probably their lover. In romance, the plot HAS to be driven by the romantic relationship of the hero and heroine and by the turning points in their romantic relationship.

The hook then for a romance novel is having the hero and heroine meet for the first time or they reunite for the first time after a long period of time apart. According to Laurie Sanders in her romance writing courses, “When the characters meet there must be some kind of conflict between them. The conflict keeps the character from being both emotionally intimate and physically intimate at the same time.” In fact, Laurie has a sixteen point chart on the romantic plot points that I’ve learned how to incorporate into my own romance writing.

It’s imperative that the hero and heroine meet somewhere in the first few pages of your novel – if you’re a romance writer.

Don’t do like I did in one of my first novels where the hero and heroine met in chapter fourteen. Not good. I have since learned the correct way, the difficult way of writing a compelling romantic genre fiction. It takes a while to master the nuances of writing emotionally-charged romance and write it well. Most romance writers struggle with this from time to time. Luckily, we have the masters like Nora Roberts from which to read and study.

What else does an opening chapter in a romance novel need even before you write it?

  1. We need to know what happens; this is the plot according to Lisa Cron in her book Wired for Story.
  2. We need to know who the characters are – you as the writers needs to know them deeply.
  3. We want to know what goal the hero and heroine have.
  4. We want to know when the hero and heroine change and how. This is actually the essence of the story.
  5. You need to know what your hero and heroine’s inner struggles are. What are they having to overcome to make them feel okay?
  6. You need to know what conflict to throw in the h / h’s path to true love and toss it in often.

What happens in the very first chapter of a romance novel?

According to Lisa Cron, what every reader wants to know at the start of your novel is:

  1. Whose story is it?
  2. What’s happening here?
  3. What’s a stake?

Even if you write from several different POVs in your romantic tale, one will jump out as the main character. Since this is romance, the main character be that the hero or the heroine, they must meet their counterpart in the first chapter. It’s sort of a must.

Right from the start, something has to happen that will affect the first main character we meet. Perhaps the h / h will slam into each other at a coffee shop and she spills coffee on his brand new tie.

Then we want to know what’s at stake for these two. Where’s the conflict – what’s keeping them apart even as they feel drawn to each other? This will be woven into the rest of your story until we come to a satisfying conclusion.

00LoveBannerPromoApple2This all brings me to the meat on his post and why Beth Barany and I are offering you the chance to win some invaluable feedback.

I want to help you bring out the best in the first fifteen pages or your romance genre fiction novel. If you’d like to win that in-depth feedback from me on your first romance novel, check out our contest which is open now until December 18th.




About the Author

Carol Malone, AuthorAn award winning novelist, Carol Malone writes romantic suspense, rocketing readers into the past to uncover a hard-fought happily-ever-after. Based in coastal California, when not hammering out new tales, Carol reads, watches sports, the Food Network or HGTV, or spends time with her author husband. She loves to connect with her readers on her website, Twitter, and onFacebook.

Check out her books here:

Fight Card Romance: Ladies Night  

Fight Card Romance: Ladies Night Christmas

Summer Holiday

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