Romance novels bring in more than a billion dollars every year, according to Romance Writers of America.
Stories range from sweet romance to erotic romance and span multiple sub-genres.
These sub-genres include historical, futuristic, suspense, comedy, and contemporary to name just a few.
So, what should someone anticipate with good romance writing, and what is considered bad romance writing?
Good Romance Writing
As with any genre, effective writing starts with good grammar, sentence structure, and an excellent grasp of vocabulary that will allow a writer to tell a story in a compelling manner.
The story should flow unhindered, so the reader doesn’t even notice the actual writing, just the story.
Always focus on the relationship in the story.
The relationship is the core that drives the purpose of the characters. It’s not an afterthought.
You need to show the development of the relationship and how the couple overcomes their problems, often while also weaving in an external plot.
You’ll see certain common story themes in romances such as friends to lovers, reunited lovers, and first love among others.
Your job as a writer, if you do choose a common theme, is to deliver a fresh twist on it to keep the reader engaged.
Because over 80% of romance readers are women, writing a strong heroine is a must.
She can have problems. She can need and accept help from the hero.
However, she must ultimately evolve into a woman who can stand on her own when she needs to.
A romance tale always ends happily ever after or, at least, has a happy-for-now ending.
If your romance doesn’t have a happy ending, it might tell a story about love, but it’s not a romance.
A romance reader already knows that the couple will end up happy. They want to experience the journey the couple takes to achieve that happiness.
Bad Romance Writing
If your story contains errors, whether they’re grammatical or factual errors, readers will not finish the book.
Nor will they buy anything else you have written.
You must either work with a professional editor or make certain you can deliver a clean and accurate manuscript.
Purple prose no longer graces the pages of most romance novels.
Long passages of descriptions and pages of backstory written in huge chunks have also become scarce.
Readers, especially those with limited time, want quick action and snappy dialogue with details woven into the romance when needed.
Readers want to get roped into the story immediately.
When writing romance, you need to look at your story from the reader’s point of view. Give them a reason to keep reading from the first page.
If you don’t and they grow bored, they’ll go on to the next book.
You shouldn’t write perfect characters. Everybody has flaws. Write realistic heroes and heroines.
With villains, it’s especially important to write a realistic character. Including an evil character who has some good qualities — such as a soft spot for children, seniors or even pets, for example — makes him or her more believable.
Nobody is all good, and nobody and is all bad. Writing predictable, stale, or cardboard characters will make readers toss your book.
Don’t write spicy romances if you’re uncomfortable depicting graphic sex scenes. A bad sex scene can ruin an entire story.
In erotic romances, readers expect frank language and sexual details that involve all five senses.
You’ll need to read a lot of novels to understand the differences between sex scenes in traditional romances and erotic romances, and so you also don’t stray into erotica.
Romance fiction is one of the most popular genres with readers today.
Writing about relationships, and combining that into an interesting plot with internal and external problems that your characters need to overcome, is a challenge.
However, when you meet the challenge and become successful, you’ll have created romance novels that readers will enjoy and happily recommend.