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Guide to Help Romance Novel Writers

From ancient epic poems to saucy eBooks, the romance genre has changed and evolved without ever losing

There are some things that are generally accepted as necessary for this genre

Meeting these expectations while trying to freshen up tropes can have authors walking a tightrope

It’s a balancing act, and with this article, we’re here to help

Some people want taboo themes while others want a romantic comedy

Happily Ever After, commonly abbreviated as HEA, doesn’t just mean marriage and babies

Traditionally, romance novels would feature a damsel in distress who pines for a Prince Charming

Hello? The 21st century called and who needs saving anyways?

Readers get just enough dopamine knowing that their favorite characters will be ok

In her article on Book Riot, Sarah Nicolas goes so far as to say that if romance

“A genre label exists to give the reader an idea of what to expect,” she writes

Nicholas Sparks has built an empire on tear-jerking, emotionally poignant novels

Though Jamie dies from cancer, Landon is changed forever because of her love

The movie La La Land is another example of a romance with a non-traditional HEA

The love story helped the main characters grow, but they needed to find independence

Their love story was a crucial part of their growth as young adults, but they weren’t

As Pinar Tarhan, one of my favorite indie romance authors, told me, “if I want to lose

The best way to learn what your readers are expecting is to read romance

Start with our list of the best romance books of all time to learn timeless techniques and

In addition to a Happily Ever After, there are a few key plot points that are expected

It’s not really even a formula, although I’ve seen many people disagree

I have seen everything from nine plot points to more than 20 “requisite” scenes

There’s even a theory that a romance needs “three dates” to be well structured

While your structure can be unique to your writing preference, as a romance novelist, there are still

ProWritingAid also has an extensive Writer's Resources Library to help you with your own romance story

(Need more inspiration? Check out this list of 81 romance prompts to start your writing journey

If they already know each other when the story begins, then introduce readers to how they first

If they are friends or enemies when the story starts, show where the relationship dynamic begins to

In some romances, the characters get together for a while, then break up

Show us that happy ending! Even if you’re just implying that things will be good for

Don't get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with them inherently; someone out there will definitely love

I asked a couple of my indie author friends how they turn romance tropes on their heads

She wrote a billionaire romance where the characters ended up “no longer rich

What’s stopping you from making the rake the woman? I had the privilege of beta reading

She has new hook-ups all the time, and she is terrified of commitment

He’s emotionally available and has only ever been in serious relationships

Oh, no! There’s only one bed! Usually, these two characters can’t stand each other, but

How can you make this situation as un-romantic as possible?

Who hasn’t dreamed of falling in love with someone glamorous to take us out of our

But millionaires, celebrities, or royals as love interests can quickly become cliché

“Fan-celebrity romances might not feel fresh,” Pinar told me

Does your princess give up being a royal for her new love interest?

You can subvert plot tropes all day, but the key to freshening up these tropes is in

Romance gets a lot of flack for having the same characters over and over: the Mary Sue

Give your characters plenty of flaws, but not the flaws people would expect

Write the story you want to write (and not the one you're expected to) because your audience

I asked Rosie Chase how she balances the expectations of romance while also trying to freshen up

“I think the best thing about romance is that we have the basics down

At least two characters need to meet, fall in love, and have some sort of happy ending

Writing a romance is a balancing act of sorts and managing what's expected and your own unique

Having a supportive community is important to any writer, regardless of genre

At ProWritingAid we believe that writing is better together, and that can look like community webinars with