By Dawn Arkin
Romance writing is so much more than the "bodice
rippers" of the 70's. Today, romance can on take
many forms. Fantasy, science fiction, mystery, horror,
and supernatural themes are becoming as popular as
contemporary, historical, and regency romances. What was
once rejected by publishers without a second thought is
now sought by those same editors.
Regardless of what kind of romance you want to write,
reading current romances in your favorite genre is a
great way to see what is being accepted. While there is
not one set "formula" you can use to write an
award-winning, popular novel, but there are certain
things most romance editors look for when reading
When planning your romance, you will need to create the
perfect characters, setting, plot, and sensuality level
for your story. Here are some of the things to keep in
mind while you are writing your romance to make it stand
out from the rest of the submissions.
A hero should be strong, exciting and bold. He knows what
he wants, and does what is necessary to get it. He has a
purpose in life. He does not have to be rich, brilliant,
political, or economically powerful. But he can be any of
those, if you wish. You want to create a hero who makes
your heart go pitter-patter.
Your heroine can be strong-willed or shy. She can have
imperfections as long as they are not overwhelming. She
can look anyway you want, as long as she attractive to
the hero. But one thing she must be is someone the hero
is willing to do whatever it takes to have.
The antagonist is the best character to write. He can be
as bad as you want, as evil as you need. He should be
flexible and motivated. He knows what he wants and is
willing to do ANYTHING to get it. But he has to have some
redeeming qualities. Every human on the planet, even the
most evil, has something about them that is not evil.
Remember, this is a story about your hero and heroine,
not their best friend or neighbor next door. Your
secondary characters should never be more vivid then your
main characters. They can be used to move the story
forward, give information to the main characters, and
provide support to them, but they should never take
control of the story. Every scene should have at least
one of the main characters in it.
Where you set your romance is almost as important as what
it is about. Your setting does not have to be exotic as
long as you are able to convey it to your reader in such
a way that they can become part of your world. Since
publishers change what they are looking for based on
reader desire, this is the one thing you should be sure
you have researched carefully to avoid the rejection
The main characters should meet as soon as possible and
find themselves in conflict with each other right off the
bat. Their first meeting should be explosive emotionally.
It should make them be attracted, and hate, each other
from the beginning.
Another important basic is every single line and word
must have some purpose in the story and MUST move the
plot along. Use your dialog, descriptions, and conflict
to keep your action, and your reader's interest, peaked.
What is a romance story without love scenes? Writing a
love scene is a very personal thing, for your characters
and you. Only you can decide just how much
"romance" you are willing to put into your
piece. A romance story can be sweet, with all of the sex
happening behind closed doors. Or it can be hot and
steamy, with nothing being left to the reader's
imagination. Or it can be anything in between! But be
sure you write your story based on what the publishers
want in their romance line. Do your market research, then
write your romance geared toward their requirements.
There are plot lines considered taboo and sure to be
rejected. For an experienced writer, they might not
matter. But for the new writer, one who has not proven
they can sell books, these are the kinds of plot lines
that can sink your story before its time. Rape, incest,
an evil hero, terminal illnesses, and terrorism are
things you should probably not use in your first or even
second book. All publishers will have a list of taboo
subjects in their guidelines, read them and follow them.
Otherwise, your wonderful romance could become a
Finding out what publishers want, and need, is the best
way to get published. But also you need wonderful
characters, a strong plot, plenty of tension, and an
ending that will make even the most hardened romance
reader swoon and wish she were in the heroines place. Do
that, and your romance will be on a shelf before you know
Dawn Arkin is an author on http://www.Writing.Com which is a site
for Writers. Her portfolio can be found at http://darkin.Writing.Com so stop by and
read for a while.