Vancouver Sun

FIVE TIPS FOR WRIT­ING A GREAT RO­MANCE NOVEL

- ALEESHA HAR­RIS Ahar­ris@post­media.com Entertainment · Lifestyle · Movies · The Shadows · Fifty Shades of Grey

With Valen­tine’s Day right around the cor­ner, love is def­i­nitely in the air.

But, in the world of books, it’s al­ways a good time for a lit­tle ro­mance. Es­pe­cially if you work for the well-known Har­lequin Se­ries.

The se­ries, which was founded in 1949, pub­lishes more than 110 ti­tles per month in more than 150 in­ter­na­tional mar­kets — and in more than 30 lan­guages. Phew, that’s a lot of heavy breath­ing.

Look­ing to get into the mood with your own racy read? You’re in luck. Post­media News asked Joanne Grant, ed­i­to­rial di­rec­tor at Har­lequin Se­ries, to dish her five top tips for writ­ing a love-themed novel that’s so good it would put 50 Shades of Grey to shame.

1. Have chem­istry

“Whether love scenes are strictly be­hind closed doors and off the page, or de­scribed with all the steamy de­tails, you should have chem­istry be­tween your char­ac­ters out­side of the bed­room. The buildup of sen­sual ten­sion is as im­por­tant, if not as more so, than the ac­tual love­mak­ing — your reader needs to be­lieve the chem­istry be­tween these peo­ple so you know they will be ex­plo­sive to­gether, but also that they have an in­tense, be­liev­able con­nec­tion that will last. It can be as sim­ple as an un­ex­pected in­no­cent touch, eye con­tact that lasts a lit­tle longer, or feisty ver­bal spar­ring that is about ev­ery­thing but at­trac­tion — but is re­ally all about it. This will make the pages tin­gle with ten­sion and an­tic­i­pa­tion.”

2. Keep the char­ac­ters re­lat­able

“The char­ac­ters are the reader’s gate­way into the novel. And whilst it is im­pos­si­ble to make ev­ery char­ac­ter ex­actly like ev­ery reader — peo­ple are all dif­fer­ent — there should be some­thing the reader can re­late to that tran­scends the char­ac­ter’s ob­vi­ous qual­i­ties. It is what lies be­neath that cool com­po­sure, or bright smile that makes the char­ac­ter come alive as some­one you can imag­ine know­ing, or even be­ing like. Let your reader in on what the char­ac­ter re­ally feels and is think­ing, as it is of­ten flaws that make us re­late to the char­ac­ter, not in spite of them but be­cause of them — so don’t be afraid to give them those emo­tional flaws.”

3. Cre­ate char­ac­ters wor­thy of each other

“What would a ro­mance be with­out a heart-rac­ing char­ac­ter worth turn­ing those pages for? They needn’t be per­fect, they just need to be per­fect for your other char­ac­ter — even if nei­ther of them think so to start with. And then it isn’t enough just to think your work is done. Whether they are a busi­ness bil­lion­aire, dare­devil or a sin­gle par­ent, they should have hid­den depths that may not be ob­vi­ous at first, but it will be your other char­ac­ter who will un­lock who they re­ally are and that is the per­son they will fall in love with.”

4. Have those ‘yes!’ mo­ments

“Ro­mance read­ers come to the genre for es­capism, to feel good, to go on a jour­ney with the char­ac­ters and there is noth­ing more sat­is­fy­ing than those scenes that make you re­act with pure joy: whether a face-split­ting grin, a lit­tle shriek of ‘yes!’ or even a mini fist-pump. I am talk­ing about those mo­ments when a char­ac­ter is tri­umphant in suc­cess, or a char­ac­ter fi­nally con­fesses their love, or when a char­ac­ter who re­ally de­serves it gets their come­up­pance. Read­ers live for the highs as well as the emo­tional strug­gles, so a good bal­ance of both makes for a feel-good read.”

5. End on a high note

“It sounds ob­vi­ous, but when your reader has been through the wringer along with your char­ac­ters, they will want to fully be­lieve in their happy end­ing. And, for that, you must al­low that page space to wal­low in that sat­is­fy­ing feel­ing that ev­ery­thing is good in the world. So, don’t cheat your reader — let them bask in the glory of a well-earned love. Show the smiles and to­geth­er­ness, their thoughts for the fu­ture, tie up the loose ends of any sub­plots — you want that happy-ever-af­ter glow to linger long af­ter the reader closes the book, like a warm hug.”

 ?? POST­MEDIA FILES ?? Joanne Grant, ed­i­to­rial di­rec­tor at the Har­lequin Se­ries, says the end­ing of ro­mance nov­els must en­velop the reader in a warm glow.
POST­MEDIA FILES Joanne Grant, ed­i­to­rial di­rec­tor at the Har­lequin Se­ries, says the end­ing of ro­mance nov­els must en­velop the reader in a warm glow.

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