FIVE TIPS FOR WRITING A GREAT ROMANCE NOVEL
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.”