I guess I must know a little bit about writing romance, as I’ve just published 50th titles for Harlequin Mills and Boon, probably the best known romance publishers in the world.
I do still feel though, as if I’m making it up as I go along, and I’m not just talking about not being a plotter! Although, in fairness, I’ve become a better plotter over the 14 years since I got published. It really does make things so much easier. Even if you are fond of going off piste mid-way which I definitely have a tendency to do.
I have been a fan of Mills and Boon romances ever since I found one in my grandmother’s bedroom when I was a teenager. I fell in love with the Hero and I wanted to be the Heroine. I fell in love with the intense emotion and the high stakes drama.
It seemed like an impossible task to bring these two people together but inevitably they did find their HEA (Happy Ever After) and I would be left emotionally wrung out. For about five minutes, before starting the next story. A voracious obsession was begun in that bungalow in Ballybunion, Co. Kerry, circa 1988!
That’s the thing that defines the romance genre – the promise of Happy Ever After. And this is the same if you’re writing shorter category romances (50-55k words), or longer Single Title length books (approx. 80k words or higher). It’s the fulfilment that every reader knows they will get. The promise that no matter what we put our characters through, we will make sure they get their happy ending.
Ahem. You know what I mean.
As the wonderful Nora Roberts once said about Romeo and Juliet, ‘Not a romance, a tragedy!’
The romance genre really is one of the most varied literary genres in the world. There is literally something for everyone. Want paranormal romance featuring Fallen Angels, Werewolves, Daemons, Vampires and/or Faeries? Check out the wonderful Kresley Cole or Nalini Singh.
Want sexy hot romances featuring modern cosmopolitan Heroines and the Heroes they like to tease and torment? Check out Mills and Boon’s DARE line, or the Red Hot Cosmo Reads.
Want to read seriously erotic romances featuring straight, bi, gay characters? Check out Tiffany Reisz.
There’s Amish romance (I kid you not). Inspirational Romance for those on the more spiritual side. Romantic Suspense for those who want a bit of dramatic action and maybe a few gun shots or kidnappings with their ‘I love you.’
There are Medical Romances for those who fantasise about Dr. Ross choosing them over Nurse Hathaway. And there’s Historical Romance. Who can resist a little under the petticoat action? Some of my favourite historical romance authors are: Julia Quinn, Eloisa James, Anna Campbell and Elizabeth Hoyt.
And then there’s the line I write for. The Modern line, or Harlequin Presents as it’s known in North America. These category romances are seriously aspirational. Set in glamorous, exotic locations. Like, er, a country house in Kildare in my 50th book. Well, it’s exotic to some people!
The Modern/Presents line promises the highest octane romance there is. The more drama and angst the better. We really make these Heroes and Heroines work for their HEA. But when it comes it’s so worth it. Honestly, even if you don’t smoke, you’ll need a cigarette.
So, how to write a romance? Well, honestly, if I knew, I would bottle it and sell it and make a fortune. But what I can offer are some tips and first I’d like to use a quote from a fellow romance writer friend of mine, Megan Crane, https://megancrane.com, who writes for M&B under the pseudonym Caitlin Crews. She perfectly sums up what you need to consider when writing (specifically) a category romance :
“Imagine if I told you that you needed to sit down and write a captivating, engrossing, heartwrenching/warming love story, featuring two characters who are wholly themselves–complete individuals with their own histories and issues and needs, all of which will complement and complicate each other. And then I told you that you had to make sure these characters and their stories fit within certain guidelines. But that you needed to make sure you used those guidelines to make the story your own! And that you had to do it all in roughly 50,000 words. And that those 50,000 words had to involve a satisfying love story that should, if you did it well, make your reader’s heart pound as she raced to the end, possibly staying up half the night because she had to see what happened. Oh, yes, and that “the end” had to not only tie up all the emotions of the book, but fully satisfy your reader that your two characters are destined to live out the rest of their lives together. Happily.”
Suddenly it doesn’t look so simple, does it?!
See Part 2 of this article here.
(c) Abby Green
About The Maid’s Best Kept Secret:
The secret’s out…
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Shy housekeeper Maggie Taggart considers herself immune to rich, powerful men – her tycoon father’s rejection has taught Maggie to avoid them at all costs. Until she meets enigmatic billionaire Nikos Marchetti, and is totally enthralled by his potent masculinity! The pleasure that virgin Maggie finds in his arms is astonishing – as are the consequences…
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