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Writing Romance (Part 2) by Abby Green

Abby Green

Abby Green

This is the second part of an article by Harlequin Mills and Boon  author, Abby Green. You can read Part 1 of the article here.

Here are my top tips for writing romance:

  • It shouldn’t need saying but you do need to respect the romance genre to write it. It’s not a quick fix/get published/make money fast option. And if your heart isn’t in it the very sophisticated & dedicated romance readers will smell a rat a mile away.
  • Read, read, read within the romance genre – and the line (or authors) (Modern/Sweet/Medical/Historical etc) to which you think you’d be best suited, or which draws you. And then read some more. That will tell you what you need to know about current tropes/trends etc.
  • Then, after you’ve read a ton of books, figure out a way to do the same thing but with an original twist. Not as easy as it looks!
  • If you’re not comfortable writing sex, that’s fine! Some romance lines shut the bedroom door and others leave it wide open. It’s up to you how hot you want to make it. Personally, I like reading and writing sex.
  • Bring your Hero and Heroine together as soon as possible. Most of these books are 50k words, you don’t have time to waste. Your reader wants your characters to meet ASAP. Also, there’s not much room for extraneous characters so don’t focus on them or subplots. Unless you’re writing a longer novel.
  • Conflict is key. And not the fisticuffs/arguing kind. As the great romance author Linda Howard said, ‘If your hero is a firefighter, your heroine better be an arsonist.’ Get my drift? You can bring your characters together via an external conflict, for instance a rivals work situation or a minor car crash, or enemies to lovers. But, once they’re together, the thing keeping them apart HAS to be their internal conflict.
  • Internal conflict is HARD! These two people need to be at opposite ends of their inner spectrums. No-one really wants to read a story where Bob meets Sue, they discover they have loads in common, are very nice to each other, fall in love and live happily ever after. We want fireworks! We want tension. We want drama. We want angst. We want to see them be put through the emotional wringer as they fall helplessly in love, and just when we think we hear songbirds tweeting happily, the crisis moment happens and all is lost. Will our intrepid lovers ever overcome their obstacles?! When they do, it’s the greatest payoff ever.
  • The things keeping these two apart need to be deeply personal to them. What they want gets in the way of the relationship and through relationship/intimacy they discover that what they want isn’t actually what they need. What they need is each other. Intimacy. Union. Self – discovery. Redemption. They exist apart from each other but want to be together. Simples!
  • A lot of people have misconceptions about these kind of romance novels. For instance the older books were mostly written from the female POV so the Hero’s actions were interpreted through the Heroine’s eyes, hence his slightly ‘less’ rounded character. Now, we utilise the Hero’s POV, and so you need to justify his actions. If he’s behaving arrogantly or being less than emotionally available, you can’t get away with painting him as a one-dimensional character. We need to know why and understand, so we can empathise with him and fall in love with him alongside the Heroine.
  • Likewise with the Heroine, she needs to have agency. Her dream isn’t to fall in love with Xavier and make passionate love and have his babies, it’s to pursue her own dreams and ambitions. He gets in the way! We need to relate to the Heroine, understand her motivations and aspirations. Empathise with her. If she decides to let the Hero seduce her she has to be doing it for a better reason than because he’s hypnotised her with his, er, magic wand.
  • A sex scene doesn’t exist just to fill the pages. It has to propel the story forward. Or back. The Hero and Heroine need to be changed after it. You have to constantly be thinking in terms of one step forward, two steps back. A sex scene doesn’t happen in a vacuum. What leads up to it? What happens during it – beyond the physical act. And how are they changed afterwards? How do they now feel about each other? Maybe they use sex to drown out their emotional misgivings but ultimately there’s a reckoning.
  • The crisis moment is what you’ve been building towards since this pair first set eyes on each other. The one thing that they can’t surmount no matter how close they’ve become. This is where they now choose to forge a new existence – far different to the one they’d envisaged at the start of the book. They might have to make a huge sacrifice. Be emotionally naked. Honest. Vulnerable. It should be so emotionally satisfying that you’re crying as you write it, like Joan Wilder in ‘Romancing The Stone.’
  • And THEN, they get to have their HEA, with or without a cute epilogue showing them happy at some later date. Some readers love epilogues. Some readers even demand them! Personally I love doing them. It’s a selfish payoff for me, the writer.
  • So, to sum up. Go find your niche or what it is you think you want to write. Read, read, read. And then…WRITE! Good luck!

Read Part 1 of this article here.

(c) Abby Green

About The Maid’s Best Kept Secret:

The secret’s out…
…but the scandal’s still to come!

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…

Maggie is determined her newborn son won’t want for anything. But when Nikos uncovers her secret, and their sizzling chemistry explosively reignites, it’s clear they have unfinished business…and Nikos is determined to claim them both!

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Abby Green spent her teens reading Mills & Boon romances. She then spent many years working in the Film and TV industry as an Assistant Director. One day while standing outside an actor’s trailer in the rain, she thought: there has to be more than this. So she sent off a partial to Harlequin Mills & Boon. After many rewrites, they accepted her first book and an author was born. She lives in Dublin, Ireland and you can find out more here: www.abby-green.com

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