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What You Need to Know to Create a Bestselling Romance Novel

A former university media communications professor, Sallie, an independent publisher, also writes romantic fiction novels and short stories.

Read on to learn how to write a romance novel. Among other things, be sure to include enough twists and turns to keep your readers reading!

Read on to learn how to write a romance novel. Among other things, be sure to include enough twists and turns to keep your readers reading!

When it comes to writing a bestselling romance novel, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, your readers should feel a connection with your characters. They should be able to relate to them and feel invested in their story. Second, your story should be unique and engaging. There should be enough twists and turns to keep your readers hooked, but not so many that they feel lost.

Lastly, your novel should have an emotional impact. Your readers should be able to feel the love, heartbreak, and passion that your characters feel. If you can master these elements, then you're well on your way to writing a bestselling romance novel.

What Is Romantic Fiction?

Romantic fiction encompasses a wide range of stories and genres but usually revolves around love. Whether it's the sweet, romantic story of two people finding their way to each other, a whodunit with a murder mystery that must be while two characters also meet and fall in love, or a heart-wrenching tale of forbidden love, romantic fiction novels can be mixed with any other genre, and readers of all ages can enjoy them.

Simply put, romantic fiction is any novel that follows the journey of two people who are in love with each other. These stories often focus on the butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling you get when your first love returns or the intense passion one feels for their true love. They can also explore different topics related to love - from falling in love for the first time to dealing with relationship issues.

Romantic fiction novels are some of the most popular genres in publishing. They are often enjoyed by people who are looking for a heartwarming story with a happy ending. The basic plot of a romantic fiction novel is usually the love story of two people who are not necessarily compatible but fall in love nonetheless.

Work to create "likable" characters readers can identify with and love.

Work to create "likable" characters readers can identify with and love.

So What Makes a Romance Novel Romantic?

To keep readers hooked, romantic fiction typically relies on elements like suspense, excitement, and mystery. In addition, these tales typically feature fallible characters, making them easier for readers to identify with. Plus, there's always a hint of danger lurking around every corner, which heightens the stakes even more!

What Are the Elements of a Successful Romantic Fiction Novel?

A successful romantic fiction novel should have a strong plot, interesting and likable characters and settings, intriguing, well-developed "must-read" scenes, and a satisfying ending.

The plot for your novel must be well-developed and engaging. It must be strong enough to keep your readers turning the pages. Your characters must be likable and believable, and their interactions must be believable and entertaining. Scenes must be riveting and interesting, and the ending must be satisfying. If you are creating a series for your story, the ending must leave your readers eager for the next installment.

The following six important and in-depth points will help you develop and finish a successful romantic fiction novel.

1. You Must Create Believable and Relatable Characters

Characters are the heart and soul of a romance novel. If they're not believable, your story will fall flat. So how do you create believable and relatable characters?

First and foremost, you will want to ensure your characters are well-rounded with traits that appeal to both the reader and the characters. You don't want one character to be super intelligent with no flaws while another is weak-willed with no redeeming strengths. This will, more likely than not, come across as unrealistic.

Make sure all your characters have some kind of vulnerability that makes them human (and perhaps likable), as this is what will bring readers into their lives. We all have vulnerabilities that make us human. Seeing our flaws in others can help us to "relate" to the character.

Once you've decided on your setting, it's time to come up with some ideas for the characters. By paying attention to setting and characterization, you can create a compelling and enjoyable story.

Another important factor when creating characters is the backstory. What happened to one or more main characters before we met them is their backstory. Backstory can give readers a deeper understanding of your characters and help them connect with them on an emotional level.

Giving each character enough backstory allows you to fully explore their motivations, which helps keep readers engaged in the narrative. And when it comes to revealing secrets—especially those that might potentially ruin a character's reputation—you should tread carefully. Just because a secret is revealed doesn't mean it has to be dealt with immediately. As the author of the story, you can use it sparingly and strategically, if at all possible, in order to maintain reader interest.

Your main character, your protagonist, must be believable with real human traits.

Your main character, your protagonist, must be believable with real human traits.

2. You Must Create a Strong and Likable Protagonist

The protagonist is the star of your story. Everything that happens in your story must have something to do with your protagonist in some way. The star of your story is the person whose goals we care most about. We want to know what they want, and we want them to achieve want they want in the story.

You will need to work hard to create a protagonist that your readers will believe is a real person. You will need to create believable characters by giving them real human traits—good ones and bad ones. No one is perfect, so if you create a protagonist who has no flaws, they will not seem like a real person.

You will need to figure out how to add depth to your protagonist and any other main characters. The people you create and want readers to care about cannot be one-dimensional. They must be well-developed and must have as much emotional complexity and variety as human beings.

A strong and likable protagonist is essential in a romantic fiction novel because readers need someone to root for. Consider what kind of person your protagonist would be and what motivates them. Are they independent and self-sufficient, or do they need someone to take care of them? Are they kind and compassionate, or do they have a darker side? Are they flawed but endearing, or are they cold and calculating?

3. You'll Need a Well-Developed Love Interest

You should give a lot of thought to creating the love interest for the protagonist of your romantic fiction novel. You should not take this character for granted, and developing this person will not be as easy as you might think it should be. Just think about your own life, if you are in love. Or even if you are not in love but would like to be. As hard as it might be for you to find the love interest of your dreams, it should be at least a bit complicated to create the love interest for the main character of your romance novel.

You should realize you will, more likely than not, have to put time and effort into creating a love interest character for your protagonist that your readers will be able to identify with, want to get to know, and want to see as the love interest of your main character.

So, what happens next? Next, you will begin creating this character by listing all the characteristics that your primary character might become interested in as their soulmate or perfect match. What characteristics would or should this character possess? Then, after you have given this character's creation a lot of thought, it will then be time for you to make them imperfect human beings. Someone who is prone to make mistakes and is equipped with flaws, like the rest of us.

What role will this character play in the plot? Will the love interest accept or reject, initially, attention from the protagonist? What will the relationship be like between the protagonist and the love interest? Will you be including a sexual encounter between the protagonist and the love interest? Or, will you simply imply the type of relationship these characters are having while allowing readers to create specifics about it only inside their imaginations?

Use the setting to further immerse readers into the story.

Use the setting to further immerse readers into the story.

4. You Must Recognize the Importance of Setting for Your Romantic Fiction Novel

The setting is one of the most important aspects of any romantic fiction novel. It can help to create a believable and relatable world for the characters to inhabit, and it can also help to create tension and suspense. Setting plays an integral role in creating a believable and relatable romantic fiction novel.

With a well-developed love interest, the setting can further immerse the reader into the story, bringing them along on emotional journeys as the characters navigate their way through challenges and tribulations. The following are five key elements of a good romance novel that rely heavily on setting:

  • locale
  • atmosphere
  • character development
  • plot mechanics
  • conflict

The setting/settings or locale you choose should be reflective of the time period during which the story takes place. A modern-day romance set in Chicago would feature different architecture than one set in 18th-century England; furthermore, different neighborhoods within each city could have unique characteristics that would help to define its setting.

The atmosphere is another important consideration. When developing your novel, you might not think about atmosphere or tone as being as crucial as the elements of your plot or your characters, but the tone of your novel is still a vital consideration that can help in determining the characters' interpersonal conflict, purpose, and fates. The atmosphere or tone might be developed lightly or densely as the details of your novel's setting may become more significant and impactful to your scenes.

Setting in a romantic fiction novel can be vital to the success of your tale. It can help to engage the reader and immerses them in the story world. In addition, it can provide an underlying structure that supports your plot and contributes to its believability.

When creating a setting for your novel, consider what flavor you would like it to have. For example, if you're writing a contemporary romance set in New York City, you might want it to feel gritty and urban, with lots of action and shouting. If you're writing a historical romance set in Regency England, on the other hand, you might prefer subtler elements such as charming gardens and Palladian architecture.

It's also essential to consider how your setting will contribute to the plot. If your novel is set in a small town in Iowa, for example, it might not be appropriate for a story involving a romance between two people from different parts of the world. In this case, you might want to explore the consequences of a romance between two people from different parts of town or even the state.

This diagram depicts a traditional fiction plot.

This diagram depicts a traditional fiction plot.

5. You Will Need an Engaging Plot With Believable Conflict

Once you've developed your characters, it's time to come up with a plot. This might involve exploring the protagonist's past, meeting new people, or going on a journey. It's also important to think about the conflict your characters will face. Is it personal or political? Is it something they can overcome, or is it insurmountable?

When crafting a compelling plot, it's important to remember that readers want to be pulled into the story. To do this, you need to create believable conflict and tension. This can be achieved by developing your characters and their motivations and setting up the story's conflicts. Once these are in place, you can begin to see how they intersect and create a powerful narrative.

Finally, it's important to make sure your novel is paced well. Too much action at the beginning and end of the book will lead to a rushed reading experience, while too much exposition can bog down the story. Find a balance that works for you and your story.

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6. You Need to Learn to Write Effective Dialogue for Your characters

Dialogue is an important part of any story, and it can be difficult to get it right. Here are a few tips for writing effective dialogue for your characters:

  • Make sure your dialogue is natural. Don't force your characters to say things in a certain way just because you think it will make the story more interesting. Let them speak in a way that reflects their personalities and the situation they're in.
  • Use conflict to drive your dialogue. When two characters disagree, they'll likely talk to each other in a way that reflects that conflict. This will make for more interesting dialogue and a more engaging story.
  • Keep your dialogue concise. A lot can happen in a few sentences of dialogue, and if you try to cram too much into each exchange, it will become difficult to follow. Keep your dialogue concise and to the point, and you'll be able to create more engaging scenes without spending as much time on them.
  • Don't overuse the word "said"—it can become extremely repetitive!
bare-basics-what-you-need-to-know-to-create-a-bestselling-romance-novel

Editing and Revising Your Romantic Fiction Novel

Editing and revising your romantic fiction novel is essential to making it a success. Here are a few tips for getting the most out of your editing process:

1. Edit for Clarity

Make sure all your text is easy to understand without being too formal or terse. This will help improve readability and provide clarification for readers who may be confused by certain plot points or dialogue.

2. Check for Continuity Errors

It's important to ensure that all the scenes, dialogues, and plot lines in your novel flow smoothly together. Check for any inconsistencies or discrepancies between different parts of the story, and try to fix them as soon as possible. This can help to avoid confusing readers and build better cohesion between your narrative arcs.

3. Fix Grammar Mistakes

Many common grammar mistakes can lead to awkward prose that deters readers from continuing with your novel. Be especially alert for errors such as misplaced modifiers, incorrect word usage, and run-on sentences. Correct these problems as soon as you find them so that your reader remains engaged from start to finish!

Other Considerations and Tips for Writing a Bestselling Romantic Fiction Novel

Writing a romantic fiction novel can be daunting, but with the right advice and preparation, you can write a great book that will find its way onto bestseller lists. Here are some tips to help you write a successful romantic fiction novel:

1. Plan Your Work Schedule Wisely

Romantic fiction requires extensive planning in order to maximize storytelling potential. This means setting aside time each day to work on your manuscript. If writing is not your forte, consider consulting an editor or beta reader who can give you feedback during revisions.

2. Collaborate With Others

Partnering with others can yield great results when it comes to writing romances together-one person might take care of the plotting while another creates the scenes, and so on. This kind of teamwork allows for great flexibility and helps ensure the final product is cohesive.

3. Research Your Subject Matter

In order to write realistically about complex love stories, it's important to know something about the emotion involved—including what has worked for other authors in this genre. Talk to your friends and family members about their favorite romances, read as much as you can on the topic, and consult with experts when necessary.

If you're a writer who loves reading romance novels, you should consider writing one.

If you're a writer who loves reading romance novels, you should consider writing one.

4. Try New Ideas

Although it's tempting to stick with tried-and-true techniques, it's often best to experiment with different approaches if you want to stand out from the crowd. Give it a shot if you have an interesting premise or concept that might work well in a romance novel.

5. Write for Your Reader

When you write, focus on the emotions your reader might experience in response to the story. Think about what words and scenes might evoke laughter or tears-then aim to deliver them in spades. Writing romantic fiction is an art form, and if you put in the effort, your readers will feel like they're getting lost in your world.

6. What to Avoid When Writing a Romance Novel

When it comes to marketing your romantic fiction novel, there are a few things to avoid. First and foremost, don't overdo it. It's one thing to have a blog or a social media account devoted to your work, but it's another thing entirely to bombard readers with promotional materials. Second, don't forget about the basics. If your novel is well-written and entertaining, readers will help you spread the word through word-of-mouth, and they will come back for more.

Should You Write a Romantic Fiction Novel?

If you are a writer who loves reading romance novels, then it is definitely something that you should consider writing yourself. When it comes to romance novels, there is not a huge difference between the genres. All that really matters is that the story has a romantic element and revolves around two people falling in love for the first time. Writing a romance novel can be extremely rewarding, as readers often respond positively to stories with a romantic focus.

One of the biggest reasons you should write a romantic fiction novel is that it can be very lucrative. As of 2018, romance publishers reported an astonishing $30 billion in sales globally. Additionally, according to Forbes magazine, "the rom-com genre [has] consistently been one of Hollywood's more profitable sub-genres" since 1987. Therefore, writing a romance novel may be the perfect career choice if you are creative and have good storytelling skills.

Overall, writing a romantic fiction novel can be a fun and rewarding experience. Understanding the genre and what readers are looking for can set your novel up for success. Keep in mind the elements that make a good romantic fiction novel: believable and relatable characters, an interesting setting, and a well-crafted plot. With these tips in mind, you're on your way to writing a bestseller.

A well-written romance novel has believable characters, a captivating setting, and an exciting plot.

A well-written romance novel has believable characters, a captivating setting, and an exciting plot.

To write a romance novel that is successful, it is important to follow some basic guidelines. First, make sure that your characters are likable and interesting. Your readers will be drawn into their stories if they care about them. Second, make sure that the plot is well-paced and engaging. The reader should never be able to put your book down. Finally, make sure that your marketing strategy is effective. If you can get your book in front of the right people, you will likely succeed.

What makes a good romance novel? There's no one answer to what makes a good romance novel, as this genre is incredibly diverse. However, some key elements that make a romance book successful include strong and engaging characters, an emotionally charged setting, and an exciting plot. If you're aiming to write a commercially successful romantic fiction novel, it's important to keep these qualities in mind. Strong and engaging characters are key ingredients that make readers love a romance story. It also helps if your protagonist undergoes growth during the story; after all, readers want to see their favorite characters face challenges and learn new things.

A great setting can also make or break a romance novel. If your book takes place in a beautiful location, readers will be swept away by the picturesque scenes. Alternatively, if your story is set in a dark and dangerous world, readers may or may not find it entertaining or relatable. It's important to choose an environment that complements the tone of your story and makes the reader feel like they're part of the narrative.

Finally, it's essential to write an exciting plot that keeps readers on their toes from beginning to end. This means paying close attention to detail; every action and conversation must have weight behind it. Suppose you can create a well-written romance novel that features believable characters, a captivating setting, and an exciting plot. In that case, you'll be well on your way to becoming a bestselling author.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Sallie Beatrice Middlebrook PhD