Elements of Successful Romance Novels

Romance is one of the bestselling genres in fiction, and many self-publishing writers wish to try their hand at one. With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, today AuthorHouse looks at ten elements of successful romance stories!


Your story should have…


1. A sympathetic heroine – The reader wants to identify with the heroine! Even if the situations and conflicts she encounters are larger-than-life, her emotions shouldn’t be.


2. A hero the reader could see herself falling in love with – If the reader keeps asking herself, “What does she see in this guy?” you’ve got problems. The hero doesn’t have to be perfect—everyone has flaws, after all—but his good traits should overshadow the bad.



3. Conflict – Forces should conspire to keep the hero and heroine apart; overcoming those forces is what makes for an entertaining story. Don’t make things too easy on the couple!


4. A happy ending – There are certainly exceptions, but generally a romance reader wants to see the couple together at the end of the story.


5. Plenty of action – Don’t make the story too internal, focusing on the heroine’s thoughts; follow the lead of screenwriters and show rather than tell. Keep the story moving forward with activity, not thinking.


6. A single point of view – While jumping from one character’s head to another is a common technique in literature, you should avoid it in romance novels. Audiences generally want the story told via one point of view.


7. Focus on the emotional – Remember, you’re writing a romance novel, not a thriller with a romantic subplot. The love relationship should be the centerpiece of the story. And if sacrifice is required, try to make it mutual; readers won’t be satisfied with a heroine who gives up everything for the hero, for example.


8. Physical attraction –Your story should convey physical attraction between the lead characters, not just Platonic love or respect. If you’re not comfortable writing sexual scenes, you’re not alone! Read plenty of romance novels, see what techniques and descriptions work for you, and apply that knowledge in your book.



9. Good dialogue and prose – Perhaps no genre is as prone to clichéd writing and dialogue as romance. If your characters speak to each other like they’re reciting Valentine’s Day cards, your reader won’t make it to the second chapter.


10. A page-turner – Whenever possible, end your chapters and scenes with “mini-cliffhangers” so that the reader is compelled to keep turning the page.


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