Like you, I am overwhelmed with the amount of information that there is out there on the web about how, what, when and why you should be writing romance fiction in 2020.
Here are five of my top tips to keep us all on track.
#1. We need to develop the mindset of a professional full-time author.
To become a successful romance author in the crowded romance marketplace, I believe that we must learn how to write, edit, produce, publish and promote our work so that readers know where to find it. Even if you are traditionally published, your publisher will expect you to understand how the publishing industry works and how to promote your work to a specific target audience.
#2. Think carefully about the long term before self-publishing your work.
Independent publishing is an excellent option if you write for a specific niche market and can produce 4 to 6 short books a year. This is not a quick and easy way to make money. Building an author platform and readership take time, patience, huge amounts of energy and a large budget. You are going to be in the online publishing business for the long haul.
In many cases, self-publishing may not be the best publishing model for your particular book project and skillset. There are numerous digital- first publishers and traditional publishers who will take over the publishing side of the business while you handle the writing, but you will still have to do a lot of the marketing and engage a literary agent to represent you.
#3. It is always worth the time to develop your story craft.
One of the biggest lightbulb moments early in my pre-published writing career was when I realised the difference between verbally telling someone a story and how to use story structure to present that same story in a way that creates an intense emotional experience for a reader. Your job as a romance writer is to make the reader fall in love with the hero and heroine at the same time as the characters on the page, so that the reader experiences the vicarious thrill of that romance. That takes story craft.
#4. There are four key elements of romance fiction.
There are four fundamental elements in every traditional romance novel:
*Two main characters that readers can relate to and want to get together. The heroine, who is usually the female main character, and a hero.
*A central romantic storyline where our two characters fall in love and develop a relationship.
*A series of barriers and struggles that the heroine and hero have to overcome to make the relationship work. These conflicts are both physical and emotional.
*An emotionally satisfying ending which usually results in some kind of emotional commitment.
At the end of your romance, readers should believe that your hero and heroine have a real adult long term and committed relationship, which will continue after you have turned the final paper, or virtual, page in your short story, novella or short novel.
A satisfying emotional ending to your romance is essential for the readers. They have followed these two characters and walked in their shoes on the roller coaster ride of falling in love. The greater the challenges to this romance, the more satisfying the ending when the lovers conquer these barriers that separate them and take a leap of faith in their love to stay together.
#5. Emotional Conflict and Limiting Beliefs are at the heart of every romance.
The effects of these internal conflicts must be so powerful that they would stop the hero and heroine from being together no matter what circumstances bring the characters together. If these two people were trapped in an igloo or spaceship without any other external conflicts, their limiting, relationship-blocking belief systems would still prevent them from falling in love.
The emotional choices the characters make under the pressure of the crucible you have put them into as the author, are a reflection of the controlling belief systems of the hero and heroine.
Our job is to create a series of challenges which will force these belief systems to change as the characters are transformed because of the romantic relationship.
Layer the conflict with highs and lows, advancements and retreats, passion and withdrawal. Happy light-hearted moments and deep emotional revelations.
Manipulate the sequence of revelations and action and reaction steps in the story so that the reader must keep turning the pages to find out what happens next. The emotional structure sets the pace for the story.
Top Tip – When the hero and the heroine reveal the reasons WHY they think and behave the way they do and the reason for their limiting belief systems, then they are making themselves totally vulnerable and this moment should be used as a key part of the romance journey.
Would you like to learn more about writing romance fiction?
I am delighted to be part of the Romance Writing Superweek promotion which is now live!
If you want to know more about the craft and business of writing romance fiction, this collection of six books is a great place to start – and they are all on sale this week.