Top 5 Tips for Writing Genre Fiction

library of congress woman reading

Everywhere you go online these days there seems to be a hit list of the “top 10″ favourite cup-cake flavours and nail polish colours and the like.

It can be tough to distil years of work and reading and research into a few bullet points but after 25 books with a lot more scheduled for 2015 I thought that I would give it a go.

*Puts on my writing hat*nina at the wedding

So here are my top 5 tips for writing a popular romance.

Read. If you are like me, you have been an obsessive reader and storyteller since you were able to hold a book in your hot little fist. You are filled your life and heart and soul with the written word and narrative. All your stories are already deep inside you bursting to be told.

Learn Story Craft. You can have the most compelling story in the world but without story craft you won’t be able to shape it into a form that you can share with other readers. There is a huge online free resource now that never existed before.So no excuses. You have to understand genre and sub-genre and the expectations of each from the reader point of view.

Be a student of human behaviour.  Romance fiction, and other forms of genre fiction, is all about people and how they act and react in stressful situations. You don’t need to be a psychologist – or a stalker on public transport – but you need to understand the human emotional range to make your writing real and compelling.  Have a life outside writing. Stories feed on experience and interests and the energy that comes from things and people and situations that interest you.

Think of yourself as a small business owner. Becoming an author is starting your own sole trader self-employed business. All arty-craft literature students should avert their eyes now.

You are making a product – your writing, irrespective of genre and form. You then have to sell that product to customers.

These generally fall into three categories:

*literary agents
*editors at publishing houses/magazines etc. who are still prepared to accept direct submissions, and
*readers if you self-publish your work.

It may be that you have to knock many times on the first two doors AND fling open the third to find a way to get your work before readers. But if you want to earn a living you will have to do it. And sometimes all three on the same day for the same book.


Being a professional author is not for the faint of heart.

You have to be prepared for very hard work, long delays of sometimes months while those agents and editors assess your writing, frustrating and illogical discussions with editors and publishers and no guarantees that your work will be accepted at the end.

So you have to work harder and smarter to find a home for your story, and you will. Eventually.

Learn to love to write

If you don’t yearn to be writing instead of doing anything else then you don’t want it enough. It should be the one thing that gets you out of bed in the morning with a spring in your step.

Now. Back to my Revisions. Oh. Did I mention those??