So now that you are hopefully excited to get that romance novel into the hands of your devoted readers, let’s look at some of the key elements:
1) Your hero and heroine not only have to be engaging and compelling, they have to be relatable. Your reader wants to LIKE the main characters. She wants to root for them so make sure you take the time to create characters with traits and life experiences that get your reader involved from the beginning.
2) Speaking of the beginning – you have to hook your readers from the first chapter. In your first chapter introduce your heroine (or hero) and give us some idea of her core need. What is her deepest need and desire. We need to know. So make sure your first chapter sets the stage for the trials and tribulations to come.
3) Don’t wait too long for your hero and heroine to meet and get together. Rule of thumb is that you should be having your hero and heroine meeting no later than your third chapter. If you are writing romantic suspense that may change things up a bit but, even so, the reader is waiting for that magic moment when hero meets heroine and the love story begins.
4) Build tension. Have personality clashes. Figure out before you write where the obstacles will come from that will keep the hero and heroine from their HEA (Happily Ever After). Tension is what keeps the reader reading and wanting to find out what happens next, so build that tension throughout the book. The area of obstacles and tension is where your other characters and subplots can be used to greatest effect.
5) Make sure your hero and heroine have someone to talk to. Think of yourself in relationship – don’t you have a BFF that you talk with to seek advice. In your romance novel your hero and heroine need friends or family in their circle who either block or encourage the relationship. Give each of them one wise adviser and you’ll create dialogue that moves your story forward.
6) End your story with your HEA. Your hero and heroine have overcome all the obstacles and now their core needs have been fulfilled in relationship with each other. If you want, add an epilogue (very popular these days) that gives your reader a glimpse into the future of the relationship that cements the HEA you promised.
I’m using the terms hero and heroine but these tips apply regardless whether you are writing an LBGTQ romance, paranormal romance or any other sub-genre. You are still spinning out a love story that has two people (or maybe more if you are writing a menage) finding their way to their HEA.