Romance is BIG right now. The majority of the publishers I look at are very interested in this genre. Not so much the hot and steamy stuff (although some want that), but clean-want to read over and over-romance. Like all genre fiction, romance too has a formula. It’s not very hard to figure out. I do not write romance but that doesn’t mean I can’t figure out how to do it. Watch any romantic comedy and you’ll nail it. But if you don’t have time for that, here it is:
- Boy meets girl. Or called the “Meeting”.
- Stuff happens. The scenes or events after the “meeting” that lead up to the “courtship”.
- Boy gets girl. Or called the “Courtship”.
- Happily Ever After*. Or the “Conclusion”. *however clichéd this might be it is the most important element in writing a romance: there are no sad or unhappy endings in romance, it is not what the audience expects or wants. 52% of all book sales are romance genre so you have to keep within the formula given to appease your readers.
Remember that no formula is concrete, but this should serve as the skeleton you build a story around. In order to be a romance the story has to focus on the couple. Sure there can be more plot to the story but overall it has to be about them. Think about 70% of the story focused on the couple and you got it. The presents of conflict should be very present and never forget the laws of attraction. Oh yeah, let’s not forget: never ever mistake a tragedy for a romance. Shakespeare did not write a good romance with Romeo and Juliet, it was a tragedy.
Your next steps.
- The Meeting: this is where you reader decides whether the story is an investment of their time. How the couple meets has to be unique and fun. If you botch up the meeting you have lost your reader. Make it interesting.
- The Courtship: this is just stuff. Things must happen. Your hero and Heroin will be different for each situation. This is also a good time to have conflict arise in the story. Fighting for these two to be together, obstacles to overcome, ect.
- The Conclusion: this is just as important as the meeting to your readers. Again, if you botch up the ending it will result in your book being thrown across the room and people telling one another not to read it.
An Example of a Good Romance: Star Wars Episodes 4-5.
- Episode 4, The Meeting: Han and Leia meet and there is an immediate sexual tension between them. He is an outlaw renegade, but who is internally good, she is a sexy princess with a temper and all for the rebellion. You can tell from the beginning that they have it for each other.
- Episode 5, The Courtship: There is still the sexual tension between them, but now we see them blossoming into a couple. By the end of the film we know that they are in love with each other and something good will come of it. It ends perfectly with Leia telling him she loves him and him whispering, “I know”. However they are separated as Han is frozen in carbonate…sad!
- Episode 6, The Conclusion: Leia plays up her role as a heroine and rescues Han from Jabba, but then latter ends up being captured herself and placed in a sexy costume. They continue with the back story of Luke, but we the reader now know they are a couple. The movie ends with them together—a happy ever after.
Things to Avoid: Never make your hero look stupid. Your hero also has to be likable. No age inappropriate things they are hard to get over. No whining heroes—the heroine has to be able to look up to him. Heroine can seem a little clueless but has to get it together—an underlining core of adorability. Something redeeming about them needs to be shown. Now go use this a write a romance or incorporate some romance into your story. Happy Writing!