When I was in college, my friends and I would pass around romance novels to each other on the sly, hoping our English teachers wouldn’t spot us reading these juicy novels and give us a hard time. Romance novels were generally considered trashy although no teacher expressly told us not to read them. They were probably happy that we were reading something at least. I did move on to other genres and I love reading crime and mystery but romance was my first love.
So, when I started writing, it seemed natural that I would bring romance into most of my books, albeit unwillingly. (The English Literature student in me was constantly looking over my shoulder.) Now that I am willingly a romance writer, I realise how much fun I have crafting these stories, which readers also seem to love thankfully.
If you want to venture into writing romance, these are some of the things that I like to work with, so maybe it might help you too.
- Create interesting/flawed protagonists – No one likes perfect people in real life and neither do they in fiction. I try to make sure there’s something off about my protagonists, whether they’re messy people, or have an unpredictable temper. It makes them interesting and relatable.
- Avoid clichés – I try and avoid cliched descriptions of my characters, so you won’t find any tall, dark and handsome men or curvaceous beauties with lilac hued eyes in my books. Another way I describe them is through the perspective of the other characters, so it’s all quite subjective and different people view the same person differently.
- Bring chemistry – Chemistry between the romantic leads is one of the things that keeps readers hooked to the story. Getting it right takes practice because readers can spot when there’s no chemistry. Also, there’s no such thing as too much chemistry.
- Love scenes – I’m a little shy about writing overt love scenes but that’s just me. If you’re comfortable, go right ahead and make it as steamy as you want. The thing to watch out here is to make sure there’s no awkwardness in your writing. Try and read it aloud (with expression and maybe a little passion). If it makes you wince, then cut it out and redo.
- Read – This is a no-brainer no matter which genre you’re writing for but if you want to write well, then read, read and read, especially the genre you want to master. So, if it’s romance you want to be good at, read all kinds – historical, contemporary etc and try and imbibe from them.
- Strong heroines/vulnerable heroes – The world is different from the time I used to huddle at the back of my class and read one of those M&B Temptation novels. Heroines need to be relatable. They don’t have to be bra-burning feminists but they surely need to be independent, strong and aspirational. Heroes on the other hand seem to do so much better with a dose of vulnerability to add to their dreaminess.
After writing all these books over these past few years, one thing I’ve learnt is that you need to enjoy your work too. And maybe one day your English teachers might, too!
This post was first published on the Juggernaut blog.