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How to Write a Romance Novel: Advice from Bestselling Authors

Learn how to write romance from four of our favorite authors.

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  • Photo Credit: Debby Hudson / Unsplash

As anyone who’s ever tried their hand at creative writing knows, honing your storytelling skills is hard work—and writing romance that feels authentic can be especially tricky. 

To help any budding romance writers out there, we’ve asked four extremely successful romance authors for their best tips and tricks. From figuring out romance plots to writing sex scenes that are actually sexy, below is their excellent advice for crafting your own love story.

Related: Our Favorite Dreamy Romance Novel Excerpts 

1. Just Get Started

According to Alexandra Ivy, who’s written everything from historical romance novels to romantic suspense novels, the first fear for a writer is the fear of getting started.

“On the surface it sounds ridiculous,” says Ivy. “How hard can it be to get started? You tell people at work you’re going to get going on that book. You tell your significant other that you need the spare bedroom for an office. And you start googling vacation homes you’re going to buy when the money starts rolling in. It’s easy to talk about writing, It’s a lot more difficult when you’re sitting in front of the blank computer screen with that little cursor blinking at you. 

“I try to remember that it’s just about doing something. Anything. It can be little. A description of the town where you’re setting the book or the first meeting between your main love interest. Big goals come from small steps and as long as you’re writing you’re moving forward.”

2. Remove Distractions

Vanessa Kelly is the author of passionate historical romance stories—and to really let herself focus on writing romance novels, she makes sure to minimize any potential interruptions.

“As someone who is easily distracted (I’m looking at you, social media), I’m most productive when I move into a quieter headspace,” says Kelly. "That means no music, no people bustling around in the background, and stepping away from the Internet. I also meditate for a few minutes before I begin. Doing so seems to prompt the creative parts of my brain, and also increases my productivity.

“I live in the city, on a pretty noisy street. Investing in effective noise-canceling headphones has probably saved my career! I also utilize apps that provide white noise or soothing nature sounds, which helps me relax and get into a flow. For me, half the battle is creating a calm environment that allows me to focus on writing to the exclusion of everything else.”

Related: Kilty Pleasures: 8 Scottish Romance Novels

3. Write a Book You’d Want to Read

Rebecca Zanetti, who’s best known for her suspenseful romance novels, encourages writers to think about what they want in a book.

“My writing advice would be to sit down and write something you'd like to read. Don't hold yourself back, worry about your first grade teacher reading it, or keep the good ideas for the next book. Put everything you have in this book right now and let your imagination have free rein.”

Related: Rebecca Zanetti Shares Why She Loves Paranormal Romance Series

4. Write Authentic Characters

The difference between a cheesy romance novel and one that makes you swoon? You need to write realistic characters—and realistic romance scenes. Bestselling historical romance author Madeline Hunter says the key is drawing on your real life experiences.

“Readers respond to authenticity. That means you can't write characters out of central casting, or ones derived from other books you have read. You need to experience the characters, which means becoming the characters,” explains Hunter. 

“Yes, even the opposite sex ones, and the villains. And it means tapping into your own experiences so you can feel them again as you write. For love scenes you need to live that first kiss again, that first touch, that sexual tension that you personally remember—all of it—only experience it again as your character. This can be hard, but it will help you to write characters and scenes that resonate as real, and not contrived.”

Related: Historical Romance Author Madeline Hunter Reveals 5 of Her Favorite Couples

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Featured photo: Debby Hudson / Unsplash