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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I've decided to try my hand at romance. I've never done any, ANY romance before ever in the history of all-time. I mean, don't girls usually write romances and boys write action-thrillers?

Anyways, this is not some lame attempt to boost sales by diving into the best-selling genre. This is more of a "Can I do this successfully?" personal challenge. I'd like to become a more well-rounded, diverse author and in my short writing career I have avoided romance like the plague.

Here's why...

Do you always have to describe everything your characters are feeling? And how they feel about others? What about miscommunications, misunderstandings and all of the confusion that goes along with a relationship? Do you need sultry sex scenes? What about hurt feelings, arguments and resolutions?


I know, I know ladies, stop rolling your eyes. This stuff doesn't come natural to men. I'm definitely in over my head here. Now, if ya'll could provide some much needed guidance and then I'll be on my way...

And if this romance becomes to tedious to write, I may combine it with another genre, like historical fiction.

Thoughts?
 

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My first question is, and I don't mean it to sound snide, just a big Important general question, have you ever read a romance novel? And I don't mean Nicholas Spark. Have you read one that was written specifically in the romance novel genre? And if so, have you read more than one? What did you think of it?

Your replies will give me and the romance writers here a feel of where you stand in your challenge :).
 

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I've considered writing romance.

But I used to read them. And if I were to start writing them the first thing I'd do would be to grab a dozen of the most popular perma freebies and see what they're about nowadays.

So start with reading a bunch of them, then see what questions you still have.
 

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I think the best thing you can do is read best-selling romance books to give you a better understanding of what readers are looking for. If you're not interested in reading them, you probably shouldn't consider writing one. I read thousands before I decided to try my hand at writing one, and I'm so glad I did. It was more valuable than the thousands of dollars I spent on writing courses. Best of luck.  :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Cheryl Douglas said:
I think the best thing you can do is read best-selling romance books to give you a better understanding of what readers are looking for. If you're not interested in reading them, you probably shouldn't consider writing one. I read thousands before I decided to try my hand at writing one, and I'm so glad I did. It was more valuable than the thousands of dollars I spent on writing courses. Best of luck. :)
I've read a handful of romances, but not with any regularity. But it's different when you're writing and you're in total control of the story. It's more a question of how can you tap into those feelings/words while still building your characters and maintaining the plot? I think it just comes more naturally to women. Yes, I am definitely in over my head.
 

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markobeezy said:
I've read a handful of romances, but not with any regularity. But it's different when you're writing and you're in total control of the story. It's more a question of how can you tap into those feelings/words while still building your characters and maintaining the plot?
How do you think you learned how to write in the genres you've already written in?

If you're like most people, it's through reading. Nothing replaces that as a tool.
 
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markobeezy said:
I've read a handful of romances, but not with any regularity. But it's different when you're writing and you're in total control of the story. It's more a question of how can you tap into those feelings/words while still building your characters and maintaining the plot? I think it just comes more naturally to women. Yes, I am definitely in over my head.
I've only read about 2 romance novels ever (don't know if I've read others randomly, only 2 stand out in my mind) so I'm not sure if this is feasible for the genre, but could you possibly write it mainly from the male perspective? If you could it might be easier to tap into your own feelings from your past experiences...
 

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markobeezy said:
I've read a handful of romances, but not with any regularity. But it's different when you're writing and you're in total control of the story. It's more a question of how can you tap into those feelings/words while still building your characters and maintaining the plot?
It's the same as writing/building any character. I write romantic suspense and must put my characters in dangerous positions and they must make dangerous decisions. As a writer, I ask myself about my characters and what their core beliefs are and work from there. Sometimes these characters won't act what I, Gennita, would do in that situation but it "feels" right for their story. So, back to writing a romantic arc, you have to ask yourself what your character's journey is and how that relates to your overall plot. Then you tap into your own well of experience (and it doesn't have to be sexual) and find that nugget that would help make your characters real.

Sensuality is important in writing a romance. The art of writing sensually is difficult to teach. It comes from first letting down your own defenses, and maybe in your case, your male defenses, heh.

I'm sure many here will give you a lot of advice so good luck! I'll try to get back on this thread later but now I've to go roofing and tap into the art of killing men with nailguns. 8)
 

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I will join in the chorus and encourage you to read a dozen or so current romances (not Fabio-covered books from the nineties, or bodice rippers from the seventies) before you start writing. What subgenre are you writing? Contemporary? Erotic? Romantic suspense? Paranormal? Consider that carefully, and then go buy a bunch of current big sellers, and read them. As someone said downthread, there's no substitute for reading the genre you want to write. Among other things, you really need to like the genre. If you feel (even subconsciously) that it's girly or trashy or somehow beneath you, you probably won't do really well as a romance writer.

Do you always have to describe everything your characters are feeling? And how they feel about others? What about miscommunications, misunderstandings and all of the confusion that goes along with a relationship? Do you need sultry sex scenes? What about hurt feelings, arguments and resolutions?
Romances typically have a good deal of inner conflict. Sometimes it's best to hint at it, rather than dissect it as if your character were on a psychologist's couch, spilling his or her guts. Subtlety can be good, but you don't want to be too subtle. Mine usually have a good deal of inner dialogue going on.

The frequency and sultriness of sex scenes is up to you. Personally, I prefer my romance with a large dollop (ugh, I don't think that word goes well here) of hot sex. But there are romance authors selling big who write almost no sex at all. See Kristan Higgins for an example.

I've only read about 2 romance novels ever (don't know if I've read others randomly, only 2 stand out in my mind) so I'm not sure if this is feasible for the genre, but could you possibly write it mainly from the male perspective?
I typically write my novels about half from the male perspective, half from the female. I've written erotic romance novellas entirely from the male perspective (and gotten bad reviews saying I was obviously a guy with typical guy fantasies, which I took as a really nice compliment!). Generally speaking, you can get away with about a fifty-fifty split in POV, but I wouldn't go further into the guy's perspective than that. Romance readers do usually expect to get into the woman's head.

Anyways, this is not some lame attempt to boost sales by diving into the best-selling genre. This is more of a "Can I do this successfully?" personal challenge.
A cool challenge! Let us know how it goes. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for the thoughtful answers you literary maniacs...I'm off into the dark lands, where no man will boldly go...
 

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Noo! Come back!  :)

I did the same sort of thing. I wrote a contemporary romance to see if I could, without paranormal/supernatural/magic stuff. I did it. I also read a lot of contemporary romance but I'd never written it before.

Agreed if you're looking for how it's generally done, the best thing to do is to read. But if you just want to attempt it for your own sake, you don't need to worry too much about the standard.
 

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I have a rather well rated contemporary romance novel, Radar Love. It's not a bodice ripper. But if you'd like, I can email you a copy so you can see how I handled it, writing from a male perspective. Most of my readers are female. It'll also be free from the 21st to the 23rd.
 

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I have a rather well rated contemporary romance novel, Radar Love. It's not a bodice ripper.
I feel I should point out (very politely!) that romances haven't been "bodice rippers" since the seventies. Calling them this publicly is a sure way to anger romance readers. Many of us really hate the "bodice ripper" phrase, and in any event, there's a difference between bodice ripping and lots of hot sex. :D
 

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MegHarris said:
I've written erotic romance novellas entirely from the male perspective (and gotten bad reviews saying I was obviously a guy with typical guy fantasies, which I took as a really nice compliment!).
This is fantastic, not the bad reviews part, but that they said you were a man. I love it.
 

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MegHarris said:
I feel I should point out (very politely!) that romances haven't been "bodice rippers" since the seventies. Calling them this publicly is a sure way to anger romance readers. Many of us really hate the "bodice ripper" phrase, and in any event, there's a difference between bodice ripping and lots of hot sex. :D
I keep telling myself one day I will write a classic bodice ripper.

Just for the fun. :)
 

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I keep telling myself one day I will write a classic bodice ripper.
Oh, me too! I once planned to invent a slightly spoofy genre called "retro romance" (alas, Samhain has that name trademarked now). I guess I'd call it "Purple Passion" or some such instead, and fill the books with strong, manly, dark-haired men and feisty, flame-haired heroines with sapphire eyes. It would be loads of fun to write.
 

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Unless you're dead set on writing genre fiction, I would write a story that comes naturally to you while adding a romantic twist. I looked through your books and saw you'd written one about a father and a son. Though you would never characterize it this way, their relationship is a love story. Obviously not romantic, but every other notion of love is there.

So in that regard, it isn't that you haven't written about love before, you just haven't written boy meets girl and their hearts start fluttering before. My suggestion is that instead of taking that concept and working backwards until you box yourself into a cardboard romance which fits the genre, is find a story that comes natural to you, come up with two characters you can relate to [the father/son becomes the son/his first girl] and the romantic bits will write themselves.

Good luck
 

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Rich Walls said:
Unless you're dead set on writing genre fiction, I would write a story that comes naturally to you while adding a romantic twist.
I second this advice. Reading a bunch of novels you wouldn't otherwise read is a good way to expand your horizons, but don't try to imitate them. Just read them, see what you learn, and write a novel that you want to write. Figure out the genre when you're done.
 

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MegHarris said:
Oh, me too! I once planned to invent a slightly spoofy genre called "retro romance" (alas, Samhain has that name trademarked now). I guess I'd call it "Purple Passion" or some such instead, and fill the books with strong, manly, dark-haired men and feisty, flame-haired heroines with sapphire eyes. It would be loads of fun to write.
If you do it make sure you let me know. I read romance a long time ago, so this is the stuff I really like in the genre. I'm a big fan of historical romance. Pirate captains. Heroines struggling against their better judgement. That kind of thing.
 

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The prime directive is HEA or HFN. But then include both the male/female MC POVs. When you do to sex scenes don't be too graphic (that's where the wimen folk figger us'n out). Poke around the Harlequin blogs and look at their writing submission rules. Then find yourself a couple of female friends that will read your first three chapters.
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When I started the Vampire series in my sig I was about 6-8 chapters into the first book (I had the whole trilogy detail outlined like down to sections of dialogue) and I got nervous wondering if I was on track or lost in the woods. So I found a friend interested in reading it and got the needed feedback to keep going - including requests for additional chapters as I wrote them. Raw, uncut, main characters with only name place holders "girl20" and "VS", and my first fan of that series. Finding a reader or two that know the genre is critical before you get too far into it. I've found the skills I learned writing there are finding their way into my Swords and Sorcery line.
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I'm almost finished with the first draft of a Contemporary Romance. No swords, no chase scenes, or other adrenaline action. Resisted the urge several times to give one of the characters a weapon and turn the thing into a Romantic Suspense...
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