If you are new to romance writing or looking for some advice as inspiration to keep writing, there is plenty here to help! Over the years, the Kobo Writing Life blog and podcast have been host to dozens of best-selling romance authors who have shared a wealth of advice. We’ve compiled some of the best advice here to help you dive into a new and unfamiliar genre, or motivate you to keep going.
On keeping your romance writing fresh:
“It gets harder, the more books you write, to be as original as you can be. You can’t be really original in any genre. You just have to be entertaining and relatable. And that’s my thing. I try to make my characters as relatable as possible.”Samantha Young
Samantha doesn’t do big, dramatic plot lines in her contemporary romance. She tries to keep her stories down to earth, and this is what resonates with readers. Samantha knows people who have gone through trauma, and as an author, she can empathize and fill those feelings in to create a story. Samantha enjoys banter in romance novels, where dialogue conveys chemistry between characters. When writing dialogue, Samantha takes phrases that have been said to her in real life, or have been said to her friends, or that she overheard somewhere.
On reading romance to help you write romance:
"... go and look at the bestsellers. Read their backlist, however many, read it. I like to say read something from when they started and read the things of theirs that are the most popular. Read those, consume them, understand where they went. And what you’ll find a lot, especially in romance authors, a lot of us talk about this all the time, it’s that you started and there was a sense of magic to it because you didn’t know what you didn’t know. You didn’t know you were breaking rules, you had no idea. You were just, like, “I’m just doing it and it’s great,” and there’s a magic and a flow to it. And the more you write, the more you self-censor as you go because you’re remembering things that editors have said along the way. So it feels less smooth and not as full of magic, but there are other ways to capture that magic and bring it back, but that’s my biggest advice is you have to read. You must, must, must read." – Nana Malone
On turning your romance writing from hobby to career:
"I hadn’t thought of my romance writing as anything more than a hobby and a way to deal with the pandemic. When the world outside became unbearable, it was much easier to create my own world where everyone fell in love and there was always a happy ending. But suddenly, I started thinking in terms of career, and that’s when I shifted gears.
My first stop was to make an appointment with a consultant, someone who could help me market my books. They were selling surprisingly well for a hobby, but I knew there was more potential for them. Based on her advice, I changed my covers, my blurbs, and really focused on putting together a plan that included regular promotions and newsletters in order to build a loyal following. I assembled an ARC team and signed up for indie publishing conferences, gathering as much intelligence as I could." – Sydney Campbell
On normalizing therapy and mental health wellness in romance novels:
"My protagonists talk about going to therapy, especially the male protagonists because I really do believe, like… Again, I feel like genre fiction is a powerful space for the reader to become informed about things because, you know, we deliver in a way that’s entertaining and fun and you know what you’re getting by the end, but it’s also reflecting the real world we live in, right?
And so I think normalizing… Honestly, I said this the other day to someone, like, “I’m just gonna talk a lot about antidepressants in my books now because we need to be more thoughtful about the way that we discuss mental illness, mental health, and, like, the tools that are out there for people to feel better.” Like, people should be able to feel better and feel good. And you can be on antidepressants and, like, fall in love. Like, you deserve it. So, I think we should just do those things more in romance." – Adriana Herrera
On writing great erotica and sex scenes in general:
"Start fast, and stay in the “now.” Open with a scene that grabs readers’ attention and establishes the main character, and also establishes the “sexiness” of the story.
That doesn’t mean you need to start with a sex scene, but it means that you want to foreshadow or in some way indicate that there is some racy content to come. However, it’s important to also establish character at the same time—make certain you’ve instantly made the reader feel that they want to know more about this person and this situation.
From there, it’s all about developing plot and character, as any writing in any genre must do. Keeping the pace fast and the plot moving is really important for beginning writers, since many struggle when the plot isn’t moving. Newer writers have trouble writing sharp dialogue and sometimes their scenes will ramble and become dull if they don’t have plot points moving things forward." – Kelly Favor
On maintaining a writing schedule as a romance writer:
“I recently decided to enjoy life, and improve and maintain my health, and so created a schedule where I write Mondays to Fridays and take the weekends off. I have a weekly quota of 5K words, which gives me a goal of 1K words a day. Once my daily writing goal is accomplished, I meet my walking partners (two former teaching colleagues) and we meet our daily goal of 10K steps. It’s great because it gives me time to socialize, which is very important for us writers who spend most of our time in solitary. On weekends, I do my house chores, spend time with my family, and just—live. The balance has done wonders for my moral, and for my writing as well. As for promotion, I’m planning to rotate the books in my series and put one on sale each month. I got that idea from Bella Andre at RWA 2015.” – Ana E Ross
On expertly crafting tension in your romance writing:
"Do you remember those butterflies in your tummy when you met someone knew? When writing about a first encounter, there has to be the same excitement, the same doubt whether the other person feels the same way as you do. Are they genuine? Perhaps they are already attached and just playing with your character’s emotions? Perhaps the characters are from completely different backgrounds, or they shouldn’t be together for whatever reason. Or there is a time limit–two travelers at an airport flying to opposite ends of the world? Perhaps the would-be-lovers have wildly different beliefs–a climate activist falling for a shopaholic? Building up tension between the characters is vital for the first love scene to appear authentic and keep the reader’s interest alive." – Helena Halme
We hope that these words of advice have helped inspire you on your romance writing journey - remember, these are only a handful of the hundreds (in fact, thousands) of amazing romance authors, all of whom will be able to offer their own advice. Be sure to check out what your favourite romance authors have to say about writing in their genre. And, as always, happy writing!