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Do You Want To Write A Romance Novel? Where Should You Start?

Updated on August 4, 2012

Romance, romance, it makes the world go around, or at least something like that, so they say. The romance novel as a beast in itself may continually evolve and change, but romance novel sales in themselves seem to stay pretty healthy, fending off the pressures of recession and cuts in discretionary spending. In recessionary times, women need a little something to get them by, get them through the hard parts of life!

Maybe you're thinking that you could potentially combine both: your love of romance novels with your love of making the rent and buying groceries each month. All you need to do is to write your own novel – maybe! Romance novel writing: is it your route to riches? And more importantly, can you even get to the point of finishing a manuscript in order to find out?

If getting into a regular routine and fulfilling a daily wordcount is the problem that has you thinking that you'll never make it as a romantic novelist, then there are ways to work around that. One that has become increasingly famous in recent years is the online phenomenon popularly known as Na-No-Wri-Mo. This yearly event is a month-long competition, or rather supportive community event, in which many entrants make vows to complete novel manuscripts, updating the community as to their daily progress. It's amazing what a bit of support an admiring audience can give, prodding you on and keeping you to your promises, providing a psychological boost that simply can't be replicated any other way.

Alternatively you can always go the 'baby steps' route of completing a manuscript, simply committing yourself to working on it daily, however tiny your contribution – perhaps only a couple of lines – might be. It's so much easier to sit down and write fifty words, than to make resolutions about finishing up a chapter, ooh, at least two thousand words, or perhaps five hundred at least! A day. There's a psychological barrier crossed once you've actually opened up your word processing document and banged away on the keyboard for a hundred and eighty seconds. And who knows, once you've done that, you may just feel the impetus to continue and bang out a few hundred extra words, or even more! The point being that you don't need to feel obliged to, and that just takes the pressure off nicely. But many writers do recommend establishing a real, regular routine in order to make satisfactory progress.

Once you've got a first draft pretty much done and dusted, then how do you get from that point to the polished, beautifully written final version? Well, if you can't afford professional editing services, and have no book contract or agent, then there are still ways and means. Many online writing communities provide a supportive environment where finding volunteer beta readers is not too difficult. As for proof-reading, it's a good thing to get your standard of English to a point where you can at least make a pretty good fist of doing that for yourself.

What kind of romance should you write? Really, the field is wide open these days. Sweet and traditional, hot, super hot, spicy hot and scorching hot, supernatural complete with werewolves, vampires, gremlins and whatever magical creatures you like... It seems like none of the old boundaries and rules hold good any more. Romance is what you choose to make it and how you choose to perceive it. Choose the sub-genre that feels right for you!

Is there any reason not to choose to write a romance novel, if you feel called to the writing life? Well, I guess there's still a school of feminist thought that holds there's something synthetic, saccharine and unsisterly about the romance novel (and it's an opinion I used to adhere to myself.) But hey, life is complex, emotions are muddy, and we all need a little straightforward passion and ecstasy now and again. Don't we? Plus, sexy supernatural romance novels with a little kink and adventurousness are apparently 'empowering' for the laydeez. Apparently. Hey, I don't come up with this stuff myself.

Is writing romance novels going to make you filthy rich? (Or even pay the rent?) Well, there's a lot of competition out there, and agents and book contracts are ever hard to come by. On the other hand, the romance novel market is huge and variegated, so it might be a good area to concentrate on.


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