Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Crafting the Romance Novel

It’s craft day, and since I’ve landed on it, I thought I break from the norm and offer a tip on my hobby: writing.
For all those inspiring romance authors out there, I want to give you a writing secret. If you want to succeed as a romance author you must master what I consider the most important aspect of a romance novel. You must figure out how to make your readers feel.
Let me explain. In the world of romance a novel must follow simple guidelines. Don’t follow them and you will lose your readers.
Boy and girl meet, boy and girl start to fall in love, boy and girl end up with each other. Deviate from this norm and you will face the wrath of your readers who will be less likely to buy your next book.
See readers might want an original storyline and original characters etc. But no matter what they don’t want a original ending. They want that couple to fall hopelessly in love and never to separate.
So since the story line must follow the above structure how do you make your reader buy your book? There are many ways, but I’m going to focus on what I consider the most important: the emotional impact of the novel. To illustrate  this I’m going to use Becky Wade’s new release Meant to Be Mine. A novel I believe shows mastery of this skill.
So how do you create a novel that makes your readers feel? You make your readers care about your character. Fail at this and no matter what twists and turns you put in your novel your reader will not be emotionally invested.
As Wade says, "it all stems from characterization.”
When you write a story, you are not just telling a tale, you are building a friendship. A friendship between your reader and your main character. So your character needs to be someone your reader can for the time period form a friendship with.
Someone with faults, goals, and admirable qualities. Think about it like this: when your best friend has a goal, you care about that goal. You want to see her succeed. You root for her. But some random stranger’s goals? You are not that invested. Why?  Because you love your best friend and don’t even know that person you just  chit chatted with briefly on the bus before your stop.
In Meant to be Mine Wade creates a character, Celia, who  is someone so many of us can identify with. She is a young woman who finally has a chance with her long-time high school crush. Someone she has loved for so many years. We get caught up in her inner dialogue as she thinks about the career she loves, the bakery she hopes to have someday, but by golly she is going to toss it all over her shoulder, for MR. I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED  who is finally paying attention to her. And not only does he pay attention to her, he sweeps her off her feet in Vegas during a four-day vacation. With the help of a little alcohol he announces that she is the one he wants and starts to beg for her hand. Celia struggles with her  decision and wonders if he is serious. Will she give up her dreams for him? Trust him with her heart? In a moment of spontaneity, Celia takes a leap of faith and grabs hold of MR. I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED and hands him her heart on a silver platter at a Vegas chapel.
And when Celia wakes up the next morning in the arms of MR. I HAVE ALWAYS WANTED, we experience her joy, her love but we wonder what is going to happen.
But like in all good romance novels, an obstacle is about to be thrown in our character’s way. But not just any obstacle: a soul crushing boulder that rolls right over our character’s heart smashing it into the ground. And as her heart is made into mush, so is ours.
See when Celia notices her groom, is standing turned away from her, not even wanting to look at her, we feel the tension with her. When he starts to explain how he got caught up in the moment and that there is someone else, someone he has loved his whole life and someone he just can’t let go of even to be with Celia our hearts starts to break as if we are standing next to our best friend watching the tears form in her eyes. And when our character’s little happy world falls apart, and the venom rises in her, it rises in us and when she looks at MR. SHOULD HAVE NEVER TRUSTED right in the face and pronounces “I will never forgive you,” we say it with her. In fact, we pick up the nearest hard object and fling it at him BECAUSE HOW DARE HE USE OUR FRIEND IN SUCH A VILE WAY.
Why do we this? Because she is our friend, and her enemy becomes our enemy. And we will stand by her, root for her, and demand MR. SHOULD HAVE NEVER TRUSTED be sentenced to the farthest reaches of a very hot place. And without realizing it the reader has been captured and clicks on that buy button at the end of the sample so that they can continue on with their friend as she journeys through her life in the story.
And that is how you make your readers feel.

To learn more about Becky Wade check out her website:

Josette Downey  is the christian romance author of A Time to Say Goodbye, The Secret Son and Bonds of Tradition. She has master’s degree in English From East Carolina University, and currently works for a premier test scoring company. She is the mother of a precocious six-year-old girl, who enjoys bugs, snakes and superman.  She enjoys southern cooking, reading and exploring emerging technology, but is best defined by her devotion to her faith and the empowerment of women in the modern world.

To learn more follow her at



  1. Wow! I need to read Wade's and Downey's books. I have missed two winners!

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

  2. I agree with Melanie! Great post, especially since I'm starting a new romance book soon. :-)