Okay, so I'm not new to the writing game. I'm going into my eighth year of doing this for real, meaning I'm writing to publish, not just because I think it's fun (though I do). I've been published both in the traditional market and the self-publishing realm under another name, in another genre.
Believe it or not, I used to think reading romance was -- gasp! -- boring. I mean, I knew how it was going to end, so what's the fun in reading? I didn't realize that the joy, the journey, lay in how we get to the end.
So when I started writing straight romance (all my books have romance in them) last year, I had quite a steep learning curve.
What I've Learned:
It's about satisfying the reader. So I've spent a considerable amount of time reading romances and noting the things I really like about them. I've also had to spend some time telling myself that writing romance isn't necessarily about what *I* like in a character, but rather what romance readers are looking for.
And romance readers are mostly women. And women want a heroine they can relate to. Someone who's still beautiful and has flaws, but is relatable. They definitely want a hero that is swoon-worthy. Someone who can provide for and take care of the heroine, but also has things they need to overcome.
So I've worked on the characterization of my heroines and heroes.
Of course, I want to write the stories I love, in the way I want to. I'm still doing that. I've just realized that there are rules to romance, and they aren't as bendable as the other genres I've written in.
I've also made a list of things that I see in virtually EVERY romance I've read. I realized that those elements are there for a reason, and if I don't have them in my romances, I might need to reconsider what I'm doing.
Secondary characters, or a cast of characters is usually appreciated. Family dynamics are always a plus. Strong motivations for both parties. External and internal situations that both drive the characters together and keep them apart. Animals are usually welcome. Each person needs to sacrifice to be together. Each needs something at stake.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I'm still learning, but these are the things I consider now before I even start writing a new romance.
What do you think of my list? What do I need to add?