OCFW's very own Linda Goodnight offers some practical advise on how to write a better romance.
Winner of the RITA Award for excellence in inspirational fiction, Linda Goodnight has also won the Booksellers’ Best, ACFW Book of the Year (twice), and a Reviewers’ Choice Award from Romantic Times Magazine.
Linda has appeared on the New York Times, USA Today, Publisher's Weekly, and Christian bestseller lists, and her romance novels have been translated into more than a dozen languages. A former nurse and teacher, Linda loves writing fiction that carries a message of hope and light in a sometimes dark world.
With more the 54 books under her belt, Linda is an expert in the field and is here to give us some advice on how to make our romance stories more impactful.
"I could give you dozens of tips for writing a good romance novel..." Linda Goodnight
A romance novel starts with great characters.
Make them strong, realistic, flawed, sympathetic characters that we can like. Even if he’s a damaged bad boy in need of redemption, the hero should be a man with deep worth, a true hero whose actions show he respects and admires the heroine even as he’s struggling not to fall in love with her. Create a heroine worthy of that respect and admiration. Whiney, wimpy, helpless heroines without their own goals and dreams turn today’s readers off.
Create realistic conflicts.
One of the major complaints against romance novels in the past has been silly, contrived conflicts. To avoid this, think of your characters as people. Real people have problems, fears, inner wounds, etc. Notice how these are all internal. While a romance may include an external issue between the main characters to move the story along, their main conflict is internal.
Focus on the emotional journey
Go deep inside your characters, figure out their emotional baggage, what hurts them, what are they afraid of, etc., and then show those emotions on the page. The heart of your book is inside your characters. Letting the reader see this internal angst adds to the conflict discussed in #2 and creates motivation for the character’s behavior.
Keep the romantic relationship front and center.
While it’s great to include interesting subplots, always bring your reader back to the reason for the novel--the developing relationship between the man and woman.
The Happy Ever After is a must in romance novels.
Consider it the emotional pay–off your reader has been longing for. This union of two hearts, this transformation from alone to committed love, is why she/he has followed the characters through all their trials. Don’t skimp on it. Tie up the plot’s loose ends and finish the story with an “ahhh” moment. If your reader tears up or swoons or smiles as she closes the book, chances are she’ll be back for another of your stories.