How to write a romance novel: the definitive guide

If you want to learn how to write a romance novel, first you need to know that writing a love novel, like any other genre novel, follows specific rules and patterns.

If you want to write a romance novel that readers like, you don’t have to feel imprisoned by these patterns, but you certainly need to know them in order not to disappoint your audience’s expectations.

The History of the Rose Romance

The origins of the rose genus date back to the early twentieth century, when the first love novels were published in England, in which the analysis of feelings inspired by the model of Jane Austen merged with a historical setting with a touch of mystery. The progenitors of romance are Georgette Heyer and Constance Heaven, but it is Barbara Cartland, with her seven hundred and thirty novels, who achieves the greatest public success and codifies the recurring patterns of the genre: a beautiful and virtuous female protagonist who falls in love with a handsome man , rich and noble.

In the same years the love novel spreads in France thanks to Jeanne-Marie Petitjean de la Rosièree and her brother Frederick who, under Delly’s collective pseudonym, give rise to the pink vein of French fiction.

In the wake of Cartland’s successes, the pink genre lands in the United States, where publishers smell its commercial potential, so much so that in the 1950s, Harlequin, the first specialized publishing house, was born.

In Italy the pink genus appears in the thirties, first with the La Biblioteca delle Signorine series, published by Salani, and then with the novels by Liala (pseudonym coined by D’Annunzio for Amalia Liana Cambiasi Negretti Odescalchi), which sell millions of copies.

In the Seventies, the successes of foreign writers, finally translated, also arrived in Italy, and in 1981, from the union between Mondadori and Harlequin, Harmony was born, the series of romance novels par excellence, which today, passed under the Harper Collins brand , continues to publish about fifty new titles each month.

The Characteristics Of The Novel Rose

Pink, also known as romance, is a rather conservative literary genre, in which the public, made up mostly of women, is not looking for novelty, but, on the contrary, expects to find 5 recurring elements.

1) Love as a central theme

Amor vincit omnia. The central theme of a romance is the love story between the two protagonists. It can be a contrasted, denied, hidden, forbidden, forgotten, rediscovered love, but it must be love. Everything else revolves around this pivot.

2) A simple plot

If in other literary genres the authors struggle to amaze readers with intricate plots, international intrigues, complicated family genealogies and unsettling twists, in the romance novel the plot is simple. The readers do not want to have to remember what happened on page 35 to understand who is stealing the encrypted file on page 273. The readers want to immerse themselves in a simple story, in which it is easy to identify themselves and follow their progress without having to take notes. .

Reading a romance is first of all leisure and lightness.

3) A dream setting

The story, or at least part of it, must be set in an unusual, exotic place, far from the ordinary and above all luxurious and exclusive. Reading a story set in an anonymous provincial town where the protagonist must fulfill all daily tasks has never made anyone dream.

4) Richness of details

The devil is in the details, someone said.

To compensate for the simplicity of the plot, pink loves descriptions and focuses on details. The details in the rooms, in the clothes, in the physical and character descriptions are what the readers are looking for and what allows them to fully imagine the story in their head. The details make a plausible story and therefore facilitate identification.

5) The happy ending

And they lived happily ever after.

The happy ending in the romance novel is inevitable, a certainty for readers who choose this genre, also because of this. Because, at least in books, love wins over everything.

Berk French

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