As you can see, pink is not a genre that lends itself to experimentation. Who reads romance doesn’t look for twists or complicated plots to unravel: romance readers look for a moment of pure literary evasion.
Thus writing a good romance novel means respecting the characteristic elements of the genre and making the readers dream.
So if you want to try your hand at writing a romance novel, follow these 10 steps.
1. Choose the historical era and do accurate research
A romance novel can be set in the present day or in the past. In the first case it is called contemporary rose, in the second historical rose.
If you choose to set the story in the present, you should have no problem describing environments, objects, clothes, food and so on. You will only have to worry that all this is in accordance with the geographic location you have chosen.
If, on the other hand, you choose to set your story in a bygone era, make sure you do careful research to avoid making gross mistakes in the description of clothes, environments and habits. The historical framework of reference must be taken care of and rich in details, so that the readers can identify themselves.
Precisely for this reason, not all historical epochs are going well. In my opinion, too ancient epochs work less because it is more difficult for readers to imagine living between Greeks and Romans. It is easier to set the story in a modern era, perhaps not well specified, in which, however, the protagonist lives a privileged life.
Castellane, princesses, noblewomen are the perfect protagonists for a historical romance.
You could also choose as a protagonist a commoner or a woman of low social rank, provided, however, that it is such only at the beginning of the novel and for an unfortunate case: in the course of history she will discover that she is the natural daughter of some noble and will rise in the blink of an eye the social ladder.
2. Choose a dream setting
A characteristic element of romance novels is a dreamlike setting, that is, a setting that is different from the common one, an unusual, luxurious and elegant place that can make readers dream.
It may be a big city, as long as the protagonist is used to going to exclusive restaurants and clubs and she doesn’t have to struggle between the bus strike and the lack of parking.
From this point of view, therefore, in Italy it can go well Milan, which has a glamorous and international profile, or Venice and Florence, crowded with tourists in love. Much less effective, Rome, whose inhabitants, notoriously honest and genuine, would soon break every romantic dream.
Better then move abroad, where imagination can imagine a life more fascinating than that of our home: Paris, London, New York are recurring and effective settings of romance novels.
If you do not like the urban setting, you can of course opt for any holiday destination (tropical beaches, Greek islands, cruises) or exotic places, where “exotic” means a distant, unusual, little known and cloaked place (a ranch , a small fishing village overlooking a fjord, a farmhouse surrounded by lavender fields, etc.).
It is not certain that the whole story of your romance novel takes place in this town, but certainly its development and above all the happy ending yes.
Describe the places in great detail so that the readers can imagine being right there with their darling.
3. Create a strong protagonist
The undisputed protagonist of a romance novel is the female character.
Create your protagonist so that she is credible as a woman, in her choices, in her thoughts and even in her weaknesses. Creating a strong protagonist, in fact, does not necessarily mean creating a cold and cynical character, an ambitious career woman or an insensitive apathy.
Creating a strong protagonist means creating a female character that readers can respect, in which readers can identify.
This is why your protagonist must not be perfect and, like all of us, must have flaws. What matters, however, is that these defects have an explanation and the protagonist admits them and better.
So, if at the beginning she was a cold and detached woman, maybe in the course of history it turns out that she had great disappointments in the past, or that the family places high expectations on her and that therefore it is only a shell, but he – the male protagonist – will know how to scratch. Or, if at first it seemed apathetic, then you can discover that in reality at night he writes poems and love songs, and detachment is just a screen behind which to hide his great shyness.
In short, it creates a well-rounded character, a true and credible woman.
4. Create the male co-star
The co-star is the man your heroine will fall in love with.
He does not know it yet, and the encounter, often casual and fortuitous with him, marks the beginning of the true story.
To create your male protagonist you are spoiled for choice: he can be a rich and successful man, an elegant nobleman, but also a cowboy or a sportsman. What matters is therefore not its social status, but its charm that must be overwhelming.
It can be a character with a mysterious side (a turbid past, a painful childhood) or with an initially shy and introverted character, but it must be unquestionably beautiful and charismatic.
Here, the male protagonist of a romance novel must really be a man for whom to lose his head, a man who knows how to love, who knows how to conquer a woman, a man who courts and listens, who knows what to say and when to say it, what to do and when to do it.
In short, the man of dreams. The perfect man.
And here the objection can arise spontaneously: but how, the female protagonist must be a real and credible woman and the male protagonist must instead be the man of dreams?
The readers of romance novels, we have said and repeated, want to escape from reality. Of men who do not listen to them, who do not courage them anymore or who have never courted them, they know some of them (as the Master would say!) And most likely they also have one next to them.
At least for a few hours let her dream!
5. Create the antagonist
There is no love story that holds without an antagonist that opposes the union between the two protagonists.
In general the antagonist is another woman, envious of the protagonist for work or personal reasons, but it could also be a man (a family member, an employer, a former).
Sometimes, then, there is no real antagonist character and it is the protagonist herself who unintentionally boycott her love story due to lack of self-confidence.
If the protagonist at the beginning of the story is not yet aware of her own strength and value, she could in fact put a spoke in the wheels alone, leaving a rival’s field open, not showing up for an appointment, giving credit to the gossips they speak of the hero, or ashamed of herself and her origins.
In short, there is always an antagonist and often the worst enemy of heroin is its weakest part.
6. Create a confidant / helper
The protagonist can’t do everything by herself, she needs a friend (more rarely a friend) with whom to confide and be encouraged. It may be a friend of the heart, but also of a perky aunt or an old teacher.
The presence of a confidant is an excellent narrative tool to explain what the protagonist feels: in the dialogues with her, in fact, your heroine expressing all her doubts and desires, talking with her can clarify what she feels about hero and what holds her back in the realization of her dream of love.
In this sense the confidant will always be a wise and reassuring figure, a true friend who succeeds in having an overall view, more detached and complete than the affair, and for this reason she is able to hearten and advise.
In addition to being a shoulder for dialogic scenes, however, the confidant can be a real helper that allows the protagonist to overcome the unexpected and obstacles. On the contrary, sometimes the helper can carry out his task despite the protagonist’s resistance and therefore help him in secret or without his knowledge, so that the dream of love may be realized.
7. Create obstacles to overcome
Before reaching the coveted happy ending, the protagonist must overcome obstacles.
The obstacles can be external and real (the geographical distance, the social difference, a job impediment, a family member who opposes, an unexpected return) or personal and personal (a skeleton in the wardrobe, a misunderstanding between the two lovers, false news that distance them).
The obstacles are narrative joints that allow you to develop the story and make it change even in a sudden way: a twist can ward off the two protagonists and make them fear the worst, just as a final revelation can dissolve all the resistances and bring them together new.
After all, since Don Rodrigo put his hand in it and prevented Renzo and Lucia from marrying, we all know that a hindered love becomes a stronger love (at least in books).
So focus more on the difficulties that the characters have to face than on happy moments. Create the right tension so that the story grows sufficiently until the final climax.
Without tension there is no dissolution. Happiness is less intense without obstacles to overcome.
8. Dig in the emotions of your characters
Writing a love story presupposes knowing the dynamics of emotions and knowing how to explain them in words.
This requires a great ability to observe human behavior and a lot of exercise to be able to describe feelings without falling into linguistic clichés.
So before writing your romance, take the time to develop your characters, to dig into their minds and into their hearts to understand what they think and feel. Really try to imagine them as if they were real people that you know very well.
Dig deep into your characters’ emotions and ask yourself how they would behave in everyday life situations and then in critical situations, under pressure, in the face of pain, or a loss, or an offense, or an injustice.
So imagine them happy, sad, angry, disappointed, and think in detail what they would do and what they would say. The best way to narrate emotions, in fact, is to stage them through behaviors.
Show, don’t tell, say Americans. Show, don’t tell.
And so you have to do with your characters too: you have to show their emotions through their way of acting, the gestures, the faces, the tone of the words, the looks.
Only then will you be able to give depth to your characters, to communicate their emotions to a much deeper level than what words alone can say and to emotionally involve the reader as well.
This is true for every narrative text, but in a genre like pink that bases its very existence on the expression of emotions, you understand how much more important this is.
9. Grow your characters
The initial meeting between the two protagonists marks the beginning of the ups and downs that they will have to overcome in order to reach the happy ending, but this time frame must not only serve to contain a series of events, more or less fortunate: it is necessary that in this time frame the characters grow and transform.
Love is a powerful lever and certainly cannot leave the hearts it touches.
Your protagonists, therefore, must undergo a transformation, sometimes conscious, sometimes less, that is however clear and that brings them to the end of the book to be very different from how they were in the first pages.
An apparently cynical protagonist will overcome the fears behind which she was hiding, an initially self-centered or vain man will learn the generosity of feelings, and so on.
Love must therefore change your protagonists, bring out their hidden gifts, break down prejudices and fears and, why not, also bring out fragility and insecurities that make the characters more real and more credible.
After all, the result to which a love novel aims is not to prove that we are perfect on our own, but, on the contrary, that happiness lies in the relationship, in sharing with the other, in the balance of the parts.
Strength is in the couple and not in the individual.
10. Create a happy ending. Indeed, two
In the romance novel the happy ending is guaranteed.
Readers expect it and often choose this genre precisely because they know it will end well, they know that, at least in the imaginary world of their characters, things end well, problems are solved, good deeds are recognized and love is recognized reciprocated.
After a series of obstacles and unforeseen events, the protagonist must be reunited with her loved one, if she was shy or disenchanted with love, now she must melt and open up to feeling.
But the fact that there must be a happy ending does not mean that the last chapters of your romance must be discounted.
You can always insert a first “false” conclusion in which things seem to be resolved, but maybe something still remains unsolved and the story is interrupted by a final twist that seems to send the balance finally reached into the air.
The protagonists, now reunited and in love, can then face together this last obstacle to reach the true final, this time more happy than ever.
The fact of having to face a new difficulty together will make them even more united and steadfast in their love.