Okay, so remember that book I was trying to finish up before I went on holiday? Turns out, it was pretty bad*. The reason for this was partly because I’d forgotten what makes romance novels romantic. (Of course, I can see that now, as I’m trying to fix it…) Because we can get into our heads about this stuff, I thought I’d share why I find romance novels romantic – which will hopefully resonate with you, too.
Romance novels are romantic because we fall in love with the hero/heroine, too.
This should happen for both the author and the reader – but primarily the reader. They have to see how and why our main characters fall in love. They have to wish they were in our main characters’ shoes. Or at the very least relate to the romantic journey of the characters. (Preferably all of the above.) A lot of this has to do with attraction. Not just physical attraction, but emotional attraction. Which begs the question:
Are your main characters attracted to one another throughout the book?
You might be rolling your eyes at this because, duh. But think about it. Are your characters attracted to each other throughout the book? And have you made this clear to your reader?
In my bad book*, I overlooked this. My characters were very attracted to one another initially, and then the attraction just kind of…fizzled. Which made their first kiss unexpected. And their eventual admission of feelings not as satisfactory. So while I’ve been revising my book, I’ve been ramping up the emotional and physical tension. My characters are more aware of one another’s proximity now. And they’re noticing things about the other that make them realise that character is perfect for them. So that when they end up together, it’s fulfilling to the reader – and expected. Hopefully.
So, when you’re writing a romance novel, don’t forget that you’re making people fall in love. Your characters, your readers – and even yourself.
*Initially, I was embarrassed to say that I’d written a bad book. But then I realised that many aspiring-to-be-published authors feel like published authors are somehow different to them. But guess what, you guys? Published authors don’t always get it right! Sometimes we get the same feedback unpublished authors might get in response to their submissions. Because we have our foot in the door, that response doesn’t quite mean the same thing for us, but it still stings. And it’s still a learning experience – if we allow it to be.