"This is what a love story should be." - RT Book Reviews

First up, congratulations! It's a big step to start writing your first Mills & Boon romance and an exciting one. I hope you have as much fun as I did with mine. I didn't sell that first story but I adored the process of learning to write one and it's led me to a career that I love. Whether this is a passing pleasure or a long term goal I hope it brings joy, fulfilment and maybe a career. Good luck to you.

Here are some thoughts to help you in the right direction:

  • If you want to write for Mills & Boon, read lots of them! The more you read the more you get a feel for what works. This will also help you decide what series you want to write for. Passionate short contemporary stories like you find in Mills & Boon Modern? Or perhaps Historical? Or Medical? Or one of the others? Where do you feel most at home? One of the most important things you can do before you start is decide what sort of romance you want to write. This allows you to target your story better.
  • Write a story you love. If your heart isn't in what you're writing, it will show. If you have heard a particular type of romance sells well but it's not what you enjoy reading, don't try to write one. Stick with a story that moves you. Your passion is important.
  • Some people plot their whole book in advance. Others dive in with just the first scene in mind. Neither is right or wrong. Find out what works for you.
  • Make sure you have a strong conflict at the core of your plot. A story where a hero and heroine meet, like each other and simply fall in love won’t engage a reader. We need tension and things that challenge the characters. Find a solid reason, or several, for the characters to resist their attraction. This is the conflict in a romance. Beware though: many read conflict and think it means simply an argument but it’s much more. The conflict is what keeps your hero and heroine apart and it must be significant. Conflicts should tap into your hero and heroine’s deep emotions and beliefs and compel them to resist the attraction they feel for each other.
  • Start your story at a moment of change when life alters for at least one of your characters. Aim to engage the reader as soon as possible by having them empathise with your hero or heroine or both. For instance, readers will feel sympathy for a heroine facing really tough circumstances.
  • Introduce both hero and heroine to the reader as soon as possible.
  • Your characters needn't be perfect people. In fact it's better if they aren't. Flaws make them more real. But if they behave badly show they have what they believe to be a good reason for doing so – make them redeemable. Readers want to relate to your characters, and your heroine in particular.
  • Romances are stories of the heart. Focus on the characters’ emotional journey because this is at the core of the book. Try to draw your readers in to experience those emotions.
  • It can be tough telling a convincing, engaging, emotional story within a limited wordcount. Focus on telling the most important parts of the story. The reader doesn’t need every tiny detail of the heroine’s day, or conversations that don’t propel the story forward or reveal something important.
  • Don’t rush the ending. Readers have stayed with you through this journey and want to be rewarded by experiencing the joy of a happy ending.
  • Consider joining a romance-specific writing group. Romance Writers of Australia https://romanceaustralia.com/ has newsletters with craft information, conferences with useful workshops, and provides a chance to meet others who write.

I hope these suggestions are helpful. There are other resources out there with information on romance writing. You can also sign up for my newsletter at the top of that page, which gives you access to various extras. If you have questions I always enjoy hearing from readers. You can contact me via my website or follow me on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/anniewest.author .

Good luck with your writing!

Copyright Annie West

First published at romance.com.au