The Romance Writing Formula:  Does it Work?

Romance novels continue to be one of the top selling book genres.  Many romance novels are written using a romance novel writing formula.  This "formula" is a general outline for the way the book progresses.  A romance novel is different from other types of novels because it focuses on romance between two main characters.

While every good writer has their own take on the romance writing formula, most romance novels do tend to stick to a similar format.  The romance novel needs to have a main character that readers can relate to.  The main character should be someone we can love and root for.  As the novel progresses we'll grow more attached to her and to her feelings in the book. The typical romance novel formula follows along the lines of girl meets boy, some type of conflict happens that keeps them apart, the conflict is resolved, girl learns and grows, girl and boy get together and live happily ever after.

Another important part of the romance writing formula is a hero who is also loveable.  Readers need to be attached to both of them so that they invest emotions in the book.  The characters need to be realistic and believable.  You want the audience to relate to the main character and be sympathetic to her.  You want them to root for her. There needs to be an event that occurs to bring the two together initially.  The man should also be a loveable character because if he is too mean the readers won't want the hero to get together with him and the whole premise of the book is gone. Instead you want to make sure that there is enough chemistry between the two people to make readers want to see them end up together. 

Of course the two lovers can't just find each other and live happily ever after or the book ends at chapter one.  Instead, the romance writing formula calls for there to be some obstacles in the way of the two lovers.  There needs to be something big that happens to cause them to be apart.  While the couple is apart the woman or man may grow or learn.  The woman may finally come to a realization about the relationship, which allows the couple to get over the obstacle to be together. 

There are many variations you can make on the romance novel writing formula.  The many different settings, twists and turns of the plot allow you to make a unique story that still follows the main romance novel writing formula pretty well.  The novel needs to work towards a major climax in the plot – a time that defines whether or not the couple will ultimately end up together.  This keeps readers turning the pages.  As the book comes to an eventual ending the reader will enjoy a plot twist that she didn't see coming.  This further helps keep readers entrenched in the novel. In the end, however, you need to provide readers with the happy ending they have been hoping for.  The key is to get enough plot twists in the middle to make readers really wonder if the couple ever will get together.  This standard romance novel writing formula has been working for a hundred years and continues to provide the platform for wonderful romance novels.