Annie On Writing

April 16, 2010

Headache, Heartache – Tips in Writing Romance

Filed under: Articles From write anything,Genres — Annie Evett @ 12:01 am

This article first appeared over at Write Anything.

For many writers, the thought of writing romance fills them with dread; crying their incapability to convey the message in they style they perceive romance to contain. Dig a little deeper and its obvious that romance covers an enormous spectrum of genre; certainly enough to suit every writer.

Setting the Scene

Good romance is heavily descriptive, able to carry the reader into their world, allowing them to empathize and visualize the characters every breath and thought. Writers who breathe life into their scenes take advantage of the skills they have, emphasizing the ones which are key to writing love sequences.

Only write what you are comfortable in reading.

Although its the new trend to write love scenes so hot they sizzle on the page, if your face burns or stomach churns thinking about reading these things – much less describing them – then don’t do it. In saying this however, any genre can include romance. It up to you as the writer to choose the level of intensity and description of these scenes. Regardless to the genre, writers will generally choose characters which fit their own comfort level, either in adventure, horror or romance. This is distinct from the writers own experience and a point many forget.

Be character led.

Be comfortable with the choices your character makes with regards to the level of intimacy they explore. Emotions can be as hot as physical lovemaking. Even when it comes to sex scenes its not necessary to describe the act – but the thoughts, feelings, sensations a character is experiencing. There are also many techniques both writers and the film industry employ to insinuate that a bedroom scene has occurred without having to actually describe or film it ( from flashbacks to crashing waves). If you are a little unsure – skip the scene and come back to it. It will be obvious from your characters reactions if they need to revisit that scene in detail or are happy to allude to the fact.

Give your readers what they expect.

If your intention is to write a romance, then it needs to blossom on the page as the character come to life as they fall in and out of love, experiencing the tribulations and challenges ahead of them.

Romance requires deep internal bonds between the words and the reader. External aspects which focus on the physicality and descriptive nature of the love scenes need to be balanced with emotions and sensuality; keeping the sexual tension at a peak. If you have set your story up as a romance – then give it to the reader in bucket loads as if you don’t deliver, your readers will leave dissatisfied.

Employ Exaggerated Awareness.

This is a term picked up from romance writing forums. The scenes which involve the two characters need to larger than life. Every glance, breath, touch needs to be highlighted so that the the sexual tension builds to an excruciating level before reaching its breaking point. The emotional impact of every interaction – be it an accidental brush up against the arm or a glance across the room, needs to be conveyed to the readers in a sensuous descriptive manner.

Set the scene for both your characters and yourself.

Writing a sizzling or deeply romantic scene would be difficult for the best author if sitting in dusty clutter surrounded by shrieking children or neighbors and eating day old pizza. It may not be possible to employ all of your senses, however, the love scenes are the most important within a romance story, so full focus aught to be made to set the scene in both your mind and environment.

Sink yourself into sensuousness – both for the scene your character is entering, and for yourself. Focus on s many senses you can employ whilst writing the scene – the smells – incense, perfumes, fresh fruit; the lighting – be it flickering candle light or filtering sunlight or moonbeams; mood music, skin sensations – the feelings of velvet or lace slithering over a body and of tastes – melting chocolate, bubbles of champagne.

Writing romance is all in the details. In many genres, authors choose reoccurring themes or symbols to tie in their message. Within romance, you might choose obvious things like water or the character mouth ( shape, softness, taste etc) or go for something less obvious; but meaningful to the characters and the overall message. Ultimately romance novels are about the journey of a relationship. Its about making the characters come to life so much so that the reader is immersed in their emotions. The take away from this article is for writers to explore romance within their own comfort zone and genres.

The romance fiction market is wide open to those with an eye for a good plot and an ear for an appropriately sensual tonality. Publishers like Pan Macmillan, Harlequin and Mills & Boon are always looking for quality material and reliable authors, or if you develop a unique view in a niche market, such as Sherrilyn Keynon has with her sensuous vampire, Gods and warebeings series of books, you will have a fan base baying for more.

Image via Flickr



  1. Annie,
    I first read this (today) at Write Anything and wanted to comment there but couldn’t find how to do that. Just peeking around on wordpress regarding ‘writing romance’ and here I am.

    Sound and sage advice all of the above, particularly ‘write what you’re comfortable reading’.


    Comment by everwriting — May 15, 2010 @ 8:26 pm | Reply

  2. Thanks, Annie. Wonderful advice. Look forward to hearing from you soon.


    Comment by triciasax — June 18, 2010 @ 10:26 am | Reply

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