How to Start a Romance Novel

Benji Russell
NovelPad Author
Romance is one of the few genres where a reader knows how it ends before they’ve ever even heard of the book. By definition, romances end with a happily-ever-after, which means the love interests must fall blissfully in love.
If you already know the end, what makes romances fun?
Well, as any fan can tell you, the fun is seeing how these specific characters find their $ happily-ever-after$ . The format doesn’t spoil the story—it makes a promise: This will be a story about people falling in love. The rest is anyone’s guess.
When readers pick up your book, not only do they expect a happily-ever-after, but they also expect to see unique characters, unique takes on $ tropes$ , and unique takes on the $ subgenre$ . It’s your job as a writer to promise, in the book’s opening scenes, that this love story is worth their time.

How To Outline A Romance Novel

When you start writing, it can be difficult to know where you’re going. What needs to be set up? Who are these characters, and what do they want? How will the plot find them?
If you make an outline, you’ll have this laid out in front of you. You can confidently start your romance novel with a clear understanding of what your opening scene needs to accomplish.
Here’s a guide to build an outline that will hold your hand through the writing process. (Get it, because it’s a romance outline? Holding hands? Ay?)

Identify Subgenre and Tropes

Because romance readers have certain expectations, being aware of the subgenre and tropes you use will help you craft a story for your desired audience.
After you’ve decided to write a romance novel, determine your subgenre. Popular subgenres include historical romance, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, and erotic romance. Read other books within that subgenre and make note of the themes and tropes commonly explored, especially in recent releases. This will give you an idea of what readers will expect when they open your book.
You also want to identify the tropes you’ll be using. Make tropes your own, but make sure to pay them off—again, it’s about giving the readers what they want in a new, interesting way. Popular romance tropes include enemies-to-lovers, small-town romance, friends-to-lovers, and soulmates.