So happy to have a new author to introduce to you! Penny Zeller writes Christian romance, both historical and contemporary. She’s stopped by to give you the seven must-haves for romance novels. Take it away, Penny.
While romance is one of the most popular genres, it’s not necessarily the easiest to write. Given this genre’s complexity, how can we, as authors, be sure our romance novels keep our readers turning the pages? Here are seven must-haves for romance novels.
Good character description
As a visual person, it helps tremendously for me to have pictures of my main characters on hand before I begin writing a book. One of the best ways to do this is Pinterest boards. Create one for character inspiration you can refer back to for any book, as well as a dedicated individual board for each book you are writing.
When I was writing my first novel, I cut out the photo of my main male character and taped him to the edge of my computer monitor. When my husband, Lon, saw the picture that evening, our conversation went something like this:
Lon: “Who is that guy?”
Me: “Oh, that’s just Zach.”
Lon: “Zach? Do we know him?”
Me: “Well, you may not, but I do. He’s the main character in my book. A figment of my imagination.”
I still do this, although now my family is accustomed to seeing strange people taped all over my workspace. It helps to have your characters in front of you, whether taped to your monitor or a physical character board, or on a Pinterest board.
Great tip, Penny! Most of the time, I can’t write a character unless I can see them crystal clear in my imagination.
Attraction between characters
While it may be a while before they like each other, there does have to be a level of attraction. Make sure that attraction covers more than just appearance.
Make sure you have conflict in your romance novel. Keep the reader guessing and hoping the two main characters will someday have their happily ever after.
In my latest novel, Love in Disguise, Emilie and Thad form a relationship over regularly having lunch together. They find they have common interests, likes, and dislikes. Give your characters ways to build and form their relationship through spending time together. Give them commonalities and some areas of agreement that brought them together.
Strengths and weaknesses
One of the easiest ways I have found to give characters strengths and weaknesses is to interview them. Ask “What words would your closest friends use to describe you?” Chances are, your main characters will come up with mostly strengths, but a few weaknesses too. Are they determined? Creative? Organized? Flexible? Spontaneous? Energetic? Athletic? Nerdy? Flighty? A grudge holder? Easily bored? Risk-taker? Planner? Extroverted? Introverted?
Check to see what type of Myers Briggs personality your characters have and research that personality type. This helps develop their strengths and weaknesses even further.
Disclaimer here: I love watching clean romantic comedies and chick-flicks. As such, I do realize the main characters have to fall in love quickly to fit the hour-and-a-half movie allotment. However, in our novels, we need to be sure we are pacing the romance well. Give your characters time before they fall head-over-heels in love. Let them discover why they’re falling in love. While attraction (see above) is important at first, it’s not what remains important. Allow your characters to fall in love with someone’s personality–their dedication to the Lord, their integrity, kindness, witty sense of humor, and generosity.
Or alternatively in the area of pacing, don’t have them dislike each other from page one to page 301 of a 302-page book, suddenly, falling in love on that second-to-the-last page.
I think pacing is the hardest technique for a writer to learn. Great tip for keeping the romance real!
As authors, let’s give our readers a couple to root for by creating strong and relatable characters!
A lot of your tips will work for any genre, not just romance. Thank you, Penny! For more tips from other romance writers, click here.
Who knew concealing one’s true identity could be so disastrous?
Who knew asserting one’s independence would cause such embarrassment? If only Almira “Emilie” Crawford Wheeler hadn’t insisted upon carrying her own stack of parcels, she wouldn’t have landed in an unladylike heap on the boardwalk. And what about the half-truth she told the handsome stranger who came to her aid? The stranger she never expected to see again?
Thad Alexander Evanson should have been paying closer attention to the boardwalk, rather than the newfangled automobile motoring down the street. Had he been more astute, a collision with the beautiful parcel-laden stranger might never have happened. And if it never had happened, he wouldn’t have told a partial-truth he figured wouldn’t matter.
Before long, Emilie and Thad are arranging to meet for a noonday meal each weekend in Missoula under the guise of different names. But what happens when their true identities are revealed? When half-truths are exposed? Could God have a plan even in the midst of a tangled web of lies?
Penny Zeller is known for her heartfelt stories of faith and her passion to impact lives for Christ through fiction. While she has had a love for writing since childhood, she began her adult writing career penning articles for national and regional publications on a wide variety of topics. Today Penny is a multi-published author of several inspirational books. She is also a homeschool mom and a fitness instructor.
When Penny is not dreaming up new characters, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters, camping, hiking, canoeing, reading, running, cycling, gardening, and playing volleyball.She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency and loves to hear from her readers at her website www.pennyzeller.com and her blog, random thoughts from a day in the life of a wife, mom, and author, at www.pennyzeller.wordpress.com. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Amazon Author Central, and MeWe.