Romance Writing? Snigger, ha ha….that’s easy isn’t it? You just write to a formula.
This was the usual line from people when you tell them what you are writing. I too believed this line but it wasn’t long before I was certainly disabused of this train of thought. Writing romance does not follow a formula. It is a lot more intricate than writing a fictional story, which in itself is a difficult task, you also have to include a romantic element that is tangible and believable to the reader.
I also had to tackle the usual stigmatism and stereotypes associated with romance writing. Every time you tell someone you are writing romance you can see them smirk. Now I ignore the naysayers and point out that romance is the largest genre in the world. I am very proud to tell people I am writing romance fiction and explain the complexity of the process. I love enlightening people.
So I thought I would share a few things I have discovered along the way that were very helpful in pushing me to continue with my dream to write.
1. Why write romance?
I love reading romance and fiction. Why not write? I have read so many books in my life I believe I may have shares in Amazon. My flatmates lament my reading collection in the many bookcases I have stuffed around the house. Truly there is very little money to be made in writing and I do it for the love of writing.
2. Gather your toolbox.
I have bought many books on the subject of fictional and romance writing. The Writer’s Journey and Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ were some of my first. I bought more books related to both fictional and romance writing and read them when I could. I searched the Internet and found more information regarding writing romance. Some useful and some not so useful. I attended workshops run by published authors such as Anne Gracie and Kate Forsyth. These were fantastic in giving me a realistic view of the writing process.
It gave me the opportunity to clarify that I am a plotter not a pantser. I need to use my own voice and not be influenced by others to write in a way that is “expected”. To try and improve my grammar (that is still improving) and to “show not tell” is not always a strict rule in popular romance.
The most important thing I learnt was to love and enjoy my writing.
3. Find a support group or buddy.
It is important that you find a group or person who can support you through your writing process. I joined the Romance Writers Association of Australia and the Victorian Writer’s Centre. I started my own Meetup group to find people of a like mind who are interested in writing romance with others. Finally I came to the Melbourne Romance Writer’s Guild (MRWG) where I learnt so much already.
Essentially whomever you choose to support your writing process they must provide constructive criticism and not destructive criticism. It is your writing and it is up to you whether you choose to use the suggestions or not. It is important to avoid people who are continually critical without providing a constructive way to improve your writing.
4. Permission to write crap
This was the most important lesson I learnt thanks to the MRWG. Whenever you get the chance, write. Write whatever comes into you head. Exercising your writing brain is important in developing your writing skills. The biggest prevention to writing is the expectation that it must be perfect straight away. It doesn’t need to be perfect, just write your story. Editing is the last part of the process to improving your written piece but you can’t edit if there is nothing to edit.
5. Enter competitions
Competitions can be helpful in providing constructive feedback to improve your writing skills. It can also give you a deadline as to when to have an item completed. I found my first foray into the Little Gems Competition improved my confidence enough to continue with the writing dream.
Hopefully this has given anyone thinking of writing romance a place to start and a better idea of the writing process.