1. Choose a setting
Remember that your setting sets the mood for the entire piece, and can, if you’re feeling particularly literary (or just want to seem like you know about books and stuff), serve as a metaphor for one or more of your characters. Your best bets are:
a) A mist-swaddled small town with a cast of off-beat townsfolk.—excellent for harboring a dark secret. A good choice if you want to go for an “American Gothic” feel.
b) The wind-ravaged highland moors, which call to mind rugged long-haired warrior types and sweeping tales of passion.
c) A genteel manse in the antebellum South; like the mist-swaddled small town, these are good, “normal” covers for all kinds of steamy intrigue, though be warned that a Southern manse is always in danger of burning down in the story’s climax. Extra points for combining settings A and C.
d) A ship on the high seas. A bunch of seamen for our nubile young heroine to play with. I mean, do you really need me to spell this one out for you?
2. Choose your female lead
She has to be beautiful, of course, but not in such a way where she is aware of her beauty. It’s especially good if she’s got some sort of complex about her appearance, so that the male lead can assure her of how gorgeous she truly is. Any major differentiation between your female lead and any other female characters should also be based primarily on looks. Extra points for making her, despite all her rippling woman-bits, a virgin. In such case, she should have a skanky antagonist. Since this is a romance novel, her main character points should go no deeper than her looks, while her personality can be summed up as one of a few types:
a) A spoiled, sheltered heiress used to a life of luxury and entertainment. She’s not a bad person, but her lack of real-world experience makes her squealy, squeamish and easily offended by most people, places and foods. Her interests can be little dogs, shopping, and whining about how no one gives her what she wants.
b) A fiery-tempered noblewoman who rebels against the societal expectations of her day. Her interests can be sexual curiosity, walking around without enough petticoats and complaining about having to embroider things.
c) A conservative, sexually repressed woman who avoids courtship and marriage like the plague. Her dowdy, dull clothing, of course, must conceal a super-hot physique underneath. Extra points if she has a bunch of boy-crazy sisters of whom she disapproves.
d) A down-trodden yet beautiful servant girl who dreams of true love and a life outside cleaning up pig shit. This character type is the most purely “good” in that she can usually be seen nursing sick children and/or animals in her spare time, and, since she’s uncorrupted by money, has no ambition other than love.
3. Choose your male lead
He is, of course, just as physically attractive as the female lead. Extra points if you use the words “devilishly,” “wolfishly,” or “mischievously” when describing his facial expressions. He should compliment the female lead accordingly. Since these kinds of romance novels are typically aimed at women, and attempt to recreate some kind of female masturbatory fantasy, it is imperative that the female be chosen first, and the male chosen to suit her character’s needs. He should also be, like, really, really, rich. If it’s fitting with your setting, he should be a Lord or a Baron of something. This list corresponds with the above. Feel free, of course, to make any necessary adjustments, but be careful not to stray too far from the formula. Then people might have to start thinking, and no one wants to do that while reading a romance novel.
a) A clever, quick-witted sort who knows how to survive and thrive, especially in bizarre scenarios. He enjoys sneaking around, associating with shady characters and surviving unlikely circumstances. He’s a good match for the spoiled heiress because of his real-world experience; he gets to save her a lot, as well as dispense wisdom about adaptability and reserving judgment of others. He seems like an average person, which makes the heiress have contempt for him, but in reality he should be heir to vast stores of money and/or property.
b) An equally fiery nobleman who also eschews noble daintiness in favor of big game hunting and eating large joints of meat. This character is perfect for getting in screaming, dish-throwing matches with the fiery noblewoman character, and can stand up to a lot of abuse. This one doesn’t have to be particularly smart, as long as he can wield a mutton drumstick, a mace, and a fiery noblewoman with the same ease. Despite his contempt for book learning and refined culture, he should be the holder of vast stores of money and/or property.
c) A morally ambiguous stranger with a wild streak who lives without society’s rules, which he’ll refer to as “oppressive.” He likes to do things that would make a conservative, repressed woman blush—drink, smoke, gamble, and talk about past sexual exploits, all preferably in the company of the repressed woman herself. Of course, he is secretly in possession of vast stores of money and/or property.
d) A good and kind nobleman who is capable of looking beyond society’s obsession with class and noticing the smokin’ hot milkmaid (or whatever she is). Like the servant girl herself, this character is also the most straightforwardly “good,” Extra points if his character’s struggles involve trying to stay morally afloat in a corrupt society. Needless to say, he has access to vast stores of money and/or property.
e) Extra points if any of the above characters are vampires.
4. Your characters must now interact
Typically, the best way for them to meet is by chance. Base this event off the setting of the story, and go from there. The important thing about your characters’ interaction is that they must not like each other at first. In fact the whole first third of the novel should be dedicated to explaining how much your characters don’t like each other. A good template to follow is this: he thinks she’s spoiled, boring, stupid, flighty and annoying, and she thinks he’s rude, uncivilized, arrogant, shocking and annoying. Of course neither of them can stop thinking about the other. This template works well for the A, B, and C type characters, but for the D types you can follow a very straightforward love-at-first-sight formula. Extra points if he has to fight against the urge to suck her blood.
5. The conflict
The conflict should threaten to separate the love interests for all eternity, and/or threaten any and all vast stores of money and/or property. Mention can be made of other consequences of the conflict, like widespread death and destruction, but try not to make it too much of a bummer. This is, after all, a romance novel.
a) Hero betrothed to another woman. She should be the antithesis of the heroine, including in how she looks and dresses. She should be attractive in a sleazy kind of way, but nowhere near as good-looking as the heroine. If your heroine is morally upright, chaste and demure, the woman to whom the hero is betrothed should be morally depraved, sluttish and have no social grace.
b) Heroine betrothed to another man. Similar to the above, this man should be everything the hero is not. If the hero is brave, true, and noble, this other man should be weak, corrupt and plotting. Extra points if he is twice the heroine’s age and still lusts after her.
c) Civil unrest. This can take a lot of forms. It can be an invasion by a foreign country or feuding clan, a semi-historical event (the kind that result in Southern manses being burned down), or a natural disaster. This provides a good emotional backdrop, excellent scenery opportunities, and a feeling of the epic.
d) Society. This works especially well if your hero and heroine are from two different backgrounds, in terms of either class, upbringing, or nationality. In this scenario, society, who can be personified as a domineering parent or other figure of authority, will try everything to keep the male and female lead apart.
e) Extra points if any of the above parties are a rival clan of vampires.
6. The sex scene
This is what everyone is really after, so you should be putting most of your energy into this part. Typically, the hero and heroine have sex for the first time somewhere in the middle of the book, after they’ve realized their burning passion for one another, but prior to the resolution of the conflict. As stated earlier, the heroine is typically a virgin, while the hero is typically not. Despite her sexual inexperience, however, the heroine is still somehow the best lay he’s had in years. The actual sex should be written in the most uncomfortable combination of the explicitly pornographic and the flowery euphemism that you can stomach. Parts of the female anatomy, for example, should be described in floral terms, but be sure to work in something about “folds.” Remember—the heroine’s breasts should levitate unnaturally, even if your story takes place before augmentation procedures, and the hero should have a terribly impressive penis. The sex itself can be derived from most porno, and we can see here a shift from the female fantasy to the male, namely in that the heroine experiences a mind-blowing orgasm after what seems to be about three minutes of sex. For maximum effect, be sure to include the following vocabulary and phrasing: smoldering, throbbing, puckered, quivering, man/womanhood, maiden, maiden barrier, waves of pleasure, heaving, swollen, member, ecstasy. The more of these kinds of words you pack in, the better the sex.
Romance novels end in an upbeat fashion, and the protagonists always get what they want. Here are a few examples of a good ways to wrap up your story:
a) The hero’s true (rich) identity is revealed, and the heroine, who has come to love his fairmindedness and sense of adventure, marries him and enjoys his vast stores of money and/or property.
b) The feud between rugged highland clans is settled, and the hero and heroine get married and carry on their clan’s tradition while enjoying the vast stores of money and/or property.
c) The other man/other woman to whom the heroine/hero is betrothed is neatly dispatched, say, by going to prison for his unlawful dealings or realizing the error of her promiscuity and joining a convent, leaving the hero and heroine free to get married and enjoy the vast stores of money and/or property.
d) The civil unrest is resolved or diverted or the natural disaster ends, and the hero and heroine get married and use their vast stores of money and/or property to build a new manse in the style of the one that burned down.
e) Society learns not to look down upon the noble-hearted milkmaid, and she is allowed to marry the nobleman and enjoy his vast stores of money and/or property.
f) The heroine becomes a vampire, too.
g) A cliffhanger. Plan a sequel.
So hopefully this guide will help you on your way to becoming a hugely successful writer of the romance genre. And don’t stop at just one. With these easy steps, you can crank out an endless stream of saccharine drivel for years to come. All you need now is some steamy cover art, and you’re all set!