The Romance Writer’s Handbook


Happy Romance Writer’s Wednesday. Today’s post is about the first book I ever read about crafting a romance story, Rebecca Vinyard’s THE ROMANCE WRITER’S HANDBOOK. This how-to book took my vague dream of becoming a serious writer to a set of achievable skills and goals.

Here are my Top Ten Nuggets of Writing Gold mined from Ms. Vinyard’s book:

10. Study the market as you consider which premise holds the most promise. But write with love in mind, not dollar signs.

9. Formatting matters.

8. Use strong verbs to make your writing active.

6. There are sixteen master archetypes to use when creating characters.

5. Using POV correctly, you can keep characters guessing about the other characters’ feelings–increasing tension and conflict.

4. Romance plots have a difficult-to-solve problem keeping our hero and heroine apart. The internal conflict heightens emotion.

3. Create a colorful, rich sense of place using descriptive language–short and sweet–and show it through a character’s POV.

2. Write what you know you are ready to write. Research is the backbone to every story.

1. Write, write, write…to find your voice. Be confident–only you sound like you. Then keep writing for those who love your voice.

Romance Writers:   What nugget of writing gold you have mined from writing experts? Romance Readers: What do you feel makes a good romance?

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jan Romes
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 09:12:31

    Thank you for sharing this, Jolyse! Sometimes its good to go back to the basics to get things right! :-))

    My first book on craft was ‘How to Publish a Romance Novel’ by Kathryn Falk! I ordered it through the mail & when it came, it was autographed. I was in heaven :-))

  2. Gwen Hernandez
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 17:28:13

    Great recap, Jolyse. I forgot I had read that one early on too. Found it at the library.

    In ON WRITING ROMANCE by Leigh Michaels, she defines internal conflict as what keeps the H/H apart, and external conflict as what keeps them together. That really clicked for me.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Dec 21, 2011 @ 17:56:19

      II never looked at internal and external conflict that way. I’m reading STORY ENGINEERING by Larry Brooks and CREATING PLOT by J. Madison Davis.There’s always more to learn.

      Thanks for joining the discussion, Gwen, and have a wonderful holiday. 🙂

  3. Tuere Morton
    Dec 21, 2011 @ 18:18:35

    Hmm, sound advice, Jolyse! Can definitely use it. And you’re right, there’s never too much literature out there on writing that can’t shed light on an otherwise dark spot. Thanks for posting.

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Dec 21, 2011 @ 18:41:00

      I’m continually amazed by the generous nature of writers–part of why I’m proud to be one now, too! Thanks for stopping by, Tuere, and happy holidays to you and your family. 🙂

  4. Catie Rhodes
    Dec 30, 2011 @ 11:58:52

    Oh, that all makes it sound so easy doesn’t it? LOL All that is really good advice for any genre (IMHO).

    I am sort of glad I stumbled on this post late. Reading the comments, especially Gwen’s, really got me thinking. Scary, huh?

    • Jolyse Barnett
      Dec 30, 2011 @ 12:34:34

      Gwen’s point has stuck with me, too. I guess you’re saying it’s scary because of how it relates to real life. If that’s the case, my husband and I will be together into eternity–there’s always plenty of external drama here. LOL

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