Nothing is more appealing to romance readers than it’s largest subgenre – contemporary romance. However, this does not make your job as a writer easier. Instead, this poses a large challenge to you: how do you make your contemporary romance worthy to be read among the vast sea of books in that subgenre? Here are some tips that should help your novel stand above the rest.
Know your genre
Romance novels are prone to constantly using clichés, especially contemporary romance. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, since most readers are after the tropes of the genre anyway. However, the challenge is to set your story apart from the rest. What twist would your story deliver? To have the answer to this question, you need to read. Read a wide range of contemporary romance novels, understand how the tropes are used and how they are twisted to become different. To usher a fresh perspective to the genre, you need to know what’s up and about.
Develop well-rounded characters
Contemporary romance can be easily confined in a world where only your hero and heroine exists, and everything else dances to the tune of their relationship. However, this is not an excuse to ignore secondary characters and their own development. Characters should not be developed around the main couple’s relationship, but instead you should allow them to live their own life as an independent person. Give them goals and backstories, and maybe even let them go through major character developments. Characters should be more than just names on your manuscript; they should be as human as your main characters.
To help you with this, LivingWriter features the Story Elements, where you can keep tabs on your novel’s characters and have a full description for each character. You can keep exhaustive sections of notes of all your characters and even store nicknames. A helpful part of Story Elements is that LivingWriter automatically suggests your characters while writing, even highlighting them in your color of choice and allowing you to use their nicknames instead. A change on the Character Story Element would also immediately reflect on your manuscript right away, so you waste no time going back and forth.
Pace it right
Contemporary romance might be a slow-burn genre, but you shouldn’t allow it to progress at a snail’s pace. Each chapter should accomplish something specific and concrete, whether it be physical or emotional. As your readers flip through each page, they should know that the character they’re reading right now is different from the one before.
Pacing is also especially important, because it keeps your readers’ attention. If nothing has progressed for a few chapters, they’re likely to drop the book before they get to that crucial “mic-drop” moment of your novel. Of course, that doesn’t mean that everything has to change every time, but that every time, something has to.
Don’t skimp on the details
What makes romance novels so enticing to read is that they hyper-focus on things that might be lost and unseen in the eyes of most. When there’s a chance to show and develop the emotions of a character, grab it and capitalize on that. In contemporary romance, elaborate plotlines and complex characters can generate and keep people’s interests, but small encounters deliver just as well.
The same is true for your characters. Breathe life to them by giving them oddly specific mannerisms that may not have anything to do with the story at all. By focusing on small details of characters, readers get to see what kind of person they are beyond the romance, making them more relatable and memorable. Story Elements in LivingWriter are perfect for keeping track of those idiosyncrasies!
Make that HEA hard to get
Don’t get sucked into the fairy-tale templates where everything goes well magically (not even magical stories get to deus-ex-machina their way out). In almost all romance stories, the default goal is the Happy Ever After ending. However, what makes readers love your novel is how your characters go through thick and thin, struggle against odds, and prove their romance in order to get and deserve that ending. Don’t make that path easy, but equally deliver their well-earned finale.
To those contemporary romance writers out there…
The road ahead is one that has been walked by many. It can be a struggle to leave a prominent dent on the road, much less walk on it. However, there are footsteps that you can follow, and by following, you’ll eventually find the pace that you want to walk to. And if you have LivingWriter with you, you’re sure to expedite your writing process and get to focus on writing the story that you want to tell.