Aspiring authors struggle, wondering how to start a Romance novel. In an effort to improve their manuscripts, newbies often seek feedback from other writers.
However, listening to the wrong advice can add years to your pre-published journey. In fact, you may already be turning your manuscript into a stale, homogenized tale that will ultimately kill your sales!
Ready to Hear the truth about Romance Writing?
Asking amateurs for writing feedback is like asking third graders for stock-market tips.
To save yourself a lot of heartache, you must accept that Chapter One is a trial-by-fire.
Your opening chapter requires sophisticated fiction-writing skills, which most aspiring authors are only starting to learn. (So why would you consult them for feedback?)
By the way: if you’re consulting writers of another fiction genre for feedback, your chance of receiving “uneducated opinions” will increase exponentially. So will your risk of poor reviews and lousy sales. Mystery and Fantasy writers are NOT bound by the same fiction rules as Romance writers.
Your Paycheck Depends on Chapter One!
When you’re learning how to start a Romance novel, it’s important to realize that diehard fans “vote” with their pocketbook. Readers gauge the quality of your love story with an excerpt.
Amazon is especially generous to your readers. It excerpts your first chapter (in its entirety,) plus multiple other chapters, based on the total page count of your book.
Now imagine readers becoming bored — or worse, confused — by your first chapter. Nothing is more disheartening than watching your free book get zero downloads on Amazon!
BTW: The reasons for this calamity are legion. Typically, however, the Indie Author is guilty of publishing stale, homogenized scenes because she listened to the writing advice of well-meaning (but clueless) Beta Readers.
Here’s a True Story of the “Clueless” Variety
I recently had the opportunity to observe a “critique group” (Beta Readers.) These Betas were eager to show a new member how to start a Romance novel.
I was horrified when the Betas attacked a perfectly good story. Displaying a sort of “mob mentality,” they claimed that they were identifying story flaws.
In reality, they were venting their pent-up frustrations by spouting personal prejudice and Urban Myth.
For instance, the Literary Crusaders claimed that:
- Editors hate books with Prologues, and Traditional Publishers won’t buy them.
This criticism is Urban Myth. I’ve written 2 books with prologues. Avon published them both. More to the point, those Romances won awards and became bestsellers. When an editor rejects a Romance manuscript based on its prologue, the editor’s concern is that the author delayed the love story.
- A heroine should never have an exotic name (or a name with an unusual spelling.) Weird character names “turn off” readers.
This criticism is Personal Prejudice. New York Times bestseller, Sarah MacLean, invented a heroine named, “Culpernia Hartwell.” Romance fans loved Culpernia’s story and drove it up the charts. They also loved “Xenobia India” (the invention of NYT Bestseller Eloisa James) and “Cidra Rainforest,” (the invention of NYT bestseller, Jayne Ann Krentz.) Clearly, a heroine’s name has little or no impact on the buying decision of readers.
Introducing the Hero & Heroine is Just the Beginning…
Sure, Romance readers expect you to introduce your main characters in Chapter One. But they also expect you to lay the foundation of your entire plot. (Surprise!)
Think of your chapters as a line of dominoes, waiting to be pushed. If you fail to set-up your love story adequately, then those dominoes will not fall.
In other words:
- Your plot will hinge on unbelievable “coincidences.”
- Your story-pacing will drag.
- Your characters will lose their appeal and read like “talking heads.”
- Your reader will stop reading. (Translation: you’ve bored her so thoroughly that you’ve lost her as a future source of income.)
How to Start a Romance Novel & Make Money!
Most aspiring authors are too green to realize that they’re revising Chapter One, ad nauseum, to address criticisms that have no bearing on book sales.
However, Chapter One doesn’t have to be daunting. Bestselling Romance authors have developed techniques and strategies that you can learn — today! — to improve your chances of success.
Are you REALLY ready to get paid for your work-in-progress?
Then check out my self-paced video course, Where Do I Start My (Freaking) Romance Novel? You’ll find oodles of tips and tricks that allowed me to write 6 award-winning bestsellers. Best of all, I’ve based the curriculum on interactions with:
- 3 literary agents;
- 2 editors from legacy Romance publishers;
- 1 independent ebook publisher (the 5th-largest in the country); and
- Dozens of popular Romance authors, whose novels have topped bestseller charts at The New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon.
BTW: If you like cats (and humor,) you’ll love my course. 🙂Click here to see a lesson sample.
Keep the faith, and keep writing…
Adrienne deWolfeAward-Winning Bestseller | Romance Writer Coach
Writing Romance novels? Want higher sales and better reviews? Our #1 bestselling expert, Adrienne deWolfe, mentors aspiring love story authors. Several of her Grateful Graduates have topped the charts. Many are consistently earning 4+ star reviews (which is why publishers have sent authors to Adrienne for help.) Learn how to write a Romance novel that sells! Adrienne offers online novel writing courses and private coaching at WriteRomanceNovels.com.