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5 Romance Writing Tips from Sarah MacLean

Romance novelist Sarah MacLean will lead the “Romance Writing: It’s All About Chemistry” workshop at Mediabistro’s Literary Festival & Workshops this month.

To help our readers prepare, MacLean (pictured) shared five free romance writing tips for GalleyCat readers. You can read the simple and powerful advice below…

Here’s more about the workshop: “this workshop focused on developing the perfect first meeting, setting up the powerful moments of genuine connection that come from it, and setting the tone for your entire novel. You’ll learn how to use dialogue to create sparkling characters, how to build emotional and sexual tension quickly and effectively, and tips and tricks to ensure that your story promises a satisfying, sigh-inducing romance, all in the first few pages of your book. By the end of this workshop, you’ll have up to 10 revised pages of the most important moment in your romance novel–when your hero and heroine meet, and readers start rooting for their happily ever after.”

5 Romance Writing Tips from Sarah MacLean

1. No Mary Sues. Ever! Boring heroines are, in my opinion, the most common romance mistake. We loathe hanging out with women who define themselves purely through their relationships…why would we want to read about them? Make sure your heroine has a purpose. Make sure she has character. Make sure we like her *without* her hero. That will make her journey toward love that much more rewarding.

2. Heroes can (and should) be flawed. I real life, I’d say that your commitment-phobe/narcissist/bad boy boyfriend is a lost cause, but romance is shelved in fiction for a reason. Here, we get to test the old adage of love conquering all…and it had better conquer without question. Don’t be afraid to give your hero flaws. And once you do, don’t be afraid to make him face them.

3. Conflict conflict conflict. Be wary of relationships that come too easily. The trick to great romance is in overcoming adversity. In realizing that love is worth some uphill climbs. The amazing Susan Elizabeth Phillips says that if your hero is a firefighter, your heroine had better be an arsonist…she’s right, and not only about external conflict. If your heroine wants something, your hero’s job is to keep her from it, and vice versa. There’s nothing that makes for a faster, better, hotter romance.

4. It’s not all about sex (or, rather, it is…but not in the way you think). Some of the  hottest romances out there have only one or two sex scenes in them…but the dialogue and the incredible chemistry between the hero and heroine keep us in a constant state of “Is it hot in here?” even when everyone is fully clothed.

5. First impressions count. That first meeting–the one where the hero and heroine start the slow burn that takes the whole story to turn into true love–is the single most important part of the whole book. Nail it, and you’ve won yourself readers.

For an in depth look at how romance writers tackle this essential part of any romance novel, join Sarah in her romance workshop as part of the Media Bistro online summer writing workshop.

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