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 writing Romance?
Asking amateurs for writing feedback is like asking third graders for stock-market tips.
How many times has a Literary Crusader fussed over your manuscript, insisting, “You must eliminate all spelling and grammatical errors!”
Hey, if a whiz-bang app, like Grammarly, was all you needed to make readers turn the page, then you’d already be earning a paycheck, right?
The truth is, even a New York editor can overlook an occasional typo in Chapter One. What she cannot overlook is amateur storytelling.
As for diehard Romance readers, they “vote” with their pocketbook. There is nothing more disheartening than watching your free book get zero downloads on Amazon.
You’re wasting your time, writing in circles if…
I recently had the opportunity to observe a “critique group” (Beta Readers.) These Betas were eager to help a new victim (er, I mean, “member”) identify the flaws in Chapter One.
I was horrified when the Betas attacked a perfectly good story. Displaying a sort of “mob mentality,” they based their criticisms on personal prejudice and Urban Myth.
For instance, the Literary Crusaders claimed that:
- Editors hate books with Prologues, and Legacy Publishers won’t buy them.
Nonsense. I’ve written 2 books with prologues, and 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 dumped a ton of backstory into Chapter One. In other words, 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.
Ridiculous. 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.
Your paycheck depends on Chapter 1!
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.
Chapter One’s a trial-by-fire. It 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 some other fiction genre for feedback, your chance of receiving “uneducated opinions” will increase exponentially — and so will the risk to your writing career.
Characterization & Plotting are just the beginning…
Are you serious about success? Because if you want to make money writing a Romance novel, characterization and plotting are just the beginning — and neither comes with a short learning curve.
Your first chapter must ALSO demonstrate that:
- You’ve developed a commercial Romance voice (Hint: The wrong Narrative Style will kill your sales on page one!);
- You understand the expectations of your subgenre’s reading audience;
- You’ve invented an interesting story premise;
- You possess the skills to write heart-pounding emotional and sexual tension;
- Your story has enough romantic conflict to sustain a full-length novel.
And if THAT doesn’t wake you up…
Romance readers expect you to lay the foundation of your entire plot in Chapter One.
If you fail to set-up your love story adequately, then:
- Your middle will sag;
- Your plot will feel “contrived;”
- Your hero and heroine will read like two-dimensional stick figures; and
- 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!
Chapter One doesn’t have to be daunting. Bestselling Romance authors have developed techniques and strategies that you can learn — today! — to improve your chance of success.
Are you REALLY ready to write and get paid? 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 8 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.
Keep the faith, and keep writing…
Adrienne deWolfe is a #1 bestselling Romance author and fiction coach. Publishers send their up-and-coming authors to her for story help. As a result, several of Adrienne’s writing students have become #1 bestsellers, and many are consistently earning 4+ star reviews. Want to get better reviews and make money writing Romance novels? Check out Adrienne’s on-demand video courses at WriteRomanceNovels.com.
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