Fantasy v Reality: Following the demand for the ‘Vampire sagas’ of the last few years, publishers are now on the lookout for good women’s contemporary fiction and romance. Hurrah! There’s a fine line between fantasy and reality when it comes to writing romance fiction. Whilst we want to be transported into a perfect world, a reader still wants it to be achievable – and believe that it could happen to them! Being constantly plied with expensive gifts and holidays would be very acceptable in that perfect world where money is no obstacle but maybe being whisked away for a rare mini break in New York is something we could all see ourselves doing (well, I can dream too!).
Timelines: As readers ourselves we are critical of plot blunders so it is essential to adhere to timelines. Make a note of the month or at least season of each chapter so that your storyline flows naturally for your reader. When writing my Girl Cop romances I kept a calendar of the year or years the novels were set in, pinned up beside my desk so that I could see what days the weekends fell on as well other significant dates like Easter/bank holidays etc. Good old Google can tell you whether the date you chose for your protagonists wedding falls on the same date as a national event or an international disaster that might make your reader balk.
Atmosphere: In trying to create the right atmosphere for a romantic scene, I would recommend visiting the place (if it is a real location) or a similar place to the one you are describing and just take in the finer details so you can allow your reader to be there with you. Looking around you will notice so much you can add to make your writing more ‘visual’. Visiting at different times of the day or in different weathers can help to portray for example how the subdued lighting reflects off the pavement glazed with fresh rain. And back to my subject of reality, don’t necessarily make the rain add to the romance with your heroine’s make-up remaining perfect – allow your reader to identify with her and make her worry her hair will frizz!
Audible accompaniment: A romantic tale is tricky to tell without the assistance of the mention of music. But a few warnings here – check the copyright status. You can generally use titles but the use of lyrics is restricted. And of course make sure the song was released at the time of your tale. The song––especially as it is likely to be a romantic/love song––will mean something to someone out there who can date it in an instant. Though don’t get too hung up about it, as it is a work of romantic fiction after all.
Suspense: Just as with Bridget Jones’s Mr Darcy, it should be the romantic novelists’ goal to achieve that air of suspense of ‘will they won’t they’ and to share the heroine’s heartache and yearning to be with her love interest. The path to true love is never smooth and introducing a few barriers and stumbling blocks along the way can keep your readers turning the pages to see how it will all come full circle. Because we all love a happy ending!
Sandy Osborne is a serving Police Officer who has self published her two novels with SilverWood Books. Sandy’s writing started after an unflattering picture of her running a charity half marathon was printed in her local paper and she felt compelled to respond with an amusing account of her training programme. She now shares her knowledge and tips for self publishing success with a diary of speaker events at Literature Festivals and with writing groups. A percentage from the sales from Girl Cop the life and loves of an officer on the beat and Girl Cop in Trouble is donated to The Police Dependants’ Trust and St Peter’s Hospice.