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Outlining for Romance Novels

As children, we were practically raised on romance stories, that seem to follow the same plot: a princess in distress, and a prince charming who comes to save the day, to save the princess from her gloomy existence.

While stories like Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin provide us with a good purview to the romance genre, a good romance novel should include more nuanced themes.

When making your outline, the general outline structure for fiction novels that I provided still applies. However, in this post, we will be providing you with additional elements you can add to your outline to write a great fiction novel.

1. Begin Developing the Protagonist’s Character First

The romance story will have more impact if you first develop the protagonist in a way that informs readers of his/her character. This would likely include delving into the protagonist’s past traumas or experiences—things that show their vulnerability and/or explain why it would be hard for them to be able to accept true love.

2. The Romance Shouldn’t Come Easy

In a good romance, the two main characters get the chance to explore the romance, however, it shouldn’t come easy. While there may be a strong mutual attraction between the two, one party should be the resistant one—afraid of being hurt, not feeling that they are good enough for such an explosive romance, or they could be already dealing with another romantic situation.

3. The Love Affair Should be Once in a Lifetime Thing

When the two do come together to explore the romance, make sure that the romance is one of fairytales. Create scenarios that depict a cosmic level romance for your audience (if you followed my general outline, your audience was the first thing you thought about when creating the outline). Make your reader fall in love with the love story. If you can successfully do this, you will have them fully invested in the novel.

Don’t be shy about adding in steamy romantic encounters between the lovers. These scenes do not have to be graphic—if you're creative, you can paint an exhilarating picture for your audience without using profanity. In our opinion, most of the best love stories don’t.

4. Create an Obstacle to the Romance—Climax

Once you’ve convinced your reader, line, hook, and sinker, that the characters share a love that is unbreakable, shake things up by creating a sudden wrench in the romance. One that the readers may have seen coming had they not been so captivated by the steamy and passionate union of the two characters. This obstacle will produce the climax of the story. It should be one that causes the pair to break up—for example, a betrayal so strong that it forces the other to end the romance or an outside force that doesn’t want the romance to continue.

5. Create a Suspense-filled Ending

In the traditional romances on which we grew up, there was a happily ever after. However, in your romance story, things don’t have to work out between the couple. You don’t even have to decide whether or not they get together at the end. Just write scenes that keep your readers hopeful until a las, the reunion happens or doesn’t.

I hope you’ve found these tips helpful! Please let us know if you have any comments or questions!

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