How to Write a Romance Novel

How to write a romance novel

‘The books are about the celebration of falling in love and emotion and commitment, and all of those things we really want.’ Nora Roberts

Romance is one of the most popular fiction genres in the market. The genre can be defined as a story that focuses on the development of a romantic relationship and concludes with a happy or optimistic ending. The conflict and the climax of the novel should revolve around this romantic relationship but the novel can also contain subplots that do not specifically relate to the main characters’ romantic love. As long as you follow these two criteria, then your novel will be classed as romance. However, if you choose to ignore the convention of the happy ending, then the genre will fall into the category of tragic romance. Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is an example of tragic romance.

There are further, stricter conventions that typically define the romance genre, but you can choose whether to follow or ignore them. We’ve listed them below:

  • Create a plot that involves the protagonists meeting early on in the story
  • Reward characters who are good and penalise those who are bad
  • Reward a couple who fights for and believes in their relationship with unconditional love
  • Avoid themes such as adultery and domestic violence

Author’s of romance can also borrow conventions of others genre such as fantasy, contemporary, and historical to create fantasy romance, contemporary romance or historical romance novels. Fantasy romance novels became particularly popular with the success of the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer.

For our step by step advice, guidance and tips for writing fiction in general, click on the links to our How to Write Fiction articles: Approach, Story and Plot, Genre and Market, Research, Character and Style, Place and Atmosphere, and Getting Published.

At Memoirs Publishing, we edit and publish all genres of fiction, from romance and science-fiction to horror and fantasy. For further information about how we can help you get your book into print, click here and get in touch.




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Memoirs Published: The Merlin Legacy

The tale of a young man chosen to fulfill a magical destiny in a world where dragons battle the forces of evil

By Stephen Davis

The Merlin Legacy by Stephen Davis


Wonderfully magical and skillfully penned, The Merlin Legacy is a modern take on the epic tale of the greatest sorcerer to ever walk the earth. An absolute must-read for every Merlin Trilogy and Harry Potter fan.

Stephen Davis begins by telling of us how the magic of serendipity led him to publishing the book. The mysterious introduction heightens the wonder and magic of what is to follow:


‘How it all Began

Some years ago, we bought and moved into an old, neglected longhouse in Netherbury, Dorset. It needed a great deal of remedial work. At the rear stood a range of old stables and animal feed rooms. One stable was piled to the eaves with logs cut from old trees, so many that it took us ten winters to burn them all on the fire.

One spring as the pile was coming down somewhat, I set to work to sort the logs out, restacking and clearing them and clearing the floor. Concealed behind them I found a large and dusty tin box, sealed with what looked like candlewax. When I managed to open it I found it contained a pile of yellowed paper.

I took all this into the house to study it, to find that in my hands I was holding the manuscript of a book; in fact, two books. I was sunned by what I read.

This is the first volume. I wonder what you will make of it.’

Has the fictional story already begun? Unsure, we are immediately filled with curiosity and pulled into a world of endless possibilities. From here on out, the ‘secret’ narrator retells the famous story of a legend, but with a modern twist and from the point of view of young Merlin himself. Bursting full of clever personification and witty metaphor, the author makes the magic and wonder of Merlin leap from the pages. Davis demonstrates his knack for creating mystery and movement, and bringing scenes to life, right from the opening paragraphs:

‘A Boy and a Buzzard

A swirl of leaves and dust danced unnoticed by the side of the Beaminster road, on a bend just above the village of Netherbury in Dorset. Not one of the drivers taking their sunburned families home that day paid any attention. They were all concentrating on the winding road, lost in their radios, tapes or CDs or distracted by squabbling, tired children sitting in the back.’

He goes on to tell the story of mysterious, magical events overtaking a sleepy Dorset village, of a young man whose crippling injuries have given him unexpected powers, of a noble dragon, a wizard reincarnated, a terrible burden and a frightening responsibility.

Spellbindingly compelling, delightfully mysterious and beautifully told, The Merlin Legacy opens the doors to a world full of magic, wonder and adventure. It will delight anyone who enjoys the magical side of the fantasy genre.

Stephen Davis published his fantasy novel at Memoirs Publishing. He is currently busy writing the eagerly-anticipated sequel.


Listen to an interview with Stephen Davis, the inspiring author of The Merlin Legacy:


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Fiction: How to Create Suspense

How to create suspense fiction
Once you’ve engaged your reader with a strong opening (see How to Write a Great Opening for tips), you need to hold their attention and compel them to read on.  What keeps a reader turning the pages is suspense.

In fiction, suspense creates a pleasurable feeling for your reader. Filling your reader with anticipation or uncertainty about what will happen next is guaranteed to make your book far more interesting to read. Whenever you cause a reader to be curious or worry about what comes next, you are creating suspense, and the main way you can create suspense in fiction is by presenting pieces of information, but never the whole picture, so the reader has something they want to find out. Telling your readers everything too early on is a sure way of boring them and losing their interest.

There are many ways to create suspense in fiction that will keep your reader hooked from beginning to end, so at Memoirs Publishing we’ve created this How to Create Suspense guide, full of top tips.

1)    Withhold the backstory from the reader

Keep at least some of the backstory, the story behind the plot, hidden from the reader until the very end. By withholding information, even just a little, you give the reader the chance to be curious and anticipate what will happen next. In sharing too much early on, you eliminate your reader’s incentive to read on and, quite possibly, their interest altogether.


2)    Withhold information from the main characters

In withholding information from the main characters, but giving the reader just enough to draw their own conclusions, you create suspense because the reader cannot save them from potential conflict or danger. This powerlessness is almost frustrating for the reader, but enthralling them enough to keep them reading on with anticipation.


3)    Withhold character information

No-one is omniscient. Realistic characters will never know everything that is going on but their lack of information can be invaluable for creating suspense. You can create characters that withhold information from others, or those that aren’t aware of some vital snippet of knowledge that is going to prove deadly later on in the plot. Information is a bargaining chip which characters will use for their own purposes. Similarly, just because your characters know something doesn’t mean they have to voice it to your reader. Game-changing information can provide excellent sudden twists and turns.


4)    Pace the action

Fiction rarely runs at full-speed all the time. You need to interject the building of tension and suspense with the consequences they cause. Suspense should be built during the slower parts of your story to make sure your plot is always moving forward. Balance your plot so that your reader is constantly awaiting something or enthralled in action. Your reader always needs a reason to read the next chapter.


5)    Make the reader care about the main character

Finally, you need your reader to care about the main character or characters. This doesn’t necessarily mean the reader has to like the character but this is generally the best way of doing it. It boils down to getting your reader wanting to know what happens to the character in the next page or chapter. Suspense works best when your readers empathise with the character and are anxious about their movement towards conflict. A character with a relatable desire, wound or personal struggle will become one that your readers constantly wish to help, but being powerless to do so, will instead want to read on and see what becomes of them.

Whatever fiction genre you are writing for, to create suspense you need to delay the anticipated event, withhold information and ensure the reader really cares about what happens to your main character.

For further advice with writing your novel please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. At Memoirs Publishing we provide an expert ghostwriting, editing, design and publishing service.




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Mereo Published: Red Card

The soccer star who lost it all to gambling

by Tony Kelly

Red Card by Tony KellyPassionate, eye-opening and heart-breaking, Red Card by footballer Tony Kelly is a rollercoaster journey of highs and lows, from the joys of living his dream and becoming a professional footballer to the depths of despair caused by a terrible gambling addiction. Revealing intimate details of his trials and triumphs, Tony takes you on a poignant journey from where it all began to his rise to success and his tragic final fall.

At the young age of seven, a talented Tony Kelly dreamt of becoming a professional footballer. Pursuing his dreams, he became the youngest ever player at Bristol City, debuting at the age of sixteen. He was soon scouted and turned professional in his twenties playing for clubs such as Stoke City, Cardiff City, Leyton Orient and Bury in the second and third divisions of the Football League.

But alongside this story of the fame, fortune and the beautiful game, the talented midfielder suffered with a secret addiction to gambling. At the naïve age of eighteen he had his first taste of what was to become a life-changing obsession. When he turned professional at the age of twenty-three, Tony had more money in his pocket than he knew what to do with and seized by addiction, things spiralled out of control to the point that he lost his job, his career, his partner and all his money.

Tony introduces his book with great candour:

‘For many years I pondered over whether I should invite the public, my family and my friends into the secret hell of racism, despair, depression, stardom, gambling addiction and ultimately self-destruction I endured during and after my footballing career…

My story is one of sadness and happiness all rolled into one. I wanted my family and friends to have a real insight into what I had been through and to share in my experiences as though they had been with me on my rollercoaster journey…

Being a professional footballer gives you the chance of fame and fortune, but you need to surmount many obstacles along the way. And you will see, I did not conquer all the obstacles, nor did I make the necessary sacrifices. If I had been able to do so, perhaps my story would have turned out differently.’

Tony goes on to share his tragic yet uplifting story of a harrowing battle with his demons both on and off the pitch. He hung up his boots in 1991 at the age of 35, but his gambling addiction was still going strong. It was only years later, once he sought the necessary support, that he finally overcame his addiction, blew the whistle and put the red card up to gambling.

Tony Kelly published Red Card with Mereo Books, the fiction imprint of Memoirs Publishing. The Professional Footballers’ Association teamed up with him to help publish his book. He hopes that it will help highlight the seriousness of gambling addiction and help others.

Tony told the Coventry Telegraph:

“On a professional level, it is only in the last couple of years that addiction in football has been talked about.

“I thought it needed to be tackled and with me suffering the way I did, I thought someone needed to bring it to the fore.

“There are documentaries on racism and depression in the game, and now gambling needs to be talked about because as an addiction it is on par with drugs and alcohol.”

Tony Kelly’s autobiography Red Card opens the doors to the highs and lows of living his dream career. Reporting on scoring a last minute goal against Liverpool at Anfield in the 1991 League cup, Tony shows an unparalleled passion and enthusiasm for football throughout the book. But he is equally honest about the darker side of the footballing world. The lows of gambling, racism and his nine-month ban for pushing a referee make Red Card an honestly-written window into the sport. It is a must-read for any football fan with a love of the beautiful game, as well as anyone who has been touched by gambling addiction.

Click here to listen to an interview with Tony Kelly.

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Fiction: How to Create Strong Characters

How to create a fiction characterStrong, well-rounded and believable characters lie at the very heart of all good fiction. A writer who has mastered the skill of creating convincing characters will not fail to pen a strong novel.

To help you on your way to developing convincing and compelling characters, we’ve created a quick how–to guide. Follow our top tips below to form the characters that will bring your narrative to life.


Where to start:

1)    Look to yourself

With first-hand experience of the human condition, you are a great source of inspiration. Use your experiences, self-awareness, empathy and intuition to help guide you with characterisation. If you want to know how a character would act or feel in particular situations, consider how you would yourself. Changing, removing or adding qualities to your character will create a unique character for your novel.

2) Look to others

Take inspiration from family members, friends or anyone else you’ve met to create a diverse cast of characters with different opinions, personalities and behaviours. Take qualities you’ve observed, develop them and mix them up to create a character that works for your narrative. If you are looking to create a character based on someone you know then change names, physical appearance or even where they live to transform them into a whole new character. Again, you can look at adapting, developing or removing qualities entirely to create a diverse cast of characters.

3) Let literature influence you

Read, research and learn how characters can be successfully created and then presented through action, dialogue, internal monologue and physical appearance. Looking at which characters you like, or dislike, in other pieces of fiction can help you develop your own method of making readers empathise with the characters you want them to.

4) Use your imagination

Sometimes the best characters are created from pure imagination. Allow yourself to invent a character and see what they become as you write them into your novel. You may already have an idea, or it may emerge over time, but you’ll find that this is one of the best ways of creating really fascinating characters.

Develop your characters:

5) Create a driving need

Every character, even if they don’t know it, wants something. In giving your character a need, desire, goal or ambition you will create a person who has something to achieve. This drive will create a future for your character and move your narrative along as they attempt to reach it. Along the way they’re likely to come into conflict with other characters with other goals, and this is an excellent way to create tension and generating interest. Exploring why they have these goals is a great way of developing and expanding on your character.

6) Introduce a contradiction

People can be both shy and rude, depressed yet strong, or kind but short-tempered. Humans are deep and complex, so your characters should be too. Contradictions in your characters make them authentic and interesting. Add qualities to make us dislike your characters, as well as like them.

7)  Show vulnerability

Nothing connects a reader more with a character than vulnerability. A perfect character is boring so adding flaws and weaknesses allow the reader to connect deeply with the character. We can immediately emotionally connect and sympathise with characters who reveal their vulnerability and it makes us want them to overcome it.

8) Have a secret

By giving characters secrets, you will immediately draw in your reader by offering them your confidence. Creating a character your readers feel intimately connected with allows you to keep them interested in the character’s future. Secrets are also great at driving the narrative forward and allow an insight into why the character is like they are and what they have to lose.


In creating a great character with needs, strengths, weaknesses, contradictions and secrets, you can make your readers genuinely interested in your characters and their future. By creating strong and compelling characters you can seize your reader’s interest and bring your fiction to life.

For further advice, or to find out about our editing, writing and self-publishing services please don’t hesitate to get in touch. Click here to contact us at Memoirs Publishing now.






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