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The Ultimate Guide To Writing A Fantasy Novel

You just finished reading a fantasy series that has left you reeling.

You’re satisfied with the way things turned out, but the thought of saying goodbye to those characters just hurts.

You want to keep the magic going.

So now you’re looking for the best guide on how to write a fantasy novel — because you want to be the kind of writer who can work that kind of magic.

Who knew fantasy fiction could be so transformative?

Fantasy Writing Tips

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Writing a fantasy novel presents some unique challenges to the storyteller. For one, you’re expected to know about the magical elements you use in your story.

writing a fantasy romance novel

For example, if your story involves werewolves or vampires, you’ll need to research all the folklore related to both in order to portray them in a way that will build trust with your reader.

Making things up as you go when there’s already known folklore or mythology in place will irritate knowledgeable readers and likely earn you some scathing reviews.

Second, fantasy fiction usually involves an imaginary world created by the author.

Research is important here, too, since some magical creatures are associated with particular environments.

And just because it’s a made-up world doesn’t mean you have to defy every expectation.

The sky doesn’t have to be a different color unless that detail adds an essential something to your story.

But you should know this world as well as the one you live in (when you’re not writing).

Also, some — if not all — your fantasy characters will be magical or mythical beings, humanoid or otherwise.

And the more you know the mythology surrounding them, the more convincing your character building will be to your readers.

As with your setting, you should know these characters as well as you know the people in your closest circle — recognizing all the while, of course, that they can still surprise you.

If you want to know how to write a good fantasy story, learn from those who’ve written before you.

Many of them are only too happy to help fellow writers with their story crafting.

For all they know, you could be the next Rick Riordan or J.K. Rowling.

So, helping you write better stories is in everyone’s best interests. To that end, consider the following tips for writing a fantasy novel:

As one of the ten key parts of your story , your plot is what gives your story its overall shape and direction.

To more clearly see how it does this, we can follow Gustav Freytag’s lead and break down your plot into the following five elements:

With fantasy plots, these elements often tie into the stages of the hero’s journey — a universal story structure based on Joseph Campbell’s monomyth.

It’s because the hero archetype resonates within the psyche of every individual that the most memorable and endearing stories follow this structure.

Check out this Authority Pub post for more information on the ten key parts of writing your story.

And read on to learn how to write one of your own.

How to Write A Fantasy Novel

The writer’s journey in writing a book is similar to the hero’s journey just mentioned.

writing a fantasy romance novel

Like the hero in your story, you’re going on a journey of your own — though at first there’s some reticence to go any deeper than your comfort level will allow.

At some point, though, like Bilbo as he listened to the dwarves’ song about the Lonely Mountains, you feel pulled out of your cozy bubble into a new and sometimes terrifying world.

And, like Bilbo, you find you have more courage in you than you thought you had.

Good thing, too. Writing an unforgettable story takes courage. No one breaks new ground when they don’t venture beyond what they know.

Outlining your fantasy novel will be similar to any outline you’ve created in the past — for other books or your English Lit class.

The key difference here is thinking ahead to determine whether or not your fantasy book will be a standalone or part of a trilogy or tetralogy.

If your book is standalone, you will need to compress the introduction of your characters and the fantasy world you create to fit into one book. So consider this when developing your outline.

For a series, you’ll have more time to unravel your characters and develop the magical world in which they reside.

You don’t have to outline all of your books initially, but if you choose a series, just be sure you leave enough action and character development for future books.

Try to think ahead about plot progression and the struggles your characters will face throughout the series.

Either way, your first book is the key to hooking readers into loving your characters and story and wanting more.

In your outline, be sure you include a cliffhanger at the end to ensure your readers can’t wait to buy the next book.

Getting started looks different for everyone. If you’re a plotter, you know that an outline helps you sort out your ideas so you can tackle the actual writing with a clearer head — one idea at a time.

See this Authority Pub post for more information on getting started with your novel.

If you’re a pantser, you might think outlines are “too stodgy” or that you won’t follow it anyway.

But even writing a bulleted list of the main things you want to happen in your story can help you write with a better sense of direction.

The following tips and questions can help you create an outline that comes to life even before you start writing your story:

Think of this step as simply jotting down the main elements of the plot or character that made you want to write this story in the first place.

You can also start with an elevator pitch. Tell me what will happen in your story in 30 seconds or less.

See if it makes sense to you when you articulate it out loud.

Then, nail down those critical details and leave the rest to your imagination.

How to Write A Fantasy Novel Step by Step

Once you’ve created your outline, follow these steps to write a fantasy novel your readers will tell all their friends about:

Interview them. Do some voice-journaling for them. Create character profiles.

Do whatever helps you get into their heads and make them real people to you.

The more they come to life for you, the more they’ll do the same for your reader.

The more real this world seems to you, the more easily your readers will step into and lose themselves in it.

Make it a place they won’t want to leave. And make every detail matter.

What made your characters and your world as they are now? What details from the past are essential to the story you’re telling.

Get clear on what happened in the past that created the reality of your story’s present.

Give them a problem and show how they recognize and deal with it. Show how it changes them. Show us what they want most and how far they’ll go to get it.

Show what’s at stake – what they could gain and what they have to lose.

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What inciting event will challenge your main character? What will your main character reveal in the first minute?

writing a fantasy romance novel

What will pull your reader right into the heart of your story and make them want to stick around?

You have to start somewhere. Sometimes, the only way to get started on your story is to just start writing and see what comes out?

Maybe that’ll be your first chapter. Or maybe it’ll be your prologue (we don’t hate those, but they do have to earn their place).

If you don’t have a clear idea of your book’s climax, at least work on a vague idea until it becomes clearer or moves aside for something better.

You can either write these as a pantser or start with a bullet-point list of the main things that should happen.

I mean it. Take a break from your book baby. I know it’s hard, but you need this. And you’ve earned it.

Go through it with a red pen and make corrections, write down comments and ideas, and generally bleed all over it.

Sometimes, it hurts. Sometimes, it’s so much fun, you’ll forget to eat. Bring snacks.

Make the necessary changes to your story and rewrite what needs to be rewritten. Then take a shorter break and go over it again.

At this point, it’s best (for your story and your readers) to find a professional editor — preferably one with experience editing fantasy fiction.

See if you can find one recommended by fellow fantasy authors.

Make the changes you and your editor agree upon. Once your story is at its best yet, find some beta readers — ideally those that enjoy reading fantasy fiction.

If they’re also authors, you can return the favor by beta-reading their books.

Hire a professional formatter for your novel’s interior and a cover designer for its exterior.

Make your novel as irresistible to the eye as your story will be to your reader’s imagination.

Ready to write your fantasy story?

Now that you know how to write a fantasy novel, does a particular work in progress come to mind? And is this a new idea — or one you’ve set aside for a while?

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how long the idea has been percolating in your head.

The real magic happens when you get down to the business of writing your story.

That’s when your brain gets the message, “We’re doing this.” When you keep showing up, the muse knows where to find you.

The key is to open the faucet before you expect the water to flow. Let the air out. And by that, I mean just let your ideas flow out as they are before you expect to make sense of them.

Before long, you’ll be sorting out that beautiful mess and creating a fantasy story your readers will never forget.

When you write a fantasy novel, you should present some unique challenges to the storyteller. For one, you're expected to know about the magical elements you use in your story.

Free book setup

writing a fantasy romance novel

Writing Fantasy: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating and Publishing Your Story

by Zachary James ( @_zacharyjames_ )

The fantasy genre in literature, especially that of the Young Adult (YA) age group, is a constantly changing and maneuvering beast of new ideas, expanding themes, widening horizons, and tedious design—not only inside but outside of the book. 

Most of the time writers, even readers, have this image in their head that fantasy authors are simplistic, easygoing individuals, or pack rats with at least four cork boards covered in over a thousand post-it notes showing a clear line of story, interweaving plots, and character dialogues. But the truth of the matter is a fantasy author is the same as any other writer, aspiring or established. We have our minuscule rituals that vary between every person, but for me, I find myself being a mix of the two latterly mentioned writers. 

I focus on my plot, my characters, and specifically how the dialogue is going to progress a story or explain a mythology. But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

Before You Write Your Bestseller

When it comes to writing fantasy—whether you’ve drafted a 200,000 word contemporary manuscript or have yet to write the opening scene —don’t be intimidated or scared of the genre, or yourself. Too many times have I heard, “I’m not smart enough to write fantasy,” or even, “Fantasy is too complicated for me to write.” Both of these statements are just two of the thousands of excuses I’ve heard from fellow friends and writers, all of whom are talented and skilled in their work. 

I’ve heard even more justifications from aspiring authors who are too scared to write their own book. Doesn’t that sound funny? Being scared of your own work. It happens a lot more than one would think. 

If you desire to write fantasy, the story and characters itching to crawl out of your head onto a clean empty page, I recommend first familiarizing yourself with the genre. 

I am all for drafting whatever is in your heart, writing the story you want to write, but that needs to come alongside the research. Familiarize yourself with your age group: Adult (A), New Adult (NA), Young Adult (YA), and Middle Grade (MG).

For me (being a YA author), I focus most of my reading on Young Adult books, specifically fantasy. 

Reading is studying; it's practicing. Some authors say that while writing a book in a specific genre, don’t read books in that same genre simultaneously because it’ll affect your process, your story, and even your writing style. Some aspects of this are true, but as long as you focus on keeping your novel wholly your own and make a conscious effort to not be plagiarizing or copying an author’s style and work,  I actually recommend it. 

          View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Zach • YA Writer • Bookstagram (@zacharyjamesofficial) on Aug 9, 2019 at 7:11am PDT

Think about it like research. Let's say you have to come up with a ten page research paper on William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. You can write the paper after only reading the play itself, or you can enhance your understanding using outside sources, digging into scholarly and credible sources. What would you choose?

When familiarizing yourself with the genre, make sure to keep an eye on the cover, titles, tropes—it’ll come in handy later. After becoming acquainted with fantasy in whatever age group you plan to write in, it's time to prepare your story. 

Preparing Your Story

I know this seems like a given, but be prepared for hardships, hiccups, and roadblocks in the plot or development of a novel, “plotblocks” as I like to call them. They can happen often when writing fantasy. Whether you’re a novice writer just dreaming of your future book, or an established author who's already written nine bestselling novels, prepare your book. ALWAYS prepare your book. I feel like I can’t stress it enough.

There are two types of writing styles that are commonly spoken of in the industry: Plotters and Pantsers.

So what's the difference?

A plotter is a writer who outlines their story, chapters, and character arcs before even putting a word to the page. They plan the mythology, kingdoms and their politics, before the book has even begun. They’ve designed a map and pinned it to their wall so they could take strings of colored yarn, showing the path their characters will take throughout the book. 

I’m one of these. 

Then there are the Pantsers. These are writers who know very little about their plot, story, and subplots, but more about the characters and world. Maybe they haven’t done as intense developing as a Plotter, but they know enough to put words on the page. They let the story tell itself.

Whether you're a plotter or a pantser, you can still hit plotblocks. But if you prepare your story and research your own imagination, then you shouldn’t hit too many, and if you do, they’ll be easier to fix. 

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My Beginning: Writing as a Pantser

I used to be a Pantser, but I believe that inside of all of us is a Plotter. Before I was enlightened with the beauty of being a Plotter, I used to make Pinterest boards of how I imagined my fantasy world and book’s cast. I had folders and folders of character’s portraits, action shots, weapons and outfits. Buildings, castles, citadels, and miniature towns; oceans, skies, forests, caverns, and mountains. 

These all helped me get a clear image in my head of my world. It helped me gather the ideas and images I know we authors all imagine in our head, and untangle them into a clear, concise picture of my world and characters. 

With the folders and Pinterest boards, I was able to pull together my story and what tropes I wanted, and I dreamed up four major scenes for my novel. That was it. That was all I knew before I drafted The Rise of Titanium .

And it wasn’t until I finished the book that I made a mythology, creating each of my kingdoms and their symbols, beliefs, trades, and rulers. My map was a giant piece of poster paper scribbled on with a fat black sharpie that I scrambled together on my balcony. It very much resembled a broken Africa, or possibly a rough-hewn urn. 

And there is nothing wrong with this. Sometimes you need to experience your world with your characters. That’s why the first drafts are great. First drafts are word dumps, getting all your ideas on the page, info vomiting all of your dreams and imagination into a document or notebook. 

My Sequel: Living the Life of a Plotter

After finishing my first book in 2015 originally titled, The Rise of Titanium , I really fell in love with my characters, my world. I began to understand the mythology, side characters, and background cast so much more. It gave my world more meat; it familiarized me with my story, so I focused on my map, honed in my ideas, and edited my first book before outlining the sequel . 

With the first draft of The Rise of Titanium done using only four major scenes and some basic image folders on Pinterest, I completely reversed my writing style for the second book.

I went from a Pantser to a Plotter and outlined my second book through every scene and chapter. My dialogues were brief conversational phrases and I ended up making a 200-page outline with over 40,000 words.

This time around, I chose to plan out everything. It made my process easier; it made the writing more enjoyable because I got to explore every little idea I had outlined over the months prior. And any time I hit a blip or a plotblock, I was able to refer to my outline and see whether I should stick with it the whole time or whether there was an issue in my draft causing the hiccup. 

Why I Don't Believe in Writer's Block

Maybe I should mention that I’m a rare type of writer—I don’t believe in writer’s block. I believe in plotblocks, hiccups in the story that just aren’t working, dialogues that don’t flow or feel awkward. That’s when I know I need to rework, reread, and look over what I’ve already written and drafted. 


Massage the stiff muscle, stretch your fingers, shake the creaks out of your joints, exhausted from typing out 4,000 words in one day. 

Take a break. Step away from the manuscript. Just don’t leave it behind. 

I talk a lot about this particular issue because it is discouraging for a new writer, an aspiring author, and even contemporary authors who are trying their hand in fantasy. 

Writing is no easy feat, no simple task. Knowing your story, trusting your process, and focusing on the book and creating the fantasy experience you want to tell is the most important aspect to creating fantasy novels. 

Getting over plotblocks can be as easy as rearranging the order of chapters, adding a slight bit of foreshadowing earlier in the manuscript, or altering the direction of that particular scene—but it can also get complicated. Sometimes during a plotblock you’ll have to not only refer to your outline but also your draft, honing your vision in on what may not feel right. Maybe it's the way a character is reacting, the romance between the side cast, or even a subplot that doesn’t feel like it's necessary for the development of the story. And in my opinion, that’s what makes writing fantasy fun. 

Writing Your Story

The advice that I have tried to always listen to while writing actually comes from Sarah J. Maas. When I first met her back in 2013, I asked how I should approach writing my dream fantasy and she told me to write the story I want to tell. 

I know this may seem funny or strange to say, but sometimes you may feel influenced by a certain trend in the Young Adult Fantasy genre that's popular right now, so you try to force it into your novel and find yourself hitting plotblock after plotblock after plotblock. Or maybe you wish to have a romance between the protagonist and a morally gray side character, but your readers despise the idea, so you feel influenced by your audience . 

Although your audience is important, never let them tell you how your story should be told.

Write the novel you want to create; write the story you feel is right. After you’ve done that make sure to edit, rewrite, edit, rewrite, edit again and again, then rewrite again, before editing one last time and going into the printing/creating process of your novel. 

Self-Publishing Your Book Baby

For almost all of my writing career I was told that self-publishing (aka indie publishing) is the worst way to print and sell your work. Of course, the people who told me that were those who didn’t do it themselves and still have yet to write the first chapter to their memoir featuring their obsession with Oprah. (That is not a slight against Oprah, I love her!). 

All kidding aside, I found indie publishing to be the best option for me. I got to choose my cover artist, cover designer, interior formatting, trim size, and printer. I picked my alpha/beta readers, marketing plan, and editor.

And you will get to as well! Although some individuals reading this may find this ending part rather boring and something to take with a grain of salt, in my opinion it is one of the most important aspects to selling novels, especially fiction, and especially Young Adult (YA) Fantasy fiction. 

The Complete Guide: How to Self-Publish a Book

Trim Size/Cut

Some people may decide to go with a basic trim size that is commonly used in self-publishing, which is 5.5” x 8.5”, and there is nothing wrong with that. It works for both hardcover and paperback (making your interior designer happy because they only have to sift through the finished manuscript once). Oftentimes, I've heard indie authors choose this standard size or 5” x 8” because it not only prints nicely, but will make their book stand out on a shelf. This is a true statement, but I think it actually does the opposite of their intention (we’ll return to this marketing note in a bit). 

The best way, in my opinion of course, is to pick the trim size that best suits the genre/age group you're releasing your book in.

Now I know you’re wondering why this matters and you’re likely thinking, Zach, why would I want my book to be the same size as all of the others?

My answer to you is marketing. 

For years, self-published authors receive a bad reputation due to the lower quality of their books, which you and I both know isn’t always true.

And although over these last few years the community for indie authors has been growing exponentially and gaining a good reputation, reinventing itself to be known for higher quality products—I don’t think we should be reinventing the publishing world. I believe we should become a part of it. 

In YA Fantasy, a paperback in the United States often prints at 5.5 x 8.25” and a hardcover prints at 6” x 9”, so I chose both of these so that I could blend into the shelves and easily have my book sit beside New York Times bestselling authors in stores. 

Choosing The Perfect Cover

I am going to keep this short and sweet to the best of my ability. Picking a cover all depends on your research in the genre. Find novels that are similar to your own in tropes, themes, setting, magic/special beings like Elves, Fae, or Aliens. Look at their covers. Most Fantasy book covers are art-based images of landscapes, castles, people, or even crowns, scepters, and swords/shields. Of course, when creating your cover you can choose to push aside all of these notes and decide on whatever you want, but I think it is best to stay in the popular perimeters of your chosen age group. 

          View this post on Instagram                       A post shared by Zach • YA Writer • Bookstagram (@zacharyjamesofficial) on Jun 24, 2019 at 9:15am PDT
The phrase, “Don’t choose a book by its cover,” can sometimes be true, but for a lot of individuals who will be helpful to the marketing and widespread discussion of your book (i.e. bloggers, bookstagrammers, youtubers), they like to choose books based on their visual capabilities.

This specifically applies to social media influencers using Instagram to take bookish photos and videos for their followers. 

I only marketed through this avenue and I’ve sold nearly 474 copies of my book in all formats in two months, strictly based on people’s followers seeing the cover of my book on their shelf or in their images, looking it up, and getting hooked by the synopsis. 

My Book Cover Process

Iridescent Fury is my debut story, the new and rewritten version of The Rise of Titanium which I released in 2018 with zero marketing knowledge. This book is a Young Adult High Fantasy following the path of a young princess who is trying to save her father from a curse that seems unbreakable. She enters a darkened forest to search for answers and is met with Fae Queens, horrifying monsters, and sickening truths. 

Due to this being the plot of my novel, I focused my attention on two things.

1. W hat is currently selling and popular in the YA Fantasy genre?

2. What books feature Fae and princesses and monsters on their covers?

After researching, digging through the New York Times and Amazon bestseller lists, I determined what sort of style/cover I wanted to go for. 

Then, I researched even more. I didn’t keep a dollar from my cover artist because I knew that I wanted to give my book the perfect face the artist and I could dream up.

Soon into my process, I worked with one individual who had a very specific style. She was able to give me different sketches and mock-ups from the basic concepts and reference images I had shared with her. Her ideas were beautiful and she even began to work on coloring our decided image, but then I got a gut feeling. The market shifted slightly, which I noticed through Instagram posts and the frequently updated bestsellers lists, and I knew that this design and artist wouldn’t work.

This was a hard lesson for me.

I decided to not work with her based on the fact that my idea and desired concept changed slightly with the market, but I still needed to be able to professionally explain what I was thinking and what I wanted. The young artist was grateful for even the opportunity to work on this cover and I was even more appreciative of her, so it was a quick decision of mine to pay her nearly half of the commision because of the work she had already put in after nearly a month of endless texts, emails, and sketches. 

Soon after delving back into the realm of research, my new concept and dream bright and shining in my head, I thought of a wonderful artist I worked with in 2019. Gabriella Bujdoso had drawn a beautiful poster of three characters in my novel, depicting them exactly how I imagined, so I had already signed her for a commision in October of 2019 for another poster—but requested it be changed to a book cover.

Iridescent Fury

Gabriella is one of the most talented artists I know and I’ve been in love with her work for a long while, but it was only within these last two years that we have gotten to know each other well. Working with her is a dream come true and I want to stress that you should look for the same.

Find YOUR dream artist, look for someone who you know can expertly craft what is only simmering in your head as a concept. 

As work began in September (a month earlier than planned) of 2019, Gabriella and I discussed many aspects of my story and world. She took the time to try and get a feel for the adventure, the characters, and know how to best approach a mood for the novel’s cover. Her attentiveness to detail and balance and color is exquisite in not just her art, but also in novels. 

She asked for three concepts from me and I only gave her brief descriptions for two and told her to come up with whatever she was inspired to create for the third. Choosing this route may not be available to some people, you may know what and how exactly you want your book’s cover to look like, or the artist may not even offer this. But all I can say is that you should always give your cover artist room for interpretation, room for fun and their own inspiration to flourish. 

Countless times, not just in book covers, but throughout history (and in any forms of artistic creation) the best work is always born of inspiration and excitement for the piece. 

You may also choose to have your cover made by you! Maybe you can utilize websites and softwares like Canva and Photoshop to expertly craft what you know best represents your story, not needing to commision anything at all. Maybe going the route of digital art is not for you and your book, so you look into amazingly talented photo manipulators. 

This all is decided by you. Remember, you are the key and siphon to all of this! 

Cover Design

For as long as I can remember I always believed that Cover Art and Cover Design were the exact same thing, but over time I’ve come to learn that I couldn’t be more wrong.

If you find a cover designer and artist who will intricately piece everything together and choose the fonts and bevels and colorations for you, then this next little section does not pertain to you at all... a lso please email me the name of this designer . 

But if you’re like me and need to decide the placement of the design and what fonts would be used, then this is all I’ve got to say. 

Find someone you can rely on, a company you trust and know will not back out on you. One of the hardest lessons I learned while publishing is that nobody cares as much for your work as you do, and some individuals are only waiting for the check you’ll be putting into their bank account. 

When Gabriella Bujdoso finished the cover art for Iridescent Fury it was just a textless image, so I reached out to a business I thought I could trust. I will not name any names, but their lack of correspondence and professionalism shown during the designing process of my novel has permanently damaged their reputation in my opinion and I will not be working with them further. 

In the future, one of the companies that I'll be working with for the design of my first release’s sequel is Stone Ridge Books , which is run by Mandi Lynn. She is a wonderful author who's made an awesome name for herself in the indie publishing world. 

Another company I have seen and heard amazing things from is Damonza . Although a little on the pricey side, I have seen in their catalog and from working with them personally that they are attentive and definitely worth the pretty penny!  

fantasy book

If you have an intricate and heavily-detailed cover like mine, go for a more simplistic font recommendation to your designer, but also listen to their ideas and concepts. And if you have a simple cover featuring a crown or maybe a scepter surrounded by shadows, don’t be afraid to look into swirling and flowery fonts that’ll pop off of your cover and into the eye of the reader! So having a clear idea in your head of what you want before going to a professional designer is helpful for them! Good companies like the ones I recommended above will work diligently with you until the cover is to your liking. 

If you haven’t been able to tell already, a lot of planning and thought goes into every aspect of a fantasy novel. Transporting your reader into a beautiful and decadent or dark and brutal world of your creation is an experience you should think about and organize. Whatever aspect you are at in writing and self-publishing fantasy—an aspiring indie author or an experienced contemporary/ fiction writer—make sure you keep your eye on what's selling. 

That's why I recommend reading, researching both the age group and genre, and doing many many rounds of edits and rewrites. Learning the ins and outs of your book will make sure you're prepared for the final parts of the publishing fantasy process: marketing. 

Before we got to this part, I wanted to discuss the importance of trim sizes and visual/physical appeal. Like I mentioned earlier in this article, many authors in the reinvented self-published realm want their books to be set apart. They want their book to be a little taller or a little smaller, drawing the eye of the reader as they browse, but what worked for me was the opposite. 

Due to the stigma that formerly (and still sometimes) surrounds indie-published books, some readers aren’t willing to try a self-published novel, no matter the pretty cover. They believe it to be lesser, only because we, as independent and hard-working writers, aren’t traditionally published. Which you and me both know couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Share your story with the world. Create an IngramSpark account today.

IngramSpark is an amazing print-on-demand company because it gives you everything you need to blend into the shelf with New York Times bestselling authors. Choosing the common trim size for both your hardcover and paperback book along with the texture (matte or gloss), you’ll be placed next to the reader's favorite authors. They won’t be able to tell the difference between Sarah J. Maas’ worldwide phenomenon saga, Throne of Glass— or maybe even George R.R. Martin’s critically-acclaimed Game of Thrones series—and your fantasy book. 

Why, you may ask? Because you’ve erased the stigma, the image in a reader's head of what a self-published book looks like.

Leading up to the release of Iridescent Fury, I have been asked nearly a hundred times, "Who is your publisher" and "Who is your literary agent?" Every time I receive one of these messages, I chuckle to myself and explain that all I have is my own determination and a print-on-demand company. 

When you’re marketing your novel, you don’t want to make people feel like you are selling them something. As a reader myself, I spend 90% of my time posting photos of my bookshelves, books and reviews of stories I loved, and interacting with other readers on Instagram. It is so much fun communicating with people who are not only like you, but have similar interests, and may just happen to be your target market . 

Studies show that someone needs to see something seven times before they finally hunker down to buy it, and you should apply this to your own marketing abilities, but don’t shove your novel down their throat. I’ve been able to interact with lovely, amazing readers who have fallen in love with my book because in all truth, they are my friends. Their support means everything to me, but find a way to give back to them, your followers, and readers. 

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I continuously say that you should always write the story you want to tell, don’t influence your characters and world through the reactions of readers, because in the end you can’t please everyone and the ones who matter will remain with you and support you. Readers come in time and making sure that you’re selling to the right audience means making sure you acquaint yourself with that community. 

Truthfully, I feel blessed that I love reading Young Adult (YA) Fantasy so much, because I find myself in the throes of the fandoms full of super fun readers who have grown to be my second family. I know what they would like because I like it too, so I know it's okay to talk about my book. Sometimes people will come to you JUST to hear and know everything they can about your book baby. 

Iridescent Fury ARC 2

You wouldn’t want to send an Adult Romance reader your Middle Grade Urban Fantasy following the adventures of a sewer rat-turned superhero; it just would not sit well with them. If that is your novel, research fans of Middle Grade Urban Fantasy or Superhero/turn-of-fortune stories. 

Final Thoughts

Now, it is up to YOU. Go and get back to editing that third draft or finally sit down and start that Paranormal Fantasy you’ve been daydreaming about since Twilight . I've given you the major ideas for the writing fantasy. I’ve detailed what my journey has consisted of, from pantsing to plotting to choosing my novel’s physical appearance and feel. 

And although this all worked for me, it may not work perfectly for you.

Make your own path, carve out your own future with your goals shining at the end of the finish line. Implement your own tricks and techniques in marketing/publishing, but always keep in mind that the readers are the most important part. They are the ones consuming your work, ingesting your story and characters that you’ve spent years writing.

Just remember, readers (extremely important and very necessary for garnering any amount of success) should not tell your story. Therein it would no longer be your novel, instead there's. 

So before I go and send you away with this knowledge to do with as you see fit, I want to tell you to celebrate every small success. Take a day off after finishing that hard and intense chapter. Celebrate with a glass of champagne or picking up that new book you wanted from the store.

Writing is hard, no matter the genre or age group, and you should always remind yourself of how powerful you are; celebrate the magic in your fingertips. 

We writers, both practiced and aspiring, have a gift. We gather twenty-six letters into various words that we arrange in varying ways to build sentences that structure paragraphs and create worlds that will be interpreted by every single person differently. If that isn’t magic in real life, then I don’t know what it is. Practice your craft and have fun wielding your power. 

Much love and thanks,

-Zachary James

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Zachary James is a young adult author and lyricist who is currently at college studying English. As someone who formerly hated English, reading and anything writing, he is still confused how this happened. When he isn’t writing, he’s reading, working, studying, or trying to uphold his nearly non-existent social life. He was born and raised in the same small New Jersey town all his life and is excited to explore the world beyond the pages of his own and other author’s books.  His debut novel, Iridescent Fury , was published in January 2020.

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10 Helpful Tips To Write Fantasy Romance

Fantasy love writing.

How to write fantasy romance

Fantasy romance would be a romance story that includes supernatural or magical elements or takes place in an entirely made-up world. Lots of fantasy stories have romance in them, but that does not make their romantic fantasies. Again, genres and subgenres are all about reader expectations and people hoping to get specific things out of the books that they are reading.

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If fantasy is part of a series, it must be a standalone series. A romantic fantasy would be a story that features a significant romance subplot. If part of a series, it must be a sequence series. Before writing a fantasy romance, you must balance the fantasy with a romance plot and understand some key elements I want to share with you. Stay with me!

How to write fantasy romance? (With Example)

Fantasy romance is one of my favorite multi-genres, and I’m a big fan of Sarah J. Mass. Sarah is fantastic for the fantasy love story. Do you want to write like Sarah? I have so many tips to share with you. Now, I am breaking down my ten tips for writing fantasy romance. Let’s go!

1. Make a combination

Before you start writing a fantasy romance, you must understand the genres you’re working with. Fantasy romance refers to a multi-genre book, which means that your central plot is half fantasy, half romance. Fantasy is a broad genre of speculative fiction involving magic, adventure, or both. It’s usually set in a world different from our own, but if it is set in our world, it’s modified with fantastical or magical elements.  

Romance is a genre where the main plot revolves around the romantic relationship between your main characters. Not the supporting cast, the MCs. What separates romance from other plots around romantic relationships is that a romance has to end in a happily ever after or happy for now. It means that by the end of the story, the lovebirds need to be together, and they need to be happy.

Your central plot must combine these elements if you’re writing a fantasy romance. Your story is about your main characters falling in love and living happily ever after while existing in a fantasy world, dealing with adventure, or dealing with magic.

2. Add a romantic subplot

Fantasy romance is not the same thing as fantasy with a romantic subplot. Imagine the book with the romance removed. Can the story still be told? If yes, it’s a romantic subplot. Let’s look at my favorite read of Ashes by Iona Wayland. Ashes is a dark fantasy novel that revolves around Angela, a woman whose brother has died tragically. Angela learns that her brother’s soul is in turmoil.

To bring it to rest, she needs to travel through the magical and deadly hollow forest and sprinkle his ashes in the appropriate place. Along the way, Angela develops a romantic bond with her guide through the hollow forest. If I were to remove the romance from Ashes, it might be less entertaining, but the plot could still 100% work because it’s about Angela’s quest to free her brother’s soul. That’s how we know that Ashes is a fantasy with a romantic subplot.

3. Focus on your romantic storyline

Is Tobias doomed to die in the tournament or marry someone he doesn’t love? Or can you find a way to survive the tournament and be with a woman he truly adores? As you can see, if we were to remove the romance from the story, it wouldn’t work. The story is about Tobias’ romantic relationship. Without it, it becomes an entirely different plot. It’s how you can tell The Savior’s Champion is a fantasy romance. If the romantic storyline is central to your main plot, congratulations, you’ve also written a fantasy romance.

4. Your endings should be satisfying

Romance is not the only genre that features a romantic relationship as its central plot. A romantic relationship can be the main plot of many genres, including dramas, tragedies, and love stories. What separates romance from these genres is they’re designed to be uplifting at the end. Which means you have to have a happily ever after.

It’s not gatekeeping or thought policing. It’s the definition of the genre. A romance without a happily ever after makes about as much sense as sci-fi without science or a ghost story without ghosts. It applies to fantasy romance as well. Just because it’s multi-genre doesn’t mean you’re off the hook.

5. Know the difference

Many fantasy subgenres, incredibly epic and high fantasy, are very plot focused with a heavy reliance on world-building. All fantasy will focus on the plot as we deal with magic and adventure. Still, fantasy romance also needs to rely heavily on being character-driven since we are following the romantic bond between two or more people.

Additionally, most fantasy is going to require world-building. But if you spend hundreds of pages describing the trees, the economy, and the politics in your fantasy romance, readers will get pissed.

Note: If you’re writing a contemporary setting with contemporary resources and contemporary problems, that’s fine, but it’s not a fantasy. You have to weave the fantastical elements into the romance. Otherwise, readers will feel bamboozled.

6. Balance of both romance with fantasy

It’s not a fantasy romance unless you have an equal balance of both. Fantasy presents itself in at least four ways: a fantasy world, fantasy characters, magic, or adventure. The way to weave fantasy with your romance is to combine one or more of these elements into your romance.

Let’s start with a fantasy world: this could be as easy as a prince and a princess from dueling kingdoms being forced into an arranged marriage. They don’t like each other at first, but eventually, sparks fly. Next, there are fantasy characters: it could be as simple as one of your characters being an elf and the other being a wizard.

Next, we have magic: maybe one character has magic, and the other doesn’t. It creates a rift between them that they have to battle together. Lastly, we have an adventure: A hero battling grave dangers to save their love, or it could be two or more lovers escaping grave danger so they can be together. These are a few simple examples of combining these genres into a cohesive unit. 

7. Add various tropes in your chapters

If that’s the case, we’ll label it a romance chapter. Was it an equal helping of both? Then we’ll say it’s half and half. Go through all your chapters and see how many cumulatively are fantasy and how many are romance. While the results don’t have to be 50/50, they should be close enough.

Some popular Fantasy romance tropes:

8. Show the progression of the character

Intimacy is a progression. If you’re not used to adding romance to fantasy, think of it as a step-by-step progression. Show how intimacy progresses between your characters. It does not have to be sexual. It could be handed brushing against one another, which evolves into hand holding, an embrace, and a first kiss.

Readers read romance for this progression, so don’t go straight to the big bang. Give readers every step of the evolution. It will draw out the suspense and get them asking will they or won’t they? Additionally, be sure to tease the intimacy. It can be done through the characters, maybe-sorta about to hold hands, but then someone walks into the room, and they dart away. We’ve all read the kiss fake out: you think the characters will finally lock lips, but then something happens, and no dice. 

9. Study the tropes

Romance features some of the most popular tropes in fiction. Lucky for you, many of them fit seamlessly into fantasy. The most obvious one is enemies to lovers.

The next obvious choice is the royal marriage trope, particularly the arranged marriage or the marriage of convenience.

Lastly, we have my favorite trope, the forbidden romance.

Going back to the arranged marriage trope, one character could be promised to someone, but they are in love with someone else. There are way more tropes you can utilize. It is certainly not an exhaustive list, so do your research and make sure you’re utilizing the tropes that work best for you.  

10. Don’t overdo

The first trend to avoid is the unhealthy power imbalance. That’s not to say you can’t write a character with much power. That’s common in fantasy. Maybe they’re magical or royal, and that’s fine. But things get problematic when one character has much power over their love interest. For example, they use magic to control or own their partner as an enslaved person. Please don’t do this. It eliminates the concept of consent.

You are a competent, creative writer, and I am confident you can tell a fantastic story without all that crap. Happy fantasy writing!

More similar fantasy writing tips:

15 Tips To Write Enemies To Lovers

10 Tips To Write A Ghost Character For Story

7 Tips To Write A Vampire Character For Your Story

5 Tips To Write A Time Travel Story

10 Methods To Write A Monster Story

7 Tips To Write A Dragon Story

7 Tips To Write Friend To Lover Romance Story

6 Tips To Write Reverse Harem Story

5 Tips To Write A Retelling Story

10 Tips To Write Dark Romance Story

Learn from fantasy romance books:

7 Dark Romance Fantasy Books

10 Fantasy Romance Books Like From Blood And Ash

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How to Write a Romance Novel

How to Write a Romance Novel [In 12 Steps]

writing a fantasy romance novel


On the surface, romance can seem like an easy genre to write in. However, I can assure you that knowing how to write a romance novel takes skill and practice.

Writing a romance novel takes just as much time, effort, and planning as any other piece of fiction. Following these steps will make the process easier for you, especially if it’s your first novel:

While it may not require the extensive research and worldbuilding that a fantasy novel does, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. If you’re going to write a successful romance you really do need to learn how to write a novel well.

Learning How to Write a Romance Novel is Always a Good Idea

Romance novels will always hold a special place in the hearts of everyone. Even those who are too “tough” or “hardcore” to admit it, will always have a soft spot for a good romance.

This is due to our inherent desire for love and companionship. Everyone craves it – needs it, even. We have many connections throughout our lifetime – friends, colleagues, family – but our partners become the most important.

It’s this love of love that has people gobbling up romance like there’s no tomorrow. Be it a novel that is entirely romance, or a romantic subplot in a different genre, readers love it when there’s love. It adds an element of relatability that lets them connect to the characters .

For this reason, it is smart to know how to write a romance novel. Whether you want to be known as a career romance novelist or not, writing romance is a crucial skill.

Romance is becoming more and more popular, with many romance novels being turned into movies and TV series.

While there is much to be gained from taking formal classes, there are ways you can learn how to write a romance novel on your own. This includes research, experience, and practice.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be head over heels in love at the very moment. Your love life is your business – which is why I have outlined all the essential elements of writing a romance novel. Perfecting the craft will take time, but you can use these strategies to get started.

Romance Novel Template

The steps outlined here will no doubt help you write your romance novel. If you want to make the process even easier, I suggest using a template as well. Squibler has a romance novel template to spark your creativity:

writing a fantasy romance novel

The template will guide you through each step of the process and make sure you don’t miss anything that a good romance needs.

1. Choose Your Subgenre

Romance is versatile. If you want to write a straight romance, that’s fine! There is a huge market for this.

There are many readers who live for a good, dramatic love story that focuses on love.

But, fans of other genres want some romance too. This is where you can consider writing in a subgenre of romance. Romantic plot lines can be weaved into almost any other type of story, but the most popular romance subgenres are:


If you’ve been thinking that your idea isn’t appropriate for a romance, you’re probably wrong. Even if fantasy or thriller or the supernatural is where your heart is, you can always incorporate romance.

The amount of emphasis you put on the romance is up to you. It can be subtle or it can be a focal point throughout the plot. In fact, it is advisable that you add at least a small amount of romantic tension to any novel.

Even if it is a very small part of the story, it is something that helps the characters become more believable. Because everyone needs love in their own life, readers will relate to the character’s yearning for it as well.

If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to read some romance before attempting to put it into your own novel in any significant way. Even if you are a dedicated horror fan, pick up a few romance novels. If you don’t love reading them – consider it research.

This guide is not specific to any one subgenre or type of romance. It is here to teach you the important elements of learning how to write a romance novel. What you learn here can be applied to a romance of any kind.

2. Create the Setting to Write a Romance Novel

No one who is learning how to write a novel should neglect to create a good setting. However, in a character-driven romance, it is especially important.

The setting creates the atmosphere and the atmosphere can hold a lot of weight in what goes on.

A contemporary romance, for example, often takes place in a simple and modern location. This can include an idyllic small town or a university campus.

These settings are perfect for your main characters to spend a lot of time together and have lots of drama ensue. These locations are also usually small enough where larger scale drama is realistic – such as flying rumors and fast-traveling news.

All of this makes for a perfect contemporary romance setting. An exotic vacation town with lots of tourists or a quiet countryside would not be as effective.

Historical romance can be set anywhere, as long as you have chosen a specific time-period in history. Historical romances can be beautiful, exciting trips back in time. But, they are only successful when you do the proper research on your setting.

You need to know what everything was like in your chosen place at your chosen time. Consider these questions when creating your historical setting:

These are just a few things to get you started. You will need a lot of information before your historical romance will be accurate. But, all this research will be worth it when you have created the perfect setting for the story you want to tell.

Lastly, take paranormal romance as another example. This is a story that could take place in that lonely country town where neighbors are few and far away.

Perhaps the main setting is even a haunted house or street. This creates an effective, gloomy atmosphere for a spooky, ghostly love story with a darker feel.

Creating Good Setting

Of course, you can set your story wherever you want, there aren’t rules . But, guidelines and common suggestions are in place for a reason – they work.

What matters most about your setting is that it makes sense and captivates your readers. Your goal as a writer of any type of fiction is to pull your readers in and transport them into your world. Once you have chosen the specific location of your story, keep these elements of a good setting in mind:

3. Create the Recipe

Many cooks and chefs spend years practicing and perfecting their signature recipes. Why? Because when you have that tried and true recipe that everyone loves, the meal will always be a success no matter how many times you make it.

The same can be said for romance. While any novel follows some sort of story structure, most successful romance novels have six key ingredients. These ingredients are included because they are proven effective.  Even when repeated throughout different stories, audiences love it.

The six basic ingredients:

Of course, these elements can go in any direction. This is the absolute bare bones of your romance. But, it’s a structure that works.

This recipe can be tinkered with, added to, and expanded. If your story is unique and original, it won’t feel like a cop-out just because you stick to the basic romance formula. Why mess with a proven, age-old method?

4. A Plot Device is Essential to Knowing How to Write a Romance Novel

A plot device or “trope” is a specific person, object, or situation that is used to advance the plot in the way the writer wants. It is a means to an end – the writer knows what result they want so they figure out a way to get there.

There are many plot devices within fiction that are common. Earlier I talked about certain settings working for certain types of romance – plot devices are no different. There are some plot devices that just work to drive a romance forward.

Just because a plot device is common doesn’t mean it’s bad. It is up to the writer to make their use of a plot device original and unique.

Some Common Romance Tropes:

[table id=9 /]

There are many more but these are some of the most popular. You can probably think of at least one book or movie right away that matches each of these tropes. Take these stories and ask yourself – did you thoroughly enjoy it or did it feel overdone and cliche?

You might have a mix of answers. This is because it is easy to take these tropes and be lazy. This creates a tired story that won’t stand out.

On the other hand, there are many writers that make these effective devices work for their story in a fresh, unique, and interesting way.

Don’t shy away from plot devices that you know will work, just be sure you are being creative. Put in the effort to write something people will love to read. You can also do this by combining several different plot devices to create a unique flow.

5. Know How to Write a Romance Novel by Knowing Your Readers

Knowing your readers is an important part of knowing how to write a book of any kind – fiction or nonfiction . Being aware of your target audience will help you write in a way you know will resonate with them.

For some books, this can require a good amount of research. For nonfiction especially, you need to find out exactly who needs your expertise, and exactly which parts of it they need at this time.

For romance authors, however, your basic readership is pretty simple and consistent.

About 80 percent of romance readers are women. This is overwhelming compared to most other genres. While this does leave about 20 percent of your readers as male, you know you’re writing to a female majority. It is women you want to reach with your story.

Some other facts to keep in mind:

That last one is especially important. This means they are constantly exposed to different romantic plot lines, and will easily spot one that is overdone or boring.

To gain a loyal readership that won’t hesitate to pick up your next book, make every effort to stay unique, original, and different.

Writing for Women

While you don’t want to completely alienate the small number of male readers you have, it is important to know how to write for women. Women are the overwhelming majority of your target audience, so pleasing them is a top priority.

A few tips to help you resonate with your female audience:

Keep these things in mind, but also ensure you are creating balance. Unless you want to take the dive right into women’s fiction specifically, maintain a balance. Remember your small section of male readers.

6. Present Your Heroine

This is where knowing your reader becomes even more important. We’ve established that most romance readers are women. But, there are still different age groups to consider.

Narrow Down Your Target Audience

Writing a story about a college girl who falls in love with the arrogant quarterback will not always interest a woman in her forties because she wants a character she can connect with.

So as you write about your heroine, keep your specified target audience in mind. Are you writing for the young adult fresh out of high school, or do you want to target the middle-aged mom?

It’s an important question to ask yourself, but don’t over complicate it either. It’s possible for older women to enjoy a story about young women and vice versa. But, it’s good to keep the general target in mind especially when creating a female heroine.

A romance book will connect with its reader when they have something in common with the heroine. There are a few details you can keep in mind as you begin bringing her to life:

Create Believability

Now that you’ve chosen what kind of character to write , you need to make sure they are believable.

Nobody, anywhere in the world, goes through life without struggle. It is imperative that you also give your characters some struggles and obstacles. A character that has the perfect experience every time will not only be entirely unrealistic, but they will also be boring.

Nobody wants to read about a perfect relationship because that’s not interesting. It’s not real and there is nothing to invest in. This is why temporary separation is part of the basic romance recipe I mentioned earlier.

So, give your characters some flaws and put them through some struggles. These struggles can include any number of things:

That is just naming a few.

Usually, it’s most effective to write your main character(s) as round and dynamic. Give them deeply complex personalities. In addition, bring them through some change and growth as the story progresses.

Not every character needs to be like this. That would be exhausting and flat characters have special functions of their own. But, your main characters need to be multi-dimensional to create the maximum level of believability and relatability

7. Present the Love Interest

Much like your heroin, imperfection is the key to creating a successful second character. Or in this case, the love interest.

Like any character, they should be flawed. Perhaps his more prominent flaws cause your heroin to wonder if they made the right choice or if he is the right one.

It can be tempting to write a perfect love interest because a perfect person is easy to fall in love with. However, this is a bad choice. It will take away from the conflict in the story and the believability of the character.

Don’t Make Them Hated

Many stories start with the heroine hating or at least disliking the eventual love interest. This is effective, but it doesn’t mean the readers have to hate the love interest as well.

There is usually a specific reason your heroine hates him – a past betrayal, something he has done, who he was before a transformation took place, etc. This makes the distaste personal and your readers don’t need to share her opinion.

Give him some redeeming qualities that appeal to the reader, and don’t objectify him. Even if your main character hates him for a while, the readers should be able to tell that he genuinely loves her and is a good person at the core.

From here, you can develop him in a positive way. As your heroine begins to fall in love with him, your readers will just like him that much more.

Don’t Fall Victim to the Stereotype

When we speak of romance, our minds often drift to the typical tanned, tall, well-built Don Juan who sweeps her off her feet. He is suave and charming. But, this puts you at risk of creating that too-perfect love interest.

These characters are sometimes effective, but it’s not the only type of man that can be romantic. Sometimes, a shy, nerdy gamer is what your character will love.

Don’t be afraid to go outside the box and create a unique love interest that is charming in his own original way.

8. What is the Driving Force?

In her popular book GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, Debra Dixon says: “External motivation is usually the most important to establish early in the book. Internal motivation can take a bit longer to develop and be woven into the fabric of the story one thread at a time.”

This is the perfect illustration of the driving force. There is a difference between goals and motivation. Both of them combined are what create your character’s driving force.

For example, let’s say you have a character who is training for a marathon. He may have a couple of goals here. One might be to make it to 5k. Another might be to win and get the glory.

These goals are logical and important, but they are not enough. What makes him different from every other person training for that 5k marathon and wanting to win? His motivation.

What is really behind that desire to win? It could be a burning desire to feel powerful or superior. Maybe he wants to prove wrong someone who never believed in him. Perhaps he wants to honor a family member or even a beloved coach who has passed.

Each of these motivations will have different people doing the same thing – training for that marathon. But, it’s what drives them that really speaks to who they are as a person.

Determine What Drives Your Characters

So, what drives your characters together?

To answer that, you need to dive into your characters and figure out every little, personal detail. Motivations often come from their past. This is why it’s important to know everything about your character , even if the reader doesn’t.

For example, your heroine might struggle to trust in a relationship because she was cheated on by an ex-fiance of five years. This part of her past will drive her behavior within her current romantic relationship as well as other actions and decisions throughout her life.

At some point in the story, this betrayal may be revealed to your audience. But, you need to keep it in mind from the very beginning. Her actions need to remain consistent even before their reasoning is made known.

9. The Intimate Scenes

Within the romance genre, you will find different levels of intimacy.

On one end the spectrum is straight erotica. Here, physical intimacy is the focus. Writers go into excruciating detail with every scene. And there are a lot of scenes.

But, graphic sex scenes are not a requirement for successful romance. If you are writing about teenagers for teenagers, it would be highly inappropriate. On the other hand, if you are writing for grown women and you mention nothing more than a kiss on the cheek, they may feel a bit jipped.

Knowing your audience is crucial in determining how intimate you get in your writing. Your own level of comfort will also come into play. Not all romance writers want to be known for the straight sex appeal of their books.

You may also just not be into it, and that’s fine! If sex scenes aren’t your thing, your book won’t necessarily hurt for it. Much can be implied and well, people have good imaginations.

Don’t Neglect Them

Regardless of how much or how detailed you get with your more intimate scenes, knowing how to write a romance novel does mean you need some .

The general “show, don’t tell” rule works well with scenes of physical intimacy, especially between characters who already have a deep connection. You don’t have to be graphic to let your reader know, through her reaction, how a kiss from her partner makes your female protagonist feel.

Unless you are writing erotica, your intimate scenes should have a specific purpose. They should serve to advance the plot in some way. Whether it’s the moment you’ve been building up to for half the novel, or it’s a means to create conflict, it shouldn’t be there just because.

If you are interested in writing intimate scenes that are more detailed, there are some things to keep in mind:

10. Secondary Characters are Important in Writing a Romance Novel

While secondary characters are important to any story, they play a unique role in a romance. For a female main character, it is usually her sister and/or her best friend that she seeks relationship advice from.

This right here is a limitless pool of potential conflict. Sometimes, best friends give well-intentioned but very poor advice. And then, the advisee follows said horrible advice and lands in a highly compromising situation.

Sometimes these poor results can be hilarious, other times they are heartbreaking. Either way, they add tension and conflict.

Crazy sisters, eccentric best friends, jealous guy friends, and protective family members all add value and drama to your story. Don’t neglect these characters and their relationship to your heroine and/or hero.

11. Learn How to Write a Romance Novel With Tools

Knowing exactly how to write a book takes time. While nobody will ever write a perfect book the first time, there are ways you can tighten up the process and make things easier on yourself.

There are many book writing software out there, and most of them have something good to offer.

For editing, you have things like Grammarly and Hemmingway .  These are powerful editing tools that scan your work and give you a lot of helpful insight.

Grammarly scans for and alerts you to basic grammatical errors:

It will highlight your mistake and offer a solution. To use their correction, simply click on it and the document will change itself. Text can be edited in the Grammarly app, or you can integrate it with Chrome, Microsoft Word, and Google Docs (currently in beta).

how to write a romance novel

Hemmingway is a different novel writing software that checks for readability. It won’t tell you if you’ve spelled something wrong, but it will tell you how easy your piece is to read. It does this by looking at a few specific things:

how to write a romance novel

The editor is available to use online for free, or you can pay $19.99 for access to the desktop version as well as a few other bonuses and features.

Before you can edit, you need to have written something. The writing process has many elements:

Squibler is a book writing software that can help you with all of these. It has a place for notes, research, your book’s actual content, and everything in between.

It teaches you how to write a book in the most efficient way possible. This will have you on your way to publishing before the novel starts dragging on for months or even years. In the end, this will make you a better writer .

how to write a romance novel

The drag and drop feature for your chapters and scenes means you don’t have to worry about writing in chronological order. Write whatever you want, whenever you want, and reorganize later.

Squibler also offers assistance when it comes time to publish. Once finished, you can export your manuscript to PDF, Kindle, or print publishing formats.

Most book writing software helps you publish , but not many include print publishing as an option within the software. This is where Squibler is powerful and unique.

12. A Happy Ending

There is an unspoken rule within the romance genre. And that is the happily-ever-after. Or at the very least, a happy-for-now. No matter how much trauma and emotional turmoil an author puts their characters through, readers just know that they’ll be okay in the end.

Many criticize romance for being too formulaic. This is because romance does have a formula, which isn’t always a bad thing.

But, the formula does include the HEA. It’s like an invisible line of trust between author and reader.

There are some who try to break conventions. They write a wonderful romance but end it with a less than happy situation. These often conclude with one or both of the lovers dying. Some argue this would no longer even be considered a romance, but a tragedy.

The issue is up for debate. But, the fact remains that a romance without a happy ending will leave readers, and especially dedicated fans of the genre, feeling betrayed.

That’s not to say you can’t think outside the box. Just be aware of what people are expecting. With romance, unhappy endings can lead to failure if you are not very careful.

If you want to break the mold without enraging your readers, you can try to compromise.

Some Sort-of Happy Endings:

These types of melancholic endings will still give your readers that satisfaction of seeing the lovers together forever. But, it lets you add a sense of realism and tragedy. There are some people who love a darker twist and will appreciate an ending like this.

Write Your Romance Novel With Confidence

Whether you wanted to learn how to write a novel with romance weaved throughout, or you want to write in the romance genre specifically, you can now write your first romance novel with confidence.

The basics of outlining and structuring a novel are the same across all genres, but romance does have a few of its own quirks and unwritten rules. Familiarize yourself with these things and you’ll be able to expertly craft that winning romance in no time.

writing a fantasy romance novel

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How to Write a Fantasy Novel in 12 Steps

Escape the chains of the real world, and jump straight into fantasy story-telling. Fantasy novels push the limits of your imagination – Taking on new worlds, creatures and magic. In this guide, we’ll show you how to write a fantasy novel in 12 steps.

As a writer, the fantasy genre can be very exciting. It presents writers with the opportunity to create their own rules, explore new worlds, and discover magic of all sorts – The only limit is your own imagination! However, the job of a fantasy writer is not always an easy one. In fact, fantasy novels can be more difficult to write than non-fantasy or factual based books. The simple reason is that fantasy stories require more planning and research to make them ‘believable’ to readers. We put the word, believable in quotes because most readers know that magical elements like dragons don’t exist in the real world. But your task as a fantasy writer is to make them believe in magic and things beyond logic.

You might also find this guide on how to write a story for children useful.

What is the Fantasy Genre?

1. read the work of others, 2. know your readers, 3. stick to your idea, 4. create a descriptive world, 5. beware of too much description, 6. write down the rules, 7. do your research, 8. add real-world elements, 9. create relatable characters, 10. do the unexpected, 1. think of a unique idea, 2. outline your idea, 3. develop your characters, 4. develop your world, 5. write the starting paragraph, 6. write the first chapter, 7. develop the climax, 8. write the remaining chapters, 9. write the ending, 10. self-edit your novel, 11. title your fantasy novel, 12. publish your novel, how do you start a fantasy novel, what are the steps to writing a fantasy novel, what makes a great fantasy novel, what should you not do in a fantasy novel, how do you write the first chapter of a fantasy novel.

The fantasy genre contains an element of magic or make-believe. Think of witches, wizards, magical wardrobes, dragons and faraway kingdoms. Fantasy novels contain elements of fiction, as opposed to factual elements. The most popular fantasy series of all time is Harry Potter. Other examples include Lord of the Rings, The Chronicles of Narnia and The Mortal Instruments. The fantasy genre can be split into many sub-genres including:

10 Tips For Writing A Fantasy Novel

Before you jump straight into planning your fantasy novel, here are 10 tips for writing a fantasy novel:

Before you delve into the world of fantasy writing, take time to read popular fantasy books and stories. Don’t just read them, understand them. Think about all the story elements that make them great and the elements that are not-so-great. Better yet, write down your own book review for each fantasy novel you read. Make notes of things you find interesting. You could even use sticky notes to bookmark pages that you would like to revisit later on. During your book review, pay attention to how the author introduces characters, describes the world and how the major conflict is dealt with. 

Our advice is to read as many fantasy novels as you can before writing your own. Not only does this help you with coming up with a great story idea, but it can also help you become a great writer too.

Who are you writing for? It is extremely important to know who your audience is. Knowing your target audience guides your writing style, idea generation, language choice and even choice of characters and setting. Think about the age of your target audience – Are they children,  young adults or grown-ups? A younger audience may relate to a simpler story idea and main characters who are also young. While a grown-up audience would expect plot twists, big build-ups to the conflict and an older main character to relate to.

Another aspect of knowing your readers is thinking about the sub-genre of fantasy you want to write about. Which sub-genre would be most popular with your target audience? At this point, you will need to think about the interests of your potential readers. If you readers love scary stuff, then dark fantasy is a good sub-genre to take on. While a romantic fantasy tale would go well with teens or grown-ups interested in love and romance. 

Imaginations can run wild, especially when thinking about fantasy worlds. Make sure you stick to your original story idea throughout the novel. It is easy to get side-tracked by secondary characters or minor conflicts you develop. But your focus should always be on the main character and their role in the story. While secondary characters can have their own problems, their main role should always relate back to your original plot idea. 

Know your fantasy world inside and out. Whether your entire world is make-believe or you just added elements of magic on Earth – A detailed description of the world is required. If your story is set on present-day Earth, then think about how magic has changed the world. And if the story is in a fictional world, then describe this world in detail from its climate to its currency, language and even way of life. You might not need to include all this information directly in the story, but it will definitely help you create a believable world during the planning phase.

An extra tip is to use the five senses technique to describe this world (see, hear, feel, taste and smell). This will help you go beyond the physical appearance of the world into a deeper, more meaningful world description. Check out this list of 112+ world-building questions to help you create a realistic fantasy world.

It’s perfectly fine to create detailed descriptions of the setting and characters in the planning phase. However, when it comes to the actual fantasy novel, try to avoid cramming too much description into one page or a section of the story. This could be off-putting to readers and even boring to read. Instead, try to provide subtle hints of the world the characters live in and leave the rest up to the imagination of your readers. 

Fantasy worlds normally run by their own rules. Whether this is a faraway kingdom with rules created by a vile king or a new set of rules for particular people on Earth. Common rules may relate to the use of magic, money or currency and even how people live their lives. Rules can also be the source of conflict in many fantasy stories. As a writer, it is important to write down the rules of your fantasy world and stick to these throughout the story.

Just because you’re making stuff up, doesn’t mean no research is required. If you want to create a believable fantasy tale, you’ll need to do your research on how things work in your fantasy world. Common mistakes fantasy writers make are mixing up titles and classes in characters. For example, a necromancer mage is very different from a mage who specialises in illusions. You might not think this is important, but fans of the fantasy genre will know the difference. And so creating a fantasy novel with incorrect details can be extremely detrimental to its success. 

Another example is explaining the logic behind magical powers and abilities. Of course, you can’t know for sure how magical powers work. But you should at least create a near-realistic back story to these. For example in an underwater kingdom, how do the humans that live here survive? Doing your research, you might think the humans are actually merpeople with fins and gills that help them breathe underwater. Alternatively, a magical source or outer-world technology helps them survive there.

No fantasy novel is 100% fantasy. There are always elements of realism or facts that people in the real world can relate to. The level of realism can vary greatly in fantasy stories. In epic fantasy stories, real-world elements are subtle. While in low fantasy stories real-world elements are at the centre of the plot and are more obvious. The common types of real-world elements in fantasy novels include character personality traits, technology use, and even real-world problems. Just imagine a wizard with social anxiety issues or a plumber who discovers a magical toolbox.

No one’s perfect and neither should your characters be. When developing characters the most important thing to consider is their flaws. What mistakes have they made? What do they fear? And what are their weak points? Knowing the answers to these questions is what makes your characters believable and relatable. At this point, it is a good idea to think about real-world problems that your readers might face. For example, depression, social anxiety, eating disorders, and poverty are all examples of problems in the real world.  These problems could be the main source of conflict in your fantasy novel, along with a magical twist. 

The fantasy genre is great for including unexpected plot twists. Think outside the box and try doing the opposite of what your readers might expect. Don’t be scared of introducing new characters mid-way through your story or even at the end. Think about the magical elements, how far can you push these? What is the full capability of your main character? By throwing in unexpected plot twists and elements, you can keep your novel interesting and even make room for more novels in your fantasy series. 

How to Write a Fantasy Novel Step-By-Step

Learn how to write a great fantasy novel in just 12 easy steps:

Behind every great fantasy novel is a spectacular idea. The idea doesn’t need to be anything 100% new or original. You could simply take a basic idea from your favourite book or movie, and add your own elements to it making it unique. But be careful not to copy or plagiarise another author’s work!

Here are some examples of fantasy story ideas you could use or adapt:

You can also view our post on 70+ fantasy writing prompts for more ideas.

As you can see most story ideas, include a character and a problem or goal that they want to achieve. Try using the simple jigsaw method for idea generation which involves, the who, want and why not.

story jigsaw example

Each piece of the puzzle is explained below:

Once you have your idea written down the next step is to outline this book idea . The purpose of this step is to expand your idea into a couple of paragraphs. These paragraphs should be divided into the beginning, middle and ending of your story. You can also include notes on your novel’s major conflict, along with any plot twists you plan on including.

There are many techniques you can use for outlining stories, such as:

Ideally, by the end of this step, you should have a chapter-by-chapter outline or plan for your novel or chapter book .

Characters are an important element in all stories. For this reason, you should focus on your characters separately. Developing your character involves two key steps. First, you should list out the main characters in your story, along with their role in the story. Next, you should create a detailed character profile for each one.

A detailed character profile includes information about name, age, occupation, values, goals, fears, wants and so on. The purpose of a character profile is to make sure your character is consistent with their beliefs throughout the story. Of course, the hero of your character will change and develop as the story progresses, but their core beliefs should remain the same. See our guide on the hero’s journey for more information.

fantasy character illustration

You might be interested in this fantasy name generator for some character ideas.

World-building is an important activity for fantasy writers, especially those writing about a fictional world. When developing a world, you should think about the following elements:

These elements will help bring your fictional world to life, and make it more believable when you write about it in your novel. It is a good idea to keep a detailed world description sheet or document that you can refer to when writing your novel – This can help you stay consistent throughout the story.

fantasy world illustration

Take a look at this fantasy world name generator for some inspirational world name ideas.

Think about how you will start your fantasy novel. More specifically focus on the opening line or starting paragraph. Do you start with a question or an interesting fact about the fantasy world? Will you start with a conflict or action scene? If you plan on starting with a conflict, make sure this is a minor conflict, so the readers can look forward to a bigger conflict later on in the story. A good starting paragraph is a difference between hooking your readers and putting them off, so make sure it’s a good one.

The first chapter of a fantasy novel normally introduces the main character, provides a description of the setting and provides a hint towards the possible main conflict. With this in mind make sure your first chapter is clear and concise. Do not ramble on too much about the exact details of the setting, or the main character’s every single flaw, weakness and goal. Be careful about the information you give your readers. You want to give them a hint to keep them hooked and keep the best secrets until the near end of the novel.

The climax is the point when the main conflict occurs. This is likely past the middle point of your novel and perhaps towards the end. You might be wondering why did we jump from the first chapter all the way to the climax? Simply because the first few chapters can be cumbersome or tiring for writers. To keep things interesting and to give yourself a goal, we suggest developing the conflict scene or chapter towards the beginning of your novel writing journey. Don’t worry you don’t need to have a set-in-stone chapter written, just an outline of the climax or main conflict in your story will do.

It’s time to fill in some blanks. You got your first chapter written, and you got a detailed outline of your climax chapter. Now go back and work on the remaining chapters. If you’re struggling with your chapters, then try outlining or planning each one before you actually write it. An outline is a great way to keep you on track, and can even act as a motivation tool to complete each chapter.

You made it! Your fantasy novel is almost complete, you just need a great ending to satisfy your readers. Most fantasy novels come in trilogies or in a series. If you plan on writing more parts to your novel in the future, then the best ending is a cliffhanger or an open ending. A cliffhanger ending leaves a certain conflict still in the mist, as the main conflict is resolved. Resolution is important in all novels. If nothing is resolved, then the whole novel could be a waste of time for you and your readers.

A resolution could come in many forms, such as a solution or part-solution to the main conflict or the main character learning something important at the end.  Think about how your fantasy novel will end. Will it be a happy, sad or cliffhanger ending?

Your novel is complete! Celebrate and rejoice, you just completed the hardest thing for any author. Now go back and read through each chapter of your fantasy novel. Be a critic in your own mind. Question your own word choices, dialogue and descriptions. How could you make this paragroup sound more interesting? How could you explain this concept better? Could you add more plot twists?

Don’t be afraid of sharing your draft work with friends, family, teachers or colleagues for their feedback. You could even create a questionnaire to help get valuable feedback from others on your draft novel. An extra tip, we recommend when self-editing is to take a break from your novel. Come back to it in a month with a fresh pair of eyes, so you can be a fair critic of yourself.

The title of your fantasy novel may be the single most important thing you do. After all, before a reader even reads your book, the title, along with the book cover is the first thing that will entice them. Make sure your book title is short, descriptive and relates to your core story idea. Avoid using fancy words, just because they sound cool. Instead, keep it true to the meaning of your novel. Just take a look at this example: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire – It summarises the whole book in just 7 words!

You can use our fantasy book title generator for some ideas on how to title your novel.

Now you have a beautifully complete fantasy novel. It’s time to publish it. At this point, you have many options. You can publish your book online using a tool like Imagine Forest – Which is great for kids and young writers. From there you can share it with friends and family and build your fanbase online. Alternatively, you can self-publish your novel professionally on Amazon or take the traditional route by working with professional book publishers.

That’s it! 12 steps later and your fantasy novel is complete!

Common Questions About Fantasy Novels Writing

There are a number of ways to start your fantasy novel, including the following:

Try to come up with a unique and powerful way to start your novel. Remember the goal is to hook your readers so they keep on reading until the very end.

There are 12 steps for writing a fantasy novel:

The key to writing a great fantasy novel is creating believable and relatable characters. You can include all the magical elements you want, but your characters must be realistic. Realistic characters have flaws, weaknesses and dreams. Their problems are just like your problems in the real world. To help you create relatable characters think about your own fears, dreams and wants, and incorporate them into your main characters.

Here is a list of 10 mistakes that most fantasy writers make:

Before you write the first chapter in your fantasy novel, plan the chapter. Note down what you plan on including, the overall purpose of the chapter, and the key scenes within the chapter. This outline will help guide you when it comes to writing the first chapter of your novel. Typically in fantasy novels, the first chapter includes an introduction to the main character, a setting description, and a small build-up to the main conflict.

How to Write a Fantasy Novel

Marty the wizard is the master of Imagine Forest. When he's not reading a ton of books or writing some of his own tales, he loves to be surrounded by the magical creatures that live in Imagine Forest. While living in his tree house he has devoted his time to helping children around the world with their writing skills and creativity.

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6 Proven Ways To Add Romance To Your Fantasy Story

Love is in the air. No, really – it is!

Romance and relationships play an important part of many people’s everyday lives, and the same holds true in many types of fiction.

Sadly, given its omnipresence across all genres, romantic subplots easily lend themselves to tropes and clichés.

Fantasy fiction in particular often relies on these tried-and-tested relationship dynamics, usually when romantic tension is not the driving force of the narrative.

So, if you’re looking to add a little more love to your fantasy novel, check out these creative romance ideas to see how they can work for you.

writing a fantasy romance novel

#1: Introduce An Established Couple

While it might seem like introducing an established couple will suck all the enjoyment out of the romance, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Of course, your reader will miss out on all awkward flirting and butterflies associated with a sputtering new flame… But this actually presents you with a wonderful opportunity for plot and character development .

And remember: things don’t all have to be roses when introducing an already established couple.

The impact of Jaime and Cersei’s incestuous relationship in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice is no less diminished by the fact that readers missed out on seeing it develop.

In fact, the hidden, twisted nature of their long-running affair is part of what makes it such a compelling storyline.

This relationship not only forms a considerable foundation for a great many plot points, but it is also intrinsically linked to both characters’ motivations and development – something that couldn’t have realistically been achieved were they not already introduced to us as an established couple.

writing a fantasy romance novel

If you want to write a protagonist who’s motivated by their love for a significant other, then establishing the relationship before the opening pages of your story is worth considering.

It’s unlikely that readers will buy into the kind of romance that sees a character make significant decisions for their partner when they only met three chapters ago.

This ‘instalove’ trope is not only unrealistic, it’s also unimaginative, and readers don’t buy it – especially when there are greater things at stake in the context of your fantasy world.

#2: Include A ‘Slow Burn’ Romance

Another method of avoiding the eye-rolling ‘instalove’ trope is by heading in the complete opposite direction.

Yes, we’re talking about the scintillating will-they, won’t-they dynamic of the slow burn – one of the most popular types of romances among genre readers.

Slow-burn romances are a great subplot to employ in fantasy. The gradual development of the relationship between two central characters is welcome break from all the world-saving, empire-toppling, magic-wielding action of your fantasy novel .

Whether it’s love-hate bickering or tiny moments that go unnoticed by the characters themselves, readers lap up this subtle and often tormenting romance.

Taking the time to develop strong chemistry between the characters is paramount to an infuriating (read: enjoyable!) slow burn.

Having strong sexual tension bubbling beneath the surface adds another tantalising layer to your story, propelling the reader through the narrative as they become desperate to know when (and if!) the prospective couple gets together among the greater conflict of the main plot.

writing a fantasy romance novel

The slow burn is often coupled with other popular romance arcs such as ‘enemies/friends to lovers’.

Like the established relationship, this type of budding romance can also affect the plot just as much as the characters (think Damen/Laurent in C.S Pacat’s The Captive Prince  trilogy).

But unlike ‘instalove’, where the characters are immediately and inextricably infatuated with one another, the slow burn has developed over time, making any influence over plot and character arcs infinitely more palatable.

This is quite often seen when a romance develops between two distinctly different personalities, as is the case with Agnieszka and the Dragon in Naomi Novik’s  Uprooted. 

However, it’s worth noting that the ‘opposites attract’ trope often relies on stereotypical characters (brooding male hero and manic pixie dream girl, anyone?).

Make sure you invest time in crafting an authentic cast with a range of unique characteristics to keep things fresh and engaging.

#3: Rekindle An Old Flame

If you’re set on having had a quick-igniting passion, but want to avoid the danger of love at first sight, perhaps a ‘rekindled flame’ romance is the way to go.

All well-rounded characters have pasts, and the revelation of such is just as likely to produce previous loves as it is plot-twisting secrets .

The arrival of an old flame can certainly bring some tension to the table . It could even serve as a distraction that knocks your protagonist off their world-saving path.

While it may seem off-putting to effectively go  backwards,  the rekindled romance provides a great opportunity to add depth to your characters by fleshing out their past and paving the way for future development.

writing a fantasy romance novel

Be sure to establish a strong sense of chemistry between the two parties to keep readers on board.

However, it’s worth keeping in mind that if the romance died because of questionable behaviour, you must ensure you’re not romanticising a toxic relationship by pairing them together despite obvious red flags.

As tempting as it might be to dive lustfully into all the pent-up passion of an old romance, remember that broken hearts take time to heal.

What tore your two lovers apart in the first place will have a substantial impact on how long it might be before reconciliation can be achieved – if it’s even possible.

In V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic trilogy, despite the obvious feelings that linger between Alucard and Rhy, their relationship is not an easy fix.

Situations such as this can motivate your character to undergo a journey of self-improvement, or take a more active role in the plot of the novel in order to prove their renewed commitment.

If you take the time to explore the reasons the relationship failed in the first place, and provide enough evidence as to why it should continue, the rekindled flame can be as thrilling a romance as a first love.

#4: Use A Failed Romance

We’re all about subverting tropes at Writer’s Edit , and another big one you can play within your fantasy story is the concept of the ‘one true love’.

As many fantasy epics feature the journey of a hero(ine) chosen to save the world, combining that with a destined soulmate can be a bit too much to take.

So, what if your earth-shattering romance just… fades out? And, unlike the rekindled flame, that’s the end?

True to life, many breakups do not actually reach reconciliation or offer a second chance at love with the same partner. More often than not, the heartbroken parties go their separate ways.

writing a fantasy romance novel

But what happens when the luckless lovebirds are involved in a tight-knit group of friends, like Adam and Blue in Maggie Stiefvater’s urban YA fantasy ,  The Raven Cycle ?

Are your bitter and broken ex-lovers in the midst of an epic world-saving journey, tied together by fate?

Watching characters navigate their pain and heartache while trying to remain focused on the task at hand certainly does make for a great source of drama, but it’s also an opportunity to explore significant personal growth gained through loss.

It’s important to remember that the function of a character-building subplot still needs to serve a purpose.

If nothing is learnt from this misadventure in love aside from the sadistic fun you had tormenting your darlings, then you’re probably better off omitting the drama altogether.

Another downfall to the failed romance is how often it walks hand-in-hand with the dreaded ‘love triangle’. If your character is giving up one love to pursue another, make sure you inject some originality to give this trope some spice.

#5: Have Characters With Multiple Partners

Despite being on the rise in recent years, polyamory is still widely considered taboo, mostly due to the Judeo-Christian values that underpin much of Western society.

However, this does not need to hold true for your fantasy world.

One of the great joys of writing fantasy fiction is the ability to build worlds with cultures and religions of our own design.

Some elements we may choose to mirror; others we can choose to subvert. What is outrageous in our world could be the recognised norm in another.

The concept of ‘monogamy as morality’ is an interesting point you may decide to play with.

writing a fantasy romance novel

Polyamory can come into play for a number of reasons. Perhaps unreserved and indiscriminate lovemaking is a sacred act performed in the service of the gods, such as the world of Terre d’Ange in Jacqueline Carey’s epic fantasy, Kushiel’s Dart ?

Conversely, sexual freedom could be a highly restricted practice, with your characters taking multiple lovers as a form of rebellion against the social norm.

Or maybe your protagonist just has a lot of love to give, and isn’t satisfied (emotionally and/or physically) by having only one partner.

In N. K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season , Syen and Alabaster were not able to find happiness in their forced union until the addition of third party, Innon.

This was neither common nor scandalous in the context of the world; it was simply what worked for them and no one made a fuss about it.

Another great use of polyamory is its ability to destroy that pesky love triangle. Unfortunately, this trope is all too prevalent in YA fantasy fiction .

Many popular series such as Twilight ,  The Hunger Games  and  The Mortal Instruments all have a whiff of love triangle about them, where the protagonist, who is usually female, is torn between two (or more!) potential partners.

While the love triangle can be a source of tension, ask yourself: why does your character even need to choose?

Not only will you make your story more original by subverting a common trope, you’ll also pave the way to more inclusivity by welcoming a diverse range of sexual identities.

And that brings us to our next point…

#6: Have NO Partners At All

Following on from polyamory, and perhaps in stark contrast to it, is the asexual or aromantic relationship.

As the importance of representation and diversity in popular culture becomes more widely recognised, asexuality and aromanticism still remain largely unexplored concepts.

That said, tropes have been unearthed regarding the portrayal of asexual characters in fiction.

While Seanan McGuire’s urban fantasy novella  Every Heart a Doorway is loudly touted as one of the strongest asexual representations on the market, it has been criticised for perpetuating the newly coined ‘Death-Adjacent Ace’ trope .

Having asexual/aromantic characters being closely associated with death, or rather  disassociated with the living, is problematic. But fortunately, it can be avoided with solid research and thorough character development.

writing a fantasy romance novel

Remember that asexuality is a spectrum, and not all people who identify as asexual consider themselves aromatic.

As such, this type of romantic subplot provides the foundation for you to develop the ways in which your characters form deep and meaningful connections without a sexual component.

Perhaps this practice is rooted in the very foundations of your fantasy world . Perhaps the inhabitants of your world do not measure physical acts as an indicator of love and intimacy.

Taking sexual desire out of a romance doesn’t mean you’re taking the fun out, too. You’re merely making way for the opportunity to explore the many other facets of love and relationships.

Many readers love a good romance subplot. Whether it’s bolstering character development or the plot at large, this story component can make for engaging reading.

Fantasy fiction opens the doors to a whole range of possibilities, so you don’t need to fall back on the bland and expected.

But regardless of what type of romance you chose to employ, remember that you must first create believable characters and scenarios .

Be wary of tropes and cliches and find ways to put your own unique spin on things, and you’ll have readers as hooked on the romance as they are on your killer plot .

Do you have any favourite romantic subplots in fiction? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Relic is the first book in a thrilling Dark YA Fantasy series from our publishing imprint, Talem Press .

Let us send you an exclusive download link for the first chapter right now, free.

Jessica A. McMinn

Jessica A. McMinn is an aspiring author based in NSW, Australia. Since graduating from the University of Wollongong with Distinction in BCA (Creative Writing) and BA (Japanese), Jessica has spent five years in Japan teaching English, all while working on her first dark fantasy novel: The Ruptured Sky (Gardens of War & Wasteland #1). Over at, Jessica shares short stories of various genres, book reviews, writing prompts and updates on her work-in-progress novel. In her free time she enjoys watching trashy TV, crafting, gaming, annoying her cat and raising her beautiful baby boy.

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How to Write a Fantasy Novel: Tips From Professional Fantasy Editors

Has there ever been a better time to be writing fantasy? Where once it was a fringe genre, now fantasy is everywhere in pop culture, from Harry Potter to the memes surrounding Jon Snow.

There’s also never been a more exciting time to write fantasy. The genre is changing daily, as authors such as Neil Gaiman , Susanna Clarke, and Patrick Rothfuss continue to interpret, subvert, and stretch it to attain new pinnacles . What’s more, the public can't seem to get enough of it, proving that there is a market for fantasy — and it’s a big one.

So, if you’re an author, where can you find a place for yourself in today’s talent-rich terrain?

writing a fantasy romance novel


How to Write Fantasy Fiction

Learn to combine worldbuilding, plot, and character to create literary magic.

In our search for the finest writing tips in the realm , we spoke to seven of the top fantasy editors on our marketplace. They’ve worked with George R.R. Martin, James Dashner, Brandon Sanderson, and many more of the brilliant authors who are re-defining the genre. Here’s what they said.

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1. Start by researching the fantasy fiction market

If you don’t know your market, you’ve already made a mistake, says Erin Young , an agent for Dystel Goderich & Bourret, which represents authors such as James Dashner of Maze Runner fame.

“Oh, my market is fantasy,” you might say, waving your monthly subscription of Imagination And Me . But is your story steampunk , urban , or grimdark fantasy ? Is it for children or  young adults ? Are there elves or tech? Is it set in the modern world, or is it a re-imagining of an alternate past? Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell , for instance, doesn’t target Discworld ’s readers, and no-one would instinctively group Harry Potter and Stephen King's The Dark Tower in the same category.

Writing Fantasy Astra

Indeed, “fantasy” is such a broad genre that you’ll need to dig deeper to find your niche — but it’s important as your subgenre not only informs your characters and setting, it also allows you to identify your competition and audience. As Young says: “If your characters are younger, you should be writing YA or MG, not adult.”

To get a better picture of the various subgenres within fantasy, check out this guide  as well as this post on the evolution of fantasy since the 1900s.

2. Learn from the greatest fantasy novels

You should read good books, says Chersti Nieveen , a proofreader of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn , with an emphasis on  good . Your writing’s only going to be as great as what you’re feeding it. So read.

Castle Ruins, art by Jeff Brown

“You’re absorbing ideas. You're absorbing grammar. You're absorbing sentence structure and rhythm and prose,” she says. “Read books with description or dialogue you admire. Read the books that are classics—they are classics for a reason—and read the books that are bestsellers and read the books that are award winners. Read and read and read, and you'll start to see your own writing improve.”

To take specific action, Nieveen suggests picking the 10 books that you most admire. Then, it's just a matter of re-reading them and noting strengths in their plot, dialogue, characters, and scene structure. Learn from the best — and then go forth and tilt the arena again yourself.

3. Define the setting of your novel

Sometimes writers get so caught up in their world that they write block paragraph after block paragraph (after block paragraph) of description. This is a mistake. “Don't tell your reader what your world appears to be,” says Young. “Give them scenery when it relates to the story by getting your characters to interact with their surroundings.”

Writing Fantasy Narwhal

Did we ever get an ultra-wide shot showing the whole of Middle Earth in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy? Absolutely not! That would be boring to the viewers, not to mention meaningless. Young observes: “Instead, cinematographers carefully plan each shot to give you a view of where the actors are. This is exactly the way you should show your world.”

Worldbuilding can be a daunting task. There's a lot to consider, from geography, to ecology, to economy — and that's before you get into any magic systems or fantastical elements! Luckily, we've built a worldbuilding roadmap to help navigate this all: our ultimate worldbuilding template.

writing a fantasy romance novel


The Ultimate Worldbuilding Template

130 questions to help create a world readers want to visit again and again.

4. Develop your fantasy world through short stories

Did you know that JRR Tolkien wrote a gazillion short stories about Middle-Earth before ever starting The Hobbit ?

He needed somewhere to begin. That’s exactly what Jenny Bowman , an editor who worked on Robert Beatty’s Serafina and the Black Cloak , advises: a good way to build your world is to write short stories that feature some of your characters. “Do this with the intention of excluding [these stories] from your book,” she says. “This gives you freedom to create a new universe with no boundaries.”

So if you can’t churn out the full-blown novel inside of you just yet, don’t sweat it. Dip your toe into the water through short stories , instead.

5. Create rules for your universe

To make a world feel real and functional, you also want to make sure that it’s grounded by rules — an internal rationale , so to speak. This should encompass everything from the workings of your society to, yes, your magic system (if your universe possesses magic).

Easier said than done, maybe. How to actually go about it? Nieveen advises you to read up on the basic and fundamental fields. “Become familiar with the basics of economics, politics, philosophy, and more, and you’ll create a believable world of your own,” she says.

Writing Fantasy Kinsea Map

Don’t know where to start with your magic system? Check out Brandon Sanderson's useful theories about magic systems, referred to as  Sanderson's 3 Laws of Magic .

6. Obey your own worldbuilding laws

That said, these rules aren’t ones that are made just to be broken. “I often see first-time fantasy writers breaking their own rules, and it really takes the reader out of the story,” says Bowman.

Let’s say, for example, you’ve made it clear that using magic is supposed to sap energy. Well, then, don’t make your protagonist go rip magic spells left and right in the final battle without tiring at all.

Ultimately, this internal consistency matters much more than realism. To ensure this consistency, Bowman suggests that you always jot everything down. “When do the suns come up?” she asks. “Can only children under the age of 10 fly? When casting a spell, does it transform the object or create an object from nothing? Know the rules of your world (what we call physics!) when you're writing fantasy and don’t break them — unless, of course, it’s on purpose.”

Looking to read more fantasy before you write? Check out these 12 epic fantasy series , hot off the press.

7. Outline your story

Stories in the fantasy genre are often complex and epic — all the more reason to plot it out before. You don’t want to accidentally trip over all 99 of your storylines. And you don’t want to be that writer who gets to the end of the book and realizes they’ve forgotten to tie a knot in one part of the plot. Hello, darkness, my old friend.

That's why Young says to get a general sense of your plot before you start writing. “You’ll know your world so much better if you know your story first,” she says. “Then, once your story is plotted out, you can use the plot structure as a skeleton to show where you want to build your world, scene by scene.”

For more food for plotting thought, you can read up on narrative arcs here.

8. Craft a plot worthy of the world

Writing Fantasy Dwarves

Plot and worldbuilding should see eye-to-eye. “You want to be original, so ask yourself, what sets my world apart?” says Alex Foster , a ghostwriter who’s penned eight bestsellers. Importantly, a rich universe can be a major player in your plot — playing as big of a role as any other character.

“In A Song of Ice and Fire , George R. R. Martin uses the environment as a plot point when describing both summer and winter seasons — as winter brings dark, dead things that can wipe out the entire Realm,” says Foster. “He also adds architecture as a plot point in the form of the Wall, a massive ice edifice separating the North and the South. How fascinating that such a massive piece of plot centers around a single wall. Sounds simple, but you can see its complexity. Stephen King also does an expert job in Under the Dome , when a small town is suddenly cut off from the rest of the world by a giant, transparent dome.”

9. Perfect your character development 

Good character creation and development in fantasy is no different from fiction, or any other genre. Take a minute to think of your favorite characters of all time. Walter White. Jon Snow. Hermione Granger. Rowan Atkinson in  Love Actually . What do they all share?

“The best characters are complex and original,” says Foster. “They possess very real motives and weaknesses, and they change over time due to events and supporting characters in the story. Take your character and interview them. What do they fear most? What are their ultimate goals, and where are they willing to go to achieve that goal? Do this with all your characters when you're writing fantasy: craft a questionnaire and get your answers from them. Your publisher will thank you.”

writing a fantasy romance novel

How to Develop Characters

In 10 days, learn to develop complex characters readers will love.

Looking for the definitive character questionnaire? We got you covered. Here are 8 Character Development Exercises That Will Help You Nail Your Character .

10. Use real-world themes in the fantasy genre 

“Your concerns about politics, culture, the environment, technology, violence, racism, misogyny — these issues can be explored in inventive, eye-opening ways while writing fantasy,” says Rebecca Faith Heyman , an editor who worked on Elise Kova’s The Alchemists of Loom . “In this way, we want to return to our own existences with new perspectives, new solutions to old problems, or new awareness of what's at stake.”

Another way to put it: is anything, in particular, frustrating you in real life? You can explore it through your story, because the world’s your own. And, who knows, you might be speaking for other people out there in the world who read your book and share your perspectives.

Writing Fantasy The Hadler Wars

“ Carry On by Rainbow Rowell does this brilliantly,” adds Heyman. “There are undercurrents of identity politics explored there, as well as a depth of characterization that merges meaningfully with the fantastical elements of the text. The Grisha Trilogy by Leigh Bardugo, as well as the brilliant Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom , explore racial prejudice, ableism, identity politics, and more.”

Pro tip: Ever wanted to find out which book genre  you  are? Take our 1-minute quiz below to see!

Which book genre are you?

Find out here! Takes one minute.

11. Be specific about the elements of your writing

“What makes worldbuilding tick? Specific, sensory detail,” says Michelle Hope , who’s previously worked with George R.R. Martin and Blake Crouch. “So my advice for fantasy authors is, simply: you can be as inventive and magical as you want in your work if the writing is detailed enough to seem authentic.”

Ice Fields, art by Jeff Brown

Take pop culture’s current fantasy darling, Game of Thrones . “Crisp air, hooves clattering on ironwood planks, a warm tongue, women’s perfume, summerwine, soft fur. The writing's full of these concrete details,” points out Hope. “So when the author expands the universe to include fantastical elements, we buy it. Dragons? Sure! Face-swapping assassins? Why not? Frozen zombies? Didn’t see that coming, but the author’s sensory style already established the world as believable, so we’re primed to accept anything thrown at us.”

That said, abstract clichés don’t count . No-one’s going to be impressed by your description of a man with piercing gray eyes that are the color of a storm.

Instead, use the senses to make the reader feel like they're there. “When a reader can viscerally inhabit your world, they won’t question it when you introduce the fantastical into your story,” says Hope. “They’ll take your word for it.”

12. But don’t overwhelm readers with details

Ever want a corkboard just to keep the characters in a fantasy book straight? The number of characters in many fantasy series are so infinite, it turns out to be a mad scramble to keep track of them all — especially when the reader’s still trying to differentiate between Boldon, the protagonist, and Bolgon, the shrewish elf from Book 2.

Writing Fantasy Characters

So don’t make it even tougher on the reader by dumping all your characters onto page two. It’s one of the most common mistakes that Nieveen sees.

“Fantasy writers try to introduce too many characters on one page, or there’s an info dump to reveal how the magic system works,” she says. “They make the reader sit and memorize their world or their characters before they actually introduce the story. But you end up dropping readers that way.”

Of course, fantasy readers do expect a certain amount of detail from the genre, so you'll still want to ensure you know your world and characters well! To help distinguish the useful information from the "fun but probably unnecessary", try filling out a character profile template to  really  dive deep. You can dump all your ideas there rather than in your first draft, so you can decide what's worth keeping, and what you can lose.

writing a fantasy romance novel

Reedsy’s Character Profile Template

A story is only as strong as its characters. Fill this out to develop yours.

13. Keep asking questions as the writer 

And guess what? Your #1 most powerful weapon when you’re worldbuilding isn’t a sword — nor is it a pen, or even Daenerys’ fabulous dragons .

The most powerful tool in your world building arsenal is, instead… the question. “Where do big cities pop up?” wrote Patrick Rothfuss, author of the Kingkiller Chronicles , once. “At a confluence of trade routes. That’s influenced by rivers. Where do rivers come from? There’s aquifers and stuff. I ask these questions. I go, ‘Why, why, why, why, why?’”

This will make sure that everything is rationally thought-out. “Fantasy works when you can read it like it is real, if that makes sense,” says Kendall Davis , an associate editor at Penguin Random House. “You want readers to read the story knowing there are stories and adventures and a world that exists far beyond the story they are currently invested in.”

What are your tips for writing fantasy? Leave them in the comments below. You can also check out our list of the 100 best fantasy series ever  for inspiration!

16 responses

T.L. Branson says:

01/09/2017 – 05:36

I'm doing #2 right now. I totally get it. Writing short stories has helped me tremendously in understanding some fuzzy characters who have been more in the background in my main novel. Writing their story out helps me mold them a little better and write a real person instead of just a cardboard cutout.

↪️ jennyb_writes replied:

05/09/2017 – 23:29

Awesome!! I have worked with authors who have taken this step and those who haven't - I can always tell the difference. Way to go!

Lady Adellandra Dratianos says:

03/09/2017 – 23:48

I started my series "Chronicles of the Dragon Nations" by introducing a lot of people at once in the very first drafts years ago. Now, I introduce wherever they show up, but once. If it's been twenty or so pages since the introduction, I summarize who they were, either by dialogue between two characters or by reiterating who they were. Another rule from above that I use is the "Don't break your own rules." i.e. In my books, those in the Mortal Realm cannot shift or fly, due to gravity and the laws of nature. I had to remind myself this when I had three characters from another land, shapeshifters from the Dragon Nations are able to shift. Once reading it over for edits, I remembered my Mortal Realm rule and changed it. Lady Adellandra

05/09/2017 – 23:32

Don't break your own rules is a tricky one...way to go catching your mistake in rewrites! Sometimes those laws of nature are so subtle and it always pays to pay attention in rewrites and edits. Happy writing!

Omnipleuvre says:

16/01/2018 – 20:53

One thing I've seen a lot, even in published books, is the description featuring waaaaay too many names at once. I should be able to grasp the premise of your story without needing to know that Adriana, heir to the Kingdom of Tallyrand is about to cross the Wall of Gishegrunurman to search for the amulet of Kinscaer. Too many names all at once is almost as bad as an infodump I feel.

Jenna Hunter says:

27/03/2018 – 20:53

It was interesting to read that the environment can be a plot point in a fantasy book. I think that making a lot of detail in a book is really important. I love reading books that create an entire universe, especially full of dragons, dwarves and all kinds of mythical creatures.

Rishabh Chaturvedi says:

31/05/2018 – 18:49

How do I make my world different from the ones that influenced me to write a fantasy novel??

Janice Swanson says:

28/11/2018 – 12:59

What a wonderful article! Once I dream about how to create its fantasy the world, write a large number of books about this world, and I hope that once on my books based the film. All of the above items are really important to know the novice writer. Point # 13 is especially important for me, because the idea to write a book came to me after I was inspired by the works of Tolkien and George Orwell. These writers have their own inimitable style, and each of their stories makes me think about a lot. I would really like to write a novel, and to get it in a new genre, it will be something between fantasy and anti-utopia novel. Thank you for sharing such interesting and useful articles.

25/02/2019 – 11:17

A very interesting article, I learned a lot of new things for myself, which I hadn’t thought about before, but unfortunately not all the tips are applicable at the moment to modern works. The market is overcrowded with a variety of short-growing love stories, psychology and other tinsel. Now there is not enough quality fiction, but what appears is read immediately and very quickly. I strongly advise you to read a series of books about the Witcher, insanely interesting books, I just could not tear myself away for several months. If you want to know more about fiction, then examine this link.

Someguy says:

31/05/2019 – 13:35

"...and no-one would instinctively group Harry Potter and Stephen King's The Dark Tower in the same category." FYI. A relic from Harry Potter's world actually appears in the Dark Tower. While not in the same category, it easily can convince a reader of Harry Potter to read The Dark Tower or vice versa. It's a bit of a unique relationship.

↪️ Nick replied:

17/06/2019 – 12:00

Also, bogarts are based on It/The Spider/whatever species it is. And while she(Pennywise is just one form and a female spider is its true form) only kind of appears in TDT, there's a character in the series that's the same species I do believe

17/06/2019 – 12:02

I absolutely hate short stories. I can't write that little!

Elijah says:

25/06/2019 – 21:24

I’ve been working on a 5 book story for about 15 years now. I took several writing classes and have become so self critical of my writing that it has been hard to progress. I also lost a lot of my original papers due to mice (I found it easier to write by hand). These tips definitely make me feel like I’m on the right path lately.

Joseph Smith says:

07/11/2019 – 07:30

I'm currently on the third chapter of a book that I hopefully will actually complete, and so far I have stuck to most of these rules (high fantasy, sword and sorcery/heroic fantasy with a touch of dark fantasy), with the only two I haven't done as of yet is re reading lotr and creating a character interview (I have made a DnD character sheet of him if that counts). The kind of story I'm going with (not going to go too far into it) is a paladin raised from the dead only to have magic that he doesn't understand return some form of life to him finds a new purpose in hunting down undead and returning them to the afterlife. Any advice I can get?

William Anthony Pitzer says:

07/11/2019 – 22:01

The issue I have with number 2 is that I generally hate short stories, so obviously I'll find it difficult to write them. If a story is too short, then it's impossible to flesh out characters and a world tremendously, which is the whole reason that I read fantasy to begin with.

Matthew R Bishop says:

14/02/2020 – 18:39

Thank you! Rewriting like eight books because of this article, ugh. But thank you ;)

Comments are currently closed.

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How to Write a Romance Novel

writing a fantasy romance novel

So you want to write a romance novel. Who can blame you? As the most consistently read and purchased genre in all of literature, it’s no secret that people love... love. You’ll hear me say this a lot--if you want to write romance novels then the best way to learn how is to read them. Lots of them. There’s nothing more obvious than reading a romance by someone who’s never actually bothered to crack one open. (This is true of all fiction, but today we’re talking about kissing books.)

Romance presents a unique challenge compared to many other genres because not only do you need to contend with plot and setting, you also have to manage three separate arcs: your main character , your love interest, and the romance itself. A well-written and satisfying romance combines all three of these seamlessly.

Once you’re sure becoming a romance author is for you, it’s time to get started. If you’ve never written a book before, you might want to check out this article: How to Write a Book, which outlines the basics and will set you on the right path.

In this article, we’ll get specific about how to write a romance novel and offer a template on how to write a romance novel outline at the end.

writing a fantasy romance novel

Subgenres of Romance

Romance is a pretty massive genre unto itself, so you might want to narrow down what kind of romance appeals specifically to you. This will affect your settings, your characters, and sometimes the tropes you’ll use. It might also influence things like the point of view, tense, and heat level you choose to write in.

Let’s start by examining some of the more common sub-genres that exist within romance. This isn’t an exhaustive list and there’s nothing saying you can’t combine these into your very own hybrid of two or more options, but it’s helpful to start with the basics.

Young Adult

YA novels encompass all subgenres of writing with a romance arc being the common factor. Young adult romance can fall into (almost) any of the subgenres listed below and generally focus on first loves and first kisses with minimal heat and fade to black scenes.

Some popular YA romance authors include Sarah J. Maas (Throne of Glass), Leah Johnson (You Should See Me in Crown) and Tracy Wolff (Crave).

Fantasy romance encompasses the magic and tropes that readers love about fantasy and marries it with a romance arc. The romance might drive the main plot or simply act as a secondary arc.

Some popular fantasy romance authors include Laura Thalassa (The Bargainer), Jennifer Armentrout (From Blood and Ash) and Grace Draven (Radiance).

Not to be confused with fantasy, paranormal romance (often abbreviated to PNR) focuses on modern real-world settings where one or more of the characters is a little less than human. Think vampires, werewolves, angels and demons or whatever else your imagination can conjure.

Popular PNR authors include Nalini Singh (Psy-Changling), JR Ward (Black Dagger Brotherhood) and Jaymin Eve (Shadowbeast Shifters).

Science Fiction

There’s a rise in popularity of sci-fi based romance where settings can run the gamut of different planets or galaxies and feature love interests that are out of this world. Aliens, monsters, cyborgs and creatures that are limited only by your imagination.

Popular science fiction romance authors include Ruby Dixon (Ice Planet Barbarians) and Tiffany Roberts (The Kraken).

Historical describes settings that are older than fifty years. Though regency romance tends to dominate in this category, it also includes settings where you might find knights, vikings, pirates and more. Increasingly, there is more interest in non-Western worlds as we see stories set in periods like the Tang Dynasty, for example.

Popular historical romance authors include Julia Quinn (Bridgerton), Jeanine Lin (Butterfly Swords), Alyssa Cole (An Extraordinary Union).

These types of novels feature uplifting stories with little to no physical contact and can include numerous settings from Western to historical to contemporary. They tend to align with faith-based values.

Some popular spiritual romance authors include Belle Calhoun (Seven Sisters), Nicole Deese (All that Matters), Jennifer Deibel (A Dance in Donegal).


Contemporary romance probably makes up the largest sub-genre of romance offering dozens of variations within it. We might even refer to these as sub-sub-genres. There’s billionaire, military, thriller, suspense, mystery or mafia romance and the list goes on and on. A lot of contemporary romance falls under the category of ‘romcom’ where every day situations like a workplace or small town are the backdrop for your setting.

Popular contemporary romance authors include Talia Hibert (Get a Life, Chloe Brown), Alisha Rai (The Right Swipe) and Sarah Hogle (You Deserve Each Other).

As the name implies, erotic is all about the… heat. While spice levels vary from book to book in the genres above, there is only one setting in this category and that’s HOT. Under this heading, you’ll find erotic romance, where the relationship is still front and center, versus pure erotica where sex is the star.

Popular erotic and erotic romance authors include Sierra Simone (New Camelot), Katee Robert (Neon Gods), and Penelope Douglas (Birthday Girl).

writing a fantasy romance novel

Tense and POV

There is no right or wrong when it comes to tense or point of view in romance. This is where doing your research comes in. After you’ve read a whole bunch of romance books (you did that part, right?), decide what appeals to you and why. Take a look at your chosen subgenre. While there is no wrong answer here, it can be useful to mimic what the bestselling authors in your genre are doing.

A lot of romance books are written in dual POV, alternating between the two love interests. Again, there is no right or wrong way to do this--some stories will lend themselves better to a single POV and some need to be told from both sides. Try both out and see what works for you.

Obviously, you can’t have a meaningful and satisfying love story without a few compelling characters. Characters don’t need to be perfect or good or moral all the time. They don’t even have to be likeable--what they do need to be is developed and interesting. Most of all, what they need is a properly realized character arc.  

Character arc definition: A character arc is the internal transformation your character takes from the beginning to the end of your novel. This is where your reader sees them move in a positive direction toward self-actualization as they cast off old baggage, break bad habits, and move beyond what is standing in the way of their happiness.

Finally, one of the most important things is that your characters have chemistry. If they’re boring together, then their relationship will be too. What sets these two apart from each other? How are you going to create tension or conflict between them? Why are they perfect for each other?


Even if you’re writing a dual POV romance, typically one of your bleeding hearts is still your main character. Who is the one that grows and discovers themselves more? Who is the one that has more to lose or gain? What kind of main character have you created? Do they believe in love? Or have they given up? Are they open to a relationship or have they sworn off love forever? What do they need to overcome to find their happily ever after? Your main character should have a defining trait that makes them interesting: Maybe they have a cool job. Maybe they’re a chosen one. Maybe they’ve just experienced a major life event that alters the course of their normal life.

Love Interest

The counterpoint of course is your love interest. While they are obviously just as important as your main, they are the ones who will support your main character in their growth. But don’t ignore this character--they too should have something to lose. Something should stand in the way of true love, and your main character is going to help them figure it out.

Secondary Characters

The best friend. The confidante. The supportive family member. Your characters need someone to lean on, someone with whom to discuss their relationship woes with, and someone to lovingly remind them when they’ve got it all wrong. Just be sure this secondary cast doesn’t overshadow your compelling main characters, but do think about how they might star in a sequel. It’s very common for romance series to focus on a different couple for each book and it often focuses on these peripheral characters.

‍ Dabble’s Story Notes feature offers a simple and visual way to keep track of all your characters, including any notes you want to take to help enrich their backstory.

writing a fantasy romance novel

Romance Novel Beats

As we discussed at the beginning, a good romance balances character growth with the progression of the relationship that develops between your love interests. Below are the key elements you need to help guide you in the direction of a well-plotted and well-paced novel.

As with any story you need to establish the current state of being for your main character or characters. What does their life look like? Why aren’t they in a satisfying relationship right now? What do they want? What is standing in their way? Why should we care about them?

This is it--this is the moment their eyes meet across a crowded room. When one of them bumps into the other spilling their coffee and sending a stack of Very Important papers flying off a balcony. When one of them rescues the other from a tree they’ve been chased up by a rabid bear. You get the idea. A meet cute is the moment when the relationship either starts or changes. Your characters may already know each other, making their ‘meet cute’ a turning point when their story is about to transform or it might be the first time they’ve ever seen each other. Funny, cute or dramatic, this moment sets the tone for your whole novel.

Turning Point

Your characters have now met and the turning point introduces an element to increase the stakes. Something that changes the whole nature of the game. They’re forced to work together on a career-defining project. They end up trapped during a snowstorm in a room with only one bed (see tropes below). They make a fake dating pact to help each other out (more tropes!). Whatever it is, this is the catalyst that drives the rest of your story.

Things are getting more and more tense between your characters. They’re reaching a boiling point as life continues to throw them curve balls. Maybe they kiss. Or almost kiss. (Or maybe they do a little more.) Whatever happens, there’s no turning back now--these two kids are destined for each other (whether they realize it yet or not).

Third Act Breakup

The stakes reach their highest point. Something happens to jeopardize your story’s happy ever after. This is the moment when your happy couple suddenly isn’t so happy anymore. Something gets in the way: a lie, a betrayal or a communication mixup.

This is the moment after the third-act breakup where everything seems lost. Your characters are at their lowest and it doesn’t feel like anything is going right. This is also the moment when your characters must make a choice on whether to fight for it or wallow in their loneliness forever. This section is often marked by grand gestures, flashes of inner revelation and/or sweeping declarations. You can have high stakes and draw this out over several chapters or it can be quieter and find its resolution quickly. Your story will help you decide this--there are no rules!

A romance has a ‘happily ever after’ or a ‘happy for now’ ending. If you don’t have that, you don’t have a romance. Full stop. You may have romantic elements in your story, but if it ends in tragedy or lacks an uplifting romantic conclusion, you’ve got yourself a book in another genre. Romance readers have expectations and the only tears they want at the Fin are happy ones.

Whether you are a plotter or a pantser (in that you prefer to write by the seat of your pants), Dabble’s Plotting Tool makes it easy to keep track of your beats, ensuring you’ve got a satisfying arc, while minimizing those pesky plot holes.

writing a fantasy romance novel

Tropes in Romance

Romance novels live and die by tropes. For the uninitiated, a trope is a literary device used to convey a beloved and time-tested theme that can define your entire story or just one scene.

If you don’t have a few tropes, I’m sorry, but you probably don’t have a romance novel. Stop. Go back. Try again.

There are hundreds of tropes out there and don’t worry if they’ve been ‘done’. People who love enemies to lovers will always love enemies to lovers--the difference is your book is going to have your unique voice and spin on it. Use tropes with abandon and embrace these familiar feels like your favorite blanket. Listed below are some popular tropes in romance novels.

Enemies to Lovers

They’re childhood rivals. They’re co-workers who can’t stand the sight of each other. They’re monarchs from warring kingdoms. Whatever they have against each other, we all know they’re actually totally into the other person--they just need a little convincing. Stir up a little pithy, acerbic dialogue and watch the sparks fly.

Friends to Lovers

One of them has pined for the other for years but they’re oblivious. They’ve both pined for each other but no one has the guts to say so. Some of the best love stories blossom from the strongest friendships. Lean into it.

Second Chance

This can go more than one way. They were madly in love once upon a time but circumstances forced them apart. Now they’ve found each other again--is it another chance at true love? Or, perhaps they’ve been married for years and the spark is gone. Light that match and rekindle it.

Love Triangles

Everyone has heard of a good old-fashioned love triangle--which one will they choose? How long can they draw this out? What happens to the victor and what happens to the loser? (Loser in love--I’m sure they’re an awesome person.)

Star-crossed/Forbidden Love

Romeo and Juliet are our most famous star-crossed lovers but the trope doesn’t stop there. Family conflict. Competing corporations. Rival monarchies. Something is keeping your lovebirds apart and only you can bring them together.

There’s only one… (bed/room/seat)

Nothing says romance is on the horizon like the last room in a hotel--and there’s only one bed! Your soon-to-be happy couple has no choice but to snuggle up… and what happens next is limited only by your imagination.

Sunshine and grump

Personalities play a big part in how your couple interacts with each other. While there are many possible variations on this, the sunshine and grump is a popular one. One is surly and broody while the other’s veins flow with honey. Game. Set. Conflict.

Fake Relationship

Who doesn’t love a fake dating pact? One wants their mother off their back about getting married. One is trying to make their ex jealous. One is trying to impress their boss and get that promotion. There are all kinds of reasons for fake dating (well, in books anyway) and obviously, when you tell yourself a lie for long enough, sometimes it comes true.

writing a fantasy romance novel

Sex in Romance Novels

Obviously, one of the most important aspects of any romance is the presence or absence of physical contact. How much, how little and how descriptive you go is mostly up to you, though there are expectations in certain subgenres. While there is no single definition for any of these, listed below are the general characteristics that define these heat levels.

Writing a good sex scene isn’t all that different than, say, writing a good fight scene. Don’t focus on the play by play--focus on the thoughts, emotions and senses of your characters. Weave in dialogue, action and internal thoughts amongst the more pearl-clutching details.

This is the lowest level of heat. There may be some hand-holding and a kiss when they finally get together. Clothes always stay firmly in place on the page and doors are always shut tight if it does happen.

Fade to Black

Moving up the scale, fade to black includes plenty of make out sessions and possibly some touching. Dialogue focuses on emotions. A few items of clothing may come off but once things get heated, it’s time to ‘end scene’.

Here things get a little more descriptive. Kissing, touching and sex are all described on the page. Dialogue is a little more suggestive while descriptions tend toward euphemism rather than reality.

Similar to steamy but with more explicit descriptions and the dialogue to match. Includes naming of body parts and may involve sex toys and mild BDSM.


No holds barred. Go wild, my friend. Anything goes. Literally. Readers in erotic fiction want all the details, all the dirty talk and all the kink.

‍ Note: I often get asked how to get over the embarrassment of writing sex scenes, especially more explicit ones. While most people feel self-conscious about it at first, the best way to get over that is to a) read sex scenes in the heat level you want to write and b) just get it on paper, no matter how painful or awkward it feels--the more you do it, the more it becomes second nature.

writing a fantasy romance novel

Until recently, romance novels have focused pretty heavily on one demographic. In recent years, there is a lot more focus on queer relationships, romance that includes BIPOC characters and other underrepresented groups like disabled or neurodivergent characters. There’s also a lot more focus on fat positivity.

If you want to explore writing romance in an identity that isn’t your lived experience, then you must do so with care. Research, of course. And then research some more. Read books by ‘own voices’ authors who have already written about these identities, and when you’re done, hire and pay for a qualified sensitivity reader.

After doing your research, you also need to ask the question about whether this is really your story to tell. Perhaps you’re better off leaving it to an author who does represent that identity. This is a personal choice and a decision only you, the author, can make.

How to Write a Romance Novel Outline

Hook/Set Up

‍ Introduce your setting. Where is this story taking place? What time period? Or is this a world you created? Who is your main character? Who is your love interest? What is their current state? What are they dreaming of? What do they want? What is their belief in love? What is standing in their way right now? What long held belief are they clinging to?

‍ Meet Cute

‍ How do your two main characters ‘meet’? Do they already know each other? What happens that sets them on a course to a future relationship? Are they strangers? What are the circumstances of their first meeting? How does your ‘meet cute’ set the tone for your novel? How do your two main characters relate to one another? What makes them interesting? What makes the sparks fly between them?

‍ Turning Point

‍ What happens after the meet cute? What changes in their dynamic to up the stakes and propel the story forward? How do they interact? How do they talk to each other? Is it spicy and angsty or sweet and friendly? How are your characters challenged by either the love interest or the plot?

‍ Mid Point

‍ How are things shifting? What is driving up your stakes? What major event transpires to cement your main characters together? How are your character’s beliefs changing? How are they growing? How is the relationship changing?

‍ Third Act Breakup

‍ What is going to make the stakes even higher? What is going to drive your main characters apart? What truths are they questioning about themselves and the person who they now have feelings for?

‍ Dark Night

‍ How do your characters react to this development? What questions are they asking themselves? Are they going to do something about this? Are they going to fight for their love? Will they make a grand gesture? When do they say ‘I love you’ for the first time?

‍ Happily Ever After

‍ Do you have a happy ending or a happy for now? Hint: the answer is yes. How does your couple get there? What have they learned about themselves and each other? How have they changed? How have they grown?

‍ Remember your list of tropes. Which ones will you include?

Nisha J Tuli is a YA and adult fantasy and romance author who specializes in glitter-strewn settings and angst-filled kissing scenes. Give her a feisty heroine, a windswept castle, and a dash of true love and she’ll be lost in the pages forever. When Nisha isn’t writing, it’s probably because one of her two kids needs something (but she loves them anyway). After they’re finally asleep, she can be found curled up with her Kobo or knitting sweaters and scarves, perfect for surviving a Canadian winter.


writing a fantasy romance novel


Read. learn. create..

Do your main characters tend to steal the show in your novels? Don’t worry, that’s not a trick question. They should be doing that. In fact, you should be putting lots of thought and development into protagonists because that’s who the story is about. But how much thought have you given to your tertiary characters? They can be important too.If you want to breathe life into your stories, it's time to give tertiary characters a little love. These small but mighty players can add depth, complexity, and a fresh perspective to your plot. They give you the chance to offer comic relief, a dash of wisdom, and just some good old fashioned friendship. 

Sidekick characters. The unsung hero of so many stories. They're the Robin to your Batman, the Luigi to your Mario, the Samwise Gamgee to your Frodo Baggins. They're the ones who are always there to lend a helping hand, crack a joke, or provide some much-needed emotional relief. And let's be real, sometimes they don’t go unsung. Sometimes they're more interesting and lovable than the main characters themselves and end up stealing the show. 

Secrets. They’re the lifeblood of any relationship. If you aren’t keeping at least a few secrets from your friends and loved ones, are you really living? Okay, maybe not. Secrets in real life can be a little tricky—we all have them—but they have a way of blowing up in our faces, depending on how big they are. Your characters are really no different. Only when you’re keeping secrets in fiction, you can make them even darker and deeper than any you might ever have in real life. (Hopefully, I don’t really know your life, so maybe not.) Secrets might not be something you’ve specifically thought about when you’re drafting a story. They’re the kind of thing that often happen organically, but you can actually make use of character secrets to make your stories better. Adding them with intention can help increase tension, make twists hit that much harder, and keep your reader engaged. 

TCK Publishing

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by Yen Cabag | 0 comments

How to Write a Romance Novel Header Image

The longing to love and be loved is inherent in the human heart. Perhaps that’s why the romance genre continues to be the best-selling genre in fiction today. 

If you want to try your hand at writing a romance novel, we salute you! Not only is it a tough genre to break into, but it’s also an invitation to explore the depths of human emotion.

How to Write a Romance Novel in 11 Easy Steps

Here are some of the steps for writing a romance novel: 

1. Choose a subgenre.

Yes, you’ve decided to write a romance novel, but did you know you still have plenty of subcategories to work with? Suffice it to say, if you do want to dip into this genre, you should make sure you read plenty of romance novels in the different subgenres to get a feel for what you want to write! Here are some examples: 

Contemporary romance

The Romance Writers of America (RWA) defines contemporary romance as stories set from the 1950s to the present, with the focus on the romantic relationship between the main characters. Of course, as the years pass, the time distinction will tend to blur, as the 1950s can soon be considered historical romance, and “contemporary romance” will refer to stories set in the 1980s and later.

A good gauge would be if your story includes features that are accessible and relatable to adult readers in this generation, chances are, it’s contemporary romance.

Historical romance

Historical romance is a love story set in a specific time in history. As the time period is an important element of the story, this genre requires thorough research to make sure the setting is realistic and true to history.

Some telltale signs of a historical romance are dated settings and language, as well as positions in society that may no longer exist in our modern day, such as dukes, barons, emperors, or even pirates.

One important sub-subcategory of the historical romance subgenre is Regency romance, set during the British Regency era. Because this has grown in terms of volume and demand, some readers, agents, or publishers specifically look for “Regency romance.”

romance novel subgenres image

Christian or inspirational romance

These stories normally have faith or religion as a major driving force in one or both of the main characters’ choices. These normally focus on character growth alongside the development of the romance, such as family dynamics, reconciliation in different relationships, and clear moral standards. These books usually shy away from sex scenes, and if any exist, may only be implied.

Romantic thriller

How about a love story with thriller or suspense elements? Or a thriller with love brewing amidst all the heart-pumping encounters? These types of stories might involve a drug ring, a murder plot, or any of the other components that make thrillers a page-turner, but coupled with a relationship developing and getting threatened in the process.

Paranormal romance

Paranormal romance features one or more supernatural elements in a love story. Think Twilight : part of the appeal of this series is the idea of a vampire falling in love with a mortal, and vice versa.

Related subgenres are sci-fi romance and fantasy romance. These include sci-fi and fantasy elements, respectively, but which play a major role in the development of the romantic relationship.

Erotic romance

Erotic romance includes more steamy scenes than a regular romance, but less than the erotica genre. The sexy scenes are typically an important part of the plot, which differentiates it from other romances that might include a few bed scenes here and there, but those are not integral to the storyline.

Romantic comedy

These lighthearted stories, also known as “rom-coms,” are meant to be humorous and usually don’t have as many or as intimate love scenes as regular romance novels. They tend to feature more “slice-of-life” type storytelling, making them very easily relatable and easily readable for your readers.

2. Choose a Target Age Group

In addition to the subgenre, you also need to decide which age group you want to target: 

3. Decide on the type of romance development you want. 

Do you want your leads to go from enemies to lovers , friends to lovers, or something in between? This decision will set the tone for your whole novel. 

Try to steer clear of the illogical “they-fall-in-love-just-because” premise, because it doesn’t offer much room for compelling conflict. 

During this stage, you might want to look at some of the most common tropes in romance: 

While you don’t want to overdo a common stereotype, don’t be afraid to use some of these tropes and give them a new flair. 

romance novel meet cute moment image

4. Create an outline.

Generally, fiction writers fall anywhere between two extremes: pantsers or plotters . Pantsers refer to writers who prefer to “write by the seat of their pants,” or spontaneously. Plotters start a novel by plotting, to various degrees, what happens in the book.

If you’re a beginner writer, you may not necessarily know yet what works best for you. We recommend creating an outline. The depth of information that goes into your outline will depend on what you’re comfortable with. Some writers benefit from outlining tools, such as the Snowflake Method .

5. Develop your characters. 

Although a romance novel will typically center around a budding love story, pay careful attention to character development . Remember that compelling characters are what make for a memorable book. 

This includes planning some, if not all, of the following details:

You can check out our post on creating character profiles to learn more about planning out these details.

6. Plan the “Meet cute” moment. 

In a romance novel, the “Meet cute” moment refers to the first time your soon-to-be-lovers meet on the page. It doesn’t have to be the first time they ever met, especially in the case of two people who already know each other from before the book opens, but it is a defining moment, as it’s the first time your readers see them together. 

Whether you’re a pantser or a plotter, it helps to get these major turning points decided from the get-go so you know what you’re building up towards.

It doesn’t have to be a love-at-first-sight moment, either. If your storyline follows the enemies-to-lovers flow, it might be hate-at-first-sight. 

For example, in the classic romance Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Elizabeth Benett and Mr. Darcy’s first meeting includes Elizabeth forming a less than friendly—perhaps even hostile—opinion of the man she felt was extremely proud. 

Remember that you will likely refer back to the “meet cute” moment throughout the book. It can be when one of the characters reflects back on the first time they met, or something else along those lines. 

7. Decide on a compelling inciting incident.

The inciting incident is the part of any novel that starts all the action. You need to choose an event that pushes your characters off of the ordinary and challenges them to make changes. This works very closely with the conflict that you throw onto your main characters.

8. Decide what keeps them physically together, and emotionally apart. 

romance conflict image

A great way to build conflict between two people you’ve destined to become lovers is to ask yourself: What is it that will keep them physically together?

After all, it’s hard to develop any romantic feelings if two people don’t ever meet again, but if they don’t fall in love at first sight, you need to have some plausible reason why they keep meeting, even if not by choice. 

And then, while they keep meeting regularly, what is it that keeps them from falling in love right away, or admitting their feelings? Is there anything in their past that keeps them from giving in? Did she have a difficult experience with an ex-husband? Or, is he actually still married? 

If you haven’t gone into these details during the character planning stage, now is the time to think about them. The more logical the conflict is to your readers, the more realistic your story will be. 

9. Choose the turning point. 

The turning point will form the climax of your story. Decide how you want your characters to reach the point of falling in love and confessing their feelings.

10. Make sure the love scenes serve some purpose. 

Because sex scenes are pretty much expected in most romance novels (though not so much in a romantic comedy), make sure that they serve a clear purpose. This can be to propel the plot forward, or to show an aspect of your protagonist’s character. Don’t write them just for the sake of having them there. 

11. Decide on the ending you want. 

Do you want a Happily Ever After (HEA) or a Happy For Now (HFN) ending? Remember, you are writing a romance novel, and romance novels typically end on these happy notes. 

Someone may well argue, “Well, Romeo and Juliet ended in both their deaths!” Actually, William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was not really a romance, but a tragedy. 

Writing a Romance Novel 

Writing a romance novel can be a rewarding experience, especially as you explore the different facets of human dynamics. 

Once you’ve completed your manuscript, it’s time to take the next steps of finding a romance book editor and perhaps an agent to help you get your work published in this bestselling genre!

Did you find this post helpful? Let us know in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this post, then you might also like:

Yen Cabag

Yen Cabag is the Blog Writer of TCK Publishing. She is also a homeschooling mom, family coach, and speaker for the Charlotte Mason method, an educational philosophy that places great emphasis on classic literature and the masterpieces in art and music. She has also written several books, both fiction and nonfiction. Her passion is to see the next generation of children become lovers of reading and learning in the midst of short attention spans.

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How to Write a Romance Novel: The Complete Guide

Krystal N. Craiker

Krystal N. Craiker

Blog Manager and Indie Author

How to write a romance novel

So you want to write a romance novel ?

The romance genre has consistently remained one of the best-selling genres of all time and is currently the most lucrative one. People love love, and love sells. It’s no wonder so many authors want to get in on the action.

But if you’ve never written a love story, you might be wondering how to do it. Have no fear. Today we’re going to answer all of your questions. And we’ll take it a step further. You don’t want to write just any romance novel. You want to write a good one.

Before we get down to the heart of the matter (see what I did there?), there’s one piece of writing advice that applies to every genre.

How Do You Start Writing a Romance Novel?

What are the subgenres of romance, how do i choose my romantic leads, do i need world-building in romance writing, how do i structure a romance novel, what are the most common romance tropes, how do i pick the right pov for my romance novel, fall in love with your characters, do you want to write, publish, and sell a bestselling romance novel.

Read in the genre you want to write.

And read extensively. You need to read the genre to have a full grasp of reader expectations. So, load up your shopping cart with all the romance you can find. Start with the best romance books of all time to get a broad sense of the genre.

All read up? Good. Now we can get to the juicy stuff.

Romance is a wide umbrella. The only essential component of a romance novel is a romantic focus and a happy, or hopeful, ending.

Before you get started, you need to narrow your genre down. Let’s look at some of the popular subgenres of romance.

The subgenres of romance

Contemporary Romance

Contemporary romance is the book form of a chick flick. The setting is realistic and familiar, even if it takes place in a fictional town.

Within contemporary romance you might find even more niches, like military romance, mafia romance, billionaire romance, and small-town romance.

Contemporary romance subgenres

Historical Romance

One of the most popular subgenres is historical romance. You might have heard these referred to as “bodice rippers.” But I’m here to tell you that no bodice has to be ripped to write historical romance.

Any story set more than about fifty years ago is considered historical fiction. Many historical romances take place in the Regency era, such as the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn.

Wild West romances and World War II romances are also very popular. But romance has happened throughout time and space, so pick the era that feels right.

Paranormal Romance

Werewolves, vampires, shapeshifters. Oh, my! Paranormal romance, often abbreviated to PNR by authors and fans, is any romance that involves the supernatural. Typically, one or both of the main characters is/are a supernatural creature. A Discovery of Witches series by Deborah Harkness is an example of paranormal romance.

Fantasy Romance

If you prefer your love stories to occur in another world full of magic, then fantasy romance is the subgenre for you. When magic occurs in a real-world setting, the line between paranormal and fantasy gets blurry.

If you’ve created an alternative world, you’re writing fantasy.

Within fantasy romance, fae romance is extremely popular. Sarah J. Maas and Holly Black are two bestselling fantasy-romance authors.

The difference between fantasy and paranormal fiction

Religious Romance

If you prefer your romance clean with a focus on spirituality, then religious romance might be the way to go. Most religious romances are Christian fiction.

They can be contemporary or historical. Besides the normal plot structure of a romance, one or both of the main characters should also find salvation by the end of the story.

Young Adult Romance

Move over, Romeo and Juliet. The young adult (YA) genre is one of the most lucrative genres out there for writers. It doesn’t appeal to just teenagers. Young adult fiction, especially young adult romance, appeals to readers of all ages.

There’s just something about young love that everyone can relate to. Just look at Divergent by Veronica Roth or The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

Queer Romance

As the publishing industry continues its push for diversity, queer romance is gaining in popularity. People are glad to have characters that they can relate to falling in love. Rainbow Rowell is one of the bestselling queer romance authors.

Erotic Romance

Most of these genres can feature explicit sex scenes, with the exception of Christian romance and YA romance. But in erotic romance, sex is one of the key points of the story, but the love story is equally important.

In erotica (different to erotic romance) sex is the focal point, and any romance or character development is secondary.

Blending and Bending Genres

You might have noticed some overlap with the genres listed above. For example, Twilight by Stephenie Meyer is a young-adult paranormal romance. You can blend genres in any way that makes sense to you.

You can also bend genres . Take genre expectations and mash them together for something completely unique.

One example is the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris. These books are both paranormal mysteries and paranormal romance. The stories don’t work without both the mystery and romance aspects.

The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon is steeped in two different eras of history, but the author also throws in time travel for a fantasy element.

Do you want to write a queer, young-adult, sci-fi mystery romance with alien werewolves? Go for it! The sky’s the limit for writing romance. As long as the love story is the most crucial component of the plot, it counts as a romance.

Blending romance genres

A lot of advice about writing romance tells you to pick your setting first. Of course, setting and characters go hand-in-hand. However, romance arcs require strong character growth. For a compelling romance, your story should be primarily character-driven.

What sort of traits do you want your characters to have? Are you writing brooding heroes and brazen heroines? Are your characters rich or poor, timid or outgoing, humble or arrogant?

Your two love interests should have some conflicting personality traits. This creates the interpersonal conflicts that drive the romance forward.

Examples of conflicting character traits

Also, make sure that your heroes and heroines fit the subgenre that you write in. A noble duke might be out of place in your small-town werewolf paranormal romance.

How do you want your characters to grow together? How do you want their love to change each other? The point of a romance is that love makes both main characters better. What character flaws do they overcome by falling in love?

World-building is an important part of any story. You might think you don’t need to focus on world-building if you aren’t writing a fantasy or historical romance. But the world your story takes place in is important, even if it looks like our world.

Setting is crucial to world-building. Setting determines the logistics of your story. What do your characters do for a living? How will they meet? Social expectations and character behaviors are also dictated by setting.

The basics of world-building

If you’re writing fantasy or paranormal romance, you’ll also need to define your mythology and magic systems and determine how your characters fit into them.

The world-building stage is a great opportunity to find a plot conflict if you haven’t thought of one. In religious romance, the world-building might show you the two different, conflicting belief systems and how they converge in your characters.

In historical romance, you might find class or race differences are a great starting point for conflict.

You might think all you need for a romance novel is love, right? Well, if you plan on marketing your love story as a romance novel, there are some basic guidelines that avid romance readers expect.

The typical plot structure of a romance novel, in its most basic form, looks something like this:

A grammar guru, style editor, and writing mentor in one package.


1) Meet cute

2) Building of romantic tension

3) Couple gets together/almost gets together

4) Couple is torn apart

5) Happily ever after

A basic romance plot

Let’s dive into each of these in greater detail.

She’s a barista who wants to be an actress. He’s a playboy Hollywood exec who stops by her coffee shop.

He’s an earl with a dark secret. She’s a lady who has secrets of her own. They meet at a ball.

She’s a teacher in a small town. She falls in love with the new, mysterious woman in town after spilling coffee all over the both of them at the Fall Festival.

The definition of a Meet Cute

The meet cute is the term for the inciting incident in a romance. How do your characters meet? What draws them together?

The meet cute sets the tone for the entire story. While it doesn’t have to be love at first sight—and probably shouldn’t be for realism’s sake—you must establish strong romantic tension.

They don’t have to like each other at first. You could be writing an enemies-to-lovers story or have a grumpy love interest, but there should be a spark of something.

This is also an important place for characterization. How your characters speak to each other says a lot about their personalities and how their relationship will work. They might lean toward sarcastic banter or heated flirtations.

It’s also where you’ll describe the love interest through the eyes of your main character. Use description in a way that makes sense for the character’s point of view.

Need help with description? Use ProWritingAid’s Sensory Report to help develop the sensory details associated with your characters. It’s important to use all of the five senses and not rely too heavily on a single one.

A screenshot of ProWritingAid's Sensory Report

Build the Romantic Tension

Now your characters have to interact so they can develop a relationship. Some plot structures suggest that there should be a minimum of three scenes where they interact before the characters kiss or get together.

Determine what sort of events can draw your characters together. Be sure to give them ample opportunity to be alone together.

Through each scene, make their observations of one another deeper and more intimate. Hint at any emotional wounds or baggage, and show how falling in love might heal them.

Couple Gets Together but Is Torn Apart

Your couple must get together. After all, that’s the whole point of the romance. But your story will be very short and underdeveloped if your happily ever after comes too soon. I’m covering these two plot points together because they are so intertwined.

A first kiss or a tryst is common for this first union in romance. Your couple can date for a while as the external plot progresses, or they may decide that they cannot be together after just one night.

Work within the confines of your world and story to determine what this will look like. Here are a few examples.

The couple spends a night together, but then one is offered their dream job the next morning, and it’s two thousand miles away.

Something nefarious occurs after a kiss, and one of the love interests is kidnapped or is forced to run away.

Their love is forbidden, and they are discovered and pulled apart by family.

One wakes up with guilt because of the nature of their relationship (not accepted by society, is the enemy, is the widow of their childhood best friend, etc.)

How long the couple is able to be together before being inevitably pulled apart depends on the length of your novel and how you want any external plots to develop.

Are they able to meet in secret for months before they are discovered? Or is there just one night of passion before one decides to leave? All of this varies from story to story.

Happily Ever After or Happily for Now

You know how the fairy tales end: “and they all lived happily ever after. The end.” But we can’t end romance novels quite that simply. What does a happy ending look like for your characters?

If there is one plot component that is expected by the vast majority of romance readers, it’s the happy ending.

Happily ever after means that you somehow show or imply that your couple is together forever. Nothing will tear them apart, and the worst of times are behind them. But that might not work for your story.

Happily ever after versus happily for now

Enter the world of “happily for now.”

It means that when the story ends, everything is going well. However, you don’t allude that everything will be fine in the future.

Sarah J. Maas does this in her series. The first love interests of her main characters are never the endgame relationship. If you’re planning a series, a “happily for now” ending might work well.

What if You Want a Sad Ending?

Some authors have had great success with tearjerker endings, like Nicholas Sparks. In this case, there should have been a “happily for now” or “happily ever after” before the end. In other words, the ending should leave the reader satisfied with the culmination of the romantic relationship.

If one of the characters dies, does the remaining character still have a chance at a happy life? Did the love story change the remaining character for the better?

Tread carefully with non-traditional romance endings. There should still be a degree of happiness at the end of the book. If your story ends too much like a Shakespearean tragedy, your readers will lose trust in you.

Common romance tropes

There is an endless number of romance tropes, and they stay popular because people love them.

Of course, tropes that are overused in the same way can become clichéd. Figure out a way to freshen up some of these tropes and use them in a new, creative light.

Romance tropes are great for developing plot and building romantic tension. Here are some well-known romance tropes that stand the test of time.

These are just a few. There are so many tropes you can play with. Mix and match them to create a completely original story!

The different point of views for a romance novel

The last major factor when planning and writing your romance novel is the point of view (POV). Alternating POV between two or more lovers is a common occurrence.

Third-person omniscient allows you to get in the heads of not just the couple, but secondary characters as well.

You can write in first or third person. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. All readers have their preferences.

Think about your story without writing. How do you imagine telling this love story? Is it easy for you to see both love interests’ perspectives? Does one character have a stronger arc than the other? Who do you want readers to relate to the most?

It’s okay to start a story in one point of view and realize it’s not working. You can always rewrite scenes with a new POV during editing.

Most importantly, writing a romance novel should be fun. Write in a way that makes you fall in love with your characters and makes you want them to have a happily ever after. Focus on the emotions rather than the events. Romance readers are in it for the feelings—the angsty, the warm, the cozy, the heart-wrenching.

The number one rule for writing a romance

They did just so and all the romance writers lived happily ever after. The end.


Learn from bestselling authors and writing experts like Taylor Jenkins Reid and Sarah MacLean at Romance Writers’ Week, October 24–28, 2022.


Krystal N. Craiker is the Writing Pirate, an indie romance author and blog manager at ProWritingAid. She sails the seven internet seas, breaking tropes and bending genres. She has a background in anthropology and education, which brings fresh perspectives to her romance novels. When she’s not daydreaming about her next book or article, you can find her cooking gourmet gluten-free cuisine, laughing at memes, and playing board games. Krystal lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, child, and basset hound. Check out her website or follow her on Instagram: @krystalncraikerauthor.

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writing a fantasy romance novel

Fantasy book writing: 7 tips for captivating high fantasy

The fantasy genre endures for many reasons. It transports us to other worlds, stimulating the imagination. It draws on powerful archetypes and symbols. Read 7 tips for writing captivating high fantasy:

fantasy book writing - blog post

Why is fantasy such a popular genre?

There are many fantasy subgenres ( this list suggests that there are at least 64). ‘High fantasy’ is one of the most popular. Read on for tips on how to write high fantasy fiction that captivates readers and makes them reluctant to leave your fictional world:

First, what is ‘high fantasy’?

Defining high fantasy

The term ‘high fantasy’ was coined by the American fantasy writer Lloyd Alexander in 1971, in an essay published in The Horn Book Magazine titled “High Fantasy and Epic Romance”. Alexander (who wrote the Chronicles of Prydain series) used the term to describe fantasy fiction set entirely in secondary or parallel worlds. This is contrasted with books set in our own, ‘real’ world that simply have magical objects, creatures, characters or events (Brian Stableford, 2009, p. 198).

In his A to Z of Fantasy Literature , Brian Stableford  says that ‘high fantasy’ as a term didn’t catch on hugely:

‘…partly because it was difficult to establish dividing lines between high fantasy and other subgenres, and partly because of the difficulty of accommodating portal fantasies to the scheme.’

Even so, many fantasy lovers still talk about high fantasy as a distinctive genre. It’s most common attributes are having an alternate world as setting, heroic or epic qualities and (often) coming-of-age plot structures.

If you’re writing fantasy set entirely in a fictional world (as opposed to, for example, a medieval fantasy based on this actual historical era), here are 7 tips:

Writing high fantasy: 7 tips

1. Study classic high fantasy for insights

It’s an oft-repeated truth that to be a good writer you need to also be an active reader. Tolkien’s  The Lord of the Rings takes place entirely in the secondary world of Middle-earth and is widely regarded as the one of the best examples of this subgenre. How do you go about collecting insights for your own high fantasy novel?

Dust off your own fantasy favourites and take notes on how your best authors approach elements of fantasy writing you find challenging. This could be keeping continuity between between books in a series or making a fictional world believable. Consciously reading this way will help you improve your writing in the long-term.

2. Make sure your fantasy world is developed

fantasy book writing - Now Novel quote on fantasy environments

How do you feel reading a book where you can’t picture the characters’ environment? Often these books feel hollow and either dry or too preoccupied with characters’ inner worlds. You don’t have to write whole chapters of scene setting. But think of your characters’ environment as a character in itself. Just as a character grows, changes or does the unexpected, so can your fantasy world’s environment.

Compare Tolkien’s description of Mordor, the ominous domain of Frodo’s nemesis Sauron, with his description of the tranquil forest lands of the noble elves:

‘Mists curled and smoked from dark and noisome pools. The reek of them hung stifling in the still air. Far away, now almost due south, the mountain-walls of Mordor loomed, like a black bar of rugged clouds floating above a dangerous fog-bound sea.’

Compare this to the restful description of the elf kingdom Rivendell:

‘Shadows had fallen in the valley below, but there was still a light on the faces of the mountains far above. The air was warm. The sound of running and falling water was loud, and the evening was filled with a faint scent of trees and flowers, as if summer still lingered in Elrond’s gardens.’

Create contrasts in landscape and atmospheres depending on where your characters are located to heighten the reader’s perception of place in your high fantasy novel.

3. Avoid high fantasy clichés

Fantasy lovers may expect certain tropes (common features) of the genre. Even so, your world will be all the more striking if it is at least a little original. Mythical creatures such as dragons and centaurs are well-represented by now, for example. This doesn’t mean you can’t use mythical creatures that are familiar. After all, most symbols, plots and other elements of fiction are continuously recycled. Yet you can subvert reader expectations and create a strong sense of your world as a distinct place.

For example, dragons have often been described as hoarders. An extensive list of overused fantasy plots and character types includes the cliché where a girl ‘is held captive by evil dragon who finds her entertaining, thus saving her from becoming crispy fried.’

As an example, this trope could be reversed. George R.R. Martin does exactly this in the fifth novel of his A Song of Ice and Fire series: The character Daenerys Targaryen holds dragons captive herself, confining them in a cage to prevent them from wreaking further havoc.

4. Make characters complex rather than stock types

Lesser fantasy novels often rely on obvious traits that are tied to class, race or social bearing. Of course the warrior is brave. Of course the princess or elf is graceful or chaste. In real life, people often surprise us by holding contradictory beliefs or behaving differently to how stereotyping would lead us to assume. The warrior who tears into battle might run bellowing from a snake or rat, in reality. Nobody is consistent all the time. In the great high fantasy novels, characters surprise not only each other but themselves too.

5. Avoid the pitfalls of muddled fantasy book writing

Writing a realist novel set in a familiar city is a challenge itself. Writing an epic high fantasy that sprawls across imaginary continents and peoples is a mammoth undertaking. It’s easy to allow inconsistencies to creep in. To avoid this, plan your world and its inner workings in advance . Create an outline, especially if you plan to write a fantasy series in the vein of A Song of Ice and Fire , Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea trilogy or Tolkien’s series.

Here are some of the elements you should sketch briefly as best you can before you start:

Once you have a loose idea of your invented world you can depart from this blueprint wherever you like. Create a framework to base your world on all the same, so that you can keep track of the different backgrounds and characteristics of the people and places in your high fantasy novel.

6. Write fitting dialogue

high fantasy book writing - writing fantasy book characters

When there is an epic quest unfolding, it can be tempting to use dialogue for info dumping. Don’t squeeze the whole history of your fictional world into one long-winded conversation your hero and the local innkeeper exchange over breakfast. Good high fantasy novels manage to balance descriptive writing, dialogue and action. Most importantly, dialogue conveys not just factual information but a sense of the character of the speakers.

For example, in The Lord of the Rings , when Frodo’s friend Sam is caught overhearing an important conversation, he says ‘I wasn’t droppin’ no eaves sir’. His speech is reflective of the hobbits’ rural and plain-talking qualities. Compare this to the lyrical and flowing speech of the elves. When a white horse appears, the bowman Legolas says ‘That is one of the Mearas, unless my eyes are cheated by some spell.’ The elves tend to use passive voice and more complex forms of tense.

When writing dialogue, especially between members of different civilizations in your fantasy world remember:

7. Choose names smartly

As a rule of thumb, try to create names that reader’s shouldn’t have trouble pronouncing. In Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea novels, the protagonist isn’t called Tir’ag’na!kan or axaxanian: He’s simply called ‘Ged’. It’s still an uncommon name and the simplicity fits the spare style of the story.

High fantasy is epic in scope and typically has a large cast of characters. Think about how you can use names to convey aspects of your characters. This will help to keep them memorable. In Lord of the Rings , for example, Sam’s simple, familiar name (abbreviated from ‘Samwise’) suits his easygoing and dependable nature. Compare this to the sibilant and arcane-sounding name of the fallen, corrupted wizard Saruman.

High fantasy book writing is challenging because of the scope of creation and invention it requires. Provided that you plan ahead, spend some time coming up with the particulars of how your world works and avoid the pitfalls of common genre clichés, you can write a fantasy novel that makes readers reluctant to leave your fictional world.

What do you think are the hallmarks of great high or epic fantasy writing?

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Jordan is a writer, editor, community manager and product developer. He received his BA Honours in English Literature and his undergraduate in English Literature and Music from the University of Cape Town.

46 replies on “Fantasy book writing: 7 tips for captivating high fantasy”

I am writing a book about the elements, and I’m trying to make it more descriptive and get past the action. The villains have just arrived, but I’m worried it’s too early in the story as well. Any advice? Thanks in advance!

Hi Lucille,

My apologies for the slow response. It’s difficult to say, not knowing more. I’d say the earlier you introduce the villain, the more time you have to build their arc too and add tension. Perhaps think of ways you can introduce them without revealing all their mystery (could there be rumours about their whereabouts or plans that precede their actual appearance, for example?)

What would you say about explaining origin in fantasy writing? Like, yes, it’s your own world but explaining how it all started (i.e. the equivalent to Earth’s Big Bang Theory) is a whole different story because it’s so far beyond full comprehension.

My apology for the delayed reply – I don’t always see notifications for questions on older posts. I’d say think about the purpose of why you’re explaining your world’s origin, to start.

Is there a key event in world history that explains something important in the story you want to tell? Then make that the focus.You could start with exposition explaining how key groups in your world came to live where they do, for example, if conflict or trade between them is important in the narrative.

Wow! Just what I needed to know. I’ve been writing notes and scraps for nearly twenty years working full-time, married, and with three kids so I’ve never had the time to truly invest into finishing anything. Now things have changed where I now have the time to flesh these stories out and God-willing finish them. I needed to read what I saw written above; especially about writing an outline and thinking more about the geography and culture of my world in my head.

Okay my biggest questions are:

I fell in love with Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time, Terry Brooks’ Shannara world, and Jose Philip Farmer’s Riverworld. Just based on those classics worlds and cast of characters, does anyone else find themselves (not purposely of course) molding their characters very similar, or at least they have some very similar characteristics, to the ones that inspired us to write in the first place?

I have 4 main characters so far with 2 secondary characters and I always see them as a melting pot of characters from all the above mentioned influences. Is this bad to see them similar or could it be over-creating the character backgrounds and outlines? For instance I have a wise man, guide, who helps compass the main characters and he reminds me at times of shades of Allanon from Shannara and at other times like Gandalf from LoTR. Is this bad?

Thanks for reading…

Hi Jon, as a fellow parent I know what you mean re: Juggling multiple responsibilities.

Regarding your question, provided your characters aren’t derivative in appearance, action or arc entirely, there’s no reason you can’t use similar character types. In folktale traditions (which I’d say much fantasy is very close to, in its inclusion of quests, of magic and the paranormal), there were many similar characters, e.g. the wicked stepmother or the valiant knight (for example in Arthurian legend) yet every tale has its unique plot points.

Some, of course, might read and see a little too much of Gandalf in a character and say so, but that’s why it’s useful to have beta readers who can point anything glaring like this out. Then you can always do a rewrite where you try to make the ‘offending’ character more distinctive. I hope that helps! Great question.

Awesome! really useful!

Thank you, Parker. Thanks for reading!

Oh lord, I remember when I was a teenager, trying to write fantasy, it was like an apocalypse of apostrophes! Hahaha.

The protagonist in my new fantasy is called “Ari” (short for Arianella – some people call her Ella instead). Nice and simple, but still unusual!

Awesome, Scout. Great name. Short names are memorable and don’t draw as much attention to themselves (though of course, you could use a long, apostrophe-filled name for parody effect – something that you could imagine Sir Terry Pratchett doing). Good luck with your new fantasy!

plzzz tell me how i start writting i mean the way that novelist do some novelist do writing their novels by using character name first and then their words to the next line

Hi Hazel. Here’s a blog post on turning your rough idea into a start that will hopefully help: . Good luck!

this is a really good article. with this i have started developing my plot even more through plans, and i can see what i must not fall for (tropes). Thank you for the amazing advice. PS i know im like a year late.

Hi, I’m trying to start a fantasy novel. I’ve been told that my writing can get wordy, and I’m having problem balancing character and world development/lore as well as keeping my story in context so people don’t get confused…if anyone has some advice, I would very much appreciate it.

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15 of the Best Books for Readers Who Love Fantasy Romance

15 of the Best Books for Readers Who Love Fantasy Romance

Truthfully, we’re living in a golden age of fantasy right now. More diverse voices than ever before are writing in this genre, and as a result, the range of stories hitting shelves runs the gamut from multi-part epics to diamond-sharp novellas. But some of the most popular stories in fantasy today are those that mix their magical worldbuilding with a dash of romance. (After all, it’s the ultimate in escapism isn’t it?)

From love triangles to arranged marriages and enemies that become something much more, here are fifteen of our favorite fantasy titles that come with a little love on the side. And whether you like your fantasy seasoned with just a dash of relationship drama or spiced up and steamy, there should be something on this list for you.

The A Court of Thorns and Roses Series by Sarah J. Maas

Titles in the Series : A Court of Thorns and Roses, A Court of Mist and Fury, A Court of Wings and Ruin, A Court of Frost and Starlight, and A Court of Silver Flames

Though author Sarah J. Maas has several lush and action-packed romantic fantasy series to choose from, her A Court of Thorns and Roses series earns a spot on this list thanks to its intricate world-building, feisty heroine, wide array of fascinating supporting characters, and spicy love scenes.

Although the first novel in the series is technically a retelling of Beauty and the Beast , in which the huntress Feyre is taken to the magical faerie lands beyond the wall after accidentally killing a fae in disguise, Maas’s world ultimately expands to include multiple seasonal courts with their own hierarchies and political intrigues, a deeply compelling love triangle, and one of the rare instances when the series’ seemingly endgame pairing changes course midstream, and it actually all works. > Comprised of five books to date, its most recent entry is A Court of Silver Flames , which follows the story—and steamy romance with a Fae warrior general—of Feyre’s sister, Nesta.

The Princess Bride by William Goldman

Titles in the Series : N/A

Many people may not be aware of the fact that the classic 1980s film The Princess Bride is actually an adaptation of William Goldman’s 1973 novel, originally titled The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern’s Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure, the “Good Parts” Version .

While the book also follows the romance between Buttercup and Westley, complete with swashbuckling adventure, near-miss rescues, and, of course, true love. All the characters we loved from the film—particularly Buttercup herself, as well as Inigio and Fezzik—are fleshed out even further than we saw onscreen. But it’s the sly, biting commentary and swoony quotes about love and romance regularly inserted by the book’s narrator that makes this version feel like something entirely new, even for fans (cough cough yours truly cough) who have seen the movie countless times. Goldman’s book was meta before meta was cool.

The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon

A beautifully written medieval set fantasy that will likely appeal to those who have enjoyed The Witcher, Amy Harmon’s The Bird and the Sword features a feisty heroine who is rendered mute by her mother to muzzle the power she holds, the painfully hot king with secrets of his own whose prisoner she essentially becomes, and the sweet romance that blossoms between them.

Harmon deftly manages to make the story’s initial captive/captor dynamic into a relationship of equals and set it in the middle of a complex story of political intrigue and magical persecution. Harmon’s prose is especially lovely, with a surprisingly deft vein of humor running throughout.

The Winternight Trilogy by Katherine Arden

Titles in the Series : The Bear and the Nightingale , The Girl in the Tower and The Winter of the Witch .

To be clear Katherine Arden’s Winternight trilogy definitely skews more fantasy than romance, what with its heavy incorporation of elements of medieval Russian history and folklore, its complex political intrigues, and its all-too-real inclusion of threats of sexual violence and menace toward its female characters. (Though those horrific events are handled with more nuance and care than in many books in this genre.)

The relationship that develops between Vasya, a feral, fierce girl who can see spirits, and the frost king Morozko is subtle and honest, a fresh spin on the age-old story of a beautiful young maiden who falls in love with a monster, that ultimately manages to feel like one of equal, thanks to the act that it never forgets that he is ancient and she is not. Beautifully written and boasting gorgeous prose, this is a story that’s thoroughly romantic from its first pages, even if there’s not a lot of kissing in it.

The Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon

Titles in the Series : Outlander , Dragonfly in Amber , Voyager , The Fiery Cross , A Breath of Snow and Ashes , An Echo in the Bone , Written in My Own Heart’s Blood , Go Tell the BeesThat I am Gone

Even people who haven’t read the books are probably familiar with Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander thanks to the hit Starz drama of the same name, but the sprawling series of novels are even more addictive and romantic. Mixing steamy love scenes, rich historical details, exciting adventure, and time travel, there’s something for many kinds of readers to enjoy here.

And since the novels (as well as ancillary novellas and spinoffs) are set to continue past the TV show’s final season in 2024, they offer a way for fans to continue following the stories of Claire Beauchamp, Jamie’s Fraser, and the rest of the Outlander clan.

The Wilderwood Duology by Hannah Whitten

Titles in the Series : For the Wolf , For the Throne

Hannah Whitten mixes folklore, fairytale and horror elements in this fresh and original fantasy duology that’s one part Little Red Riding Hood retelling, one part Snow White remix, and one part something entirely new.

Set in a royal kingdom that must continually sacrifice its second-born daughters to the Wolf of the Wood in order to keep the realm safe from monsters, the story follows Second Daughter Redarys’s journey into the Wilderood in its first installment and her elder sister Nevereh’s descent into the Shadowlands in its second. Both halves of this duology weave themes of sacrifice, loyalty, love, and duty together, topped with a pair of deliciously slow-burn romances that are downright magical to watch unfold.

The All Souls Series by Deborah Harkness

Titles in the Series : A Discovery of Witches , Shadow of Night , and The Book of Life comprise the All Souls Trilogy, which is about Matthew and Diana’s relationship. Sequel Time’s Convert predominantly follows the story of All Souls’ supporting characters Marcus and Phoebe, though Matthew and Diana make appearances.

The forbidden romance between vampire Matthew Clairmont and witch Diana Bishop is the driving force behind this supernatural fantasy series, which boasts appealing characters and a complex hierarchy of otherworldly creatures. When Diana summons a bewitched alchemical manuscript from Oxford’s Bodleian Library, she draws the attention of all manner of beings—including Mathew—who want the secrets it contains. That the two sworn enemies fall in love is the least surprising thing about this story which involves complex supernatural politics, time travel, and magical mysteries involving Diana’s abilities.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenger

Although the central premise of Audrey Niffenger’s 2003 contemporary novel The Time Traveler’s Wife is more than a bit problematic—the issues of consent and power are naturally somewhat murky when we’re talking about an adult time traveler who first meets his wife when she’s just six years old—-the story still carries the magical qualities of a fairytale.

A seemingly predestined meeting that both leads to true love and can sometimes feel an awful lot like a curse: Henry knows elements of their future while Clare doesn’t, his time-traveling sickness means he vanishes in and out of their life together at random, and they both withhold crucial pieces of information from one another at various points for what often feels like no reason at all. And yet, their love for one another is palpable and real, and you’re a stronger person than I am if you can get through this book without ugly crying.

The Blood and Ash Series by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Titles in the Series : From Blood and Ash , A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire , The Crown of Gilded Bones , The War of Two Queens , with two more related titles ( A Soul of Ash and Blood and Visions of Flesh and Blood releasing in 2023.

Author Jennifer L. Armentrout has written dozens of books in the young adult, paranormal, fantasy, science fiction, and contemporary romance genres, but it’s her From Blood and Ash series that has skyrocketed her into the stratosphere of fantasy romance authors and made her a household name on BookTok.

The sprawling high fantasy story features incredibly detailed worldbuilding, plenty of spice, and multiple shocking twists as it follows the story of Poppy, the Maiden chosen by the Gods to help her people reach the Ascension, a mysterious ceremony that anoints the new royals of the court. As such, her life is incredibly, restricted and controlled and she is allowed to get close to very few people, save for one of her super handsome young guards named Hawke. Slow-burn romance, political intrigue, and lots of drama ensue.

Stardust by Neil Gaiman

Whimsical and charming, Neil Gaiman’s Stardust follows the story of Tristan, a young man from the village of Wall, which borders the magical realm of Faerie. He promises to retrieve a fallen star for the lovely-but-dim girl he’s been crushing on, but when he discovers tha star is actually a young woman named Yvaine, the two find themselves sucked into a wild adventure, and falling in love at the same time.

Gaiman’s tale has faerie markets, scheming witches, feuding princes, a murder plot, quippy diagloue and tons of heart. It’s a story that shines like a star itself.

The Dragon Heart Legacy Series by Nora Roberts

Titles in the Series : The Awakening , The Becoming , The Choice

Bestselling author Nora Roberts is a household name in the world of romance, with over 250 books to her credit. And while her Dragon Heart Legacy series may not boast quite the same level of intricate world-building or complex political plotting as some other tales on this list, her straightforward, swoon-worthy love stories are more than worth the price of admission.

The lush, charming Dragon’s Heart series follows the story of Bree, a mortal woman who travels to Ireland and discovers she herslef hails from a magical bloodline. The story moves back and forth between the human world and the ancient magical world of the fae as Bree attempts to uncover her hertitage, introducing her to witches, mermaids, and, of course, hunky warriors.)

Uprooted by Naomi Novik

Titles in the Series : N/A, though Novik’s Spinning Silver has similar romantic folklore vibes

A charming fairytale-esque standalone that follows the story of Agnieszka, a girl chosen by the grumpy, powerful wizard known as Dragon to come to live with him in his tower as payment for protecting her village from the terrifying and corrupted Wood that’s steadily encroaching on their kingdom. This cycle has been repeated for as long as anyone can remember, and each girl the Dragon has chosen in the past has been special in some way. It turns out Agnieska does have magical ability, and the law demands she be trained to continue the seemingly endless battle against evil.

The Dragon is, unsurprisingly, not a particularly warm or patient teacher, but the relationship that slowly develops between the wizard and his new pupil is beautifully rendered. Layered and thoughtful, it grows organically along with Agnieszka’s abilities and character without ever overshadowing her purpose, and her failures and successes in both magic and personal connection are deeply and wonderfully human. This is the sort of fairytale where the romance is definitely secondary to the larger adventure at hand, but our heroine’s strengths are absolutely enhanced (both literally and metaphorically) by having Sarkan at her side.

The Bridge Kingdom Series by Danielle L. Jensen

Titles in the Series : The Bridge Kingdom , The Traitor Queen , The Inadequate Heir , The Calm Before the Storm , and more to come.

Danielle Jensen is extremely talented at building fascinating and unexpected fantasy worlds—her equally enthralling Maledition trilogy is literally set in a world populated by troll princes—and filling them with tons of messy, compelling characters.

Her Bridge Kingdom series is more overtly (and probably more traditionally) romantic, featuring a badass warrior princess, a well-plotted marriage of convenience and a thrilling enemies-to-lovers romance and a sweeping setting in which the fate of kingdoms is at stake.

The Grishaverse Series by Leigh Bardudo

Titles in the Series : Shadow and Bone , Seige and Storm , Ruin and Rising , Six of Crows , Crooked Kingdom , King of Scars , Rule of Wolves

Leigh Bardugo’s sprawling series of interconnected Grishaverse novels—a Grisha can manipulate different forms of matter, depending on the specialty of their gif—features fantastic worldbuilding, great supporting characters, and virtually every romance trope you could ask for.

From childhood best friends who become something more, a grisha and a grisha hunter who fall for one another, and a smoldering Bad Boy that none of us should want to have anything to do with, but all kind of do, there’s truly something for everyone. Throw in some thrilling adventure and devastating emotional twists and this is a sprawling YA fantasy series that will appeal to all ages.

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Titles in the Series : N/A, though Shannon’s A Day of Fallen Night technically takes place in the same world. (Just centuries earlier.)

A sweeping, sprawling fantasy of the best and most epic sort, Samantha Shannon’s The Priory of the Orange Tree is a story about the looming threat of a legendary prophecy and the (largely female) rulers and sorceresses who rise up to meet the darkness it spawns.

Mixing Eastern and Western cultural traditions and featuring everything from epic battles and the threat of a magical plague to political intrigue and a hidden school of warrior mages, everything about this story is densely plotted, with seemingly disparate plot threads delicately woven through one another in ways that reference a massive history that Shannon has clearly given an immense amount of thought to. Plus, the sapphic love story at its center—between a beleaguered queen who has never felt as though her life is her own and fears the childbirth her duty will force her to undergo and the sorceress turned spy charged with protecting her life—is not just a thoroughly satisfying slow build, but one that literally unites different factions in a war to save the world.

Lacy Baugher Milas is the Books Editor at Paste Magazine, but loves nerding out about all sorts of pop culture. You can find her on Twitter @LacyMB .

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How to Write Romance Novels

Last Updated: October 6, 2021 Approved

This article was co-authored by Stephanie Wong Ken, MFA . Stephanie Wong Ken is a writer based in Canada. Stephanie's writing has appeared in Joyland, Catapult, Pithead Chapel, Cosmonaut's Avenue, and other publications. She holds an MFA in Fiction and Creative Writing from Portland State University. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 89% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 344,189 times.

Writing a romance novel is a great way to practice creating compelling characters and believable relationships. Our guide will help you get started, from drafting an outline to crafting the perfect romantic ending!

Brainstorming Ideas for the Novel

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Writing the Novel

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Polishing the Novel

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Romance Novel Samples

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Stephanie Wong Ken, MFA

To write romance novels, create an engaging main character and develop a central conflict for your protagonist to navigate. To capture your readers' imaginations, be sure to create a strong setting and strive to write unique content that doesn't repeat typical romance novel cliches. You may want to focus on a specific type of story, like historical or paranormal, since the romance genre includes a lot of niche territory. Don't forget to wrap up your novel with a satisfying conclusion, since romance readers tend to prefer "happily ever after" endings. For tips on revising your first draft, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Writing Beginner

Query Letter Formula Hook Book Cook (Explained)

What is the query letter formula hook book cook (overview).

The Hook Book Cook formula is a simple three-part structure for writing a query letter.

Hook (Definition and Tips)

The hook is the most important part of your query letter because, without it, an agent may not even read the rest of your query letter.

Book (Definition and Tips)

Cook (definition and tips).

For a quick summary of this information, I made this video about the query letter formula Hook Book Cook:

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Example 1 : romance, example 2: romance, example 3: children’s book, example 4: fantasy, example 5: ya sci-fi, example 6: mystery, why is the hook book cook formula effective, if(typeof ez_ad_units='undefined'){ez_ad_units.push([[970,250],'writingbeginner_com-netboard-2','ezslot_22',113,'0','0'])};__ez_fad_position('div-gpt-ad-writingbeginner_com-netboard-2-0'); how does the hook book cook formula differ from other query letter structures, common mistakes to avoid when using the hook book cook formula, final thoughts: query letter formula hook book cook.

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42 Fantasy Writing Prompts & Plot Ideas

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These 42 fantasy writing prompts and plot ideas are waiting for you to write them into your next big novel, screenplay, short story.

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Need a good story idea quick? These fantasy writing prompts and plot ideas can be used as inspiration to write your next epic tale. You can use these story ideas and prompts for all types of creative works, whether it be a novel, screen play or other fictional short stories.

writing a fantasy romance novel

The Magic World of Writing Fantastical, Epic Tales

I’ve always loved writing fantasy, simply because in fantasy you can leave all your worries about the real world behind. Fantasy writing is your chance to explore your imagination and discover all sorts of magical and mysterious things.

One of the biggest perks of fantasy writing is unlike realistic fiction, there needs to be no logical sequence for how things happen. You can finally use magic as a reasonable and acceptable explanation for everything.

Like all of our  writing prompts , these fantasy fiction prompts and plot ideas are varied on a number of different subjects that can fit into the fantasy genre. Many of these fiction writing prompts can be used for sub-genres of fantasy, such as paranormal romance, urban fantasy, magic realism and more.

Not a fan of the subject? Prefer to stick to medieval times? Any of these epic story ideas can be adapted easily simply by substituting the suggested character with your mythological creature of choice.

Don’t forget, if you like some aspects of a prompt you can always change it for your own needs and what interests you most. The possibilities are endless, and I know there is a book idea here waiting for you to write and publish it .

Even if you don’t have any intentions of writing a fantasy novel, there are many benefits of practicing creative writing with these fantasy writing prompts. Set a timer for 5 minutes and let your imagination run wild with one of these prompts – you never know where it may take you.

Fantasy Writing Prompts for Creative Fiction, Novels, Short Stories, Screenplays and More

writing a fantasy romance novel

These writing prompts are open to your own interpretation and imagination. Many are purposely open-ended to give you a lot of flexibility for the way they are used. Ready? Let the writing begin!

1. The Snow Dragon: You are in the mountain forest when you come face to face with the snow dragon: an adorable, furry, and surprisingly tiny creature who breathes fire.

2. Street Signs: After a young man is killed as an innocent bystander in the cross-fires of gang violence, you notice a mysterious symbol appear on the side of a building.

3. Lilies of the Valley: As the new housekeeper for a prominent wealthy family, one of your tasks is to water all of the house plants. You are watering the lilies in the entry way when one of the plants starts talking to warn you of a dark family secret.

mythological currencies writing prompt

4. The Coin Dealer:  You are at a Coin Show when you meet a coin dealer who specializes in collecting mythical currencies.

5. The Fairies Next Door: Being new in town, you decided to introduce yourself to the neighbors. When you knock on the door, you are greeted by a small army of fairies who take you captive.

6. Water Vs. Dirt: There are two major groups of people who live on the planet. The water people, who use water for everything, and the dirt people, who use dirt for everything. Can they learn to co-exist peacefully, or will their entire world become mud?

potions, inc. a fantasy fiction prompt

7. Potions, Inc. : After centuries of a small occult family developing successful potions for love, fortune, and health, the oldest son decides to launch the family business of magic into the corporate world.

8. If Walls Could Talk:  After moving to a new town, the Smith Family thinks they found the perfect home. That is, until the walls begin to talk and they learn the house is cursed.

9. Empire of Misfits:  A secret society of misfits decides to take over the world, learning to use their greatest flaws as super powers to succeed.

10. The Invisible Castle: A group of friends decide to climb a tower near their home when they discover it leads to an invisible castle in the air that no one else knows exists.

11. Ghost  Pirates:  Legends claim a notorious pirate buried his treasure along the rocky shores of the cove. James and his girlfriend are at the beach one night when the ghost ship sails in.

fantasy writing prompt photos

12. Photographic Travel: You stare at the man in the photo and wonder what his life might have been like. Next thing you know, you and the person in the photograph have swapped places.

13. The Benevolent Beast: On the edge of town is a giant and fierce looking beast but is actually quite friendly. When strange occurrences start happening in the town, the beast is a prime suspect. Can you protect the beast and clear its name?

14. Gilbert The Giant Goldfish: Life in the koi pond only appears to be peaceful…

15. The Magic Key: After failing in his career and marriage, Will discovers a magic key that unlocks doors that open into a new world.

fantasy writing island queen

16. Island in the Clouds:  The Great War left the people of her kingdom stranded on a tethered island in the clouds…

17. Dancing Fever : As the townspeople are overcome with a feverish desire to dance, it’s up to you to find the cause and cure.

18. Paranormal Detective : He has a knack for solving mysteries with the help of a ghost who gives him clues.

19. Darkness Made Daily: The factory you work at is frequently rated “Top 10 Places to Work” across the country. Workers have wonderful health benefits, generous salaries, and plenty of paid vacation time. When your co-worker at the assembly line mysteriously vanishes, it’s up to you to uncover the evil truth of what the factory is manufacturing and put a stop to it.

darkness made daily writing-prompt

20. The Arctic Mermaid:  Living deep in the icy waters of the Northern Atlantic Ocean are the arctic mermaids, who rescue a child being held captive on a ship.

21. Ring of Storms : “It’s just one those silly mood rings…” or is it?

22. No Words: Mike makes a promise to a mysterious vagrant on the street that leaves his wife speechless.

23. The Psychic Hospital : After being involuntarily committed into the psych ward for being delusional, a patient must somehow convince the doctors all she experiences is real. She is not crazy – and neither are the other patients.

24. Forever Beautiful : You are a cosmetologist at a local gossip-filled beauty salon when you accidentally stumble across a map that outlines the path to the legendary fountain of youth.

25.  Out of Paradise: You just got kicked out of heaven. Now what?

26. The Crossing Guards:  The crossing guards at a busy intersection of the city do more than just help the living humans walk across the street.

27. Second Chance at Life: At a hospital on one stormy night, the souls of two patients agree to swap places when it becomes obvious neither one will ever be able to return to the life they once knew.

28. The Cowboy and The Witch : He is an outlaw from the wild, wild west and she’s a witch from the Old Country.

29. The False Light Gods: A group of evil entities attempt to trick people into believing they are the good guys by disguising themselves as saints, angels, gods, and goddesses.

30. Utopian Anarchist Society : Tired of the kingdom’s latest . It’s time to do something about it and so you begin your plans for creating the perfect utopian anarchist society.

31. Spirit Radio: After a few too many songs come on the radio at random coincidence, you realize you have a gift to communicate with spirits through music.

32.  Flying Cupcakes: A little girl is visiting a busy bakery with her nanny when she  enters the enchanted kitchen and is whisked away into the land of cupcakes.

33. Cosmic Address: You discover there’s a reason the address of your childhood home is 382 Orion Way.

34. The Perfect People: On the outside, they appear to be perfect. Of course, things are never as they actually appear…

35. Soul Fragments: When something tragic happens, it’s often said we lose a piece of ourselves. Your task is to travel through different lifetimes to find these lost parts of self to be whole again.

36. The VooDoo Queen:  The fraudulent fortune teller makes her living by conning the local superstitious government officials. When they start to become suspicious, she decides to make a run for it through the bayou where she encounters the ghost of the real VooDoo Queen.

paranormal fantasy writing prompts

37. Ghost Train : Every night, you are awakened by the sound of a train, but the railroad closed down years ago.

38. Trash to Treasure: While exploring an abandoned trash dump location off the coast, a young boy discovers an ancient sword.

39. Planet of Sorrows : It is a place of suffering, brokenness and despair.

40. Reading the Heavens : Each person has a designated star in the sky above. When the stars align, they will be lifted to go home to their true planet.

41. Miners Cove: After a mining village is swallowed by a sinkhole, all traces on the surface disappear, but the civilization continues on in secret for centuries. When modern day explorers come to claim and develop the land, the underground colony must do what they can to protect themselves and their secret world.

42. The Mirror, Cup, and Candle : Legend has it, if you stand in front of a mirror holding a cup and a candle you can jump between dimensions.

Need Some Help Writing? You May Also Like:

Looking for even more writing prompts? Don’t forget to check these out:

I hope these fantasy writing prompts helped spark your imagination. Whether you are looking for a different and unique style of creative writing exercises or are looking for the elusive perfect novel idea, this list will hopefully get your creativity flowing. And don’t forget – National Novel Writing Month is November!

Do you have any other ideas for fantasy writing prompts not included here? Share your fantasy story writing prompts or plot ideas in the comments section below – you never know who you might inspire to get writing.

And as always if you do write anything using these prompts, we would love to know about it! Tell us where we can find your stories in the comments below, link to this list from your own blog, or use the hashtag #thinkwritten on social media.

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Chelle Stein wrote her first embarrassingly bad novel at the age of 14 and hasn't stopped writing since. As the founder of ThinkWritten, she enjoys encouraging writers and creatives of all types.

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I plan on writing about one of these ideas for one week every night, thank you for sharing these ideas!

You’re welcome! I’m glad it inspires you to write!

Keep writing! My life depends on it!

I’m not really what you would call a writer. But I plan on becoming an author one day, and I believe these ideas will help me along that path. Thank you so much.

That`s actually a good idea.

Thank you for these awesome ideas. They make me feel so enthusiastic.

Glad you enjoyed them!

Wow thanks now I can begin my own series and add more to the story

I have an Idea for a prompt… A girl named Summer is born on The Summer Solstice of 2003, the date that a hero from a prophecy is supposed to be born. When Summer turns 16, Mordred, King Arthur’s supposedly dead nephew, rises, and attempts to take over the world, Summer must team up with Iclyn, A girl born on the winter solstice, with winter powers (summer had summery powers) Lily, a girl with powers born on the spring equinox, and Autumn, a girl with powers born on the fall equinox. The girls train to be knights to defeat the mighty Mordred, before the alignment of the planets, when he will become too powerful to fight.

This one is really good for a fantasy novel

That’s sounds like an awesome story and i would love to read it when its finished😊

I would love to use this prompt of yours! It’s really inspiring.

Wow that’s so awesome ur idea is so cool, keep on writing ur gonna be really great author at this rate👏🔥💯👍

I really like that story and if you just finished it and published it,i think that story would go viral!

That sound awesome!

This idea is amazing! You’re a great author and this will make a super cool fantasy book! (like you said, Shreya)

These Ideas are gold! I plan to use a few of them! You are awesome.

Thank you! Glad you enjoyed them!

“Cliche” medieval settings? Ouch. 😔

I’ve been using these for my weekly 200’s at school and they’re really awesome!

I have written 7 books so far but, and yes, it’s a big BUT, none have managed to catch a big publishers eyes or be the word out there for it to reach the masses. Looking for a big publisher for my 8th manuscript. Shaida mehrban

Hi Shaida, have you considered working with an agent? Sometimes they can help you find a publisher and may be able to give you some feedback on what might make your books marketable. Hope that helps and hopefully you will be able to publish one of your books soon!

I think that some of these are very good, such as the patients that are thought of as crazy story, and the candle in front of the mirror, but others are a bit childish.

I’m glad you were able to find a couple that intrigued you!

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.” – Madeleine L’Engle

HI, I have a question? Can I get permission to use the ideas in my stories!

Hi Monica, you are welcome to use any of these ideas in your stories. If you publish anything online, we would love it if you could cite our website as inspiration and share this page so it can help inspire others! Thank you for asking and let us know if you write something, we’d love to check it out. 🙂

Hi just to double-check!!! I can have permission to use your story ideas If I later decide to publish books! And become an Author and get pay, IF I could get permission!!!

Ten years after being abandoned to the care of her alcoholic father, the eldest of a pair of identical twin sisters tries to track down her estranged mom. The problem is: the only person who has a clue to her whereabouts is a young boy she hasn’t seen in nearly twelve years. But, he’s not really a boy. He’s a centuries-old fairy who appears mostly human. Except for the fifteen feet raven wings sprouting from his back. What really happened on the night the girl’s mother disappeared, and why does it feel like she isn’t being told the entire truth about her.

Thanks for sharing your plot idea H.R.!

Novel ideas to rejuvenate our creativity

I have so many story ideas and I did wrote some out but threw them away (oops) I did write a story but lost interest in it cause so much stuff was happening and now, I’m trying to focus on 1 but don’t know where to begin or how to write it :< I really like fantasy and your ideas are cool ^^

Glad they inspired you!

Story Idea you meet Jesus Christ in person no one believes that’s him !! what would you do?

I need help writing a plot for my stories about mermaids and fairy in a school setting???/

Story Idea a beautiful women uses her charm and beauty to get out of poverty and uses people to get what she wants because she thinks she deserves the best, in the end everything comes back to her. Story Idea Two sisters exasperated a birth one rich one poor meet again and switched lives one goes to replaces the others life and lives a lavish lifestyles the bad sister while the other takes care of the other family the good sister!

this is a nice idea and i would really like to see what u have got.

I was thinking about an idea for a novel and I was wondering if you had any thoughts on it.

Eren Hawkings wakes up from a coma after a dangerous car crash. During his Coma, he has strange visions that show to him the future of the world. And Eren’s entire life layed out before his eyes. During these he finds out that he will find true love. However, his love will die at a very early age to a rare virus. He will not pass through college, becoming a victim of a school shooting. His friends leave him to survive on his own in the world. How will he handle these visions, and will he be able to stop these visions from becoming reality.

(I’m only 13 and still learning the steps to becoming an author)

There’s really no such thing as a bad idea for a book – it’s all in how the story is told and how it develops. I was 14 when I wrote my first novel – it’s simultaneously the worst and best thing I’ve ever written. The worst because I was a beginner and its badly written. The plot is a disaster, the characters are cliche, the grammar is painful.

And yet, it’s still one of the best things I’ve ever written. Writing something badly is what helped me become a good writer. {And writing things badly is actually the entire premise of the book I’m currently publishing!}

The best way to learn is by doing. Start writing! You can always edit/revise/write a different story later.

Story idea: There are four ancient tribes in a feud. Little do they know, a darker force than them all intends to get rid of them. Four girls from each tribe, intend to find out why the feud started in the first for the sake of saving there tribes.

It is somewhat like Hunger Games

Good ideas, guys!!!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Great Ideas, thinkwritten! They’re really inspiring!

i am doing a fantasy book for kids for school and i need ideas

Hi I just want to repost my idea. A girl wakes up and she has no idea where she is. Soon, she realizes that she is trapped in a laboratory/maze inhabited by a crazy alchemist or somewhat. The reason she’s captured is because in her past life, she had a terrible secret that he needs to know. But she refuses to tell him the secret after she communicates with the ghost of her past life. eventually, she escapes and defeats him and saves her past life and her present one. Except, she is unaware that since she doesn’t tell him the secret, there is a terrible cost about to destroy her utterly.

I kinda changed it.

I love that idea. Thank you!!

I’m planning a DnD campaign with a general, really loose idea, using these to fill in some gaps and make it more interesting.

Heyo! This was very useful, thanks yours so much 🙂

I’ve been trying to write a really good story for a while but I’m stuck. Can you give me any ideas including the following? Thanks in advance. (I will be checking my email every day for your reply 🙂

Fantasy Elements Jars Mystical Creatures

Hi. I have an ideas but I get writer’s block. I can’t write properly. My idea to develop is the Ghost Train or The Snow Dragon 🙂 can you please help me write a story and help get rid of my writer’s block 🙂

thanks a lot i’m behind lots of essays and you saved my life thanks a lot I will come here if i need any more ideas. – See you later

Story Idea: Nora Redford has grown up without a mother. When one magical Christmas Eve she is given a wish, she asks to see her mother. Nora is given a map to the Island of The Dead and she goes on an adventure through different worlds to find her mother.

This would be a good book

if anyone publish stories on these concepts will u remove that particular concept???

Possibly, maybe. Depends if you follow my original open source licencing model.

Oooh I really like it!Is it okay if I use it?

Every time i go over to our grandmas my cousins and i all play these games based on fantasy and Mid evil. Lately we have run out of ideas, so i am for sure book marking this also my parents tell me to write so this will make it a lot more fun!

Here’s my idea:

In Northern England, a gang of teenage girls discover a magical jewel that belonged to the Romans. The Romans used that Jewel to put a curse on their newly conquered land, a curse that would turn all teenage girls there into boys. When the Romans left Britain, the curse was revoked and they destroyed any evidence: expect for that one jewel. They buried it and made a sign reading “Non tangere” (do not touch) next to it. the teenage girls ,manged to get it and horribly pronounced the magic Latin spell next to it, awaking the curse.

This has been really helpful. Thank you so much.

Thank you very much!!! My english teacher assigned me a homework of writing a novel in a month.. These plot ideas are so cool and helpful!! By the way, isn’t the ‘soul fragment ” plot similar to Voldemort’s in the Harry Potter series? And, I have another problem..I just can’t think of a really rare female character name. Could someone please suggest me some names?

Perhaps, Rivera, Eve, or even Coral?

Well, one more thing that people could write at the end of the story is that it was all a dream!

Hi, there! I want to write a story of the Nutcracker but I am stuck tight! I’ve written several attempts on the story but every time, I bump into a wall. Something’s just not coming out the right way. Need some help here!

Hi Mary Ann, did you create an outline? That can help you identify a roadmap for the story so that when you hit a wall you know which direction to go. Keep trying, I know you can do it!

Very well-written! Thanks for sharing this great article Chelle.. Writing Fantasy Fiction doesn’t have to be daunting and difficult. Thank you!

Dren kind of works; I’ve used it for a character who’s transfluid, but I don’t know what you’re swinging for :P.

There’s also Feven, which looks weird but it’s pronouned like Raven but with an F, so it’s pronouned Fay-ven, or Fae-ven. The spelling is also changeable, since it’s your character! Do what fits.

Farah, which I just think is pretty. :>

Nimah, which I also find pretty. (I find a lot of things pretty XD)

Leyra, which is also changeable, Laerah, Leira, do what you feel is right.

Kioni, (pronounced key-o’-knee; funny spelling huh?) I had a friend named Kioni, and I just thought the name was pretty unique.

Soriah; (pronounced as it is, so-rye-ah, and the spelling can be changed!) my older sister was going to be named this, but at the last minute she was called Christa instead. (Christa is just a variation of Krista, as my name, Jayda, is a variation of Jada.)

If you’re feeling fancy, you can even use my middle name, Zaharra. Or Zara if you want it shorter.

That’s all from me! Hope I could help!

So uhh this is my short story that I made for the first one. The Snow Dragon. It’s kind of long so if you don’t want to read it then it’s fine but I saw other people doing this so I thought why not? I trek up the mountain, putting one foot in front of the other, determined to finally get to the top this time, while the sky falls in tiny crystal balls around me. Soon the snow starts plummeting down in sheets, blocking my path and covering everything, the trees, the grass, and the ground in a sheet of white. Trying to escape the gloomy weather, I look for a cave. I remember finding it the last time I was exploring the woods and mountains near my house. The truth is, I live in the middle of nowhere and it gets quite lonely when you are the only person your age around. It’s just my mother and father, who are faithful farmers. My father goes to the village nearest here every other week in our only carriage to trade food for clothes and other necessities. If I remember correctly, the cave is somewhere around the clearing a few meters ahead. After searching more thoroughly, I find it carved inside the edge of a hill covered by the shade of trees and bushes. The gentle snow seems to have turned into a storm in the last few minutes. I step inside and take off my scarf that was covering my face and finally breathe freely. I rub my hands together to create some heat. After I have made myself comfortable, I finally take in my surroundings. The cave is dark and covered with jagged rocks everywhere I look. Every nook and cranny is sharp and the shadows dance in the changing weather, taunting me to come to them. There are a few insects scuttling around on the floors. I see a spider web on the rocks. A flea is stuck on it. I walk in deeper, ready to investigate the strange cave further. As I trudge along, I see something that makes me freeze. Something big and alive. There is some sort of creature in the furthest corners of the cave. And it seems to be sleeping. As I walk closer to it, I make sure to keep my footsteps light. Now I am standing right on top of it. I think that it is an animal. It’s skin is white, it’s head is tucked into itself and it is curled into a ball. Definitely sleeping. The creature’s white tail is flipping back and forth as if it is having a pleasant dream. No, wait, that’s not skin. That’s scales. The entire animal is covered in scales. Strange. I have never seen something like this before. Only small animals like snakes and reptiles have scales. I reach my hand down to touch it, now only centimeters away. The tip of my finger brushes what I’m assuming is the head. The tiny creature whips it’s head around and a growl arouses from its throat. I stumble back in surprise and fall back on my behind. The animal stands up on all fours and shakes its head, letting out a small blast of fire in the process. You see, the white scaled creature isn’t an animal at all. It’s a dragon.

These are the best writing prompts I have ever seen! I love this site and your writing! Thank You! #Never Stop Writing!

Hi, I am having trouble with writing a book. I have writer’s block and I need ideas for a story about people from a different planet looking for people with the same birthstone to tell their secrets but I have no clue where to start. I been wanting to write stories but I am 14 and have no clue where to start.

I meant people from a different planet going to Earth in a disguise looking for a person that believes in fantasy place. Then the people from the different planets will reveal their true identity only to them if they tell any one the people from the different planet fade in color and turn gray. I need names for these creatures and a way how to do it. I don’t know if I want to do a comic book, chapter book,or picture book.

I need help writing this story. I would be happy if help me with a story starter for this story.

I need title ideas. Something fantasy-wise. Thanks -Book Worm

I´m writing something with the four basic elements and how these four teenagers have powers. So far, I have Flare, Aura, Wade, and Sten. Flare has fire, Wade has water, Aura has air, and Sten has earth abilities. They live in different realms. I would like to hear your ideas.(If you guys have any)

These are amazing ideas can i use one

Of course, that is why they are here!

They are great.

what a good idea i love the second one

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writing a fantasy romance novel


writing a fantasy romance novel


How to Write a Fantasy Novel: The Guide to Enchanting Prose

Posted on Mar 6, 2023

by Hannah Lee Kidder

Fantasy novels are stories set in a different universe–whether that universe is similar to our own with a few choice changes, or if it’s completely made up, fantasy novels are super fun to read and to write.

If you want to tell a story about a kid who discovers they can levitate, or a medieval story with dragons and mermaids, a fantasy novel is for you.

Let’s talk about it:

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Fantasy target audiences

Your fantasy book will dramatically change based on the target audience , particularly in the demographic of age. The two biggest things your target audience will influence while writing are: adult content and story conflict.

Age Appropriate Content

The content in A Wrinkle In Time is vastly different than the content in Game of Thrones. Imagine if George RR Martin had written A Song of Ice and Fire for middle graders. That would’ve been a drastically different book.

You’re going to make the language and content appropriate for your target audience. So, establish that before you begin writing.

Story conflict

I mention conflict because I see this problem with my own clients. The conflict in their books sometimes don’t line up with what their desired audience would be interested or invested in.

If you’re writing a book for adults, the conflict will need to be something adults find compelling. You can take a basic, low-branch plot and fill it with as much sex and cursing as you want, but that won’t make the conflict interesting to adults. It will just make your story less accessible to readers who might be interested in the conflict your book presents.

This doesn’t mean dumbing down your content, but it means crafting characters and a plot that will appeal to your target demographic.

How to outline a fantasy novel

Fantasy novels are possibly one of the most complex to write, genre-wise. In high fantasy, your world is completely fabricated. You create the political system, the religion, the culture. You build the entire world. That means it’s incredibly complicated to keep track of, so outlining in fantasy is pretty important to write a cohesive, sensical story.

Here’s an outline template to get you started.

What kind of fantasy are you writing?

There are several subgenres of fantasy, and each one operates under its own rules. A few examples are high fantasy, low fantasy, dark fantasy, magical realism, superhero fantasy, and fables. The ones that will dictate how much worldbuilding you have to do are high vs low fantasies.

High fantasy

These are set in make-believe worlds. High fantasy requires you to create the rules and systems of the universe your story takes place in. This is typically the hardest subgenre of fantasy to write. Examples of high fantasy stories are Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire, The Name of the Wind. High fantasy usually needs the most pre-planning and revision to be sure the story follows the set rules of that universe.

Low fantasy

Low fantasy stories are typically set in the real world, but with Spice. Examples of low fantasy are The Borrowers (contemporary, realistic universe, but tiny people exist), Tuck Everlasting (realistic, but immortal water), Twilight (realistic, but vampires and werewolves exist and people are attracted to Bella Swan), Stuart Little (realistic, but kid is mouse). Writing low fantasy is comparable to writing contemporary, it’s slightly easier to plan than a high fantasy novel.

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How to write a fantasy novel in 6 steps

Writing a fantasy novel follows the basic steps of writing any novel, but with special attention usually put toward worldbuilding. Here is the basic process you’ll likely go through to write your fantasy novel.

1. Organize your stuff. 

Before you jump into your worldbuilding, character sheets, etc., establish the kind of system you’ll use to keep track of it. Whether that’s Scrivener, NovelPad, Microsoft Word documents, or even a physical binder, prepare your system and keep track of all of your ideas and developments.

Many writers keep a character sheet for each main character, a creature sheet for every invented animal/species, geographic maps, etc.

2.  Worldbuilding.

There are three main elements in creating a high fantasy world: The magic system, political system, and religion. Of course there are many other elements that go into it, but these three are the cornerstones. And they’ll usually dictate the other elements of your world and culture.

Ideally, all three of these elements work together and influence each other as a cohesive system . As you develop each, consider how they influence each other. I’ve seen instances where elements are mutually beneficial, parasitic, or mutually destructive. Your world, your elements, just keep the reader in mind.

Magic System

Your magic system includes all magical elements, objects, abilities, and laws in your story. The amount of magic depends on your type of fantasy. An urban fantasy, for example, might just be a contemporary story where everything is exactly as it is in the real world. Feel free to add a little Spice.

A high fantasy is when you create the entire world from scratch. But even within high fantasy, you might not have a proper “magic,” but magical elements exist.

The most important part of developing your magic system is establishing the rules, then sticking to them. You can do anything you want with your magic, as long as it’s consistent. For example, in the Twilight Saga –you’re either a vampire or werewolf, or you’re not. You don’t study until you become a vampire or werewolf.

Another type of magic system is learned magic, usually in an academic setting with specifically worded spells and potions with recipes. An example of learned magic is The Worst Witch . Even though some people are born with natural magical abilities. To actually wield the magic, you have to learn the rules.

If you’re making up a world, you’ll also need to make up the political system. Is it an anarchy, is it a monarchy, is it an oligarchy, or is it something you’ve completely invented?

Here are some questions you can answer to get started developing your political system:

Just like your political system, if you’re building a world from nothing, you have to come up with the religion. If there isn’t a religion , that should also be an intentional choice with reasoning, and it should affect the world you build.

Here are some questions you can ask to flesh out your world’s religion:

The political system, religion, and magic system will heavily influence the culture, but it will be developed based on other factors of the world as well, such as:

3. Characters

Your characters are going to be heavily influenced by your worldbuilding, so it’s helpful to develop them and their arcs alongside your worldbuilding.

Developing characters for a fantasy novel is a little different than for a contemporary novel, because you have to take into account cultural differences (that you have created), morality, magical capabilities (or the lack thereof–if they’re a non-magical being in a world of magical beings, how would that affect them?), and just how living in that universe would affect them.

Outlining a fantasy novel can be super helpful, because there are tons of things to keep in mind. However, the fantasy genre can also help because if you develop your world, the rules of it, you’ll only then need to create an interesting character. It’s much easier to just drop that character in the world and “see what they do.” Whereas with a contemporary novel, for example, there are typically fewer exciting things for the character to react to and interact with, making pantsing seem a little more contrived.

5. Write and revise

Now that you have your world building in place, your characters outlined, and your story outlined (maybe), you’re ready to write! Like I said, writing a fantasy novel has the same basic process of writing any novel, but you have a few more elements to keep track of, so remember to keep your notes on the world and systems on hand as you write.

6. Beta readers and feedback

Beta readers are volunteers who read your book, answer questions, and give you their opinions and interpretations of the book. They’re super helpful during revisions. So just like any other book, you’ll want feedback for your fantasy novel for additional revisions. With a fantasy novel, you might ask more questions than with a contemporary, like questions related to the worldbuilding and magic systems.


And when you’ve got your manuscript as clean as you can get it, you probably want to hire a professional editor . Editors for fantasy novels might cost more than the average novel , because fantasy novels typically have a higher word count. Additionally, there are many more things to keep track of, as there are more opportunities for plot holes when you’ve invented the universe yourself. So just be sure to budget enough money during the drafting process to hire your editor when you’ve finished.

In Conclusion

Fantasy novels are a fantastic way to express your creativity in every aspect of your novel. If you’ve got a big imagination, you’re ready to write an awesome story! Stay organized, build your world in a way that makes sense and allows the different elements to work off each other, outline the book , write the book, revise the book–delicious! You’ve written a fantasy novel!

writing a fantasy romance novel

Hannah Lee Kidder

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writing a fantasy romance novel

L ingering touches and stolen glances, jaw-dropping revelations and long-awaited reunions— the pleasures of romance novels abound . Yet for so long, one of the most popular (and lucrative) genres in publishing has centered stories by, for and about a homogeneous set of women, bolstering the stereotype of straight white women as the romantic ideal and cementing the economic power of writers who share that identity.

But despite long-standing systemic inequities, a growing set of authors has recently found success with swoony love stories featuring characters from backgrounds that reflect the diversity of the world we live in. Writers like Jasmine Guillory , who is about to publish her sixth novel in less than four years, and Tia Williams, whose latest novel was selected for Reese Witherspoon’s book club , celebrate Black women as romantic leads. Helen Hoang populates her best-selling fiction with neurodiverse characters, while Casey McQuiston , whose debut novel is set to be adapted by Amazon, fills her slightly fantastical worlds with queer characters. And with the door to more inclusive storytelling cracked open in the industry, newcomers like debut authors and real-life wives Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta are preparing to enter the scene. TIME spoke to these six romance authors about the evolution of the genre, the craft of writing and the novels that changed their lives.

We all have books that have shaped our perspectives. What was the first romance novel you ever read?

Onjuli Datta: I stole my mum’s copy of Sophie Kinsella’s Can You Keep a Secret? when I was way too young for it, and I was obsessed. There’s this scene where the heroine steals a scallop from the hero’s plate at dinner that I still think about when writing food—it was such a simple, sexy moment amidst the hijinks and drama.

Tia Williams: A Rose in Winter by Kathleen Woodiwiss. I was 8 years old, and way too young to be reading a sweeping bodice ripper. But the story definitely left its imprint on the fiction I’d grow up to write: high-stakes, ultra–dramatic, live-or-die, unreasonably romantic love stories.

What are the biggest misconceptions people have about the genre—and about writing it?

Helen Hoang: Lots of people think romance is cheap, trivial and the literary equivalent of pornography. To me, it’s an escape, catharsis, a bridge to build empathy, even a political or social statement, all while providing a full mind, heart and body experience.

Jasmine Guillory: There’s this idea that all romances are the same. Just because they all have happy endings doesn’t mean the books are the same. What happy means is different for everyone.

writing a fantasy romance novel
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    Writing Tips Oasis

    How to Write a Paranormal Romance Novel: The Ultimate Guide

    By Georgina Roy

    how to write a paranormal romance novel

    Welcome to Writing Tips Oasis’ Guide to writing a Paranormal Romance novel. Our series of guides began with our first guide, How to Write a Fiction Novel . In it, you can find more tips on how to write your novel. In this guide, we will be focusing more on the writing of a Paranormal Romance.

    Writing a paranormal romance novel can be a very exciting genre to explore. It is one of the rare genres where you can have two plots interwoven into one. One of them is the romance plot, and the other one can be mystery, thriller, horror – anything, as long as the paranormal element is present. For that reason, we’ve divided our guide into three parts: the romance, the paranormal, and the paranormal romance.

    Two things must be of note, however.

    You can write a paranormal romance novel where the plot focuses solely on the romance, while the paranormal aspect is mostly shown through world building. In addition, no matter how many times you might read (and believe) that there is such a thing as a formulaic plot that you can use for your story, you must remember this: formulaic plots become clichés very fast, especially when many authors decide to use the same plot over and over again. For example, the Twilight plot was regurgitated in many other YA Paranormal Romance books like Hush Hush , Fallen , and even more recent titles.

    A formulaic, regurgitated plot can only work once, and even then, most of the readers who will pick up your book will not become loyal fans. What you need to keep in mind is to always strive for originality, and, more importantly, each and every writing advice you will receive in your life must be adapted to yourself, your writing, and your writing method.

    With that in mind, we hope you will enjoy our guide and find it helpful.

    Part One: The Romance

    guide to writing paranormal romance

    The romance genre is the biggest genre in the world today, the most profitable, and the most numerous. Together with all its offshoot genres , like romantic thriller, romantic horror, romantic (insert any other genre here), there are millions, if not billions of romance books today.

    In this part, we will talk all about the romance. You will learn of some of the most common romance plots out there, as well as some of the things that have been overused so much, that they are slowly becoming clichés.

    1. The romance plot

    You might have been led to think that there are many different romance plots. The truth is, there aren’t that many plots: there are different interpretations of the same thing. We will refer to them later, in Romance Clichés. Here, we will talk about the three acts of a romance plot that are always the same:

    Act 1 : Meeting and falling in love.

    Act 2: The relationship gets intense, the hero or the heroine makes a mistake (usually the hero). The result is usually separation.

    Act 3: The hero or the heroine makes amends, both change and learn, and come back together to live happily ever after.

    There are some variations to this.

    The separation might happen at the beginning of the novel, if an existing couple is facing issues that are seemingly impossible to overcome. However, the hero doesn’t really leave the scene and neither does the heroine. Therefore, the second step, where the relationship gets intense remains the same – they are connecting even though they are not together. In this scenario, the couple gets back together in the end, and we have the happily ever after.

    Usually, in most romances, the hero chases the girl, or he cannot stop himself from falling in love with her. The heroine often takes on a passive role – someone who needs to be convinced of the hero’s love, rather than the other way around. Every romance story ends with a happily ever after. If it doesn’t, then it’s not a romance novel.

    The Happily Ever After – the HEA – is the genre’s most important demand, and if you are not going to end it with a HEA, you better give a really good reason as to why the hero and the heroine should not be together.

    2. The characters

    If one thing is needed for a romance plot to work, it is conflict. However, there is a specific type of conflict in a romance – the internal conflict. The hero, or the heroine (sometimes both, if necessary) need to feel an inner conflict over committing to a person or a relationship, over trusting someone else with who they really are. These types of inner conflicts are caused by, and explained as well, by the backstory. In other words, when you’re creating your characters, the hero and the heroine, make sure that:

    – At least one of them is not prepared for a relationship.

    – One of them makes an effort to reach the other person on an emotional level.

    – The hero and the heroine have a genuine romantic connection that blossoms into love.

    It is important to keep these things in mind when you’re creating the characters of your hero and heroine. They need to be different, however, their minds will need to be aligned – even if they argue – for the romance to be believable.

    This is where the importance of backstory comes in.

    The hero’s background might be vastly different than the heroine’s background. He might have issues that he needs to deal with, he might have trauma or problems from the past that have left a mark. That mark is now either causing him to want to reach out to the heroine, or it could cause him to reject the feelings and try to force a separation.

    The same applies to the heroine. However, in the end, they need to be able to come to an understanding of sorts, a connection of sorts, that will spark the love they’ll come to share. So, take really good care with the hero and heroine’s backgrounds and backstories, and make sure that both are directly related to the inner conflict that prevents both the hero and the heroine to just come together in a relationship at page 20 of your book.

    3. The hero clichés

    The romance genre is so big that there is a cliché version of every trope. For example:

    Trope: Alpha Hero. Cliché: Alpha-Hole.

    The alpha hero is someone who is strong on the outside, but vulnerable on the inside. He could be physically strong, in a position of power, and he uses that position of power for various reasons that actually make sense.

    The Alpha – Hole: think of the captain of a pirate ship. He is strong, he is fierce. He is also merciless and cruel, he murders people because they hurt his loved ones or threatened them, sometimes, he might even enjoy killing, especially if the setting is war. Being also in a position of power, the Alpha – Hole, unlike the alpha hero, will use that power to ensure the heroine either spends time with him, works with him, and sometimes, he will do some of the following things:

    – Bail out her finances (so that she owes him).

    -Place her in an apartment or a house under his control (again, in a position of power over her).

    – Hire her when she’s desperate so that they spend time together.

    In none of these cases can the heroine refuse (and while she will rage and show her discomfort, she will never say no – which is a heroine cliché). And then they talk, spend time together, and bam! Romance and a HEA. The heroine’s problems are also solved just because the hero can write a check with many zeroes like it’s nothing – and now she will be able to do the same.

    4. The heroine clichés

    The heroine clichés are often worse than the hero’s clichés, because they almost always show the woman as having a passive role in the plot, rather than an active one. She can be among the following:

    – An ugly duckling until she cleans up.

    – Socially awkward, has one friend.

    – Has many family members to take care of.

    – Is in dire financial straits.

    – Is probably quite short or extremely, awkwardly tall.

    – Is insecure about herself and lacks self-confidence despite being excellent at what she does.

    – Her job is usually low key: maybe she is a writer, an artist, a painter, a waitress, or she might hold a job at the hero’s company.

    – And the list can go on.

    The cliché heroine might make many mistakes, she might stumble often, she might fall, but the alpha – hole will always be there to catch her. In turn, she will discover that she is full of acceptance of alpha – hole and his many different flaws and qualities that are impossible to redeem. She makes him a good person.

    5. The Romance clichés

    And the cliché hero and the cliché heroine bring us to this: a cliché romance. In it, the hero basically stalks the heroine, but it’s okay – he stalks her because he cares, not because he is developing an unhealthy attraction towards the heroine.

    The heroine enjoys the attention because she is convinced that she has never been shown so much love and care before, so their romance means that the two of them are basically soul mates, despite the fact that the heroine is always in a reactive position and is given very little agency of her own. In fact, if you remove the heroine and bring another woman in her place, the details of the story might change, but the basic romance will remain the same.

    So, what can you do?

    What you can do is be original. There are many romance tropes. Study them. Read a lot of romance books, and read all of them with a critical eye. Try to understand each character: the hero and the heroine, and draw out the characteristics that make them clichés. See the connection between backstory, character, personality and story, see how the characters can dictate the story, especially if you create cliché characters.

    And then turn every trope on its head. Every cliché romance plot is up for grabs and for change. Put the woman in the position of power, make the hero a painter. Discover how a hero who is under the heroine’s financial protection (read: control) and explore how he would deal with it.

    Or, if the hero is in a position of power, have the heroine not accept it. Have her prefer to slum it with a friend rather than be under his control. Would she be his soul mate in that case? Probably not. Would he be interested in someone who isn’t subjugated under him, or will he walk away and find a woman who cannot start her day without his instructions?

    It’s not about feminism, or gender equality, although both come most often in romance, due to the male – female interaction. However, it is an undeniable fact that society’s preconceptions about men and women have always been present in the romance genre, so much so, that even from a storytelling point of view, these misconceptions have become clichéd stories. Just take a look at a romance novel from the 20th century, any novel, and then read a modern one. You will be able to grasp the differences – and the evolution of tropes and clichés if you read a lot of them.

    6. The story and character’s arcs

    The story of the romance depends on the character’s arcs, both the hero and the heroine. If the hero is a hard, cold, and emotionless person, he must change by the end of the novel, because the change will enable him to actually be in the relationship. If the heroine lacked self-confidence, she must undergo a change (and in the cliché romance, the hero is the one who changes her for the better) which enables her to believe in herself and in their relationship.

    However, just because the above two examples are clichés, they show the importance of the character’s arc in a romance novel. Remember, all clichés used to be original at some point in the past. It’s the reason why Twilight was so well received, and it’s the reason why it quickly became a cliché story – especially when many other authors decided to use the same elements: stalking, pursuing, coldness, followed by grudging acceptance of feelings and happily ever after (until book 2 anyway).

    In a romance novel, who the hero is and who the heroine is prevent them from being together. The hero might even pursue the heroine, but not feel ready to commit to her. However, these tropes can be turned around.

    What you need to do is practice the ‘what if’ scenario, and practice it really hard.

    Because romance tropes are very easy to regurgitate, even when you’re not aware of it. You think you’re writing a “better romance” than what came before, only to have someone else read it and tell you “Hey, this happened in Knocked Up ,” or another movie or novel that they have seen or read, respectively. However, the more you practice the ‘what if’ scenarios, the easier it will become. Soon, you will discover how the first attributes you gave the heroine have already been written about often, and you will discover that instead of a realistic hero, you’ve created an alpha – hole who has to get his way, everything else be damned.

    Remember, the story and the characters’ arcs are connected – and backstory and background must become integral to the story and the plot. But that doesn’t mean that your choices of stories are limited to cliché romances.

    Part Two: The Paranormal

    how to write a paranormal romance book

    Before we talk about the creation of paranormal romance, we must talk about the paranormal itself. Paranormal is a catch-all term – an umbrella, of sorts, and underneath that umbrella, you have creatures whose origins can be found in world’s mythology and religion, creatures of legends like the vampire and the werewolf, angels and demons, shape shifters of all kinds and species.

    However, the paranormal is not just about the paranormal creatures and paranormal characters. The world itself is changed by their presence, and it is within this world that your romance will happen. It is within this world that you need to combine two different plots into one, and as such, the paranormal aspect of your novel is the foundation upon which you will build your story. As such, you must treat the world with equal importance – think of it as a character.

    In the second part of this guide, we will try to help you to create an imaginative paranormal world that, while different from our world, many of us can imagine living in.

    1. World building

    When it comes to your paranormal world, you need to remember one thing: if the world doesn’t make sense, neither will the romance you will tell, especially if the hero or the heroine is a paranormal person, not a 100% human being. The paranormal world offers many possibilities, and you’d be surprised to learn that what you need to know how to do is stop.

    You need to know when to stop. It might seem interesting to have both vampires and angels in the same world, however, you must ensure that it makes sense. For example, Nalini Singh, one of the world’s most famous paranormal romance writers, has actually managed to put angels and vampires together in the same world in her Guild Hunter series. And she managed to do it because she gave the angels and the vampires a connection, and she has mostly kept the story revolving around them.

    And that’s exactly the kind of world you need. You need to create a paranormal world. Inherently, there will be magic in it. Whether you will have psychic people living among normal humans, whether you will have witches, wizards, mages and demons, cyber toothed cats from ancient times, gods and goddesses come to life, you cannot simply throw every possible myth and legend at the wall and see what will stick.

    You need to think it through.

    Which paranormal creatures will you include?

    How is the world changed by their presence?

    What is their society like, if they have any?

    What is their life like? What sets them apart from humans, and what makes them so interesting to write about?

    What else dwells in your world?

    What does normal human life look like in that world? How do men and women fall in love, and who do they fall in love with?

    But, most of all, remember to set limits. And you will learn why in the next section.

    2. Deus-ex-machina

    Deus-ex-machina is a term that is used to explain when something unexpected and inexplicable happens in a story that saves the day, but doesn’t really make sense in the narrative sense. The deus-ex-machina solution was prominent in ancient plays, where playwrights got the characters out of a nasty situation with the “help of the gods.”

    And the problem with that is the fact that today, such a story is not a reflection of our modern world. We rarely get divine help, so when a protagonist or a character is taken out of a nasty situation, the readers are not pleased. They are not pleased at all.

    You’d think that such a thing might not happen in a paranormal romance. After all, what’s going to happen, a goddess will come to solve the heroes’ problems?

    As a matter of fact, it has happened that a goddess actually lifts a curse off of a certain demon so that he can live happily ever after with his chosen mate. But since the goddess in question was the goddess of chaos, and that particular pairing was going to cause chaos and change on a larger level, it made sense in the narrative.

    And therein might lay your problem: you might create a character that is so paranormally overpowered that the story falls apart. The reader will realize that the problem was easy to solve in the first place, and the reader will feel cheated as a result.

    So, the deus-ex-machina might not actually happen in your story as an event, but it might happen as a person. No one likes overpowered heroes and heroines, just as no one likes overly clumsy heroines that cannot do anything by themselves.

    Keep your characters balanced and limited, even if they are witches and wizards, or mages, or vampires with paranormal powers. Ensure that their powers make sense in the story and the world, and make sure that they are limited – otherwise, your story will come apart.

    In the meantime, never forget the change that the creatures’ presence brings to the world – even if they live hidden from the general population. When they are hidden, the world will be changed as well, just not in such an obvious manner. The changes will be subtle, but they must be there for the world to make sense.

    3. Continuation of the story

    Repeat after me: nothing will ever give me a better chance for a continuation of the story – for creating a series – than a good paranormal romance book.

    Because even if you finish the story of the couple’s romance in the first book, you can write another book set in the same universe, using different characters as the hero and the heroine. Bonus points if you bring back a side character from the previous novel as the hero of his own story, and double bonus points when the hero and heroine appear as side characters to help the new couple with a problem. Just Google paranormal romance series, and many, many, many different series will prop up in the results.

    As long as you ensure that the new romance is different than the old but still makes sense in the paranormal world, your second book will draw even more readers to you. This happens because readers often pick up book 5, for example, realize that this is a part of a series featuring different characters – and they often go back and read the whole set, especially if they like the book that they’ve picked up (book 5 in our example).

    The draw here is the same as the draw of TV: each installment features a different couple, and it feels like you’re watching a new episode set in the same world. To achieve this, you will need a bigger overall plot, however, with outlining and planning, you can create a series that will go on for many books.

    4. Difference between urban fantasy and paranormal romance

    A very common problem that occurs today is the confusion between paranormal romance and urban fantasy as genres. The thing is, both are very similar and often feature the same things: a paranormal aspect and a romance aspect. However, in urban fantasy, you might or might not have a romance, but in a paranormal romance, the presence of the paranormal and the romance is imperative.

    As such, a well-crafted urban fantasy with a romantic aspect, like Ilona Andrews’ Hidden Legacy and Kate Daniels series, might be considered urban fantasy. In fact, Hidden Legacy is even considered and marketed as a paranormal romance, just because it ticks the right paranormal romance boxes. However, the happily ever after comes at the end of the third book in the trilogy (for now), while in most paranormal romances, the happily ever after comes at the end of the first book, even if the second book continues developing the romance between the hero and the heroine.

    When it comes to urban fantasy, however, the happily ever after might never come. If it does come, it comes in the middle of the series, and even then, the story continues because of the overarching plot of the series, not because of the romance.

    In paranormal romance, the story continues because of the romance. The hero and the heroine will face different challenges, but the story is about the romance between the two. For example, take Richelle Mead’s Georgina Kincaid series. Told by the point of view of the heroine, who is a succubus, the story revolves around her love and relationship with a mortal. There is a semblance of a HEA at the end of the first book, but their romance is not just a side plot (as it would be in an urban fantasy novel), but it’s the main thread that connects all six books together.

    In urban fantasy, romance is something that happens, especially if you want to make your story as realistic as possible. In real life, we date, have relationships, experience heartbreak and overwhelming joy – why should people be any different (or unemotional or uninterested in romance) just because they live in a paranormal, urban fantasy world?

    In a paranormal romance, however, the romance is either the dominant plot or a plot that’s equal to the other plot. The main plot might be what brings the hero and heroine together, but as the story progresses, so does the romance, and the importance of the romance increases more and more until the two plots come together at the end for the ultimate HEA. It is one of the reasons why it might seem that a paranormal romance will be easy to write, when in fact, it demands just as much effort as any other book, in any other genre.

    5. Urban fantasy elements in a paranormal romance world

    We talked previously about the other plot that does not revolve around the romance between the hero and the heroine. That plot is the urban fantasy plot in a paranormal romance. Depending on how your story goes, this plot can decide whether you’re writing urban fantasy or paranormal romance.

    When both plots are of equal importance, you have a paranormal romance. When the urban fantasy plot is what drives the overall story, you have urban fantasy. That doesn’t mean, however, that you cannot have an urban fantasy plot in a paranormal romance novel.

    That’s because any other plot in a paranormal world will touch upon urban fantasy. Mystery revolving around murders or thefts becomes urban fantasy when they involve paranormal creatures – and they must involve them because they are a part of your world.

    If your other plot can happen in a world that’s not paranormal, then you need to rethink your story. If the hero is a mage but never does anything with his magic, then why is he a mage? If the world features great beasts that are dangerous to humans, you need a group of people (or mages or vampires, or whatever species you will choose) to fight them to protect the ones they love. If your heroine is one of those protectors, and your readers never see her “on duty” your world is not believable.

    A heist becomes doubly fun when it involves paranormal creatures, or when the artifact to be stolen has magical properties and can be very dangerous to everyone involved. The paranormal world offers the chance to write a different spin on medical thrillers, it offers the chance to include horror in a romance story, something that can be very difficult to achieve with horror set in the real world.

    A detective story becomes doubly more difficult to write when the detective protagonist can read minds – how does one keep a secret from him, how can you write a murder mystery story when the detective only has to be in the same room with the murderer to know that?

    This is where we reiterate our caution of overdoing it: beware of creating such overpowered characters that they:

    – Don’t need to change at all.

    – Can solve most problems in less than a page.

    Because then you couldn’t possibly tell a story about them.

    On the other hand, the urban fantasy elements offer great opportunities for interesting, never-before-seen backstories. Your heroine could have been raised by a pack of animals due to her magical powers. That type of heroine might be unable to connect with people in general, she might suffer from abandonment issues, or she might be a well-developed individual whose world view is more black and white than gray.

    Your hero could have been a good kid, but his paranormal abilities have changed him so much that his innocence is lost. All in all, the possibilities are endless, the characters that you can create in such a world can be very vivid and larger than life (however, don’t forget to keep them real and not making them overpowered).

    6. World building errors to avoid

    We talked about the overpowered character earlier. We also mentioned how you can also view the world as a character. Is it possible to create the overpowered world?

    Yes. Of course it is.

    Imagine a world where most people can fly. Hey, I want to write a romance up in the clouds. People fly, you might say.

    The readers’ first question will be: why and how do people fly?

    What will you answer?

    If the planet has low gravity, there will still be some gravity to prevent people from flying. In low gravity, and in no gravity really, people bounce and float, but they still need a propulsion system to fly. So, maybe they could get their hairdryers and use them as a propulsion method – except, if the world has been like that since the dawn age, then why haven’t they invented a better propulsion method to fly?

    Well, you might say, it’s not low gravity. They just fly. It’s their magical ability.

    Okay, the readers will say. What kind of magical ability? Are there more magical abilities? What happens with those people who cannot fly?

    (Now, this is where you will see the difference between a well-developed world, and a wonky one.)

    Answer 1: Yes, there are more. There is a list. Those who can fly burn through so much energy that they die earlier than other people. Then there are the people who can read minds. Do you know that they go mad unless they find a way to control their gift? Hey, then there is the spellcasters, who can cast any spell, but it chips away at their minds slowly until they don’t remember their own name. Those who fly don’t carry another power, and the power is not genetic. The world is magic, but often, the magic has no other outlet but flying.

    Answer 2: No, it’s just that people fly. They always have. Their bodies are just lighter, and they hop off of something (usually the ground), and they fly because they’re magic. Also, when they fly, they cannot be shut down, but the hero’s brother was, and the heroine is a suspect in the brother’s murder.

    Can you spot the difference between the two examples?

    In the first example, we’re trying to develop the world more, but also give it some limitations. The easiest path is always the consequence for using the magical power, however, you can dance around many ideas for limits before you find the one that fits best.

    In the second example, you can take away the flying and still have the same romance, where the hero’s brother has been murdered and he falls in love with one of the suspects.

    The biggest mistake you can make when building your world is to add something “just because it’s cool.” We’re not saying not to add something “just because it’s cool” – you can do that because you’re the author and you’re the God and creator of your world. However, when you add something cool, make sure to add it logically and weave it into the world, rather than just put it in there without cause.

    So, how do you weave it?

    With continuity. Make sure to always be on top of your world – you know what happened to the world, in broad terms, and then as you write your story and develop your world more, make sure that there are no inconsistencies. This is one of the things that you must pay attention, especially during the editing process when you must catch all inconsistencies and errors. Why? Because if you don’t, your world will resemble the second example more, instead of the first.

    Part Three: The Paranormal Romance

    paranormal romance writing tips

    Finally, we arrived to the Paranormal Romance itself. Here, you will learn how and why you need to combine the romance and the paranormal world into one. We will talk about the dual plot and what it means, how to develop it, and how to bring the separate plots into one. In addition, you will learn about the difference between a romantic relationship in the normal world and a romantic relationship in a paranormal world.

    1. The meaning of dual plot

    Before we continue, let’s get one thing out of the way: a novel can have a dual plot even if it’s not a paranormal romance. The ideal dual plot is the amalgamation of two plots that intersect each other – as in, progress in the paranormal plot will cause progress in the romance plot – and vice versa.

    The actual development of the dual plot is up to you. You might create the paranormal plot first, and then plan the romance plot along the way. Keep in mind, though, that since romance depends so much on your characters and their personalities, the romance plot is less urgent compared to the paranormal plot.

    For example, if you have a paranormal murder mystery, then the story appears to move forward along with the murder mystery plot. On the way, the romance will happen, and without the murder mystery plot, it wouldn’t have happened. In addition, you must make sure that if you take out the romance, the murder mystery wouldn’t have gotten solved either.

    You can go the other way around: start with the romance, especially if you’re writing a paranormal romance novel where the romance is of bigger importance, and where you don’t really have a dual plot, but a romance plot and a side plot that happens as a result of the romance. Remember, the presence of a dual plot is not strictly necessary. Each genre has its rules, that’s true, however, rules are also meant to be broken. It’s a risk to break a rule of a genre, but, you can also reap great rewards if you do it well.

    If you wish to write a paranormal romance novel where both the paranormal plot and the romance plot equally dominate the story, then the best way to go for it is to develop it at the same time. Take a look at basic plotting (not detailed plotting). In the basic plot, you have Act 1, Act 2, and Act 3. You can divide the first act into two parts: the normal world and the entrance to the new world, after a point of no return.

    There are two important moments in the first act. The first moment is the point of no return: where the protagonist cannot ignore the “call of duty” because of an event that represents this point of no return – no matter what the protagonist does, he must go forward because the world he or she knew no longer exists. At the end of the first act, you have the decision moment – where the protagonist decides to fight for the world he lost, when he decides to bring it back by solving the problem.

    Act 2 represents the protagonist’s journey and fight. During the second act, the protagonist changes and comes to the second decision moment: and this time, that decision leads to the resolution of the story, which is what Act 3 is about.

    When you are trying to create a dual plot composed of two plots that come together, you need to plan these three acts twice: once for the paranormal plot and once for the romance plot. The good news: they don’t need to have the same pace. The decision moment we talked about above doesn’t need to be the same moment for both plots. Depending on character, point of view and narrative, one of the plots can go faster while the other one can be subtler and go slower (usually the romance plot).

    The best way to go for it is to create a very detailed outline for the story. By outline, we mean defining the defining plot points for both the romance and the paranormal plot. And then, you must find a way not only to bring these together – but to ensure that the paranormal plot points lead to the romance plot points and vice versa.

    Thankfully, the romance genre is versatile. When you imbue emotion in your characters, and when you amplify that emotion by a thousand fold, even a normal day at home or the office – or a paranormal hunt becomes a lot more dramatic.

    2. How to create a paranormal romance world

    We talked extensively about world building in this guide, especially about the paranormal world and why it’s important to develop it well and give it limits.

    When it comes to creating a paranormal world with romance – or a paranormal romance world – you need to create a balance. As in, you must ensure that there is time, within the course of the novel, for the romance to happen. Romance stories rarely develop over several years, especially if they are set in a paranormal world where things can happen very quickly.

    However, if all your scenes are fast paced scenes: action, fights, car chases and explosions, fast scene after fast scene, with barely any time for reflection and understanding on the side of the characters, then you will not leave time for romance.

    And romance needs time to develop. Pace your novel well, create a balance between the fast scenes and the slower ones, and most of all, ensure that your characters can enjoy some genuinely romantic scenes together.

    Which means – you also need places in your world that scream romance. For example, maybe your heroes need to track someone in the desert. That doesn’t really scream romance, does it? Unless your story depends on the desert itself, then see if you can change it to a different location. For example, in one of Jeaniene Frost’s paranormal romance novels, the heroes were tracking the villain in Vegas, and having a glass shower in the middle of the suite didn’t hurt the romance at all.

    In conclusion, ensure that there are places in the world where your heroes can find moments to reflect – and to enable the romance to happen. Nothing gets the blood boiling faster than a fight, that’s true, but it’s not just about passion – romance novels are also about intimacy and emotional connection. And you must ensure that your heroes are in places where they can indulge in it.

    3. How the romance changes in a paranormal world

    If you go back to the example in the previous section – with the romance up in the clouds – you will understand that romance itself changes in a paranormal world. If angels walk among us, how do we enter relationships? Does the human necessity for emotional connection and mutual attraction remain the same?

    Or, if your characters are shapeshifters who only mate once for life, how do they discover their mate? If it’s just by sight, you could also write a romance novel about love at first sight and still have the same story.

    Moreover, if your hero or heroine has special powers, how do those affect him or her, and how do those powers affect his or her attitude towards relationships? Is she afraid to touch another human being because she has a gift that can hurt another person through touch?

    How does a couple function when one touch can lead to mind reading and knowing everything? How will the heroine deal with being in a relationship with a man who can read her thoughts – and vice versa?

    In addition, if one of the characters can actually fly, can you really have a romance novel without a kiss up in the clouds? The short answer is not really, while the long answer says that a kiss up in the clouds must be important to the overall plot (both plots) in order for such a scene to be justified.

    4. The happy ending: yes or no?

    As we previously said, a romance novel demands the Happily Ever After. It’s the basic requirement of the genre. In fact, some people and authors say that if your novel has romance that doesn’t have a happy ending, then it’s not a romance.

    We also said that rules are meant to be broken – and that’s also true. However, every time you break a rule, you carry the risk of losing readers. You need to understand that when a dedicated romance fan picks up a romance book (or paranormal romance, in our case), and they don’t get a HEA, then you are left with a low rating and probably a negative Goodreads review. On the other hand, if a casual fan picks up a romance novel and there is no HEA, then the casual fan will probably be less subjective and more objective in his or her review.

    In this day and age, word of mouth over the internet (that is, through social media websites like Twitter, Facebook, and especially Goodreads), is highly important – which means that even when you write a book about yourself, you are also writing it for the readers. And readers of the romance genre expect the HEA.

    If you do decide to break the rules, however, you must ensure that you break them in a way that makes sense. Maybe the hero or heroine will turn into the villain, or maybe one of them will be too much of an antagonist to the other – so much so, that instead of growth and development, he or she will cause negative emotions, pain and suffering that is so extensive that a relationship between the two people will be impossible to come to via cause and effect. In the end, it’s your decision – and oftentimes, the story itself dictates its own progression and end.

    5. Tips on writing, editing and proofreading a paranormal romance novel

    When you write a novel, it’s important to find your own method. It’s your choice to allow inspiration to come to you for every scene and every chapter – or you can choose to write a certain amount of words each and every day in order to finish your novel faster. Both ways have their own merits: if you wait for inspiration, then you will enjoy writing the novel a lot more. The downside is that it will take a longer period of time to write it.

    On the other hand, if you write every day (as it is the case with NaNoWriMo, for example, where thousands of writers all over the world decide to write a 50K word novel in four weeks), you will write your novel faster, that’s true. However, you will need to edit it, once, twice, three, ten, and maybe even twenty times in order to polish your manuscript to perfection.

    So, here are some of the things that you must pay attention during the editing process:

    • Correct spelling and grammar;
    • Repetitive words;
    • Repetitive phrases;
    • Long descriptions that slow the pace;
    • Too many fight scenes that leave no room for reflection;
    • Purple prose can be both good and bad: if you’re naturally lyrical in your prose, ensure that the prose is actually readable and easy to comprehend;
    • World building inconsistencies;
    • Plot holes.

    You will need objectivity, so make sure to get a beta reader. The beta reader can be a friend, a family member, or you can hire a beta reader who has done that previously. If you need more tips on writing and editing a novel, make sure to check our guide to writing a novel, or our guide to writing a post-apocalyptic novel .

    Writing a novel of any genre is difficult. Romance might give the impression that it is an easier genre to write, however, the truth is that romance can be the most difficult genre. In any novel, you need to touch the readers’ emotions, but in a romance novel, you need not only to touch their emotions – you also need to make an impact.

    When you add in the paranormal aspect, your world building has just become a lot more difficult.

    On the other hand, there is a reason why the romance genre is the most popular genre in the world. Once you decide to get on the journey of writing it, make sure that you find your own writing pace, method, and ways of developing your story and your characters.

    Today, there is more than enough material that can teach you everything you need to know about writing a paranormal romance novel, both online and in books. Our final advice is to read as many books as you can in the genre, read as much as you can about how to write a paranormal romance, but use that material as help, not as gospel. You need to adapt every tip and trick to yourself, because every writer is unique.

    How to Write a Paranormal Romance Novel: The Ultimate Guide is an article from Writing Tips Oasis . Copyright © 2014-2017 Writing Tips Oasis All Rights Reserved

    Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic. As an art student, she’s moonlighting as a writer and is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her laptop, trying to create her own.

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