How to Write a Romance Book: Top 5 Writing Books

writing books for romance writers

Looking for tips on how to write a romance?

Romance readers are voracious. Many read multiple books per week. The romance industry is massive when it comes to reading. According to RWA (Romance Writers of America), an organization for romance writers, this billion-dollar business continues to thrive.

I write in two sub-genres of romance along with mystery, and wanted to share a few writing tips and resources to help you. Note: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. (disclosure)

Within romance, you’ll want to become familiar with the different sub-genres, because like many things, narrowing the gap helps you build your audience. Finding your niche will allow you to find your target market and shape your marketing visual accordingly. Also, it’s important to match reader expectations.

Wikipedia breaks down the romance sub-genres here, and Harlequin is a good resource of information. I’ll discuss the different sub-genres below. First let’s jump into some great books on how to write romance, so you’ll be able to find the exact resource you need.

5 Awesome Books on How to Write a Romance

Are you ready to get started? When it comes to romance, this group of writing books stood out for actionable information, solid tips, and easy-to-understand explanations. I highly recommend them to the aspiring romance writer.

How to Write a Brilliant Romance – by Susan May Warren

…whatever your hero’s noble cause is, it needs to be strong enough for us to love him and forgive him when he does something stupid.

Susan May Warren

I adored this book. I took so many notes, that I went looking for more of her material, bought two more books, and then joined her Novel.Academy. Her teaching style suits me, and the way she explains things really helped me up my writing game. I highly recommend reading this book if you’re a new romance writer. You’ll see on my list of top writing books for beginners, showcasing my favorite books, Susan May Warren makes another appearance.

Kate Walker’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance – Kate Walker

Think of the emotion that you believe your scene needs — then double it.

Kate Walker

I highlighted this book so much, because the information was nailing home some simple points I really needed when I first started. This is a valuable resource for romance readers.

Liz Fielding’s Little Book of Romance Writing – Liz Fielding

…there has to be danger in this increasing intimacy. If there is no reason to resist the attraction, there would be no story.

Liz Fielding

I love, love, loved this book. There’s so much great information swaddled up in this gem. Seriously, grab this for your resources. This is an awesome book that is perfect when you want to learn how to write romance. It covers emotion, dialogue, characters, tension, and so much more.

Romance-Ology 101 – Julie Lessman

…there is something so emotionally charged about a person whose romantic vulnerabilities are exposed.

Julie Lessman

If you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can read this title free. Okay, so book not only talks about things like escalating romantic tension, but also offers tips like how to build emotion by adding things like a child or pet, elements of surprise, and also discussed the multiple types of kisses in romance books. This is a great resource you definitely want to add to your writing book collection.

Romancing the Beat – Gwen Hayes

…during this phase, our characters are still going to proclaim their unwillingness to change, but it’s your job to start shooting holes in the walls they have build around their hearts.

Gwen Hayes

This books is recommended over and over in writing groups. It’s such a quick, fun read, and uses language that really helps you grasp what each scene is about. I love the fun language used in this resource, but more than anything, I love how many a-ha moments I had while reading it.

You truly can’t go wrong with any of these titles, but I’m glad I have each of them. They’ve given me an arsenal of writing tips, and help that has moved me light years ahead of where I would have been in my writing journey.

A Note About Romance Sub-Genres

First let me clarify — many people will write a story and ask, how do I know if this is a suspense with romance or if it’s a romantic suspense story? What genre do I put it in? It has both elements.

A romance centers on a story about two people falling in love. If you took the romance out of the book, and the story is fine, it’s not a romance. These stories revolve around the emotional growth and connection of two people coming together.

That means there should be a “happily-ever-after” at the end of the story that shows your couple together. The couple’s LOVE STORY is the focus of the story. This goes for mystery, comedy, and whatever other genre or sub-genre you’re looking at. If it’s a story that revolves around a woman’s life and growth, and there just happens to be a love interest in the story, but it centers more around her friendship or work, that’s women’s fiction. The love story needs to be the central theme and plot of a romance.

Romance Sub-Genres for the Romance Writer

There are seven basic sub-genres in romance, but on retailers like Amazon, they may break them down into many, smaller sectors to help readers find what they’re looking for based on things like trope, inspirational, or other elements such as new adult. These are the seven sub-genres that RWA currently lists.

Based on BISAC, a categorization system, there are multiple slots covering many more topics. These are categories you select when you’re marketing your book through a retailer. You can see a massive list of fiction categories here, via the Book Industry Study Group. When you scroll down, you’ll notice the slew of different topics of more niche topics in romance.

Okay, without further ado, the most common sub-genres of romance are as follows: Contemporary Romance, Erot*c Romance, Historical Romance, Paranormal Romance, Romantic Suspense, Romance with Spiritual/Inspirational Elements, and Young Adult Romance.

A List of Romance Sub-Genres

Contemporary Romance is current day romance, written in modern times. Generally, they look at this period as “the last fifty years” to the current time period. Once you go beyond fifty years, you’re heading into Historical Romance. Historical can also be broken down into smaller segments like: Regency, Wild West, and Victorian.

Contemporary romance can then be broken down into smaller segments too, such as romantic-comedy, but again, it’s a modern story. You can just as easily have a romantic-comedy set in historical romance, which is why they have these overarching categories.

Paranormal Romance has an element of the supernatural. Think angels, devils, shapeshifters, and vampires. Paranormal Romance explores the boundaries of characters or the elements of the supernatural world, while keeping romance at the heart of the story.

Romantic Suspense is a romance story that has an element of danger. It usually includes a fast-paced story with plenty of action. You still need to keep the romantic core of the story front and center.

Romance with Spiritual Tones is also Inspirational Romance. What sets this apart is that the story includes an element of faith. If you could take the faith portion out of your book and the story stands, then it wouldn’t be considered Inspirational Romance. Faith is crucial to this sub-genre. You’ll find these often listed as Amish and Christian Romance in big retailers like Amazon.

Erot*c Romance is romance that focuses on the physical aspects of the story, all entangled with the emotional aspect of growth. It’s often labeled as “spicy romance.” Spicy romance books have an open door policy on sex scenes. As opposed to the sub-genre listed above which would only include elements of their physical portion of the story “behind closed doors” or otherwise, no details on the page.

Young Adult Romance features younger characters who are on a romantic journey. These books offer an emotional roller-coaster ride, often filled with angst about coming of age as it relates to their romantic relationship.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you’d like to see a full list of my favorite writing books, check it out here.

Privacy Preference Center