The Beginner’s Guide to Romance

What makes a romance?

There are love stories—and then there are romances.

With love stories, you can never guarantee it will turn out well. Romance novels always promise an uplifting, satisfying ending. In romance writing, we call this an HEA—Happily Ever After (though some of the steamier books may settle for an HFN – Happily…For Now.)

And those are the only “rules” of Romance writing. (That, and you never, ever kill the dog!)

Romances are as well-crafted as any other genre of literature—and the most popular by miles! Internationally, romance consistently outsells all other fiction genres, and on average romance writers out-earn other writers by 170%.

Romances are entertainment. They aim to take the reader through the whole gamut of emotions as the main characters, heterosexual or otherwise, overcome obstacles and grow to care for each other.

Romances can be fantastical or highly realistic. The romance genre takes in everything from thrillers to comedy, from hot threesomes to white trash zombies. Even Victorian steampunk adventurers need love!

How to get started in romance

If you’re new to reading or writing romance, a good place to start is by exploring the best that’s out there right now:

  • See what our RWNZ members write. New Zealand may be a small country, but when it comes to writing romance we punch above our weight. Many of our members are popular authors with international followings.
  • Take advantage of the knowledge of your local librarians—or specialist romance bookshops such as Chapter.
  • Read reviews and look for recommendations on blogs such as Dear Author.
  • Look for top-rated romances on websites such as Goodreads and LibraryThing.
  • Look for award-winning books, such as those in the annual RT Book Review awards or those books that final in the RWA Rita’s.

Have fun discovering what you like in this broad, appealing genre. Whoever you are, whatever your tastes, there is a romance for you.