Women have read the romance genre for years; however, men are now getting into the genre, which widens the target audience market and how you write your romance story.
If you enjoy romance novels and want to write something in your free time, writing a romance novel can be exciting. For freelancers, this can be done after work or over the weekends.
Writing a romance novel can be fun, especially if you have it all planned, although blank pages and writer's block can become challenging.
This article will help you by providing a romance novel outline that will get you back to falling in love with your characters.
Here's how you can put together a romance novel outline.
How to Write a Romance Novel Outline: Crafting a Captivating Love Story
It is important to work on the idea of your romantic story before you start working on your outline. Knowing where the story begins and how it has to unfold over time is key to putting your romantic novel outline together.
Before starting the outline, let's discuss some points necessary for your romance story structure.
Know Who Your Audience Is
Knowing who your audience is before you start writing will help you find your characters and develop the story's plot.
If you know your intended age group, you can aim your story to meet your desired audience's interests. This way, you won’t have to try to satisfy all romance readers but focus more on your target market.
Create Your Character Profiles
Your characters need to be well-developed; they should also be relatable and realistic for your readers.
This will help your readers connect with the characters on an emotional level. Conflicted characters will keep the readers engaged, especially in a romance novel.
You can give your characters a situational conflict – outside of their control or give them internal conflict, which they are in control of and responsible for regarding the results. Both these types can be combined to create an even bigger conflict and give the plot a realistic feel.
When it comes to creating characters, start with the basics: who they are, how they look, what their career or income level is, and what their childhood was like. List their strengths and weaknesses, the characters that are important to them in a relationship, and highlight any deal breakers.
Knowing all the basics of your characters, such as who your hero or heroine is, will help determine the type of conflict that will impact the relationships you are trying to develop between your characters.
Romance Genre Plot
Four traditional tropes make up the romance story structure when writing your romance novel outline and need to be taken into consideration.
- The hero or heroine falls in love.
- They experience conflict, and the relationship is threatened.
- Their love is unique—nothing that they have experienced before.
- A resolution is provided, the conflict is sorted out, and the couple ends up together.
These conventions are what readers expect to see when reading your book. Find unique ways to use the basic structure and ensure that you do not give them the same generic classic romantic book trope.
Romance Subgenre Plot
Each romance novel will have a subgenre that must fit into your plot idea. Here are a few examples of how subgenres will affect the romance novel outline.
- The happily ever after (HEA) subgenre means that the hero and the heroine must overcome the conflict and end up together as soul mates. In this outline, the third act will focus on resolving any lingering conflict between the characters, and the characters get their happily ever after.
- Clean/sweet romance will limit any sexual situations and profanity. The most romantic scenes would be a marriage proposal or a first kiss.
- More than one love interest? Adding a third party to create more conflict among our main characters can be a unique take on the subgenre third party.
- Romances that have erotica as a subgenre will focus on sexual content and have profanity in them. The romantic arc in this story is sex, which begins at the start of the book and gradually increases as the book continues. It is important to remember that although sex is important to the storyline, it is secondary to the main story and the character arcs.
- The happy for now (HFN) romantic subgenre will result in the hero or heroine accepting their situation and finding peace without ending up together. There might still be some conflict at the end, but the character's lives are happy and stable.
Once you have figured out the above, you can get started on your romance novel outline.
Act One: The Hook/Setup
This is your opportunity to hook your readers and draw them into the story from the first sentence.
The first act is where our characters will meet. You get to choose how they meet. It can be a unique setting or even a meet-cute.
This will also give the reader a basic idea of who these characters are and what is happening in their lives up to this point.
When the characters meet, the attraction and the potential conflict should be clear among the characters.
There can also be refusal and rejection within the first act, as the conflict can be based on several reasons and could focus on their current life situation, personalities, or backstory. The rejection, however, leads the characters to still want to be together, which hints to the reader that they might end up together eventually.
Act Two: The Confrontation, Action, and False Victory
This act is based on the romantic tension between the characters. There will be different needs you have to fulfill in terms of the subgenre you have chosen for your book and give the readers what they expect and build up to.
Test the waters with your characters, give in to situations to see the outcome, and watch the story unfold as they fight to be apart and still end up in one another’s space. Allow them to spend more time together, such as going on a date or trying to be friends to get to know each other.
Getting to know each other will allow trust to form and for them to be attracted to each other more deeply. They will also learn about each other, making them not want to be together long-term.
Although one of these characters might want to pursue the friendship or relationship despite the differences, the other might want to end it completely. This conflict will keep the characters at war with each other and themselves and have your readers pulling their hair out for it all to work out.
The midpoint crisis will arrive when both characters are ready to commit and work on the relationship. This crisis can come from anywhere and knock both characters off their feet. Think back on a backstory, a weakness, or even a flaw that can serve as a crisis between the two.
After working through the crisis, there will be a reconciliation. This is when both characters have to go back and work on the relationship by themselves in a realistic way. Internal and external forces will be involved while they struggle to get back together.
Remember that external forces can include things that bring them together or factors out of their control, making it hard for them to be in the same space. Internal factors will be based on their personal development and the changes they want to make. This sense of vulnerability will lead to the characters developing a much deeper level of intimacy.
While struggling with their personal crisis and other issues, the characters fall in love with each other. They will acknowledge this to each other and themselves even though they are still weary of the future of having a relationship.
Their physical intimacy will escalate at this point, leading to a breakup. The reason for the breakup should be significant to the story and have just as much emotion as the characters falling in love.
The reasons should again tie into their background, weaknesses, or flaws but have more weight than the first crisis the couple has endured.
Act Three: Happily Ever After
The start of act three will involve one or both characters making a sacrifice or a choice. This is a permanent solution to the struggles they are going through or a clear choice to be with the person they are in love with.
The choice should be extremely difficult to make and hard to live without. However, it will work regarding the relationship as it will help the characters overcome their crisis and prove their love for one another.
This brings the romantic structure to a close as the sacrifice has been made, and the other person has accepted it, meaning they get to live happily ever after. You can give the reader some closer by looking into the couple's future lives or ending the final chapter, wrapping up any questions the reader might have.
The above outline will help you plan your romance story structure and guide you when writing a romance novel.
Working out the meat of any story will allow you to avoid plot holes or needing to create unnecessary information that does not fit the story to fill in the blanks.
Be sure to follow the tips provided closely. You can also check out our writing packages that offer an outline writing service within them, so you do not have to do it yourself.