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  • Writer's pictureKaty Berritt

How to Write a Romance Novel in a few (not-so) Easy Steps

How to Write a Romance Novel in 9, 12, 14, 16 (not-so) Easy Steps

In the world of novel writing, there are two kinds of writers; Plotters and Pantsers.


  1. Develop the plot

  2. Research/outline any details that are needed to make the plot work.

  3. Outline who the characters are.

  4. This includes whatever horrible backstory they might have. Read: partner cheated, partner lied, partner died. Also, lousy parents, insecurity due to cellulite, saggy boobs, evil stepmother, evil stepbrother, evil ex-lover, whatever. You get the idea.

  5. Describe in detail what they look like. We don't want the hero to have green eyes in Chapter Two and blue eyes in Chapter Fourteen.

  6. Determine/describe the conflict. Conflict is what keeps our characters from falling in love and getting married in Chapter Two, thereby creating the world's shortest romance novel.

  7. Write out what the BLACK MOMENT will be! The BLACK MOMENT is when it seems like the couple will never, ever, ever manage to get together, therby creating that all-important tension. Without tension, the book will be boring as shit.

  8. Detail how the conflict is solved.

  9. Last but not least, create a chapter-by-chapter syllabus. Some writers actually start with the ending of the book and work backwards. To me, that is like a miracle. I never know how my book is going to end. Crap, I don't even know how this blog is going to end.

Here's the thing; PANTSERS HATE PLOTTERS! I'm a Pantser. What's a Pantser you ask? A Pantser is a writer who makes it up as the go along i.e. seat of the pants writing.


  1. Oh, cool, I have a great idea for a novel.

  2. How shall I start it? Oh, I know. Someone is murdered. Who, you ask? I don’t know. I’ll figure it out later. We’ll just call him Victim X for now.

  3. Invent a hero. Go on Google and come up with a cool name. Likewise for the heroine.

  4. What’s the conflict? Crap, I don’t know. I’ll figure that out later.

  5. Well, shoot, I’m focused on the hero/heroine and forgot to include someone who could be the murderer. Go back to Chapter Two and add a few more characters. I’ll figure out which one is the murderer later. (Time: Three Hours)

  6. Wait. I just realized the murder victim has to be the hero's brother.... a brother I didn't know the hero had until now. a. Go back to Chapter One and write him in. (Time: One Hour)

  7. Shit! I don't have a cop! Agghh. I NEED a cop. a. Add a cop or two to Chapter Four (Time: Two Hours)

  8. Go back and read a hundred and six pages looking for whether the hero has blue eyes or brown eyes because my characters are now staring lustfully into each other's eyes and I can't remember. a. Thirty minutes to find that info. And correct all the wrong ones.

  9. Oh joy! I just figured out what the conflict is! a. Reread and edit nine chapters until I find a logical place to insert that explanation. b. Two Hours

  10. Edit thirteen chapters because I finally figured out who the murderer is and who the victim is, so now I need to insert some clues. (Time: Six Hours)

  11. Drat! I just realized I didn't explain why the murderer killed the victim. a. Reread until I find a spot to sneak that info in. (Time: Forty-five minutes.)

  12. Write the BLACK MOMENT! a. Edit nineteen chapters to fit the new (and improved) BLACK MOMENT because my characters didn't like my BLACK MOMENT and decided to create their own (don't ask how this happens; it just does.)

  13. Yikes, I just realized that I'm up to page 309 of my 350-page book and I still haven't figured out how to solve the murder. a. Go on Google and look for ideas. b. Sleep on it. c. Sleep on it some more. d. Close the file and write a blog. e. Create some Instagram posts. f. Check with my friends on Facebook g. Sleep on it some more. h. Put it away for the time being. I still have two months until my deadline.

  14. Oh yay! I woke up in the middle of the night with the solution! Get up at 2 a.m. and write.

  15. Read all 309 pages so I can add the rest of the clues that explain the fabulous solution I created.

  16. Send the manuscript to my editor and pray she doesn't ask me to revise.

I wish I was a Plotter. Plotters really have their shit together. That's why we hate them.

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