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From kiss to completion: the road to romance

GENRE: Fiction
The Hurst

The course of true love never did run smooth’, and neither does the writing of a romantic novel. Like any strong relationship, a romantic novel needs firm foundations: a strong plot, secure framework and credible characters. Romance writing falls into a large number of categories: Mills & Boon, chick lit, women’s contemporary fiction, literary and book group fiction and rom coms. There’s a big market for short stories and it’s at the heart of just about every crime, thriller and historical novel as well. Guiding you through all the above elements and more, we will explore the broad genre of romance and the market for it. Whether you’re newly embarked on a relationship with romantic fiction or much further along the path, we will help you deal with the bumps along the way and steer you towards a smooth path to completion.


Introduction to romance and love stories in fiction

What is romance? It’s a broad church, from Homer’s Odyssey through Jane Eyre and Jane Austen to Bridget Jones’s Diary and Me Before You by Jojo Moyes. Romance writing falls into a large number of categories: Mills and Boon, Chick lit,  rom coms, women’s contemporary fiction, erotic, gay,  literary and book group fiction. There’s a big market for short stories and it’s at the heart of just about every crime, thriller and historical novel as well. In this introductory session we will look at the scope of romance writing and find out what kind of book or stories participants are writing or want to write.


Heroes and heroines: how do you create the conflict and drama of a believable and compelling love story, whatever world you’re writing about? Where do characters come from and what happens when they meet? We will look at love in fiction as a catalyst for characters to develop and change.


Dialogue is the lifeblood of the contemporary novel and of any relationship. Beyond the first introduction, it is what sparks and sustains a romance, though emails, texts, love letters, phone calls and intimate conversations. Communication and missed communication, telling words and subtext: how do lovers convey their feelings for each other and how do writers put relationships into spoken words?


How settings make your characters and their conflicts rich and believable, feed into their motivation and drives, and play a part in opposing and thwarting them. Setting as a unifying force that creates the atmosphere of a novel and evokes mood and emotion, grounds the characters in place and time, shapes plots and clarifies themes.

Love scenes

Writing about sex and sensuality. Should you leave your characters at the door, or boldly follow them into the bedroom? How far should you go and where do you stop – or do you throw caution to the winds? How to be suggestive without being explicit. Sex in context. Emotions and physicality: the heart and the body. Humour and tenderness.

Plot and structure

Plot is what happens. Structure is the framework within which the story unfolds. A good plot draws a reader in, while a solid structure lets them know the rules of engagement. In this session, we will look at how to hook your reader with a captivating plot line and drive them through the narrative with key plot points and interwoven sub plots. We’ll discuss pacing, how to build suspense and reach a satisfying conclusion.


The greatest love stories are about much more than romance. Anna Karenina is about the huge historical changes sweeping through Russia during the late nineteenth century. Pride and Prejudice is as much about class, reputation and the position of women in society as it is about love. JoJo Moyes’ multimillion-selling Me Before You deals with euthanasia and what it means to be alive. In this session we will look at the themes writers explore through their plots and characters and find ways of bringing these out in your work.

The journey to publication

How to go about perfecting and finding a home for your finished work:  from using proofreaders and literary consultancies to pitching to agents and publishers. We will share our paths to publication and answer any outstanding questions.

Single room price: £760

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