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Boy Gets Girl -- or Does He?
by Florence Cardinal

If you want to make money writing romance novels, but you haven't read any for a while, you'd better check them out. The simple "boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl and lives happily ever after" formula has grown up.

At one time a romance novel consisted of the handsome, rich, older hero and the beautiful, virginal, but destitute heroine. You may still find a few clones of these original stars around, but heroes nowadays are often scarred physically and/or emotionally, and heroines (seldom virginal) may also be flawed in some way. Either, neither, or both characters may be rich -- or destitute.

Romance has expanded to encompass other genres as well. Historical romances have always been popular, and still are. This subgenre now includes another category - the Indian romance. Now, as well, you can find cowboy romances, fantasy romances mysteries, and love stories with heroes who are werewolves or heroines who are vampires. Sometimes the villain is an evil demon or an angry ghost. Time travel is another popular subcategory of the romance genre.

These novels are written for all ages from the preteens to the older generation who may be widowed or divorced. Some books even involve couples who have been married for years, but who have hit a rocky patch on the matrimonial trail.

Some novels retain the original sweet, virginal love story, but the majority of these books range from the mildly sensual to the downright steamy! Some books have as plots important social issues like abortion, sexual abuse and drug use.

There are novels written by, and for, various ethnic groups. The religious market has several lines of romance novels.

Before you set your sites on the lucrative romance market, buy several books from different publishing houses. Don't just read them. Study them. Get a feel for these new trends in romance. Send for the guidelines from the major publishing houses. Study these as well.

If you have Internet access, you can find many of these publishers online. On their web pages, you'll find guidelines, lists of upcoming books, and even excerpts from some of the latest novels.

Join workshops, newsgroups and mailing lists. There you'll find other writers and discuss your ideas, exchange hints and give you the incentive to keep writing. Because you must keep writing, even as you explore the market potential. Romance editors and publishers need the best work you can deliver, and competition is fierce. Is it worth it? Yes! Just ask Janet Dailey, or Barbara Cartland or Danielle Steele.

And, if you dig deep enough into any of these new novels, beneath all the shiny trappings, you will find that "boy (slightly flawed) still meets girl (she may be a witch). Boy loses girl (to an irate ghost). Boy finds girl (on a remote planet in a faraway galaxy), and they live happily ever after." Or do they? That's another facet of the new romance. There's always room for a final surprise.


  1. Romance Writers of America - http://www.rwanational.com/
  2. The Romance Club - http://www.theromanceclub.com/
  3. Romance.net - http://www.romance.net/preview/Help/Editorial_Guidelines/
  4. Romantic Times Magazine - http://www.romantictimes.com/
  5. Love Letters (Ballantine) - http://www.randomhouse.com/BB/loveletters/
  6. Literary Times - http://www.tlt.com/
  7. Romance Reading Ring (226 members!) - http://www.geocities.com/Athens/8774/ring.htm
  8. Romex Newsgroups - http://romex.dm.net/newsgrou.html
  9. Ultimate Romance Book Website - http://www.icgnet.com/romancebooks/index1.htm
  10. Yahoo Romance List - http://www.yahoo.com/Arts/Humanities/Literature/Genres/Romance/Writing/

© Copyright 1999, Florence Cardinal

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