Writing a Romance Novel

Exploring Subgenres: A Guide to Different Romance Novel Styles

Are you interested in writing a romance novel? Look no further! In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the fascinating world of romance subgenres, providing you with valuable insights and tips for crafting captivating love stories that will leave readers swooning.

Romance novels encompass a wide range of subgenres, each offering a unique flavor and catering to diverse reader preferences. From contemporary romance to paranormal romance, there’s something for everyone in this beloved genre. Whether you’re a seasoned writer or just starting your literary journey, understanding these subgenres is crucial to creating compelling narratives that resonate with your audience.

Key Takeaways:

  • Writing a romance novel requires familiarizing yourself with the different subgenres within the genre.
  • Each romance subgenre has its own characteristics and reader expectations, so choose one that aligns with your writing style and interests.
  • Romance novels provide a wide range of storytelling opportunities, from realistic contemporary love stories to fantastical adventures in paranormal and fantasy romance.
  • Consider the tone, sensuality level, and target audience when crafting your romance novel.
  • Embrace diversity and inclusivity in your romance stories to reflect the real world and engage a wider readership.

What is the Romance Genre?

The romance genre is a captivating literary category that revolves around a central love story between characters. It is characterized by its emotionally satisfying and heartwarming endings, which guarantee readers a sense of fulfillment and joy. Within the romance genre, there are various subgenres and tropes that cater to different reader preferences. Whether you enjoy contemporary tales of modern love, thrilling suspenseful romances, or fantastical love stories set in otherworldly realms, the romance genre offers a wide range of options to suit every reader’s taste.

One of the remarkable aspects of the romance genre is its ability to adapt and encompass diverse tones, styles, and levels of sensuality. From tender and sweet romances that focus on the blossoming emotions between characters to steamy love stories that explore the depths of passion, romance books offer a vast spectrum of experiences. No matter your preference, you can embark on a literary journey that resonates with your desired level of intimacy and emotional connection.

“The romance genre captivates readers with its emotionally satisfying love stories and diverse range of subgenres.” – [Author Name]

Romance Subgenres

To provide a comprehensive overview of the romance genre, here’s a table highlighting some of the popular romance subgenres:

SubgenreDescriptionExample Authors
Contemporary RomanceSet in the present or recent past, focuses on modern love stories.Jennifer Crusie, Nora Roberts
Historical RomanceSet in the past, typically before the 1950s, requires extensive historical research.Tessa Dare, Beverly Jenkins
Fantasy RomanceIncorporates magical or supernatural elements into the love story.Jacqueline Carey, Sarah J. Maas
Paranormal RomanceFeatures paranormal phenomena and creatures within the romantic narrative.Kelley Armstrong, J.R. Ward
Erotic RomanceExplores the central role of intimacy and sexuality in a romantic relationship.E.L. James, Sylvia Day
Romantic SuspenseIntegrates elements of suspense and mystery into the love story.Nora Roberts, Lisa Gardner
LGBTQ+ RomanceExplores love and relationships within the LGBTQ+ community.K.J. Charles, Casey McQuiston

With such a diverse range of subgenres available, the romance genre offers something for every reader. Whether you prefer contemporary tales, historical journeys, or supernatural adventures, there’s a romance book to captivate your heart and imagination.

Why Should I Read Romance?

Besides the guaranteed happy ending, there are several reasons to read romance novels. Romance books can provide escapism, offer emotional catharsis, explore diverse relationships, promote empathy, and inspire hope. They can also be uplifting, empowering, and entertaining.

“Romance is the glamour which turns the dust of everyday life into a golden haze.” – Elinor Glyn

Escapism and Emotional Catharsis

Reading romance allows you to escape from the stresses and realities of everyday life. It offers an opportunity to immerse yourself in a world filled with passion, love, and enchantment. Through captivating storylines, romance novels provide a sense of emotional catharsis, allowing readers to experience a range of emotions and find solace in the resolution of the characters’ journeys.

Exploration of Diverse Relationships

Romance novels are known for their portrayal of diverse relationships. From interracial and intercultural love stories to LGBTQ+ romances, the genre celebrates the beauty of diversity in human connections. By reading romance, you can broaden your understanding of different relationships and gain insight into the challenges and triumphs faced by individuals in love.

Promotion of Empathy and Hope

Reading romance can promote empathy by allowing you to step into the shoes of characters from various backgrounds and experiences. It encourages understanding, compassion, and a deeper appreciation for the complexities of human emotions. Additionally, romance novels often inspire a sense of hope, reminding readers that love has the power to overcome obstacles and bring joy into their lives.

Uplifting, Empowering, and Entertaining

Romance novels offer more than just love stories. They can be uplifting, providing a sense of optimism and warmth that resonates long after the final page. These books celebrate the strength and resilience of characters, empowering readers to embrace their own journeys of love and self-discovery. Moreover, romance novels are simply entertaining, offering an enjoyable and engrossing reading experience that keeps you eagerly turning the pages.

Reasons to Read RomanceBenefits of Reading Romance
1. Escapism– Provides a break from reality and allows for a temporary retreat into a world filled with love and passion.
2. Emotional Catharsis– Offers a cathartic experience by evoking a wide range of emotions and providing a satisfying resolution.
3. Exploration of Diverse Relationships– Expands understanding and appreciation for different types of love, promoting inclusivity and diversity.
4. Promotion of Empathy– Allows readers to connect with characters on a deeper level, fostering empathy and understanding.
5. Inspiration of Hope– Inspires optimism and reminds readers that love has the power to overcome obstacles and bring joy.
6. Uplifting and Empowering– Provides a sense of empowerment through stories that celebrate love, strength, and personal growth.
7. Entertainment– Offers an enjoyable and engrossing reading experience that keeps readers entertained and engaged.

What Are the Romance Sub-Genres?

The romance genre offers a diverse range of subgenres that cater to different reader preferences and interests. Whether you enjoy contemporary love stories or crave the excitement of paranormal romance, there’s something for everyone. Let’s explore some of the most popular romance subgenres:

  1. Contemporary Romance: Delve into modern love stories set in the present or recent past. These novels feature relatable characters navigating the complexities of relationships in today’s world. Popular authors in this subgenre include Nora Roberts and Jennifer Crusie.
  2. Cross-Cultural Romance: Experience the beauty and challenges of love between characters from different cultures or backgrounds. This subgenre explores the complexities of intercultural relationships and offers a fresh perspective on romance.
  3. Dark Romance: For readers who enjoy intense, emotionally charged stories, dark romance delves into themes of danger, obsession, or forbidden love. Although these novels often push boundaries, they still deliver a captivating and satisfying love story.
  4. Erotic Romance: Explore the sensual and intimate side of romance with books that focus on explicit sexual content within the context of a romantic relationship. Authors like E.L. James and Sylvia Day have gained popularity in this subgenre.
  5. Fantasy Romance: Immerse yourself in worlds where romance mingles with magic, supernatural beings, and fantastical adventures. Fantasy romance offers readers a whimsical escape into realms where love transcends ordinary boundaries. Notable authors in this genre include Jacqueline Carey and Sarah J. Maas.
  6. Historical Romance: Transport yourself to different time periods with tales of love and passion set in the past. Whether it’s the grandeur of medieval times or the elegance of the Regency era, historical romance brings history to life. Notable authors include Tessa Dare and Beverly Jenkins.
  7. Holiday Romance: Get swept up in the magic of the festive season with heartwarming stories of love and romance set during holidays like Christmas, Valentine’s Day, or Thanksgiving. Holiday romance novels capture the joy and warmth of special celebrations.
  8. LGBTQ+ Romance: Celebrate love and inclusivity with romance novels that feature LGBTQ+ characters and relationships. These books provide representation and explore the unique challenges and triumphs of LGBTQ+ love stories. Notable authors include K.J. Charles and Casey McQuiston.
  9. New Adult Romance: This subgenre focuses on the transitional years between adolescence and adulthood. New adult romance novels often tackle issues such as finding one’s identity, pursuing higher education, and navigating early careers, all while exploring the complexities of love.
  10. Paranormal Romance: Prepare for supernatural encounters, mythical creatures, and extraordinary love stories. Paranormal romance combines elements of the fantastical with the heart-pounding emotions of romance. Authors like Kelley Armstrong and J.R. Ward have captivated readers in this genre.
  11. Romantic Comedy: Laugh out loud and enjoy the lighter side of romance with romantic comedy novels. These heartwarming stories blend humor and love to create delightful and entertaining reads. You’ll find yourself rooting for the quirky characters and their hilarious romantic escapades.
  12. Romantic Suspense: If you enjoy a touch of mystery and thrill, romantic suspense is the perfect subgenre for you. These novels combine steamy romance with elements of suspense, creating intriguing and captivating stories. Authors like Nora Roberts and Lisa Gardner have mastered the art of this subgenre.
  13. Sports Romance: Dive into the world of competitive sports and passionate romance with sports romance novels. These stories explore the dynamics of relationships within the high-stakes world of athletes, blending love, passion, and sportsmanship.
  14. Young Adult Romance: Capture the intensity and excitement of first love and coming-of-age experiences with young adult romance novels. These stories navigate the challenges of teenage relationships while addressing relatable themes of self-discovery and identity.

As you can see, the romance genre offers a wide array of subgenres to suit every reader’s taste. Whether you’re in the mood for a contemporary love story, a steamy romance, or an otherworldly adventure, you’ll find exactly what you’re looking for in the world of romance.

Continue reading to learn more about specific subgenres like contemporary romance, erotic romance, and fantasy romance.

Contemporary Romance

Contemporary romance novels transport readers to the present or recent past, offering tales of love set against a backdrop of modern life. These novels have gained immense popularity as they feature relatable characters, realistic situations, and compelling love stories. Contemporary romance celebrates the complexities of modern relationships, delving into themes of self-discovery, personal growth, and navigating the challenges of contemporary society.

What sets contemporary romance apart is its emphasis on modern, independent characters who are navigating their careers, friendships, and personal lives. These stories often portray diverse representation, showcasing characters from different walks of life, ethnic backgrounds, and cultural experiences. It allows readers to see themselves reflected in the stories and explore the intricacies of love in a contemporary setting.

Jennifer Crusie and Nora Roberts are renowned authors who have mastered the art of writing contemporary romance novels. They captivate readers with compelling characters, witty dialogue, and heartwarming love stories that leave a lasting impact. Their books have garnered a dedicated following and have become staples in the contemporary romance genre.

Characteristics of Contemporary Romance Novels:

  • Set in the present or recent past
  • Explore modern love stories
  • Feature relatable, independent characters
  • Emphasize realistic relationships and personal growth
  • Promote diverse character representation
  • Capture the essence of contemporary society

Contemporary romance novels offer readers a chance to immerse themselves in modern love stories that resonate with their own experiences. Whether it’s navigating the complexities of dating in the digital age or finding love amidst career ambitions, contemporary romance provides a captivating escape into the world of modern relationships.

Erotic Romance

Erotic romance novels delve into the depths of intimacy and sexuality within a romantic relationship. These books not only embrace explicit sexual content but also emphasize the development of characters and the establishment of emotional connections. Erotic romance encompasses various subgenres, including contemporary, historical, and paranormal, catering to a wide range of preferences. Popular authors in this genre, such as E.L. James and Sylvia Day, have captivated readers with their steamy love stories.

Contemporary Erotic Romance

Contemporary erotic romance novels explore the complexities of modern relationships while igniting passion and desire. These stories often feature independent characters navigating contemporary society alongside their romantic endeavors. Well-known authors in this subgenre include Tiffany Reisz and J. Kenner.

Historical Erotic Romance

Transporting readers to different eras, historical erotic romance novels combine love stories with a rich historical backdrop. These tales of passion and intrigue unfold in settings such as ancient civilizations, medieval castles, and Victorian society. Authors like Emma Holly and Saskia Walker excel in bringing the past to life through their sensuous storytelling.

Paranormal Erotic Romance

Paranormal erotic romance offers a thrilling blend of supernatural elements, intense attraction, and emotional depth. Vampires, witches, and other mythical creatures find themselves entwined in captivating love stories set in worlds beyond imagination. Authors like Nalini Singh and Larissa Ione create enthralling worlds where love and fantasy intersect.

“Erotic romance novels embrace the power of passion and desire, crafting steamy love stories that captivate readers’ hearts and evoke a range of emotions. These books celebrate the exploration of sensuality while delving into the emotional connections that make romances so compelling.”

Whether transported to a modern cityscape, immersed in a historical setting, or whisked away to supernatural realms, erotic romance novels offer an enticing escape for readers seeking intense and passionate love stories. Throughout these books, the explicit content serves as a vehicle for deeper character development and emotional connections. As readers immerse themselves in these narratives, they embark on a journey exploring the complexities of desire, love, and personal growth.

Fantasy Romance

Fantasy romance is a captivating genre that seamlessly blends the elements of fantasy and romance. It takes readers on enchanting journeys filled with magical, supernatural, or science fiction elements that are integral to the story, setting, plot, and characters. In fantasy romance novels, love blossoms amidst fantastical creatures, alternative universes, and even time travel.

This genre offers an escape into romantic worlds where anything is possible. It allows readers to immerse themselves in tales of epic love and extraordinary adventures. From forbidden romances between different species to powerful individuals finding their soulmates in mythical realms, fantasy romance captivates readers with its imaginative and whimsical storytelling.

Popular fantasy romance authors weave intricate worlds and compelling love stories. Jacqueline Carey is renowned for her Kushiel’s Legacy series, which features a blend of fantasy, romance, and political intrigue. Sarah J. Maas is celebrated for her A Court of Thorns and Roses series, a spellbinding tale of love, sacrifice, and powerful magic.

“Fantasy romance takes readers on a breathtaking journey where love conquers all obstacles, even in the most fantastical and impossible settings. It combines the wonder of fantasy with the emotional depth of romance, creating a truly enchanting reading experience.” – Jacqueline Carey

Whether you’re a fan of mythical creatures, epic quests, or star-crossed lovers, fantasy romance offers a genre that transports you to realms where love knows no bounds. Dive into mesmerizing tales of Romantic Fantasy Stories, where love intertwines with magic, destiny, and the extraordinary.

Historical Romance

In the world of romance novels, there is a subgenre that allows readers to travel back in time and experience love in the past: historical romance. These captivating stories are set before the 1950s and offer a glimpse into different eras, from medieval times to the Victorian era and beyond. Historical romance novels require meticulous research to accurately portray the historical details and customs of the time, immersing readers in a world of opulent ballrooms, scandalous affairs, and timeless love stories.

One of the appealing aspects of historical romance is the opportunity to explore different time periods and settings. Whether it’s the chivalry and intrigue of the medieval era, the elegance and societal constraints of the Regency period, or the adventure and spirit of the colonial era, historical romance novels take readers on a journey that transcends time.

Popular historical romance authors such as Tessa Dare and Beverly Jenkins have mastered the art of transporting readers to the past and bringing historical characters to life. Their storytelling prowess and attention to historical detail have garnered them a dedicated fan base and solidified their place in the genre.

One key element of historical romance is the portrayal of love in a bygone era. These novels often depict the complexities of relationships, societal expectations, and the challenges faced by couples in different historical contexts. From forbidden love affairs to arranged marriages turned passionate romances, historical romance captures the essence of love and romance in the past.

“In historical romance, we have the opportunity to explore love stories and relationships in a time when societal norms and expectations were vastly different from today. It allows us to delve into the challenges and triumphs of love in a different era.” – Historical romance author

Table: Top Historical Romance Novels and Authors

The Duchess DealTessa Dare
IndigoBeverly Jenkins

LGBTQ+ Romance

LGBTQ+ romance novels celebrate love, passion, and relationships within the LGBTQ+ community. This subgenre features main characters who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and other diverse identities. LGBTQ+ romance explores the complexities of navigating love, acceptance, and self-discovery in a world that often challenges these relationships.

These diverse love stories provide representation and validation for LGBTQ+ readers, offering a much-needed platform to explore their own experiences and emotions. LGBTQ+ romance novels also play a crucial role in increasing visibility and understanding, breaking down stereotypes, and promoting empathy and inclusivity.

Popular LGBTQ+ romance authors like K.J. Charles and Casey McQuiston have captivated readers with their compelling stories and authentic portrayals of LGBTQ+ characters. Through their writing, they have brought LGBTQ+ love stories into the mainstream and helped create a more inclusive literary landscape.

Notable LGBTQ+ Romance Novels and Authors

The Magpie LordK.J. Charles
Boyfriend MaterialCasey McQuiston
Red, White & Royal BlueCasey McQuiston
Carry OnRainbow Rowell
LessAndrew Sean Greer

These LGBTQ+ romance novels not only entertain but also educate and expand readers’ understanding of diverse love stories. They showcase the emotional depth, passion, and universal themes that resonate with readers of all backgrounds, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Paranormal Romance

Paranormal romance novels offer readers a unique blend of love and otherworldly elements. These captivating stories revolve around paranormal phenomena and characters, transporting readers into a world where ordinary rules do not apply. From enchanting vampires to captivating witches, paranormal romance introduces readers to a range of supernatural beings that add an extra layer of excitement and mystery to the love stories.

One of the defining features of paranormal romance is the ability to blend the extraordinary with the ordinary. These novels can be set in our world, but often incorporate alternate realities, hidden realms, or parallel dimensions, allowing the characters to explore new, fantastical landscapes. Whether it’s dark urban settings or lush mystical realms, the vivid descriptions and immersive settings make paranormal romance an enthralling reading experience.

Paranormal romance also offers the opportunity for recurring characters and series. As readers dive into a paranormal romance series, they become invested in the lives of these supernatural beings, witnessing their personal growth, navigating complex relationships, and unveiling hidden secrets. These long-running series deliver a sense of familiarity and continuity that keeps readers coming back for more.

Popular paranormal romance authors such as Kelley Armstrong and J.R. Ward have crafted engaging stories that have captivated readers with their intriguing blend of romance and the supernatural. Their novels delve into the depths of the paranormal world while exploring the complexities of love beyond the ordinary.

Experience love beyond the ordinary with paranormal romance novels, where passion intertwines with the extraordinary to create a reading experience like no other.

Benefits of Paranormal Romance Novels
Intriguing blend of romance and the supernatural
Transport readers into a world where ordinary rules do not apply
Explore new, fantastical landscapes and hidden realms
Opportunity for recurring characters and series

Romantic Suspense

Romantic suspense novels combine the heart-pounding excitement of a suspenseful plot with the emotional depth of a romance. These captivating stories keep readers on the edge of their seats, eagerly turning pages to uncover the mysteries surrounding the central love story. With a perfect blend of passion and danger, romantic suspense novels offer love with a hint of danger.

In romantic suspense, the protagonists navigate thrilling situations, facing unexpected obstacles and perilous challenges while trying to solve a mystery or overcome a threat. The suspenseful elements add suspense, tension, and excitement to the romance, making it a compelling read for those who enjoy a mix of love and intrigue.

Themes commonly found in romantic suspense novels include crime-solving, stalker encounters, uncovering hidden secrets, and fighting against powerful adversaries. The plot twists and turns keep readers engaged as they delve deeper into the complex web of love and danger.

Popular authors in the romantic suspense genre include Nora Roberts, known for her gripping storytelling and well-developed characters, and Lisa Gardner, whose books skillfully blend romance and suspense in a way that leaves readers yearning for more.

Whether you’re a fan of romance or suspense, or both, romantic suspense novels offer a thrilling and engaging reading experience. Dive into a world where love is intertwined with danger and embark on a journey where passion and suspense collide.


Writing a romance novel is an exciting endeavor that requires a deep understanding of the various subgenres within the romance genre. Each subgenre has its own unique characteristics and reader expectations, offering writers a wide range of storytelling possibilities. By exploring the different subgenres and tropes, writers can choose the style that resonates with them and create compelling love stories that captivate their readers.

The romance genre provides a vast landscape for creativity, allowing authors to delve into contemporary relationships, historical eras, fantastical worlds, and diverse identities. From contemporary romance with its modern, independent characters to paranormal romance with its supernatural elements, there is something for every reader’s taste. It’s important for writers to immerse themselves in the subgenre they choose, researching and understanding the genre conventions and reader preferences.

With a solid understanding of the romance genre, writers can craft narratives that engage readers on an emotional level, evoking feelings of love, hope, and excitement. By incorporating familiar tropes and exploring fresh twists, authors can create unique and unforgettable love stories that resonate with their audience. Whether it’s a heartwarming tale of second chances, a thrilling suspense-filled romance, or a passionate journey through time and space, the romance genre offers endless possibilities for storytelling.


What are some tips for writing a romance novel?

Some tips for writing a romance novel include knowing your target audience, developing well-rounded characters, creating believable conflict, setting the right tone and atmosphere, and studying the genre to understand the conventions and tropes.

How do I write a romance novel?

To write a romance novel, start by brainstorming ideas, outlining the plot and characters, creating a compelling conflict, developing a strong romantic arc, writing engaging dialogue, incorporating emotional depth, and ensuring a satisfying and hopeful ending.

What are the essential steps to write a romance novel?

The essential steps to write a romance novel include developing the concept, outlining the plot, creating well-rounded characters, establishing the setting, building believable conflict, weaving the romantic relationship, crafting engaging dialogue, revising and editing, and polishing the final manuscript.

What should I keep in mind as a beginner when writing a romance novel?

As a beginner, it’s important to read widely within the romance genre, study successful romance novels, understand the expectations of the target readership, practice writing daily, seek feedback from beta readers or critique partners, and stay persistent in honing your craft.

How do I choose the right subgenre for my romance novel?

To choose the right subgenre for your romance novel, consider your personal interests and strengths, research popular subgenres and their readership, identify the subgenre that aligns with your story idea, and evaluate the market demand and trends.

What are some popular romance subgenres?

Some popular romance subgenres include contemporary romance, historical romance, paranormal romance, erotic romance, romantic suspense, fantasy romance, LGBTQ+ romance, and young adult romance.

Can I mix different subgenres in my romance novel?

Yes, it’s possible to mix different subgenres in your romance novel. However, it’s important to maintain coherence and balance between the subgenres, ensuring that they complement and enhance the central love story.

How important is research in writing a historical romance?

Research is crucial in writing a historical romance. It’s important to accurately depict the historical time period, customs, settings, and language to ensure authenticity and enhance the reader’s immersive experience.

Can I write a romance novel with mature or explicit content?

Yes, romance novels can range from sweet and clean to steamy and explicit. However, it’s important to know your target readership and understand the expectations and content guidelines of the subgenre you’re writing in.

How can romance novels provide emotional catharsis?

Romance novels can provide emotional catharsis by offering readers an emotional journey where they can vicariously experience love, heartbreak, and triumph. The happy ending in romance novels can also provide hope and comfort to readers.

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