How to Include Romance in a Different Genre

How to Include Romance in a Different Genre

By on Apr 22, 2015 in Fiction, Writing & Editing


It has become a myth that adding romance to your mystery novel, or a novel of a different genre will make it better and richer, simply because you’ve added. And it might make a little bit of sense – romance, after all, is a big part of life, so how can you not include it in any genre? However, adding romance to a novel is not as easy as it might seem. You need to remember that what is romantic for you, the writer, might not seem as romantic to the reader. Therefore, we’ve gathered several things to keep in mind when adding romance to your novel of a different genre.

1. Can you add romance?

This is the first question that you need to answer. Does your book, not the genre you’re writing in, allow for romance? You need to decide whether your protagonist is ready to be romantically involved with another character, instead of just creating the perfect person for them because you want to add romance to your urban fantasy, or dystopia. Many readers will frown at that, and will consider the romance a plot device that was unnecessary. It is always better to determine whether the protagonist and their love interest would fall in love due to their connection, and not just because you want them to.

2. Make it a surprise

In a different genre, the protagonist would be focused on something else instead of romance, which gives you the opportunity to make the romantic parts a surprise. Both the protagonist and the reader should be surprised by the occurrence, and this way, the occurrence of the romance itself would be very sweet. The characters, the protagonist and the love interest, didn’t intend to go that way, because they were put together for a different reason. However, their personalities, the moments of emotional connection between them (which can be very fun to write) sparked something between them.

3. Build it up

True love, which is what romance is all about, happens gradually. It builds up, usually over the course of the novel. Of course, we’ve all heard of love at first sight, but that will catapult your novel straight into the romance genre. When you’re writing in a different genre, you need to build it up, slowly. Always avoid having your characters fall in love instantly. Many, many readers will get outraged at that – because it makes it obvious that the characters fall in love at the desire of the author, instead of their own. That’s why you should give your characters time – one or, maybe two books (if you’re writing a series) to come together and have them slowly build a romantic relationship that will bring them closer together without having the romance take a big chunk of your story.

4. Ensure the benefit

When romance happens in a different genre, it’s more character driven, rather than a plot device. This means that both the protagonist and the love interest need to benefit from them being together. They need to make personal progress. That is why you need to make them want the relationship, need it as well, and have them change, grow and develop while they’re in it. This turns the romance into a subplot that is crucial to the plot of your novel, since character development moves the main plot of your novel forward. And therein lies the benefit of the romance in your novel, and the impact it has on it – without it, the story would have gone a different way.

5. It’s not a prize

So the protagonist, the hero, has completed his (or her) journey and was successful in his quest. As a prize, he gets the girl. And you have readers that are angry at you. A romantic relationship with another person shouldn’t be a prize. The love interest needs to emotionally complete the protagonist, make them happy – become their other half, in other words. However, the protagonist needs to be the same for the love interest. Both of them need to come together, and not just “get” each other as a prize for a job well done.

Image credit: rabiem22 on flickr and reproduced under Creative Commons 2.0

Georgina Roy wants to live in a world filled with magic. As a 22-year-old art student, she’s moonlighting as a writer and is content to fill notebooks and sketchbooks with magical creatures and amazing new worlds. When she is not at school, or scribbling away in a notebook, you can usually find her curled up, reading a good urban fantasy novel, or writing on her laptop, trying to create her own.


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