Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Why Add Romance to Your Novel?

by DiAnn Mills @DiAnnMills

Adding a thread of romance to a story can complicate goals, influence crucial decisions, knock a career minded man or woman into confusion, and always force the character to change and grow. In short, it adds value to plot, sales, and marketability.

Some writers balk at the idea of romance in their novels. 

They don’t understand the reasons for allowing readers to experience the growing relationship of a man and woman within the pages of a story.
I’ve heard the objections:
  • “I’m a female writer who doesn’t want to get caught up in the lovey stuff”
  • “I’m a male writer who wouldn’t be caught dead writing about huggy-bear and kissy-faced characters.”
  • “What’s the point?”

According to a 2014 report from, “Which 5 Book Genres Make The Most Money?” You got it—romance.

Romance Writers of America lists that 84% of romance book buyers are women. Compare that with Publisher Weekly’s study that 68% of book buyers are women.

In a 2014 report from, “A Snapshot of Reading in America in 2013” indicates 82% of book readers are women.

Now let’s talk a bit about genre in which the romance segment is secondary to the plot. 

Weaving romance through various genres is not difficult. The key to remember is the emotional situation between the hero and heroine will not be resolved until the climax. They don’t have time to get involved. They have a job to do. Often the job is more important than a relationship, and a sense of sacrifice occurs.

Besides plot, romance reveals itself in other techniques: dialogue, body language, setting, emotion, and symbolism.

The words a character chooses when a romance is brewing are tell-tale hints of deeper feelings: kinder, gentler, more tender. Many times words in “ly” are conducive to a romance. Compose dialogue that is unique to the character and backstory. Readers want to hear what characters have to say, and it must be in conflict.

Body language
Body language makes up between 70% to 90% of what a character is feeling. What a character says is not what is meant, and the truth is in the power of body language.

Setting is one area where writers can create an antagonistic environment. Placing a man and woman in the same setting forces them to use their strengths to aid the other. Respect leads to admiration and admiration leads to like and like leads to love.

How a character thinks, interprets, rationalizes, and experiences the world is unique to his/her personality. This is an opportunity for the character to fight, accept, shove aside, or embrace how he or she feels about the other. When we are pondering a situation, we are honest with ourselves—unless we’re in sad need of counseling.

Symbolism is an age-old method of taking a tangible item and assigning a psychological meaning that is personal and unique. Consider a hair ribbon a historical character leaves with her beloved. The sword or medallion a fantasy hero gives to a fair maiden signifies his devotion. Or a scene where a man proposes and gives his beloved a ring as a sign of his love.

A thread of romance weaves the hero and heroine together in conflict that raises the stakes for them and ensures the reader turns pages. Where can you add
romance to your story?

Why Add Romance to Your Novel? @DiAnnMills on @EdieMelson (Click to Tweet)

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels. 

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association; International Thriller Writers, and the Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of Romance Writers of America. She is co-director of The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. 

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas. 

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at


  1. i agree, DiAnn. romance is part of life, to whatever degree. whether we write romance as genre or not, our people experience romance so why would we leave that out of their experience on the page? at least a mention! of course, whatever a character is facing in their love life will reflect in everything, right?

    1. Absolutely. And love does make the world go around.

  2. Love changes everything...and that includes the equation. Thanks, DiAnn. Pinned & shared. :)

  3. Hi Linda, thanks so much! Glad I could help.

  4. DiAnn, I LOVED this article and I am sharing it! It's really hard for me to get interested in any book that doesn't have romance included. I keep telling our writers' chapter this. I mean, even GOD included romance in HIS book and as a final endorsement He uses the metaphor of the Bride and Groom for the climax of the Greatest Romance of all, the uniting of Christ and the Church. I look forward to seeing you, DiAnn, at Nashville in August. Blessings, Elva Cobb Martin, Pres. ACFW-SC