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On Writing Romance: How to Craft a Novel That Sells
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On Writing Romance: How to Craft a Novel That Sells

3.98  ·  Rating Details ·  429 Ratings  ·  59 Reviews
Sweep Readers Off Their Feet With a Romance They'll Never Forget

In On Writing Romance, award-winning romance novelist Leigh Michaels talks you through each stage of the writing and publishing process. From the origins and evolution of the romance novel to establishing a vital story framework to writing that last line to seeking out appropriate publishers, everything you ev
Paperback, 264 pages
Published February 1st 2007 by Writer's Digest Books (first published January 16th 2007)
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Emma Sea
Nov 13, 2013 Emma Sea marked it as hell-no
Page 168 of this book has succinctly explained why I cannot read m/f romance:

"Here's how to make your heroine's dialogue more realistic . . .

Check for bragging: women tend to talk about their accomplishments and themselves in a self-deprecating fashion . . . can you rephrase her comments in order to make her laugh at herself?

Check for aggressiveness:women tend to be indirect and manipulative . . . add approval-seeking comments and suggestions that masquerade as questions.

Check for details: Wome
Laura Oliva
Aug 10, 2012 Laura Oliva rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-library
Overall, I liked this book. However, while it does contain some original tips, many if not most of them are also covered in the (myriad) other romance writing books I own. And the sections on characters and story development seemed aimed towards less-edgy, more inspirational-toned authors. There is nothing wrong with this whatsoever, I just don't write in that voice, so there wasn't much for me there.

The big selling point for me? Her section on endings.

It's actually why I bought the book, beca
Sierra Has-a-llama
Mar 20, 2009 Sierra Has-a-llama rated it it was amazing
Mar 21, 2009 Gabi rated it it was amazing
Yay! Cucumbers!
Jeannie Faulkner Barber
Jul 18, 2008 Jeannie Faulkner Barber rated it it was amazing
Ms. Michaels' advice is so savvy and clear. It was one of the first books I purchased because I'd heard great reviews about her work. It gives the novice writer, as well as any published writers, a great starting point to develope your skills. I love the way she offers specific instruction for creating the perfect romantic couple.
Rebekah Ganiere
Mar 10, 2013 Rebekah Ganiere rated it it was amazing
Awesome book. Great help, fast moving with awesome examples. I wish all how to books where this good. I actually found myself looking forward to reading it, as opposed to dreading it like I do most help books.
Erika Williams
Feb 21, 2012 Erika Williams rated it it was amazing
This is a great book for beginning romance authors who need some helpful hints on how to craft their story. I picked it up for free on the Nook, and I'm glad I did. Michaels gives advice on crafting the perfect heroine and hero, how to get your plot moving, how to keep your plot from being too contrived, and even ends with tips on how to sell your manuscript.

I don't write a lot of romance novels, but I found this book extremely helpful in other aspects as well. For one thing, it will also help
Angela Montgomery
Feb 06, 2014 Angela Montgomery rated it it was amazing
An excellent book for anyone interested in popular writing, not just for romances. It has great advice on common problems for the amateur writer: e.g. shifting scenes, handling point of view, plot development, etc. (Even my son has started reading this book, and presumably he will not be writing romance novels -- although he has read The Fault in Our Stars 5 times, so who knows.) I'm trying to write a YA romance, which is less formulaic than the traditional romance novel, and I still found it qu ...more
Mike Duron
Oct 10, 2012 Mike Duron rated it it was amazing

The language and layout of this book make it fun to read, yet, by reading this, a person could spare themselves a thousand headaches if they plan on writing any sort of fiction -- not just romance.

While still covering everything from Show Don't Tell to POV, this book goes beyond the basics and includes helpful advice on how to recognize and avoid First-Meet Cliches no editor wants to see, good ways to ruin a great relationship (too many secondary characters, to busy a background plot, &a
Jun 28, 2013 Amy rated it it was amazing
I found this on my Kindle while looking for a book to help me with some issues I'm having while editing a story. Not sure when I bought it (maybe it was free). How does this keep happening?

It's got some great advice for working out problem spots in specific areas of plotting. I don't have any other books on writing romance but have checked them out of the library in the past. I have found that they are usually incredibly helpful regardless of genre. It also made me excited about what I'm doing,
Jul 25, 2011 Kristina rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2011-goal-50
For whatever reason, I enjoy reading books about writing books.

I thought this book was full of a lot of useful information. At the end of each chapter (and in some areas within the chapters) there are questions to sit down with and use to either study other people's books, or to critique your own writing. In the appendices, there are examples of cover letters, query letters, and other items editors might ask for when requesting information about your book.

If I ever sit down to write a book, I
Lisa M
Mar 03, 2012 Lisa M rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, writing
4.5*s Covering the writing of romance novels from prologue to epilogue, this is the go-to book for those aspiring to be romance writers. While there are books that cover characterization and plotting in more depth, On Writing Romance: How to Craft a Novel That Sells explains these topics--and more--as they relate specifically to romances. It's required reading.
Jul 21, 2009 Andrea rated it it was amazing
I'll be keeping this book on my desk. As a beginning writer, I found it quite helpful. It provides a comprehensive introduction to the subject of writing romance novels: from descriptions of various romance sub-genres to the elements of salable romance novels to information on how to go about getting a novel published. The revision checklist, which lists a number of points to consider when revising a manuscript, seems particularly useful - I expect that the pages with this checklist will soon be ...more
Laurie Evans
May 12, 2012 Laurie Evans rated it it was amazing
Great book for this beginning writer! Very specific how-to info. I found the sections on conflict, point of view and dialog especially helpful. Lots of great examples from a variety of romance writers. I loved Chapter 13, Building a Believable Plot. Fantastic information about motivation, creating suspense, pacing and foreshadowing. I borrowed this book from a friend, but I'm going to buy my own copy, and read it again.
Juno Ross
Apr 11, 2013 Juno Ross rated it it was amazing
This is an exceedingly well-done book by one of the (few) romance writers I enjoyed reading years ago when I began to toy with the idea of writing romance books, but stuck with literary for a while. (And of course, I may as well have done it back then . . . I would be so much richer.) But a very good book on writing by one of the best romance (or otherwise commercial) authors around.
A.L. Stumo
May 10, 2011 A.L. Stumo rated it it was amazing
A truly useful book for beginning and intermediate writers of romance novels and novels with romantic sub-plots. By useful, I mean that the book has both the theory and practical advice to write a tight, well-plotted, well-characterized novel.
Ann Ross
Jan 17, 2014 Ann Ross rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: If you want learn to write, so I read this book
Shelves: my-favorites
It's cool, really interesting, I learn to write on this book. It's very fun.

I love to write, so I need a book for learn well. I find it!!
Amanda Patterson
Nov 11, 2010 Amanda Patterson rated it really liked it
Good solid advice for romance writers
Kimberly Kincaid
Oct 05, 2011 Kimberly Kincaid rated it really liked it
This was a great, comprehensive guide for anyone starting out writing romance. Clear, easy-to-understand, and spot-on. A nice resource!
May 20, 2017 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This had a lot of the same advice and process that I've learned previously in other books and writing classes. But it's been a long time so I appreciate a book that reviews those lessons well. Additionally, there are a couple hints that do apply specifically to romance writing that will be helpful if I can ever find the time to dive into a full manuscript.
Nicohle Christopherson
Jun 28, 2017 Nicohle Christopherson rated it it was amazing
An amazing book filled with good advice for any writer. This book makes writing a romance novel seem like the adventure of a lifetime, and it puts in the hard work to tell you all you need to know. Definitely give it a read!
Marian Perera
Sep 12, 2014 Marian Perera rated it it was ok
A good starting-point for someone interested in writing in this genre, but it also has a few problems that make it a book I can’t recommend.

The book begins with a description of the various sub-genres of romance—and includes gay and erotic romance, which I liked. Michaels goes into detail how to research romances, and I enjoyed reading this.

The chapter on characterization didn’t offer anything new, though I didn’t disagree with it until I read the list of questions at the end, intended to help w
Stephanie Bibb
I don’t typically read straight-up romance, but I borrowed On Writing Romance from a writer friend because I feel that it is a good idea to learn tips and trips from multiple genres.

Overall, this book has a lot of useful advice and suggestions that can help to strengthen your writing. For example, On Writing Romance goes into detail about how to create tension between your hero and heroine, how to ask “what if” to inspire believable back story, and how to use sexual tension to build suspense (ha
Molly Westerman
This book helped me put together some observations I've made as a romance reader and as a writer, which is great. And its questions for reflection on a story idea and on the planned conflict (pp. 44 & 72), as well as its comments on short-term and long-term problems for both characters, seem useful. On the other hand, much of the non-romance-specific writing advice will be too 101 for readers with any writing experience at all.

I differ in many ways from the 'typical romance reader' that this
Aug 05, 2016 Melody rated it it was amazing
I haven't read any romance novels yet by this author, as our library only has one of her books (not including this one), but I can tell this lady knows her romance! It's very detailed and covers just about everything from start to finish: creating your characters, the plot, the conflict, POV, story submission, etc, and much more. Scattered throughout the book are excerpts from romance novels to make her point. At one point, I found myself saying, "Hey, I want to read that book!"

And I found mysel
Nov 01, 2011 Andrea rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing, romance
I used this book to help me through the romance novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo, but also because I've been writing more romance and would like to stay on that path. It's full of good advice (by a woman who's written over 80 romance novels) on plot, characters, love scenes, sex, resolution, avoiding cliches, and more. She provides loads of examples from real books, which is very helpful, though I would have liked to have seen more BAD examples, or cringe-worthy ones, if only for the fun of it. She a ...more
Marsha Posz
If you want to write to a formula, this is the book you are looking for. It has the winning formula for writing a Harlequin-type romance. Some authors truly do write to a formula and they are very successful, as Ms. Michaels has proven herself. She has written and published over 100 romance novels, many of them under the Harlequin imprint.

For myself, I picked and chose what I would take from this book. I don't want to write each book the same way. Maybe I will never be published, but that is oka
Sep 20, 2014 Plaid rated it it was ok
Shelves: writing
I mainly skimmed it. There was some good advice on structure and revising here that I've taken into account but a lot of the specifics are wildly out of date, even more so than the book itself (it seems like the recommended content is for romances of 15+ years ago). Writing books are always incredibly subjective and I was happy with some of the things I could glean from this one but some of the advice and examples are so cringily out of date that I can only recommend this one until I can find a ...more
Vonze (Yvonne)
Feb 06, 2011 Vonze (Yvonne) rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance, writing
On Writing Romance is great for beginners who've just dreamed up their romance novel ideas. This book covers all the bases, from research to love scenes, plot and the query letter and everything in-between.

I've read several "How-to-Write" books from Writer's Digest. In this book, Leigh Michaels includes examples from the novels of other romance writers (Nicola Cornick, Lyn Cote, Annette Blair, Julia Quinn, etc) which I found helpful. Leigh Michaels not only tells the reader what to do, she shows
Nov 18, 2012 Rae rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing-manual
I don't read or write romance, but I still found this book useful.

A good chunk of the first part of the book is spent defining the romance genre and its subgenres but then it moves into subjects which are applicable to any writer. This book has a lot of useful information and techniques for writing inter character relationships and creating tension and drama between them. There's a lot of advice on how to show what characters are thinking/feeling without out explicitly saying so as well as advic
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Leigh Michaels is the pseudonym used by LeAnn Lemberger (b. July 27 in Iowa, United States), a popular United States writer of over 85 romance novels. She has published with Harlequin, Sourcebooks, Montlake Romance, Writers Digest Books, and Arcadia Publishing. She teaches romance writing at Gotham Writers' Workshop ( She is the author of On Writing Romance.

When Leigh was fi
More about Leigh Michaels...

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“For readers worldwide, the attraction of romance novels seems to be that they provide hope, strength, and the assurance that happy endings are possible. Romance makes the promise that no matter how bleak things sometimes look, in the end everything will turn out right and true love will triumph -- and in an uncertain world, that's very comforting.” 8 likes
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