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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

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  545 ratings  ·  72 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 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
Marian Perera
Sep 12, 2014 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
Laura Oliva
Aug 10, 2012 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
Jeannie Faulkner Barber
Jul 18, 2008 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. ...more
Rebekah Ganiere
Mar 10, 2013 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.
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
Erika Williams
Feb 21, 2012 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
Mike Duron
Oct 10, 2012 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, &c
Angela Montgomery
Feb 06, 2014 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
Jul 21, 2009 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
Jul 25, 2011 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 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. ...more
Laurie Evans
May 12, 2012 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. ...more
Juno Ross
Apr 11, 2013 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 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.
Amanda Patterson
Nov 11, 2010 rated it really liked it
Good solid advice for romance writers
Kimberly Kincaid
Oct 05, 2011 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!
Ann Ross
Jan 17, 2014 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!!
Jun 14, 2018 rated it liked it
Helpful for beginners on romance, but very formulaic in other parts.
I'm not discrediting this woman's writing skills, but there were parts that felt really preachy:
“Heroes and heroines are unfailingly kind to those who are less powerful then they are. . .Heroes and heroines don't gossip. . .They're only rude to each other, and even then, they're not hateful or vicious. . . Heroes and heroines don't lie.”

Where did the author get this information about writing couples? This is totally untrue.
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 boo
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018
ON WRITING ROMANCE is a must-read romance-writing manual that appears often on recommended books for writers or all genres. It is a fabulous breakdown of the romance genre, and is useful for authors writing within that genre or wishing to add a little romance to another genre. The book is somewhat dated and doesn't account for the current interest in LGBTQ+ romance stories, but its advice can still be applied to any love story.

I found this manual detailed and well-organized, but still readable.
Alex Darden
Jun 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
I'm currently in the middle of this, and finding it both useful and highly frustrating. The author mentions Gay romances as sub-genre at the beginning, however the slant of the entire book is geared towards romance being a story between a "hero" and a "heroine" and fitting into rather stereotypical behaviours/characteristics.

I write and read mostly queer romance, I felt rather alienated. It made it harder to take away the parts which are decent writing advice. Perhaps I am not the target- or per
Dani C
Nov 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
4.5 stars. This is an excellent read for anybody who wants to learn more about writing, regardless of genre. Broader topics include POV, dialogue, conflict and plot building, and submitting your manuscript. For romance writers (or those just wanting to include romance in their stories), Michaels discusses building tension, acceptable sexual action for different subtypes within the genre, and building a believable hero/heroine set.
This is a book I will buy and keep handy. There is a plethora of
Philip Dampier
Mar 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Since I have never written anything remotely like a romance novel this book was very informative. Not unsurprising, many of the concepts are the same or very similar to writing any work of fiction. But there were some definite romance only tips and suggestions. I enjoyed the book and if I decide to write a romance story I will certainly take this one back off the shelf. Her success speaks for itself.
May 20, 2017 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. ...more
Dec 26, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was most helpful to me when describing the different types and categories of romance novel (the front end of the book), and the manuscript and publishing details on the back end of the book. The middle sections may be able to be scanned if you have some existing experience with writing, especially with plot and character development.
Renee  Webb
Jan 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very Helpful

This book is extremely thorough from developing your characters, to plotting your story, to how to publish. It’s full of great questions to ask yourself at the various points of your writing. I took lots of notes and will definitely be referring to them in the future!
Nicohle Eaton
Jun 28, 2017 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!
Michelle Roberts
Jan 31, 2018 rated it did not like it
Not what I was looking for. I was hoping for help writing romance plotlines, but this ended up being a book for beginning writers that covers everything about writing a book and only touches on romance.
Lauren Connolly
May 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I think some of the material is outdated, but it was still very helpful and had me thinking about different aspects of my writing that I hadn't considered. More traditional publishing focused rather than indie publishing. ...more
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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

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