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Why I Write Contemporary Fiction

Writing contemporary novels presents unique challenges for authors. While the structure of the novel remains the same, there are key differences between the contemporary and literary genres.

The five aspects of contemporary writing include: character development, plot structure, theme, setting, and style. The protagonist of a contemporary novel must have more realistic goals than in a literary novel, as readers expect to be able to relate to the characters, and thus the protagonist must be representative of the real world and have goals that are achievable or relatable.

A contemporary novel typically has a less formal structure than a literary novel and can be written in any style. It usually has a quick-paced plot with a strong focus on character development, utilizing a variety of settings to create a realistic world. This genre also relies heavily on dialogue and description to create a captivating story.

Two best-selling contemporary novels are The Fault in Our Stars by John Green and Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. The Fault in Our Stars is a young adult novel about two teenagers with cancer who fall in love. Where the Crawdads Sing is a mystery novel about a young woman accused of murder.

Writing contemporary novels can be a rewarding experience for authors. It allows them to create stories that are engaging and relatable to readers. Contemporary novels can also be written as series, which can be an attractive way to develop a larger story and create a more in-depth world for readers to explore.

Writing contemporary novels present a unique challenge for me and why I choose to hone my craft with this genre. Knowing that each story must be realistic, keeps my over-active imagination under control or restrained, thus making this type of story relatable for readers. I love contemporary writing because it requires strong character development, plot structure, theme, setting, and style. Contemporary novels are often written as series and can be a great way to create an engaging story that readers can connect with. 

Contemporary writing is a broad term that encompasses any fiction set in the present day. It can include realistic stories, fantasy stories, dystopian stories, or any other genre that reflects the current issues and themes of our society. Some examples of contemporary writing are The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.

One of the key elements of contemporary writing is to create characters that are relatable and authentic. They should have flaws, strengths, goals, and motivations that the readers can empathize with. The protagonist should face a conflict that challenges their beliefs, values, or identity. The antagonist can be a person, a group, a system, or even an internal struggle that opposes the protagonist's goals.

Another key element of contemporary writing is to use a style and tone that suits the genre and the audience. The language should be clear, concise, and engaging. The dialogue should sound natural and realistic. The narration should show the perspective and voice of the character. The structure should follow a logical plot that builds tension and suspense.

One of the challenges of contemporary writing is to end the novel in a satisfying way. There are different types of endings, such as happy endings, sad endings, ambiguous endings, or twist endings. The type of ending should match the tone and theme of the novel. It should also resolve the main conflict and show the consequences of the characters' actions. Some things to avoid when ending a contemporary novel are: introducing new characters or subplots, leaving loose ends or unanswered questions, or contradicting the established facts or logic of the story.

Another challenge of contemporary writing is to stand out from the crowd. There are many novels in this genre, so it is important to find a unique angle or hook that will attract readers. One way to do this is to write a standalone novel instead of a series. Standalone novels are popular in this genre because they offer a complete story in one book. They also allow more creative freedom and flexibility for the author. However, standalone novels also require more skill and planning to create a well-rounded story arc and character development.

The length of a contemporary novel can vary depending on the genre and the target audience. Generally speaking, most contemporary novels range from 60,000 to 100,000 words. This translates to about 200 to 300 pages in print. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Some contemporary novels can be shorter or longer depending on the style and purpose of the story.

Contemporary writing is not a monolithic genre. There are many sub-genres within it that cater to different tastes and preferences. Some of the common sub-genres are: romance, thriller, mystery, horror, comedy, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, magical realism, dystopian fiction, etc. Each sub-genre has its own conventions and expectations that the author should be aware of and follow.

One of the common mistakes that authors make when writing contemporary novels is to lose interest or passion for their own story. This can happen when the author writes for too long without taking breaks or feedbacks; when the author follows trends or clichés instead of their own vision; or when the author does not have a clear outline or direction for their story. To avoid this mistake, the author should: write about something they care about or are curious about; seek constructive criticism and advice from others; revise and edit their work regularly; and have fun with their writing process.

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Why I Write Romance...

Authors write romance for various reasons, such as expressing their creativity, exploring their emotions, sharing their fantasies, or satisfying their readers' expectations. Romance is a popular and diverse genre that encompasses many sub-genres, such as historical, contemporary, paranormal, erotic, or inspirational.


Romance writers have to be aware of the conventions and expectations of their chosen sub-genre, as well as the common mistakes and pitfalls that can ruin a romance story. Some of the mistakes include creating unrealistic or unlikable characters, using clichéd or overused tropes, ignoring the conflict or tension between the protagonists, or resolving the plot too easily or abruptly.


Tropes are recurring themes or elements in romance writing, such as enemies-to-lovers, fake dating, forbidden love, or soulmates. Tropes can be useful tools to create interest and familiarity for readers, but they can also be boring or predictable if they are not used creatively or subverted in some way. Romance books usually follow a similar format to other genres consisting of an introduction, a rising action, a climax, a falling action, and a resolution.


The introduction establishes the main characters, their goals, and their initial attraction. The rising action develops the relationship and conflict between them. The climax is the turning point where the conflict reaches its peak and the characters have to make a decision or face a challenge. As the characters overcome their obstacles, the falling action reveals the consequences of the climax. The resolution provides a satisfying ending where the characters achieve their goals and affirm their love.


Five key points to romance writing are: 1) create engaging and relatable characters that have chemistry and growth; 2) develop a strong and believable conflict that keeps the readers invested; 3) balance the emotional and physical aspects of the relationship; 4) maintain a consistent and appropriate tone and voice for the sub-genre; and 5) deliver a satisfying and realistic happy ending that rewards the readers.


Romance writing characters vary depending on the sub-genre and the preferences of the writer and the reader. However, some common types are: 1) the alpha hero, who is dominant, confident, and protective; 2) the beta hero, who is gentle, supportive, and loyal; 3) the gamma hero, who is a combination of alpha and beta traits; 4) the heroine, who is strong, independent, and smart; 5) the villain, who is an antagonist or a rival to the main couple; and 6) the sidekick, who is a friend or a family member who provides comic relief or advice.


Romance novels differ from other genres. In their structure, romance novels usually have two main plot lines: one that focuses on the external conflict or challenge that affects the main couple (such as a mystery, a war, or a social issue), and one that focuses on the internal conflict or emotional journey that they go through (such as overcoming their fears, insecurities, or past traumas). These two plot lines are intertwined and influence each other throughout the story.


Romance novels also have a specific point of view (POV) structure that alternates between the perspectives of the two protagonists. This allows readers to see both sides of the story and empathize with both characters.


One of the most significant aspects of romance writing is character development. The reader needs to care about the protagonists and their relationship, and root for them to overcome obstacles. Character development involves showing characters' personalities, motivations, flaws, strengths, and growth throughout the story. It also involves creating chemistry and conflict between the characters, and making them compatible and believable as a couple.


Another key element of romance writing is pacing. Pacing refers to how fast or slow the story moves, and how it balances action, dialogue, description, and introspection. Pacing affects the mood, tension, and suspense of the story, and it should match the tone and genre of the romance. Good pacing keeps the reader engaged and interested in what happens next, without rushing or dragging the plot.


Romance writing can also be mixed with other genres, creating cross-overs that appeal to a wider audience. For example, romance can be combined with fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, mystery, thriller, horror, or comedy. Mixing romance with other genres requires careful research and planning, as well as balancing both genres' expectations and conventions. Romance should not overshadow or undermine other genre elements, and vice versa.


Romance writing usually finishes with a happy ending or happy-for-now conclusion. A happy ending means that the protagonists overcome their conflicts and stay together permanently. A happy-for-now ending means that the protagonists end up together for the time being, but their future is uncertain or open-ended. Romance readers generally expect and prefer a happy ending or a happy-for-now conclusion, because they want the characters rewarded for their struggles and sacrifices. However, some romance writers may choose to end their stories with a tragic or ambiguous ending, for artistic or realistic reasons. These endings are risky and may disappoint or anger some readers, but they can also be powerful and memorable if done well.


There are five types of endings commonly used in romance writing: resolution, twist, cliffhanger, epilogue, and sequel. A resolution of the story wraps up the main plot and subplots of the story. It shows how the characters' lives have changed due to their journey. A twist ending reveals a surprising or unexpected fact or event that changes the outcome or meaning of the story. A cliffhanger conclusion leaves the story unresolved or incomplete, and creates anticipation or curiosity about what happens next. An epilogue ending adds an extra scene or chapter that shows the characters' lives after the main story ends, often in the future. A sequel ending sets up or hints at another story that follows or continues the original story.

I just wanted to add one more thing about writing romance, especially for those who love to write corny romance. Corny romance is a genre of fiction that features exaggerated or clichéd romantic situations and characters. Some readers may enjoy corny romance for its escapism, humor, or familiarity, while others may find it boring, unrealistic, or offensive.


Humor in romance can be a double-edged sword: it can lighten the mood, create rapport between the characters, and make the story more engaging, but it can also undermine the emotional stakes, distract from the plot, or alienate some readers who do not share the same sense of humor. Therefore, writers of corny romance should be careful about how they use humor in their stories and consider how it affects the tone, pace, and message of their romance writing aspects.


In my opinion, Romance writing is a thriving genre that attracts millions of readers worldwide. It is a genre that can be combined with other genres, such as fantasy, mystery, or historical fiction, to create diverse and engaging stories. However, regardless of the sub-genre, romance writing should always have a strong central love story and a satisfying ending. These are the key elements that make romance readers happy and loyal. Romance writing also offers escapism and emotional satisfaction to readers who want to experience love, passion, and adventure through the characters. 

Finally, romance writing is not easy, but it can be rewarding and fulfilling if you follow some basic guidelines and tips. Here are some of them:

- Know your audience and genre.


Romance readers have different expectations and preferences depending on the subgenre you are writing in, such as historical, paranormal, contemporary, etc. Research the market and the best-selling authors in your chosen subgenre to get a sense of what works and what doesn't.

- Create believable and likable characters.


Romance is all about the emotional connection between the main characters, so you need to make them realistic, relatable and sympathetic. Give them flaws, goals, motivations and conflicts that make them interesting and dynamic. Avoid clichés and stereotypes that might alienate your readers.

- Develop a strong plot and conflict.


Romance is not just about the romance; it also needs a compelling story that keeps the readers engaged and invested in the outcome. Your plot should have a clear beginning, middle and end, with rising tension, twists and turns, and a satisfying resolution. Your conflict should be both internal and external, meaning that it stems from both the characters' personalities and circumstances.

- Show, don't tell.

Romance is a sensory and emotional genre, so you need to use vivid descriptions, dialogue and actions to convey the feelings and experiences of your characters. Don't just tell the readers what they are feeling or thinking; show them through their words and deeds. Use metaphors, similes, imagery and other literary devices to enhance your writing style.

- Balance romance and other elements.


Romance should be the main focus of your story, but not the only one. You also need to include other elements that enrich your story world, such as setting, theme, subplots, secondary characters, etc. These elements should support and complement your romance, not overshadow or distract from it.

Elaine Arden Books

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