Monday, 3 July 2017

How to Write A Bestseller (Part Two) - Advice from 4 Well-Known Romance Authors

by Enisa Haines

Welcome to Part Two of my investigation into How to Write a Bestseller where again I get a sneak

peak into just how four beloved Aussie romance authors make a book a runaway success.

Melanie Milburne, USA Today Bestselling Romance author:

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Writing a best-selling romance...Write real but larger than life characters. Make them believable people you can relate to and empathise with and feel sympathy for. Make sure their dialogue is true to their character and to their emotional state in each scene. Don't over-complicate the plot but rather draw out the emotional conflicts unique to each character. When you think you've got enough emotional punch, double it.

Valerie Parv, Bestseller and Pioneer in Romance Writing:

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Firstly, I don't believe you can set out to write a bestseller. At most you could analyse numbers of successful books and try to identify common elements. But Hollywood does this routinely and still produces some astonishingly expensive failures. I believe it's far better to pour your heart and soul into a story you can't wait to tell, trusting that your passion will resonate with millions of readers. If you avoid writing your story thinking it has to be a bestseller and you're afraid nothing else will do, the only way is to plunge in and write the book anyway. Move past your need for the work to be perfect - it never will be. Focus on the story you're eager to tell about characters who are alive in your mind. Let your passion carry you away and there's a good chance you'll have the same effect on your readers. If you're lucky they will talk about this wonderful story they've read and urge their friends to read it, too. Those friends will tell their friends until readers everywhere want to share the experience. That's how you make a bestseller.

Annie West, USA Today Bestselling Romance Author:

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What makes a Bestseller? Ah, if only I knew for sure. Sadly, there's no set recipe for how to write a bestselling romance. But here are a couple of ingredients:

  • Writing that makes us feel!
  • A different take on a familiar romance theme. Something fresh that sparks and comes alive so that, before we know it, we're sucked into the story and don't want to leave.
  • Characters we want to spend time with. Maybe they're engaging from the start. Maybe they get our sympathy initially because of their circumstances. Maybe we don't want them to like them but there's something about them that overturns our wariness - they surprise us or tug at our emotions despite our reservations. These are people who, for whatever reason, won't fade into the background. We care about them, relate to them and wait with bated breath for their happy ending.
  • A vivid world that is real and fascinating.
  • Passion. By this I don't necessarily mean a love scene. But passion from the author and in the characters. This place, these people and their problems must matter. And of course, I think characters who are passionate about what's important to them, draw us in all the more.

Helene Young, Award-winning Romantic Suspense author:

I think the most important aspect of storytelling is to have characters your readers care about. Our readers need to worry that the characters might not get their happily ever after, might not survive to see love blossom. They need to go on the emotional roller-coaster with our hero and heroine, laugh with them, cry with them and feel that solid punch of love when the world jolts off its axis. They need to barrack for them when times get tough and forgive them when they make mistakes. A solid plot is a handy thing as well, but for me there is no greater compliment than a reader emailing me to say that they couldn't stop thinking about my characters.

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Great advice, each author saying in their own way: "Write from your heart and soul. Write with passion."

How do you keep readers turning the page?

Love to love: seeing kindness in others

Love to laugh: at funny yet clever conversation

Love to learn: about far-away lands


  1. Thankyou girls, exactly what I was thinking: that a bestseller needs to have *heart*. Appeal to the soul. Have that passion so that people can't stop thinking about it - and then tell everyone they know to read the book as well. That magic word of mouth buzz. The 'how' is a different thing altogether. But I think writing from the heart is most defintely a start, as you have said. If you are passionate the readers will see that, absolutely. Thankyou!

  2. Great advice from some wonderful authors! The importance of making characters believable and empathetic shines through in each piece of advice - if you don't care about the characters, how can you care about what happens to them? Thank you, ladies! And thank you, too, Enisa for collating such a terrific post.

  3. What fantastic advice from four of the best in the business. These couple of posts are absolute gold!

    1. Thanks, Anna. In total agreement about the gold.

  4. Thanks for collating this, Enisa. I so enjoyed reading the different sections of this - just as I'm about to dive into my writing - excellent timing!

  5. Thanks for sharing more wisdom with us, Enisa. It's great to read other writers' thoughts on what makes their stories special.

  6. Wonderful advice from wonderful writers. Thank you so much for sharing ladies.

  7. So much thoughtful advice from great authors. Thank you for sharing your writing wisdom with us.

  8. Wonderful advice from some terrific authors. Thanks, everyone.


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