11 Tips to Write Romance with Snap, Crackle and Pop

All readers of romance agree on one thing. If the ending doesn’t include the couple coming together and staying together, at least for the foreseeable future the story doesn’t qualify as romance. The question for writer’s than becomes; How do we write unforgettable romances with that HEA (Happily Ever After,) or HFN (Happily For Now.) Easy, just add some Snap, Crackle, Pop™.

As romance writers we need to understand expectations of our readers. Here are eleven must-have elements to enhance your plot and/or sub plot for a truly unforgettable, keeper-shelf worthy, must re-readable a thousand times romance. Which, of course is the goal of every writer. Right? All kidding aside, the first there elements can and should be used in all types of fiction writing, not just romance.

  1. The Fiction World Defined – In the first few paragraphs of a story, reader want to know about the fictional world we’re asking them to take navigate with us. They want to understand the society your characters live in. If it’s a historical romance, readers need to see, feel, hear, taste and smell the time period. If it’s a paranormal romance with vampires, werewolves, dragons and other sexy creatures, yes, even zombies can be sexy the reader wants to understand the rules of the world. Not all vampire hate garlic. If your story is fantasy with witches and warlock and fairies the reader needs to know the law of magick. Same applies for shifters. Where does the clothing go when a shifter shifts? Remember readers hate surprises.
  2. The Meeting of Two Lost Souls – *Snap* Boy meets girl, boy meets boy, girl meets girl Boy meets girl and boy, (we do live in the twenty-first century after all.) Whichever scenario you choose, it has to happen with instant heart stopping, breath stealing, all-consuming attraction. Readers expect to fall in love with the hero/heroine at the same time as your lovers do on the page. Use whatever you have in your magick stash box to make it memorable.
  3. The Barrier or Conflict*Snapping faster*- This is the one or ten things that keep our lover apart. To use a universal example, think The Montague’s and Capulate’s. Both families kept the young lovers apart because the families were in constant competition. They despised, or envied, or distrusted each other (depending on the cliff notes you read in H.S.) so much so that eventually their hatred drove the young lovers take their own lives. Believing there was no other way for happiness Juliet faked her death believing Romeo would come to her and they would live HEA. Sadly, we all know how that worked out. BTW, for the record Romeo and Juliet is not a romance, it’s a tragedy.

Not all conflict has to be hopeless. Another example could be anything keeping your loves apart. Internal beliefs or fears are good. Personal flaws like trust or self-esteem issues. External sabotage from a frenemy or family member can all create tension in the relationship. The list of possibilities goes on and on. Pick one and amp it up. Anything and everything that could keep them apart will work well as a barrier or conflict, but don’t make it something that cannot be overcome or unforgivable. The hero kick’s her cat and she better tear his heart out with her teeth. Just saying :).

  1. The Attraction *Crackle* This is the WOW factor! The soon to be lovers have to have a strong attraction and develop feelings almost right away, even if one or both don’t want to admit it. One of them could even think the other is an obnoxious, big headed, bully, but underneath it all, he really has incredible warm cerulean eyes and sexy smile. So what he heck, give him a chance. Oh, did I mention his hard muscular physique, which she can’t keep her hand off of every time they’re close?
  2. The Declaration *Crackling Some More* At this point in the story one or both realize how they feel about the other and declare their love. If you use the example of “Pride and Prejudice”, Mr. Darcy declares his love for Miss Bennett early on. She doesn’t reciprocate his feeling thinking him a callous, selfish and prideful man. Later on, after she witness all of his selfless actions, including saving her younger sister from ruin, she makes her declaration known and they get their HEA.
  3. The Point of Ritual Death *Pop* No, no, no. Someone doesn’t really have to die. Not unless you want them too. *Evil sneer* Joking aside, some writers call this part of the story The Big Black Moment. The black moment usually has to do with an external force, as in another of Jane Austin’s novels, Emma. When Emma learns that her good friend has carried on with Mr. Knightly and that same friend has fallen in love with him, Emma’s heartbroken. She loses all hope of ever being Mrs. Knightley a dream she’s had for sometime. Of course we all know what happens next. The friend misunderstood Mr. Knightley’s kindness and Mr. Knightly has only ever had eyes for Emma. The point of ritual death can be summed up as the time when the romance seems doomed forever, and ever, and ever with no hope of a happy outcome. We want our readers to feels the forlornness, angst and heartbreak along with your hero/heroine.
  4. The Recognition *Bigger Pop* This is usually due to some internal change that has happened in a short period. As in the case of Mr. Darcy. He recognized his feeling for Elizabeth almost immediately. Or, it can happen over a longer period of time as with Miss Bennett. The hero/heroine realizes he/she wants to be with the other regardless of past beliefs. They see the good in the other person and can’t live without them. The best way to put it is simply this: the internal conflict that’s been building over time is resolved. The hero or heroine or both, change in some life altering way and all the reasons/conflict don’t matter anymore and things are worked out or worked through.
  5. The Betrothal*The Ultimate Pop* This is where lovers hook up and make a firm commitment to be together. In historical or regency romance this is Happily Ever After (HEA) with a marriage proposal however in most other genera’s like contemporary, paranormal, young adult romance, and to chick lit it often is a Happy For Now (HFN), the immediate future.

Make your romance unforgettable with sizzling ending that resonates with readers long after they finish, and added to their keeper sheaves. Remember to tie up loose ends and add one or more of these elements to your story.

  1. The Wedding, Dance or Celebration – Show life after the betrothal and the beginning of a long-term relationship between your lovers. In “Emma” we see the new Mrs. Knightly dancing with her husband at his annual harvest celebration. With Darcy and Elizabeth they kiss after their wedding night.
  2. The Scapegoat Exiled – Any character in your story that has tried to keep your two lovebirds apart should fly the coop, never to return. Leave your lovebirds cooing with no fear.
  3. The Bad Converted – Say you had a character that told lies about one or both of your lovers to keep them apart. Those lies and rumors got out of hand and caused a great deal of heartache and pain for both your hero and heroine. This character can redeem himself by coming clean and giving a heartfelt apology.

By including these common expectations in your plot, you will fulfill not only the romance readers desires, you will fall in love with your characters, craft and story each time you write.

Have a question or comment? Don’t be shy we’d love to hear from you.

Jennifer Probst on her latest book Writing Naked


I am so happy to have New York Times Best Selling Author Jennifer Probst as our guest this week. Jennifer was nominated for not one, but two RITA awards this year. Good luck!!

Her latest book titled Writing Naked is an intimate look at a bestseller’s secrets to writing romance and navigating the path to success coming March 31, 2017.

Let’s meet this amazing author:

Name/Pen name: Jennifer Probst

Visit her website

General location: New York

Thank you so much for having me here today!

  1. When did you first know you wanted to writer?

I was very lucky and knew I wanted to be an author when I was seven years

old, and at twelve, I knew I was going to be a romance writers. I was lucky – writing was always my True North!

  1. What inspired you to write?

I was driven to write by an early age to make sense out of everything. Words on the page helped focus my thoughts, explore life, and figure out who I was. It was my safe place since I was very shy and liked to live in my own safe bubble. Writing made me feel powerful and not so alone.

  1. Are you a planner or pantster?

I’m a pantser. Little colored notecards and sticky notes make me break out in hives. I like to see where the story takes me within the guidelines of a very loose outline.

  1. Which of your works is your favorite? Why?

The Marriage Bargain. It was a book that got rejected everywhere for a number of years, and when it was finally published, readers embraced it. That book taught me to never give up on your dreams because anything can happen as long as you never quit, and are always prepared for success.

  1. Would you say your stories are plot or character driven?

Always character driven. This is the heart and soul of my novels.

  1. What do you take with you on vacation?

My family, my sunblock, and my Ipad.

  1. What’s your motto as a writer?

I treat writing like a job, because it is. I respect writing, work hard every day, and am always grateful I get to do this full-time. I also consistently mystified by the magic and beauty in writing.

  1. What’s your next project or what is in your future?

So many projects! My final two books will be released this year in the Billionaire Builders – an HGTV inspired series that readers have really embraced. Then I have two brand new series launching in 2018 I’m excited to share with readers – details for both are coming soon!

Is there any information you would like to share about yourself

I love talking to my readers! Please check out my website, connect on Facebook, join my street team The Probst Posse, reach out on Goodreads or Instagram or Twitter – I’m everywhere LOL!

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author Jennifer Probst www.jenniferprobst.com Sign up for my newsletter for monthly prizes! www.jenniferprobst.com/newsletter

Now and excerpt from Writing Naked:


Grab your copy March 31, 2017

Writing naked is the necessary state of mind for translating the mess of raw material in your brain into words on a page. Most people think you need to be able to make sense of the junk first. You don’t. Instead you need to feel it, connect with it, and then write it. The mess is the structure and meat of the story. Even if you are composing a love letter, the best way to connect is to spill your deepest, darkest, embarrassing secrets. Reveal the stuff that terrifies you and keeps you awake at night. Talk about the monsters in the closet, and the ones hiding under the bed. Get in touch with the kind of emotions that drive the fear of abandonment, failure, and pain. This is the good stuff .

A reader wants to feel something. A reader doesn’t want to be intellectually stimulated or to be able to skillfully talk about your work in a book club. She doesn’t want to check off your book on her list of smart reads, feeling nothing but mild admiration for your writing expertise. Failure to connect on an emotional level with a reader is the kiss of death for a writer. I want a reader to pick up my stuff and get dirty. I want her turned on during the sex scenes, choked up during the black moment, and blinking tears at the ending. (The black moment is what happens when the hero or heroine needs to change, or risk losing the other forever.) I want her yelling at the page because of the asshole hero and laughing out loud at the characters’ banter. Hell, I’d rather have a reader say she hated my book (many have on Goodreads-and, yes, it still hurts), than be apathetic toward it. I’d rather her say she loathed it, wanted to rip it up, and tell every one of her friends to never ever read me again. At least that’s passion. I may have missed the mark, but I got the emotion right. Lukewarm comments are the worst insult to the success-driven writer. Okay. Fine. An average read. Kill me now. Trust me, you don’t want to pat yourself on the back for sounding smart, cool, or savvy in your writing. The best way to connect with your real self is to get naked. Strip your soul bare and throw it out there. Don’t try to make sense of it until the ink dries, because you can always go back and tweak, tidy things up, or edit later.

Many experts in the writing field advise us to write what we know. When you write naked, you’re doing this each time, allowing the reader a glimpse of yourself. Not everyone is going to like who you are. That’s one of the hardest parts of the business. But not everyone is supposed to like you all the time. By practicing the act of writing naked, you will begin to connect with your true voice and touch readers on an emotional level. Great books have great emotion. Strip to your bare skin and write your book in the glorious, raw mess just as nature intended. You can sort out the good stuff from the junk later. But when you’re writing that first draft , you need to go for it. I always remember that scene from Romancing the Stone where the heroine, Joan, is shown as a successful romance writer. She was finishing her book, writing the final scene, and weeping uncontrollably over her desk.

When I finish a book, I always cry. It’s my own sign of realizing it’s good, that I’ve given it everything I had, and the foundation is firm enough not to crumble under any edits.  Right or wrong, that’s how I know I’m writing naked. It may get a bit chilly, and a whole lot vulnerable, but the result will be worth it. The at result is the best book you can possibly deliver, and that is what every reader should expect from you. You are naked when you share your work-make no doubt about it. The good news is you will become more and more comfortable without your clothes the longer you write. There’s something freeing and wild about telling the world the way you see things. When you sit down to create, you must be brave enough to rid yourself of societal expectations and the crushing cliques civilization force on us. You may hurt and embarrass your family. You may need to hide your books from your children. You may find people from your past rise up to confront, judge, or mock you. You may face harsh reviews from a world that wags its finger and admonishes you to get dressed and write nicely. Fully clothed. But great risks mean great rewards. When people are asked about their regrets in life, they often list the things they didn’t do. The book they were afraid to write because it wouldn’t sell, or because the writing was too difficult, or because they were too busy doing things that were safe or marketable. Writing naked is the only way to write. And as a writer, your only regret will be looking back and realizing you wrote with a giant fur coat, boots, and-horror of horrors-too tight underwear. Burn the bra. Burn the boxers. Burn the regrets. Write naked.


The Marriage Bargain – #1 Bestseller!9781501104039-183x300

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