"If you can dream it, you can do it." Walt Disney

Contemporary–Unwritten Rules

Wouldn’t it be great if life was like a romance novel? Have you ever noticed that the endings are always happy? The couple finds their way to each other after jumping over some obstacles. I bet no one told you that’s a rule. It’s unwritten, but a requirement in order to be considered a romance novel. All endings have to be a happily ever after.   

Who wants to read a romance novel where the love birds don’t end up together?

Another rule: Could you forgive someone who cheats on you? It would be too difficult for anyone to believe that a couple would survive after that. Trust is broken and difficult to get back, no matter how hard you work at earning it back from the person you claimed love for. So, no cheating is rule number two.

There’s conflict and obstacles that drive the couple apart, but not so unforgiving that they can’t find their way back to each other.

Thou shall not kill. A rule for the characters and the authors. 

In traditional romance novels, the novel is written in 3rd person and usually told through the heroine’s voice. Sometimes, chapters can be alternated between the hero and heroine. 

The love story is the main plot line. Only 20% is actually conflict and other subplots.

Characters have to be likeable and attracted to each other. Seems obvious, but if one character is likeable and the other character is not, what pulls them together so they would want to be with each other for the rest of their lives? 


Although all books have a beginning, middle, and ending. Romance novels have multiple subgenres and formulas to those subgenres.

Contemporary romances are the most common subgenres with a basic formula. Which is usually boy meets girl, falls in love, something blocks their love (conflict, obstacle) They overcome that obstacle and find each other again and have a happily ever after.

Since the romance, their attraction to each other and falling in love is the primary plot line between the characters. Other situations, like occupations and wealth, are secondary to the love story. 

So, what makes romances different from other genres? It’s a character driven love story. Obviously, right? The storyline may seem basic, but the characters and their love story attract people and keep readers coming back for more.

Romance novels are the most popular and most sold of all genres, including mysteries. 

Here’s an article I found on Writer’s Digest that helps define what makes a romance novel. Studying the Romance Novel – Writer’s Digest (writersdigest.com)