Online Class: Romance Writing

This course will take you through everything you need to know to write the kind of romance novel that gets noticed. From creating a hero and heroine that sizzle to understanding point-of-view and knowing where to go for more resources, you will gain access to insider information on making the most out of your manuscript.

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  • 12
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Course Description

Crafting Romance Novels: From Dream to Reality

The allure of crafting a romance novel has captivated countless individuals across the globe. Given that romance has been the leading fiction genre in the United States for over three decades, the prospects within romantic fiction are more promising than ever. As of 2023, the romance genre holds a market share of around 34%, making it a powerhouse in the literary landscape.

But what makes romance writing so intriguing, and simultaneously challenging, is its specialized nature. There are stringent criteria concerning the plot, characterization, novel length, and even manuscript formatting. These benchmarks aren't mere industry whims but are reflections of what avid romance readers anticipate. Meeting these expectations is paramount for budding writers hoping to carve a niche in this sector.

This meticulously curated course is designed to arm you with the tools and insights needed to craft a romance novel that stands out in a crowded market. It offers an in-depth dive into the intricacies of romance writing, ensuring your manuscript resonates with both agents and readers alike.

Course Breakdown:

Lesson 1: Introduction to Romance Writing
Dive deep into the heart of romance writing, understanding its evolution and importance in the literary domain. Discover the power of love stories and the potential they hold in the modern market.

Lesson 2: Exploring the Sub-genres in Romance
Not all romances are created equal. From historical to paranormal, contemporary to fantasy - understand the myriad sub-genres, their characteristics, and audience preferences.

Lesson 3: Setting the Foundation
Before penning down your story, there are essential preparatory steps to consider. This lesson guides you through research, understanding audience demographics, and setting a roadmap for your writing journey.

Lesson 4: Crafting Your Style
Every writer has a unique voice. Delve into the nuances of narrative voice, tone, and pacing that will make your romance novel distinctively yours.

Lesson 5: Painting the Perfect Setting
A romance isn't just about two people; it's also about where their love story unfolds. From bustling cities to serene countrysides, learn how to craft settings that enhance your narrative.

Lesson 6: Designing the Ideal Hero
What makes a hero swoon-worthy? Understand the psychology of crafting male protagonists who resonate with readers, exploring aspects like backstory, motivation, and character arc.

Lesson 7: Crafting the Captivating Heroine
A romance is as much about the heroine as the hero. Dive into the art of designing female protagonists who are strong, relatable, and pivotal to your love story.

Lesson 8: The Ensemble Cast
Beyond the lead pair, a host of characters play pivotal roles in a romance novel. Learn to create compelling side characters that enhance your narrative without overshadowing the leads.

Lesson 9: Weaving the Plot
A gripping plot is the backbone of any novel. Understand the structure, pacing, and key elements that make a romance story unforgettable.

Lesson 10: The Heart of Conflict
Romance without conflict can be flat. Grasp the essence of creating authentic, meaningful conflicts that drive your narrative and keep readers hooked.

Lesson 11: Penning Passionate Scenes
Romance novels often delve into intimate moments between characters. Learn the art of writing tasteful, evocative love scenes that are pivotal to your story's progression.

Lesson 12: Gearing Up for Submission
Your manuscript is ready, but how do you get it in front of the right eyes? This lesson offers insights into preparing your work for agents and publishers, ensuring it gets the attention it deserves.

Lesson 13: Expanding Your Horizon
As you near the end of this course, equip yourself with additional resources, books, and communities that will aid you in your ongoing romance writing journey.

Enroll now and set your romance writing aspirations into motion, armed with knowledge, insights, and the passion to tell unforgettable love stories.

Course Motivation

One of the most popular sayings in the world of romance is that the best writers are those who are the best readers. But this doesn't mean you need to read every romance novel with the eagle eye of an editor. It means that loving and enjoying romance novels is the most important part of writing romance novels. After all, unless you love what you write, you will never be able to convince your readers that they should love what you write, too. 

Whether you've discovered a love of romance novels only recently, or you grew up reading them, romance is one of the most popular genres in the literary world. With thousands of romance writers all over the world and national charter groups dedicated to helping you perfect your craft, there's no better place to begin a journey into authorship.

History of Romance Novels 

Technically speaking, romance novels have been around for more than 200 years, starting in the late 18th century and early 19th century. Samuel Richardson's Pamela, or Virtue Unrewarded is considered to be the "first" real romance novel, published in 1740, but most people associate the beginnings of the genre with the late Georgian era, when popular novelist Jane Austen did her work (ca. 1810-1830).  

Although the novels certainly adopted a different format back in the early years, the idea was basically the same: Romance novels were literature written for women, often by women, and with the primary goal of offering entertainment value.  

Jane Austen's works were certainly considered among this set of entertaining novels, but more important for the field of romance writing were many of the Gothic novels Austen satirized in her own writing. These Gothic novels, of which Anne Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolphois the most famous, had all the elements that thrill romance readers even today: emotional turmoil, dark mysteries, brooding heroes, crumbling castles, and as much sensuality as possible (at least, given the times). 

These Gothic novels also had something that romance novels today still have: a reputation as "bad" literature, regardless of the fact that they sold more than any other type of literature of the day. 

Today's Romance Novels 

Romance novels, as we know them today, didn't really appear until the 20th century. Some give the credit for the entire historical romance genre to Georgette Heyer. Heyer's first novel, The Black Moth, which was published in 1921, starting a long career in which heroines and their heroes parried around love and intrigue set in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. She developed a strong readership and even sparked a bit of debate in the publication world when other authors began to adopt her style and plots to create their own romance novels.  

Less than a decade after Heyer started writing, Mills and Boon (now a category of Harlequin Romance novels) began to release category romance novels in the mass market publications that readers now associate with the genre. 

The romance novels so many people fell in love with – the worn paperback books with steamy covers and bright, bold colors – came into being in the 1970s and 1980s. Although many of the books released during these years are now looked upon as substandard to those released today, these decades marked the real beginning of the romance boom.  

The Romance Novel Industry 

In all the years of its existence, the romance novel industry has grown steadily – no matter what the economy looks like at the time. Although the genre is continually picked on by critics and those interested in literature from an academic standpoint, romance novel sales account for more than half of all paperback fiction sales in the United States every single year. In fact, no matter what types of recessions occur or what is going on in the larger global community, romance novels continue to sell.  

Since 1998, the number of total readers of romance novels has risen an estimated 20 percent. In 2007, this reflected a total readership of more than 64 million Americans and $1.375 billion dollars in industry income. And while most of these readers are married women between the ages of 25 and 44, the romance industry reaches virtually every age group and demographic in the United States. In fact, an overwhelming 42 percent have a bachelor's degree or higher. 

These types of statistics mean good news for those interested in writing romance novels. Romance novel readership is so diverse, and so large, that there are good opportunities for first-time authors looking to break into the field. In 2007, more than 8,000 romance novels were published and released – not counting the expanding e-book options that many romance authors now rely on as a way to reach their fans.  

These statistics also mean that no matter what you're interested in writing – from paranormal time traveling romance novels to historical mysteries set exclusively in 1855 – you have a good chance of carving out a niche of interest. And while the income for romance writers tends to be fairly small (at least at first), online sales platforms and self-publication mean that more writers have the opportunity to turn their dreams into realities than ever before. 

From Reading Romance Novels to Writing Romance Novels  

Before you get started writing that romance novel, you need to make sure you know your interests, your market, and your expectations. While hours of research can help you in doing just this, it's actually much easier than that. All you have to do is pay attention to what you like. 

In reality, the romance novel industry is fairly static in terms of what writers can and can't get away with. While there is always an exception to the rule, most aspiring romance novelists don't have the connections or the background to be able to start changing the way the industry works right away. This means that writers rarely get to "play around" with things like: 

  • Novel length
  • Point-of-view
  • Central themes (the emotional love story)
  • The ending 

But this doesn't mean that all romance novels are the same. There are typically no restrictions related to setting, time period, the gender of the protagonists, language, and the actual story line (as long as there is enough conflict to drive the plot and an optimistic ending), so the possibilities for innovation and originality are quite large. Of course, if you're writing just for yourself or to try and self-publish, you can also cast aside the industry standard rules, as well. Most of the "rules" are geared toward landing a deal with the bigger publication houses 

Romance Writing "Rules" 

Most of these "rules" are also self-evident. If you plan on writing a contemporary series novel like the most popular ones from Harlequin, chances are that's what you enjoy reading, as well. This means you probably already know the novels are typically short, centered almost entirely on the entanglement of the hero and heroine, and have steamy, but not over-the-top, sex scenes. If you're more into reading historical Regencies, you might already have an idea of the language of the time period, the liberties you can take in adding secondary plot lines, and how much additional length is typically required for this type of romance novel.  

Above all else, writing what you love is the most important part of romance writing. If you don't enjoy reading them, then writing them probably isn't right for you. If you don't enjoy paranormals, it's probably best to stick with realistic settings for your own work. After all, unfamiliarity with a subject matter or disdain for the genre is almost guaranteed to show in your writing. 

Before you start on your romance novel, consider the following: 


  • What do you enjoy reading about the most?
  • Do you usually only read romance novels from a single publisher or line?
  • Can you write the full length of the typical novel in your genre (55,000 words for a series title, 90,000 for a single title)?
  • Are you willing to research historical details, or would you rather write what you know? 


Once you have a basic idea of what type of romance novel you'd like to write, you can actually get started playing with plots and characters right away. If you aren't sure, however, you're in a good position to have some fun with romance writing. There are many different types of romance novels, and there is plenty of time for you to decide which direction is right for you.

  • Completely Online
  • Self-Paced
  • Printable Lessons
  • Full HD Video  
  • 6 Months to Complete
  • 24/7 Availability
  • Start Anytime
  • PC & Mac Compatible
  • Android & iOS Friendly
  • Accredited CEUs
Universal Class is an IACET Accredited Provider

Course Lessons

Average Lesson Rating:
4.6 / 5 Stars (Average Rating)
"Extraordinarily Helpful"
(1,599 votes)

Lesson 1: Welcome to Romance Writing

This lesson focuses on the romance industry and getting started in it. Additional lesson topics: Romance Writers of America 29 Total Points
  • Lesson 1 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Reasons for Taking this Course
  • Complete Assignment: An Introduction
  • Complete: Lesson 1 Assignment: Self-Evaluation
  • Assessment: Lesson 1 Exam

Lesson 2: Genres in Romance

This lesson focuses on romance genres, including how they overlap and the requirements for each. Additional lesson topics: The Different Genres of Romance; The Subgenres of Romance 29 Total Points
  • Lesson 2 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 2 Assignment: Evaluating Genres
  • Assessment: Lesson 2 Exam

Lesson 3: Getting Started

This lesson focuses on getting started transforming the ideas in your head to words on the page. 30 Total Points
  • Lesson 3 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 3 Assignment: Setting Your Writing Schedule
  • Assessment: Lesson 3 Exam

Lesson 4: Romance Writing: Style

In this lesson, you will learn what the expectations for style and quality are in romance novels. 30 Total Points
  • Lesson 4 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 4 Assignment: Point of View Writing
  • Assessment: Lesson 4 Exam

Lesson 5: Romance Writing: Setting

In this lesson, you will learn what to do to develop a realistic setting. 30 Total Points
  • Lesson 5 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 5 Assignment: Focusing on Setting
  • Assessment: Lesson 5 Exam

Lesson 6: Romance Writing: The Hero

In this lesson, you will learn what to do to develop the best hero for your novel. Additional lesson topics: 20 Tips for Writing Lovable Romance Novel Heroes; Creating Great Heroes and Heroines 28 Total Points
  • Lesson 6 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 6 Assignment: Narrowing Down the Hero
  • Assessment: Lesson 6 Exam

Lesson 7: Romance Writing: The Heroine

In this lesson, you will learn what to do to develop the best heroine for your novel. 28 Total Points
  • Lesson 7 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 7 Assignment: Creating the Heroine
  • Assessment: Lesson 7 Exam

Lesson 8: Romance Writing: Additional Characters

In this lesson, you will learn what is expected of secondary and additional characters in a romance. 29 Total Points
  • Lesson 8 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 8 Assignment: Adding Additional Characters
  • Assessment: Lesson 8 Exam

Lesson 9: Romance Writing: Plot

In this lesson, you will learn about romance plot development. 30 Total Points
  • Lesson 9 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 9 Assignment: Developing the Plot
  • Assessment: Lesson 9 Exam

Lesson 10: Romance Writing: Conflict

In this lesson, you will learn about creating effective and convincing conflict. 30 Total Points
  • Lesson 10 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 10 Assignment: Creating Conflict
  • Assessment: Lesson 10 Exam

Lesson 11: Sex and Love Scenes

In this lesson, you will learn about writing convincing sex scenes. 29 Total Points
  • Lesson 11 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 11 Assignment: Writing Sex and Love Scenes
  • Assessment: Lesson 11 Exam

Lesson 12: Preparing for Submission

In this lesson, you will learn about getting your manuscript ready for submission to agents and publishers. 33 Total Points
  • Lesson 12 Video
  • Complete: Lesson 12 Assignment: Putting it All Together
  • Assessment: Lesson 12 Exam

Lesson 13: Additional Resources

In this lesson, you will learn where to go for more information on writing and publishing romance novels. 90 Total Points
  • Lesson 13 Video
  • Lesson discussions: Final Course Poll - Your Opinion; Program Evaluation Follow-up Survey (End of Course); Course Comments
  • Complete: Lesson 13 Assignment: Charting Your Course
  • Assessment: Lesson 13 Exam
  • Assessment: The Final Exam
Total Course Points

Learning Outcomes

By successfully completing this course, students will be able to:
  • Describe the romance industry.
  • Define the genres in romance writing.
  • Summarize the processes for transforming ideas in your head into words on paper.
  • Define style and quality expected in the romance genre.
  • Define a realistic setting for the romance genre.
  • Define the hero in the romance story.
  • Define the heroine in the romance story.
  • Describe the secondary characters in the story.
  • Define specific techniques for developing plot in the romance genre.
  • Define the conflict of the romance story.
  • Define ways to create convincing love and sex scenes.
  • Prepare your work for submission.
  • Demonstrate mastery of lesson content at levels of 70% or higher.

Additional Course Information

Online CEU Certificate
  • Document Your Lifelong Learning Achievements
  • Earn an Official Certificate Documenting Course Hours and CEUs
  • Verify Your Certificate with a Unique Serial Number Online
  • View and Share Your Certificate Online or Download/Print as PDF
  • Display Your Certificate on Your Resume and Promote Your Achievements Using Social Media
Document Your CEUs on Your Resume
Course Title: Romance Writing
Course Number: 9770554
Lessons Rating: 4.6 / 5 Stars (1,599 votes)
Languages: English - United States, Canada and other English speaking countries
Availability: This course is online and available in all 50 states including: California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas, and Washington.
Last Updated: December 2023
Course Type: Self-Paced, Online Class
CEU Value: 1.2 IACET CEUs (Continuing Education Units)
CE Accreditation: Universal Class, Inc. has been accredited as an Authorized Provider by the International Association for Continuing Education and Training (IACET).
Grading Policy: Earn a final grade of 70% or higher to receive an online/downloadable CEU Certification documenting CEUs earned.
Assessment Method: Lesson assignments and review exams
Instructor: Dana Kristan
Syllabus: View Syllabus
Course Fee: $120.00 U.S. dollars

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Student Testimonials

  • "Great course. Challenging assignments. The instructor, is great, responsive as always." -- Nicholas Y.
  • "The instructor is fair and consistent and I think does her job very well indeed." -- Anne F.
  • "I loved this course and everything is going to help me finish my novel, so thank you!" -- Mikayla L.
  • "Actually loved the class and learned so much." -- Elizabeth I.
  • "Instructor was very helpful." -- Miranda P.
  • "The assignments were most helpful to me" -- La P.
  • "Everything was great." -- Betty H.
  • "Melissa Merritt is one of the best instructors you have. She is very knowledgeable and helpful. She is a very encouraging instructor." -- Donna N.
  • "It was all very helpful for me in preparing my book." -- Rosalind G.
  • "The instructor was very prompt in reviewing and grading my assignments and answering my questions." -- Tiffany G.