The Subtle Art of Romance Writing

Denise K. Rago

When I looked up the word romance in the dictionary, numerous definitions came up:

  1. A love affair, especially a brief and intense one.

  2. Sexual love, especially when the other person or the relationship is idealized or when it is exciting and intense.

  3. A spirit or feeling of adventure, excitement, the potential for heroic achievement, and the exotic.

  4. A fascination or enthusiasm for something, especially of an uncritical or inexplicable kind.

  5. A novel, movie, or play with a love story as its main theme.

The genre of romance writing concerns itself with a love story, which could possibly be a brief, exciting and intense affair; includes sexual or physical love and can be filled with the spirit of adventure and generally, a fascination with the other person. The romance novel is a culmination of many things, but also, what the reader brings to the tale. As a writer, I recognize the need for imagination and in having readers fill in the nuances of sex and love based on their own experiences.

Each of us has our own perception of what an exciting or intense affair might be like, how we perceive adventure and experience physical love and passion and what might fascinate us about another person. When writing a paranormal romance, the writer has the additional responsibility of bringing romance into the world of beings that are not entirely human. In my case, vampires; those seductive and dangerous creatures whose very speech or touch can bring us to our knees and make us say and do things we might normally not do!

Within the realm of romance writing, I like to weave in a bit of the erotic, something elusive and arousing, yet my own personal preference is to leave much more to the imagination, than I put down on the page. I can visualize it as I write it, but I like to hint, to suggest and then let the reader fill in their own fantasies based on what sits well with them. This helps to form a connection between the characters and the reader and elicit their emotional response.

Yes, the prerequisite to the romance novel must be a romance, but to what extent varies from author to author. Some may just hint at an attraction between two characters, whereas another may be more forthcoming in the erotica department. We all have read both types of novels and they each have their place, but I would much rather have my reader experience what Amanda Perretti, the young mortal woman in my novel feels when she finally meets up with the man she has been searching for for over six months, the utter excitement when she realizes he truly exists. Her fascination and her need for him are palatable, even when she discovers he is a vampire.

When vampire Christian Du Mauré surrenders himself to her, I dwell not on the details of the physical aspect of their union, but on how surprised he is at being able to relax and be seduced by his mortal lover. Vampires experience love too and Christian Du Mauré is no different. Having loved and lost centuries ago, he still harbors guilt and pain and still pines for his lost love to this day. His regret and desire form an interesting paradox.

Love and desire are emotions I try to capture in my writing; subtle ways I work at creating a romance that is at once grounded in the familiar: candlelight, love notes and flowers, and is also paranormal, with characters that live is a very different world than you or I. Each of us experiences love in a myriad of ways and it might be safe to say, we would define romance differently as well, no matter whether we are mortal or immortal.

Denise K. Rago is a paranormal romance author whose first novel, Immortal Obsession, was published in September 2010. You can reach Denise on her website,, where you can also read an excerpt of her book – part love story, thriller, vampire romance and paranormal romp that takes place in Revolution-era Paris and modern-day New York.

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