Writing a Romance Novel For Fun.

Diary of Being a Writer; Month 67.

Emma Sachsse


Ragdoll cat with colured christmas lights drapped around her.
Miranda getting into the Christmas spirit

As my writing time continues to be encroached on from all angles, it has been a struggle to get to the keyboard and just write. I have been trying lots of different things to carve out the time and energy to get some words on a page. The journaling and writing by hand at odd moments has definitely been a great tool, but the other thing I started, was to try to write a Christmas Romance. Mainly because it is that time of year and Hallmark Christmas movies are my go to right now when I need some comfort and predictability to wind down from a big day of counseling and training. Yes, I signed up for another therapy course. I couldn’t help myself, it was a really good one and there was a discount.

So I tried, and although I didn’t manage to come up with a wintery, snowy Christmas theme, I did come up with a romantic plot.

I have tried to write romances before and always given up, wondering how on earth they do it. A couple of friends of mine are published romance authors and I have always admired them for being able to actually get the job done. About 30 years ago, my friend and I got the Mills and Boon Submission guidelines sent out to us, thinking that we could write one together and then being completely stumped by the formula.

Things have changed a lot since then and not only can you just google the submission guidelines, they are a lot more expansive than they used to be and there are a few more categories; https://www.millsandboon.co.uk/pages/guidelines

Every time I have thought about writing a romance in the past, I have thought that it was something I couldn’t do.

However, as my agent has asked me not to write any more BLOODY DAWN for now and I wanted to write something that was engaging and gentle and didn’t need a lot of technical or forensic research (as one of my other novel ideas does) I thought I would have another go. Not at a Mills and Boon. They may have relaxed their guidelines, but I still sort of freeze when trying to write to fit a specific formula, so I am just writing one for me. One to entertain me and tick all my boxes. Set in Oxford, tick. About an aspiring novelist, check. Literary allusions, check. Traditions and customs and all things English, including scholarly Oxonians straight out of the pages of an Evelyn Waugh novel, check.

It is fun and escapist. I am writing brief scenes here and there. It is enjoyable to visit and doesn’t require me to worry about the twists and turns of the plot as it is simple and fun. The only research is dragging memories of my time living in Oxford out of my brain and googling the name of the occasional pub to check if I remember them correctly. This may be yet another project that I enjoy for a while that goes nowhere or I may well finish a full first draft. Either way I am writing a little each week and that’s the important thing while I wait to hear from my Agent about BLOODY DAWN.

I hope your writing is going well. And if not, be kind to yourself, it’s a tricksy time of year.