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I’m Kat! Professional Storyteller & Neurodivergent Creative

Looking to write that love story this Palentine’s Day? 💌

Published about 2 months ago • 4 min read

KAT VANCIL

THE STORYTELLER'S SAGA

QUEST 49

Well hello there, Reader!

Have you got a special someone on this 💝 filled day? Did they get you something sweet?

In the days leading up to VDay, sales of chocolates and flowers have been massive. But what about…

Books?

Yep, you heard me correctly.

Over 2.2 billion books are sold each year worldwide. And of those billions, 25% were Romance books. That number jumps to 40% if you’re just counting books within genre fiction.

Crazy right?

And that’s only counting stories that would be shelved in Romance or its subcategories. It doesn’t count stories in genre fiction “with romantic elements” such as Rick Riordan & Mark Oshiro’s The Sun and The Star.

So why has Romance always gotten the snub despite the clear BILLIONS it brings in each year for authors and publishers, both traditional and indie?

The ugly truth?

Because they were traditionally stories written for women by women authors. And historically, the industry and society as a whole have done their damnedest to dismiss the accomplishments and desires of femalekind.

But times they are a-changing and you can be a part of that, Reader.

Maybe you’ve always harbored a secret desire to pen your own romance.

And whether you want to write Classic, Contemporary, or Queer Romance, you need to have these 5 ingredients to brew ⚗️ your love story.


The 5 Ingredients You Need for the Perfect Love Story

1) The Incomplete Character

Your Legendary Character needs to be an incomplete person who is missing some important piece of themselves. A character who can only become a whole person because of The Foil.

2) The Foil

Every Legendary Character needs a cute and charming counterpart to foil the status quo of their current day-to-day life.

3) The Meet Cute

The Legendary Character and Foil need to meet in a crazy and memorable way. The sort of thing that usually becomes part of the story’s pitch.

4) The Complication

The thing that’s keeping them from finding their “Happily Ever After,” while at the same time continuing to throw them into close proximity. Maybe it’s their workplace hierarchy, the threat of deportation, or societal prejudice, but something is wrenching these two would-be lovers apart while also shoving them together in the story.

5) The Grand Gesture

A big grand gesture the Legendary Character makes to prove themselves to the Foil and obtain their Happily Ever After. Maybe it’s interrupting the wedding to confess their feelings, forsaking one’s family to run away together, or reigniting the Foil’s heart with their magic after near-death. Whatever the action, it’s gotta be big, shocking, and dramatic enough to leave the Foil and readers breathless.

Romance is about two people seeing the world their own way, with their own shards of glass wedged deep into their hearts, that by the last page end up completing one another.

One of the other important things to consider when crafting your love story is how far you intend to go on the tame to explicit scale with your story’s content. Romance usually calls this the Spice Level, and I’ve included it below with TV and age ratings for comparison.

Spice level

Spiciness level

TV rating | Age rating

Sweet

PG 9+

Suitable for anyone over the age of 9 and much like in the animated feature films the characters kiss a few times at most.

Example: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares (Dash & Lily)

(This example is a little close to Zesty but I think it still counts as Sweet)

Zesty

TV14 Teen 14+

Kissing, touching, romantic and sexual language, are all commonplace. If there is a sex scene it’s handled behind closed doors, “fade to black”, or in a very romantic way where only the character’s emotional state is described. However, as a point of reference, Vampire Diaries was TV14 and so is most anime that isn’t intended for very young children, so Zesty covers a wide range of Romance stories.

Example: Heartstopper

Spicy

TV16 Older Teen 16+

The bedroom door may be open during those spicy romance scenes but the language tends to focus more on the character’s emotional and romantic feelings than their physical ones. Also, scenes will still cut away or fade out at various points. Most books by Sarah J. Maas fall into this category.

Example: Predestined

Ghost Pepper

MA Adult 18+

You don’t just open that closed bedroom door, you pat the bed beside the characters and give us a front-row seat to all the hot smexy action. Basically, if you’re writing erotica or anything that’s one step adjacent to it, you’ll probably find yourself here. This one usually comes with that “Mature”, “Explicit” or “Parental Advisory” warning. And if it were a manga or light novel it would probably be packaged in plastic wrap too.

Example: Therapy Game


Well, Reader, I hope this little primer on Romance helps you get started on penning your next great love story 💘

Your cohort in storytelling,

Kat Vancil

🐱

PS 👉 I put together a list of 5 Achillean Romances I recommend. A fun little Palentine’s reel. Enjoy 💝

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I’m Kat! Professional Storyteller & Neurodivergent Creative

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