21st-century romance – writing with passion

RomanceAs promised, here is my final instalment about the fiction workshops and talks I attended at Woman’s Weekly Live! in Manchester, this one delivered by Della Galton.

Della Galton’s talents include that of successful and prolific short story writer, novelist, creative writing tutor, and public speaker, so she is more than qualified to give expert advice in her field. She even gives dietary advice in her book, co-authored by Peter Jones, How To Eat Loads And Stay Slim. Like Gaynor Davies, her emphasis was upon updating familiar themes; in this case, romance.

21st-century romantic fiction needs to have a contemporary feel with a few surprises thrown in, but should avoid gender stereotypes and traditional roles. This doesn’t mean shying away from traditional values; they are still important but need a modern edge to focus on believable characters. The days of saccharin-sweet endings are gone – that doesn’t mean they should be replaced with the type of eroticism found in the likes of the ‘Fifty Shades’ trilogy. 

In order to meet the market’s expectations, it is necessary to think about what is important and relevant in today’s society e.g. individuals (usually women) juggling their time between grandchildren and parents, while still working to pay their own mortgage.

Get your work noticed by being original:

  • Base your story in an unusual setting e.g. a lighthouse
  • Invert a well-established theme e.g. a woman who fears commitment.
  • Think outside of the box e.g. theme of ‘wills’ – two children humorously deciding on what to leave to their friends; a young soldier on the frontline bequeathing a few items of little monetary value, on a scrap of paper.
  • Consider using humour in romantic fiction rather than emphasising the darker side of human nature.

Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special and People’s Friend are also interested in historical fiction, so think about using this genre as a setting for your romance – it doesn’t have to be centuries old, as apparently the 1970s is now viewed as historical (yikes! Do I feel old!). The main thing is to be original, so jotting down ideas that spring to mind, then discarding the first few, will make your work fresher as the chances are others will have thought of a similar premise as you, in the first instance.

Your aim when writing a short story is to consider:

What is the problem, and how can I resolve it?

The story needs to be credible and we should ask ourselves:

Would our character really do this?

If you don’t believe it, then neither will the reader. Think about the psychology behind the character’s motivations e.g. if she is angry, there should be a good reason for her anger; if he is scared of water, what has happened in his past to make it so?

Your story should finish with a note of hope, but this doesn’t translate as a schmaltzy happy ever after ending.


Writers sell emotion – we are in the entertainment industry. 


Write from the heart to trigger the emotional heart of your target.

Hope these words of wisdom from Della are as useful and inspirational to you, as they are to me.

Happy writing and good luck!

Image credit: prometeus / 123RF Stock Photo



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