Writing a holiday romance? Here are some tips that may help.
Why is a holiday romance so damn appealing? Is it the fact that everyone’s a little bit merrier and brighter at this time of year? Is it that, just like in Strictly Ballroom, love is in the air, and we find it harder to resist? Or is it a need to feel like our lives can go from woe to wonder in a time when anything does feel possible?
Either way, if you’re writing a holiday romance, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Meet reader expectations: Not every Christmas book has to be set in a snowy homestead and feature a hot turkey in the oven. Hey, I’m from Australia. Christmas to me is a swim in the ocean and a cold seafood lunch. But when it comes to writing a festive novel, make it clear from the outset if your book isn’t going to be of the cuddle-up-in-front-of-the-fireplace variety to avoid readers feeling misled. This can be as simple as something you communicate with your cover design and blurb.
Excite your reader’s senses: Sure, we should do this all the time when we write, but it’s definitely something to keep at the forefront of your mind when penning these kinds of books. The p
eople who read Christmas novels love (wait for it …) Christmas. We’re all about the mistletoe and the giving and the love—oh, the love! We also have memories tied up in Christmas that make it special for us, and since taste, smell and touch are all vital parts of our sensory recall, it makes sense to play on these in your writing so readers are truly thrown into your merry-and-bright world. Think the scents of cinnamon and fresh pine, the rich taste of Christmas pudding and the sweet, buttery flavour of shortbread, the feel of cold snow or hot sand between your fingers, or the itch of that sweater your crafty relative has oh-so kindly knitted. Search for ways you can add these into your story.
Keep it short and sweet: Absolutely, you can write a 100,000-word novel on Christmas. However, given the nature of the Christmas book, it will usually centre around one special day. You can have build-up to this moment, but if your book starts in October and your characters potter around in November for a while before finally having their HEA on the day good ol’ Saint Nick comes to visit, it may not be a Christmas novel you’re writing but instead a novel that features Christmas. You need to write what your heart desires—I’m a big believer in that. There are also exceptions to every rule. But generally speaking, a holiday romance will tend to be 60,000 words or less, some as short as 10,000 or 20,000 words, even.
Write it like a real novel: Readers are here for the happy and merry Christmas feels. Like I said, I’m a bit of a Christmas junkie; I want the HEA and the love to conquer all. But that doesn’t mean I want the book to be unrealistic. There still needs to be conflict in a Christmas novel, and it needs to run deeper than just who’s going to carve the turkey.
QUICK AND EASY TIPS:
Make your Christmas novel a bonus gift for your reader group or street team this festive season
Write a Christmas novella with characters your readers already love, giving them that something special they crave
Write a short Christmas story and release it one chapter per day to your e-newsletter list, going for a ’12 Days of Christmas’ kind of vibe
Choose a charity or foundation and donate proceeds of your book’s sale this season and really make it a season for giving
Are you releasing a holiday romance this year? I'd love to hear about! Comment below or shoot me an email :)