Writers On Writing / Writing romance with Anne Gracie

‘But really, I don’t care what the trope is — in the hands of a skilled writer, even the most tried and possibly tired trope can be delivered in a fresh and entertaining way.’

What is the biggest misconception about writing romance?

There are so many misconceptions I can’t pick one. People often believe they’re written to a prescribed formula — they’re not: “The Formula” is an urban myth. Romances are formulaic in the same way that crime novels and other genre novels are, but like those genres, there’s a huge variation, and new writers are always expanding the boundaries of the genre.

People also assume they’re easy to write: they’re not. Like all novels, you need to develop good plots, create strong character arcs, and create an entertaining and absorbing reading experience. 

People often think romances will be easy money. Sadly that’s not the case. The competition is huge, and now that so many writers are self-publishing, it’s even greater. But if you can break through, and build your readership, there’s a solid career to be had. Romance writing has supported me for the last fifteen years.

What is a trope that you can’t help but love in the romance genre?

I write historical romance, so for me the “convenient marriage” trope is one I endlessly revisit. Two people are more or less forced together (for a variety of reasons) and somehow must learn about each other and make a relationship work. And of course, fall in love.  No story is ever the same.

But I also love the “fish out of water” trope, where one or both main characters are out of their comfort zone. In Christmas stories I like the “reconciliation/forgiveness” theme. But really, I don’t care what the trope is — in the hands of a skilled writer, even the most tried and possibly tired trope can be delivered in a fresh and entertaining way.

What books are currently on your bedside table?

I have a teetering pile, plus I take my kindle everywhere, so I travel with a library in my bag. I read a lot of fantasy, speculative fiction, crime and romance. I’ve just read The Maid, by Nita Prose; Shenanigans, a hockey romance by Sara Bowen and A Bittersweet Murder by NSW writer Kaz Delaney. I’m reading South Paw, by crime writer JD Kirk; and next I’ll be reading an ARC of One Woman’s War, by Queenslander Christine Wells. After that, who knows?

I also have a pile of craft-of-writing books that I like to dip into from time to time. They nearly always spark a thought, or remind me of something I know but have forgotten to do. I like books by Donald Maass, Linda Seger, Jerry Cleaver’s Immediate Fiction, and plenty of others. I also keep a writing journal, which sits on my bedside table.


Anne Gracie started her first novel writing by hand in notebooks while backpacking solo around the world. Anne has had twenty-six novels and several novellas published internationally and for the last fifteen years she has supported herself entirely through her writing. Published by Berkley USA (PenguinRandomHouse) with several early books by Harlequin, Anne’s books have been translated into more than eighteen languages, and several have been studied at tertiary level in Australia.

Anne is a national bestseller in the USA, and has made several “best of the year” lists in the USA — Library Journal’s Best Books of 2009, and NPR’s Best Romances of 2013.  She has won many awards In the USA, including the National Readers’ Choice Award (twice), The Holt Medallion, and was a five time RITA finalist. In Australia her books have won the “RUBY – Romantic Book of the Year” (three times) and she has twelve Australian Romance Readers Association awards including “Favourite Historical Romance” (seven times) and “Favourite Australian Author” (three times).

Join Anne’s workshop, Online: Writing Romance, Wednesday 14 to Tuesday 20 June 2023. Enrol here >>

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