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Writing Category Romances

By Margaret Daley

I have been writing for Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired line since 2000 and have enjoyed creating over forty Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense books. Writing for a category inspirational romance publisher has challenged me and helped me to grow as a writer.

What have I learned writing category romances? I’ve learned first and foremost how to tell a story in a concise way. I had to learn to pick and choose what was important to show/tell the reader, which isn’t always that easy to see, especially when you are so close to the story. What we should do is introduce the hero and heroine and let the reader get a sense of who the protagonists are in the present before we flood them with their back story (actually a writer should never “flood” the reader with the back story but sprinkle it in throughout).

But often as a writer we want to jump in and explain everything at the beginning so the reader will “understand.” That was the way it was done when I first started writing years ago. We often took a chapter or so to let the readers discover who the main characters were before we really introduce the conflicts between them. Not anymore-which leads me to another reason I write for category.

I have learned (still learning) to tell a fast paced story that will keep today’s reader turning the page. Nothing is better than receiving a note from a reader telling me that I kept them up all night reading my book. That is one of the highest honors I could receive from a reader.

Up until recently I taught at a high school. I discovered that the teens I worked with thought most of the classic novels were boring. When I studied those novels, I could see their point. It took quite a while to get into the story. The books were wordy and the authors often padded the basic story. I wanted these students to learn to love reading as I do so I looked at books that told a compelling story that was fast paced. That is what they read and I saw some good results. Remember, these same teens are used to a story being told in an hour on a television show. If the show didn’t grab their attention, they used the remote and moved on to another show. A category story requires an author to tell a story quickly (or should) and to choose her words carefully. There is little room for unnecessary information in the stories. These stories are fast reads that can often be read in one sitting.

In a category romance there is always a happy ending (which is another reason I read and write category stories-I love a happy ending), but the story is in how the characters get there. Millions of people read category romances and keep coming back. They like the idea of a happy ending. That’s one of the reasons they keep reading them, but what intrigues them is how the author gets the hero and heroine together-the conflicts, the type of characters portrayed, and in my line, what part their faith plays in their lives. So when people pick up a category romance, they know how the book will end but not how they will get there.

I’ve been blessed to have the best of both worlds. I get to write a romance story and a romantic suspense by writing for Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense books. I love to write an emotional story but also a story with a mystery and suspense element (not to mention a faith element). After reading one of these, you walk away with hope for love and a relationship with the opposite sex. Hope is so important in this world and that’s really why I write inspirational category romances and romantic suspense books.


Margaret Daley, an award-winning author of eighty-three books, has been married for over forty years and is a firm believer in romance and love. When she isn’t traveling, she’s writing love stories, often with a suspense thread and corralling her three cats that think they rule her household. To find out more about Margaret visit her website at http://www.margaretdaley.com.

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2 Responses to Writing Category Romances

  1. I’ve just had my first Love Inspired book accepted, so your post caught my eye! You are WELL established in Love Inspired, and I like to see how much you still enjoy it. I hope to be in your shoes one day. :)

  2. A good post, Margaret.

    I can understand the thoughts of the teens on the classics.

    Have we lost something as a culture by following the trends of society when it comes to writing, rather than teaching our young people how to appreciate the deeper things in life like classic writing and classical art?

    Life is more like a classic than a TV show, after all. We’re in it for the long haul, not momentary entertainment.

    How can young people be expected to dedicate themselves to life and family if there is nothing (or appears to be nothing) in modern literature to teach them to get past the momentary ‘boredom’ and find the deeper meaning?