Romance is a massive genre with many subgenres and sub-subgenres. Romance readers are famously voracious, and they’re also fiercely loyal. If they find a writer who pushes all the right buttons with their work, they’ll stick with them. But the trick is knowing how to push those buttons. This means coming up with ideas for romance stories that are at once original and faithful to the subgenre you’re writing in. It’s a fine line to walk, but it’s more than possible with the following romance writing prompts.
- Recipes for a great romance story
- Overarching romance tropes
- A list of romance story ideas
What Makes a Good Romance?
Before we dive into the romance story prompts, it's a good idea to talk about what makes a good romance. There are certain things readers expect when they pick up a romance novel. And, at the risk of being overly simplistic, they can be summed up pretty well in two sentences:
- A love story driving the plot.
- A satisfying and happy ending.
Now, these are very broad, overarching ideas. Things can be a little different in various subgenres, but if you read romance (and you should if you plan to write it), then you'll know that these are expected by readers.
The “heat rating” of said novel will vary, as will the number of subplots, the number of main characters, and the situations these characters find themselves in.
Whether the story is about two men, two women, two people who are non-gender binary, a man and a woman, or some combination of all of the above, any romance novel really comes down to a love story. So keep this in mind as we move through the prompts for the various subgenres.
Common Romance Genre Tropes
As a reader, you may not be consciously aware of the tropes used in romance novels. Some authors will put their tropes front and center, while others won't. But as a writer, knowing the tropes at your disposal is essential to writing romance, whether it's a short story, a novella, or a full-length novel. So here are some of the most common romance tropes:
- Enemies to Lovers
- Friends to Lovers
- Love Triangle
- Billionaire Romance
- Secret Billionaire
- Stuck Together
- Second Chance at Love
- Forbidden Love
- Fake Relationship
- Soul Mates (True Love)
- Opposites Attract
- Secret Identity
Readers expect certain types of tropes from a romance book. Whether consciously or not, they search for these tropes. They want something familiar, but they don't want something they've read before. So the idea is to use one of these tropes to inform your romance story, while simultaneously making it your own.
It's important to realize that the trope doesn't have to influence the genre. For example, you could have a billionaire romance that fits in the historical romance genre by having the story take place in the 1920s or 30s.
You could also write a science fiction romance in which the main trope is “stuck together.”
And while we've tried to group the following romance writing prompts together by genre, they're only story starters. They're designed to get your creativity flowing so you can expand on the idea and make it your own!
Let's get started!
Romance Writing Prompts
You'll see that we often use the terms “he” and “she” in these prompts, but these are just placeholder terms. These creative writing prompts will work no matter the sexual orientation or gender identity of the characters.
Contemporary Romance Prompts
You'll recognize the modern technology, cultural norms, and the way people speak in the contemporary romance genre. These stories could be happening here and now.
- Two strangers and polar opposites always visit the local animal shelter — one to play with the cats and the other to see the dogs. There’s some friction between them, but it might be the right kind to heat things up.
- After weeks of watching and preparation, the heroine bluffs her way into a rich bachelor’s party to steal a piece of artwork. She soon finds that the artwork isn’t the only thing she’s stolen: there’s a note hidden on the back of the piece, and it’s addressed to her.
- There’s something familiar about the man she sees on a dating app, but she just can’t place it. Out of curiosity, she agrees to meet him for a date, only to remember that she rejected him in high school. Could things be different now?
- His best friend from high school, who he thought of as a sister, comes back to town after four years of college. She brings her new fiance. But they soon find there’s something more than friendship between them.
- They’re both ultra-runners, participating in a grueling race. But when a sudden storm strands these fiercely competitive people together, they have to stop one-upping each other to survive.
- He’s just struggling to make his new business successful. She’s an IRS auditor who has a job to do. Things start off rocky, but is there a spark there?
- They are both finalists on a televised singing show. He falls for her hard and decides to tell her through a song on live TV.
- He just got out of a trying relationship. She doesn’t have plans to settle down anytime soon. It starts as a rebound, but there’s something else there, if they’re willing to see it.
- After the chaos of a bank robbery, she finds a wallet on the ground. Realizing it belongs to the robber, she decides to take it to the police. But before she can, he comes to get it . . .
- She works with her parents in a dry cleaning store. He’s a low-level enforcer for the mob, tasked with collecting “protection” money from the businesses. Will love make him see the damage he’s doing?
Paranormal Romance Prompts
The paranormal subgenre is rife with romantic suspense. From psychics and witches to vampires and werewolves, there's plenty to spice up your romance story idea.
- She's a witch who has been brought up to distrust vampires. He's a vampire who, deep down, is just the opposite of his somewhat salty demeanor. Can he convince her to give him a chance?
- She's a psychic trying to use her powers for good. He finds out her secret and tries to exploit her talent for personal gain. But their relationship could be the stuff of fairytales.
- She dreams of a mysterious figure with questionable intentions. When she sees the man in real life, she feels compelled to go up and talk to him – even though he's clearly on a date.
- A ghost shows up and helps a woman when she needs it most. But the ghost belongs to her husband, who just died.
- Angels and demons wage a war on earth. Their activities are invisible to humans, but not to each other. One day, a demon and an angel find themselves trying to tempt the same person. And although things are rocky at first, an unexpected attraction flares.
- Werewolves roam the night. There's an uneasy truce with the humans, and one woman has been chosen to be the emissary. But her werewolf counterpart is much more than she bargained for.
- She's a vampire hunter who gets critically injured on a hunt. The vampire she was trying to kill takes pity on her, saving her life by turning her into one of the undead.
- A high school girl is learning how to harness magic. She gets chosen for an elite academy where she immediately butts heads with another boy in the academy.
- She hears the voices of the dead. It takes all her effort to control the voices, which leaves no time for romantic relationships. Until she meets a man she just can't resist.
- Her magic is so powerful she can't control it. She hurt her ex by accident and now refuses to take a chance on love. But her ex comes back to convince her that what they have is true love.
Historical Romance Prompts
Historical romance stories generally take place before 1950. They often center on actual events, even if the characters are fictional.
- A shell-shocked British soldier meets a French nurse during World War I. While the language barrier proves difficult to overcome, love finds a way.
- A Regency romance features an odd couple from high society who are just friends . . . but he wants something more. She doesn't really see him that way . . . or does she?
- A lowly stable boy falls for a baron's daughter. They can never be together. Not unless they run away to America.
- In an era when mixed-race couples are actively frowned upon, these two main characters find that some things are worth fighting for.
- She's been thrust into an arranged marriage to a rude older man. Things look grim until she brings out his true nature.
Romantic Comedy Prompts
These love story ideas contain a hefty dash of comedy. And, of course, they end with a happily ever after.
- She's looking for love in all the wrong places. And it doesn't help that her zany mother has a little bit too much control over her life. Until someone comes along who is no match for the main character's mother. . .
- Opposites attract in this story when a comedically pessimistic character meets a too-optimistic match at a company work function.
- She's always had her eye on her best friend's brother, who's a struggling comedian. To get his attention, she arranges to do some comedy of her own . . . with hilariously disastrous results.
- He's been pining over her for years. She hasn't noticed him at all. But with the help of his friends, he tries to learn all the tricks of seducing a woman. The results aren't what he was looking for. At least, not at first.
- She's a single mother of two. He's a single father with a newborn baby. They meet at a support group for single moms when he accidentally shows up, thinking it's a meeting for single parents.
- He just needs a place to live, and the room in a houseful of women is the right price. But as soon as he moves in, his habits and theirs just don't mesh. There's plenty of romantic tension, but things don't go smoothly when he falls for one of them.
- He's a proud bachelor, but his buddies are all married and they won't allow him to go on their annual trip to Hawaii unless he brings a girlfriend. So he asks the girl from the local coffee shop. What could go wrong?
- He was the school bully, and he humiliated her more times than she can count. But now the tables have turned, and she's the popular one in college. But her plans for revenge have unintended consequences.
- She keeps getting sweet letters from a secret admirer. She's positive she knows who it is, but her guess turns out to be way wrong!
- She makes it big as a romance writer in the big city. But for all her writing about true love, she has yet to experience it. She doesn't think it's real . . . until a person from her past shows up with life-changing news.
Science Fiction Romance Prompts
Aliens and robots, androids and artificial intelligence. It's a big universe, and love is the universal language.
- They're astronauts from very different cultures. Can they learn to see past the superficial to the best in each other, or will living on a cramped space station be too much for them?
- She's a starship captain from Earth. She's an alien with plans on attacking Earth. His mission is to convince her that humanity is worth saving . . . any way he can.
- Can androids feel love? Can a human and an android make a life together, against all odds? Find out by exploring this sci-fi romance prompt.
- An asteroid is heading right for Earth, and no one can agree on what to do about it. She thinks blowing it up is right. He thinks diverting it is the way to go. They've got to put aside their differences and work together to save the world.
- They live light-years away from each other, but they've been communicating through messages. When scientists figure out how to travel faster than light, he invites her to visit his planet.
Fantasy Romance Prompts
Romance writers come in all shapes and sizes. And the characters they write about don't have to be human. In fact, fantasy characters can provide the dash of inspiration needed to get the writing going.
- Their people don't trust each other, but they face a threat the likes of which they've never seen. These two fantasy characters must overcome their differences to face the Big Bad – and they may just find love in the process.
- They're the only two from their village selected to attend the prestigious school where they'll learn how to harness magic. But the journey is perilous — and they've been sworn enemies for as long as they can remember.
- In the complex world of Elves, Orcs, and Humans, there's much riding on the arranged marriage of an Elf to a Human. The only problem is they both want to marry for love, even though the other one doesn't know it.
- In this world, each person is shown who their one true love is by the time they're twenty-two. But the main character's birthday comes and goes, and she still doesn't know. Does this mean she'll be alone forever?
- She's had feelings for him since she met him. The only problem is, he's supposed to be dead. He was a great warrior who was supposedly killed in battle. So how is she seeing him? And why has he chosen to come to her and no one else?
Holiday Romance Prompts
The holidays can make a great backdrop for romantic fiction. Choose a writing prompt below to get started!
- Another Valentine's Day comes and goes without so much as a letter. But she soon finds out there's been a mail mistake, and there's a backlog of letters from a secret admirer.
- The only thing she wants for Christmas is a baby. But she doesn't need a partner to help raise it. Until she finds that Santa may have brought her something she didn't even ask for!
- She comes home for Thanksgiving to find that her best friend is dating her ex. She grabs the nearest man — who happens to be a live-in nurse for her ailing mother — and convinces him to pretend to be her boyfriend.
- He hates Christmas and loves sleeping around. She loves Christmas and hates men who sleep around. But she still wonders why he hasn't made a pass at her yet. So she makes an effort to find out why.
- She drinks a little too much during a New Year's Eve party and seeks out a kiss from another solo partygoer. Sparks fly, but it turns out he's taken. What's she to do?
Test Your Romance Novel for Viability
Hopefully, the creative juices are flowing now. But before you start writing your book, it's a good idea to see if there's a market for the type of romance you're looking to write. Since romance is such a competitive genre, a little research goes a long way. And the easiest way to get this research done is with Publisher Rocket.
You can think of the information you get from Publisher Rocket as the foundation for your romance writing career. You get insights directly from Amazon on:
- Keywords – Metadata to position your book on Amazon.
- Competition – Allowing you to see what's selling and how stiff the competition is.
- Categories – So you know where people who are looking for books like yours go to find them.
- Amazon Ads – Helps you quickly configure a list of profitable keywords for running ads.
Check out Publisher Rocket here to get started.