What Romance Readers Want to See in Chapter One

Reader Poll On How To Being A Romance Story

To further the discussion from The Right Way To Start Your Romance Novel I decided to create a reader poll to hear what’s in demand straight from the source.

The following Facebook Reader Groups took part:

Erotica Readers and Authors with 10,107 members

Interracial Romance Readers with 1,852 members

Romance & Thrillers with 13,507 members

Without further ado here are the results:

In 1st place is a tie between Slowly and With a Bang.

It looks like readers are divided.

  • Half want their story to start slowly in favor of  rich characters and a connection.
  • Half want it start off with a bang in favor of action and suspense to get hooked from the start.

Coming in 2nd place is Cute Meet.

When it comes to the cute meet, readers are looking for the romance to start right away in a lighthearted and funny way gradually getting more intense as the relationship progresses through the storyline.

In 3rd place was Other.

Other turned out to be more of a combination of the other 3 choices depending on what genre was being read and what mood the reader was in at the time.

However, no matter how the books start everyone was in agreement that no story is worth the read if the characters are flat and the story line is unbelievable.

Are you surprised by the results of this reader poll?

How do you like your romance stories to begin? 

Stay Tuned

#curyliving: The Great Bathing Suite Debate

The Right Way To Start Your Romance Novel

The Right Way To Start Your Romance Novel
Original image created by Dashu83 from Freepik.com and modified by Darla G. Denton

Spoiler Alert: There is no right way to begin a story.

There are just too many variables that come into play for there to be one right way.

In the end it’s up to you to decide what works best with the story you’ve created in the genre you think it fits best under.

Below are some idea to help you, based on the romance genre you are writing in:

Contemporary Romance

  • Pick either the Heroine or the Hero and introduce them to the reader with a lighthearted scene depicting their life right before everything changes. Some readers really enjoy getting to know the main characters before their joint story begins.
  • Begin with the “Cute Meet”, the event in which the Hero and Heroine meet for the first time. Let’s face it, we are reading romance books for the romance. Getting straight to the point is a must for some readers.
  • A comedic scene between the Heroine or the Hero and their sidekick (or best friend) that exhibits the dynamic between them. It’s always good to start off with a laugh when the genre allows it.

Erotica Romance

  • Let’s be honest, a reader reading Erotica isn’t looking for a lot of backstory. They’ve come for the steamy imaginative sex. So give them what they want… An incredibly imaginative sex scene that in the end turns out to be a dream. {wink wink} Leaving the lead and the reader sexually frustrated, wanting more.
  • Usually, an erotica romance story is based off of a situation the main character got themselves into. So why not start the story right before that situation happens. Quickly introduce the main character and immediately put him or her in the situation that lands them into the best sex of their lives. (Think along the lines of a reader submitted story in Playboy)
  • Start at the end. Make it a quick first chapter where the main character looks back on what has just happened and vaguely states how its changed him or her. Make sure it’s vague enough so as not to spoil what’s to come but intriguing enough to make the reader want to know what happened.

Historical Romance

  • Whenever I read a Historical romance I always appreciate it when the first chapter sets the scene of when in history the story takes place. Just having the date listed at the top isn’t enough. I need to have my senses engaged in order to truly be transported back and fully ready to read this adventure from the past.
  • Another neat spin on Historical Romance is when the story begins in the present and somehow the lead gets transported back into time. That’s a great way to capture the readers attention because they are immediately putting themselves in that situation wondering how they would handle it.
  • A lot of historical romances start and end with the main character describing what is happening to them and they are usual part of the upper class. Why not try having a character close to them who is in the lower class start it off (The lady’s maid, the butler, the cook, etc). As if they were telling their friend or other staff member what happened to the main character(s) from their view point.

Paranormal Romance

  • Anything goes in Paranormal romance. The only limit is your imagination.
  • A common way to start a paranormal romance is with the lead character believing they are an ordinary person who just doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere but then by chapter 2 or 3 find out they are anything but ordinary and sets out to learn who they truly are.
  • With Ghost themed paranormal romances you can start with a scary scene of what happened either to that particular ghost or to the location that is haunted. Basically creating a connection between the reader and the “monster” making it more real.

Christian Romance

  • If you are writing a lighthearted christian romance begin with readers getting to know the main characters and their setting in a very laid back, cheery way.
  • If you are writing a heavy Christian romance with a lesson to be learned start by introducing the lesson in for the form of a question. Ex: Can a single woman in today’s day and age find a truly good christian man?
  •  If your main character is a reformed christian start the story off with how they wandered from the christian path (how they sinned) and then work your way through how they find their way back to Jesus.

Romantic Suspense

  • Romantic Suspense encompasses three main themes: Mystery, Thriller and Horror. In a mystery you can start the story off with the main character going about their day like normal until they stumble onto something strange or find themselves in a strange situation. Therefore, starting the journey with this new mystery.
  • In a thriller you can start the story off with a bang, literally. Take a part of the climax, the part that is heavy with suspense and intrigue and place it in the first chapter, ending it before the reader really finds out which character is in trouble or who the villain is. This acts like a hook and a promise. A hook that makes the reader want to read on to find out what happens and a promise to the reader that it will in deed happen and they will find their answers at the end.
  • With a horror themed Romantic Suspense you can kick off the story with a lot of gore by writing about a previous gory act the murderer committed before crossing paths with the main character. This makes it so that the readers get a sense of just how evil the villain is and what the main characters are up against.

Young Adult Romance

  • Usually Young Adult romance starts with the main character about to graduate high school or in college. You can start your story off with the main character’s fears of how their life and relationships are about to change. The readers will connect with that because we’ve all gone through this one way or another and can relate.
  • If your story features a main character who is no longer in school, you can start your story off with a lighthearted comedic view into their life as an adult and whether or not they are enjoying it.
  •  In real life as young adults we always seem to think our adult lives are going be filled with adventure and freedom. Start a chapter that shows the exact opposite and then throw the character into an unexpected adventure that even though they secretly want are afraid to start.

I hope the ideas listed above help you figure out how you want your story to start.

In my experience the first chapter is always written like a rough draft until I finish the whole book. Then I go back and decide where the story truly gets good and create a beginning that best introduces that. Remember, always create a beginning that meshes with the expectation of the genre you are writing for.

Here are some other helpful links to articles about how to write the beginning of your story:

Stay Tuned#curvyreader : What Readers Want To See in Chapter 1 of Their Romance Books

#curvyliving : The Great Bathing Suite Debate


  • How do you like to start your stories?
  • What method do you feel readers respond to the best?Let's Chat Graphic

I Want To Hear From You


I’m back! Some of you know that I took time off from writing to help my husband through a very difficult time. However, I think it’s time to jump back into the thick of things. The itch to write is becoming too great to ignore.

I’ve got some ideas floating around on what to talk about here on the blog but I’m curious to know what you guys want.

  • What do you want to read about? 
  • Do you have any burning questions related to writing fiction, reading or living plus size that you’re dying to know the answers to?

Don’t be shy! I really want to know what you’d like to get out of this blog.

Before I end this post, I just want to take the time to thank you for keeping in touch with me through emails, comments, and questions. Staying in contact with even a small part of this community has kept me sane. Honestly, thank you from the bottom of my heart.