This is an interesting combo because you have two genres with conflicting goals:
Horror is focused on instilling fear in the reader, is more plot-oriented, and at most has a bittersweet ending.
Romance is an idealistic genre that has a goal of escapism and/or making the reader feel good, is more character-driven, and always has a happy ending (unless you’re writing a Tragedy with romantic elements or Drama containing romance, rather than a real romance novel).
When blending such different genres, the key to marrying them is that one of them needs to stand out a little more than the others. Since you want a happy ending, I’d recommend going the “romance with horror elements” route rather than the “horror with romantic elements” route. That means the main plot will be a romance, though the main subplot(s) can be horror-related.
Other general tips:
Tips for Writing Horror (link embedded)
Be attentive with marketing. I like the premise of this story, but you’re going to have to be extra careful not to misrepresent it to future readers, particularly if you plan to post it. Genre-blends like this can be hard to market, though readers for them certainly exist! Writing a good summary is key to making sure you attract the right readers.
The romance and horror should complement each other. Genre blending works best when the elements work together, so the horror elements should be affecting the romance. This might show up like the monster getting the future couple to work together to fight it off, letting them bond through a stressful event.
The happy ending should come from the romance. Part of good horror writing is that you can get there readers to feel genuine fear, but part of instilling that fear means letting bad things happen to the characters (link embedded). Your readers need to be able to believe that the characters are in actual danger, and because of that there won’t be much happiness coming from the horror elements.
There are some “staples” to any romance novel:
- Romances usually start with the meeting of the two people. The ways it happens vary and should be set up in accordance with story needs, but this scene can either be the very start or a few chapters in. However, with the horror also driving the story, you should probably include a scary aspect very early on. Best case scenario is probably during the meeting, with a bit of foreshadowing until that point (if it’s a few chapters in).
- What’s your conflict type? (link embedded) Romance is typically a Character vs Self conflict, though C v Society pops up quite a bit too. With the horror combo you’re likely falling into a C v Supernatural conflict, which will likely slide the story to a more plot-oriented setup than the average romance.
- The climax comes from the conflict type. In most stories, the climax is when the conflict is “fought” and resolved, but in romance stories the climax can also be the moment the characters get together. In your case, the climax will likely have to be a merge of the two genres and therefore the two conflicts, but that depends on the level of horror you’re trying to integrate.
- Romance stories typically have a happy ending (link embedded). that other ask goes into the details of a happy ending, plus more info on how tone of a story affects the ending. A traditional romance novel always ends on a high point, which is why I suggested you make that your main plot instead of the horror.
Good luck with your genre blend!
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