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Course Title: How to Write A Romance Novel That Will get Published
Instructor: Leigh Barbour
Curriculum: 9 units
Time Required: 5-6 weeks
Textbooks: Two downloadable e-books required for this class:
How to Write a Romance Novel that will get Published ($3.50) and Zebulon ($3.50)
CEU Eligibility: Students who pass the final exam will earn 2 CEUs
Course Fee: $20.00
Start Date: No waiting...Enroll now and start learning today!
What This Course Will Do for You

Learn the basic skills needed to write a romance novel in this hands-on course led by Leigh Barbour, a multi-published romance novelist. By the end of the course, students who complete the writing assignments will have laid the foundation to write their own category romance novel. Topics covered will include an overview of the romance publishing industry, types of romance novels, characterization and plots, settings, viewpoints, description, narrative and style, dialogue, sensuality, pacing, revision, available resources, and a look at marketing.

Even if you don't intend to write romance novels as a career, this course will provide a goldmine of fascinating insights into a popular genre of literature, and the skills developed in this class can be carried over into other types of writing.

When you have completed this course, you should be able to:

  • Turn an idea for a romance novel into a manuscript worthy of publication
  • Develop the confidence and skills required to write romance fiction
  • Understand the unique features of each sub-category of the romance fiction genre such as Historical Romance, Regency, Contemporary, Inspirational, and Paranormal Romance
  • Recognize how romance themes have progressed and how characters in romance novels have changed over time
  • Gain an insider glimpse into the Romance Fiction marketplace, current industry trends, perennial favorites, and which genre are thriving or fading
  • Discover your true writer's voice and allow it to come to the surface in refreshingly original prose
  • Refine your ability to create authentic and lively dialogue
  • Avoid common mistakes of bad grammar, awkward dialogue, stereotypes and over-use of metaphors
  • Better understand how to infuse sensuality into your prose
  • Know how to create dynamic friction and passion between your protagonists
  • Write stimulating narrative that will make your story come alive
  • Construct an effective plot that will impress publishers and prompt your readers to turn the next page
  • Understand the technique of "deconstruction-reconstruction" and learn how to take apart an existing plot or story and rebuild it into a new story of your own
  • Learn what is meant by "writing for the market"
  • Know what publishers such as Harlequin, Silhouette, and Harper Collin expect to see in a romance novel
  • Understand why it is important to follow publishers' guidelines and tip sheets
  • Write a winning query letter that will entice a publisher to review your manuscript
About the Instructor

Leigh Barbour is a published romance novelist. Her works include Zebulon, Raquel's Abel, and Dreams of Chimborazo.

"If you read my books, you'll read about ghosts. I just love them!" Leigh confides. Her latest romance novel, Jade Seas, is about a swashbuckling Spanish privateer named Alejandro Valdivia de la Torre Jones who meets the woman of his dreams in a graveyard and insists he isn't dead even though his tombstone says he is.

Leigh earned a Masters in English Linguistics at George Mason University and a Bachelors in Geography from Radford University. Being fluent in Spanish, she won the prestigious Fulbright Fellows Award as an English Teaching Fellow. In 1994, she spent one year instructing teachers in Arequipa, Peru.

Completing a novel and seeing it published is one of the great joys in life, Leigh says, adding that she enjoys teaching and working with students of all ages. "I love teaching people skills they can use to better their lives."

After traveling extensively in Latin America, Leigh settled with her husband in Durham, North Carolina, where she spends her days reading, writing, teaching, and tending her Japanese garden and Bassett hounds.

Lesson Plan

Unit 1:   Overview of Romance Writing

Unit 2:   Characterization, Motivation and Conflict

Unit 3:   Plots and Plotting, Creating Settings

Unit 4:   Description and Narrative

Unit 5:   Dialogue

Unit 6:   Writer's Voice, Viewpoint, Emotional Intensity

Unit 7:   Sensuality and Romantic Atmosphere

Unit 8:   Pacing, Manuscript Revision

Unit 9:   Marketing your Novel, Submitting a Manuscript to a Publisher


Students should have a basic grasp of grammar and the ability to write interesting and well-constructed prose. Prior completion of an introductory writing course is suggested but not required.

How to Participate in this Course

Enroll and start learning today! All course materials will be available when you start the class, so you don't have to wait for weekly lessons and you can truly learn at your own pace. You don't have to be online at any set time; study at your leisure from the comfort or your home or office.

The course curriculum will include tutorial lessons, suggested readings, and optional homework activities. If you are taking the class for enjoyment or self-enrichment, homework is optional but participation is encouraged. Students who approach online learning as an adventure and actively participate will derive the most benefit and enjoyment from online learning. Homework projects, if completed satisfactorily, will earn Extra Credit points which will be added to your Final Exam score and may increase the overall grade you earn in the course.

The Student Handbook provides useful information on how to make the most of your online learning experience at KSURF's Virtual University. Refer to this guide for helpful tips on how to access classrooms, post homework, and answers to most frequently asked questions.