So You Want to Write NA Contemporary Romance?

Photo credit: svacher on Flickr
What is it? 

College-age protagonists in everyday settings, falling in love. NA Contemporary Romance is quirky, funny, awkward, dark, gritty, real and everything in between. Every topic under the sun is up for grabs: military matters, drinking, pregnancy, marriage, drug abuse, sexual assault, first jobs, first time away from home, etc.

Pros/Cons of Writing NA Contemporary Romance: 


  • It’s crazy popular (right now). NA Contemporary Romance is huge right now, which is great because there’s plenty of reference and interest in the genre. But it also has a downside, mentioned below. 

  • YA energy with more mature NA themes. This is something I love about NA in general (not just Contemporary Romance)—the energy and raw quality often seen in YA novels is still present in NA, but now there are more mature themes and characters. As they say, “old enough to know better, but too young to care.” And it’s awesome. 

  • It’s fun. NA Contemporary Romance is a really fun space for writers. There’s tons of room for experimentation and so much potential for some really great variety. 


  • It’s crazy popular right now. As great as it is, this also makes life a little more difficult for a writer trying to get published, both because your book has to be awesome to stand out among the crowd and because, as it is with trends, this is a trend. I don’t know what will be next for New Adult, no one does, but every bubble eventually bursts. 

  • Certain areas are over-saturated. This is pretty inevitable considering how popular NA Contemporary Romance has gotten. There’s definitely overlap with many of the plots, but to me, this is just a challenge to push the boundaries. There have been a lot of stories told, true, but there’s so much room for stories that haven’t been told and twists that haven’t been explored. 

  • Stigma. Unfortunately, there are still people out there who believe NA is just sexed-up YA. I’ve already written about why this isn’t true, but the stigma, while not as bad as it used to be, is still there. 

Recommended Reading: 

As I’ve said before and will say again: you must read what you’re writing. So if you’re writing (or thinking about writing) NA Contemporary Romance, here are some great recs, all of which I’ve read and enjoyed:

Helpful Links: 

Do you enjoy reading or writing NA Contemporary Romance? Share your experience! 

Twitter-sized bites: 
Thinking about writing NA Contemporary Romance? Writer @Ava_Jae shares some tips, recommendations and more. (Click to tweet)   
Do you write NA Contemporary Romance? Share your experience at @Ava_Jae’s So You Want to Write series. (Click to tweet


S.E Dee said...

Can. Not. Stand. This. Show! This is where you tell me I have no honor and then I draw my sword and we duke it out.

My boyfriend watches this show religiously, though. We also watch game of thrones whose villains I much prefer. Having said that, I'm more into grey characters than villains, sort of like the antag to the protag and not so much the antag to the whole world.

(I used to read L.J Smith when I was younger. Came home with four of her books one day. None were of the Vampire Diaries series, weirdly.)

I won't lie, I did get wrapped up in the whole love triangle back in season one but now I feel like it's all over the place. My boyfriend prefers The Originals these days which you may or may not love as Klaus plays a massive part in it.

But, yes, I agree. Sometimes it's far too easy to create a villain with no substance, but it's far better for the reader to have one that they get the feels for. The best read, in my opinion, is when you've gone through a whole book and, much like a court case, once you've heard both don't even know who to root for anymore!

Ava Jae said...

lol! I definitely don't expect everyone to like it (for example, I haven't watched a single episode of GoT. Yep). I do, however, understand your preference for gray characters rather than villains—I love gray characters too, which is why, I think, I like sympathetic antagonists so much—they kind of become gray (or grayer) characters to me.

Weirdly, the whole love triangle thing didn't work for me very long, because I started preferring Damon over Stefan relatively quickly. So the love triangle became more of a BUT DAMON NEEDS LOVE riot in my head. So. *shrug*

I'd love to watch The Originals, but it's not on Netflix yet. As soon as they get it (and I'm hoping they eventually do), I will definitely be trying it out.

Finally! I agree. I love when I've gotten to know the villain so well that he no longer seems so evil and antagonistic—he's (or she!) a character I can relate to and love just as much as any other character.

S.E Dee said...

Damon is just well rounded in general (my opinion) also, his back story comes across more believable. I just can't buy Stephan as The Ripper...I mean, that's what it says on Wiki. I dunno. I don't watch it.

Game of Thrones is great in many ways but boy is it long. I can't believe the books are still going. I don't think anyone is going to sit on the Iron Throne...

Ava Jae said...

I think if you watched it you might believe Stephan as The Ripper better (but if I'd just read it, yeah, I wouldn't believe it, either). Watching him descend to that side of him again felt believable enough to me.

But I agree. Damon is definitely more well-rounded. Plus I like that he embraces his darker side and accepts its a part of him rather than trying to hide it, then binging on it like Stephan.

And the length of GoT alone is one of the many reasons I hesitate to start reading or watching it. Heh.

S.E Dee said...

With GoT I do wonder who is pulling the strings, the author or the publishers. I know nothing of publishing contracts so I can't say if you can walk out on a 9 book deal if you've already signed it, or if you have to slog on regardless if you want to or not.

Oh absolutely, the constant turning off and on of humanity made Stephen very inconsistent for me, on Wiki *wink* Yes, he was the worse of the two but at least Elena knew what she was getting with some degree.

Just now realised you still stuck to your Wednesday post! I thought this vid replaced it. Off to go read :D

Ava Jae said...

That's a good question about GoT. I have no idea how a contract for that many books work. From what I can tell, though, I'd think GRRM wants to finish the series because he was previously concerned about not living long enough to finish them (which is super morbid, but anyway).

Ahhhh. Wiki. I see. Ha ha. Okay, yeah I get how turning his humanity on and off could make it more difficult. To me, it mostly just made the nice guy act afterward harder to believe (but for some reason I believed the horrible Ripper past). But yes, Elena mostly knew what to expect with Damon. Mostly.

And yes! I'll always stick to my MWF format for normal posts. I'm just posting vlogs on Tuesdays now, too. :)

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