Book Reviews

Crafting Category Romance: The Art of Fiction Haiku by Amy Lane at Dreamspinner Press

Genre Contemporary / Nonfiction
Reviewed by Kristin F. on 23-November-2020

Book Blurb

Category romance is a precise art. With such a small word count, writing the perfect category romance is a little like writing a haiku. But how do you write a book in seventeen syllables? How can you cram compelling conflict, satisfying character development, and toe-curling romantic tension into less than sixty thousand words?


In Crafting Category Romance, two-time RITA™-nominated author of nearly one hundred books Amy Lane describes the rules of engagement, traps to watch out for, and how to leverage common tropes to create conflict, craft a character, develop a plot, and leave readers with a happy ever after that's different every time—all in a tidy package. With practical exercises in plot, conflict, and character development, Crafting Category Romance will teach you how to use the rigid rules and expectations of the genre to your advantage and win a loyal readership following for life.


Book Review

I found ‘Crafting Category Romance: The Art of Fiction Haiku’ a fascinating and educational read. 


Some background to put this review in perspective – I’ve been attending writing workshops and writing panels via the World Science Fiction Convention and local science fiction conventions off and on for the last twenty-five years. So I quite understand what is necessary for professional writing and publishing:  words need to be placed on paper, there must be a beginning, middle and – most importantly – an end, there has to be a plot, character development, and world building. I get that and more.


Amy’s book blew away every workshop and panel I’ve attended from a basic writing platform. Amy’s book explained Category Romance in a way that I had never considered but makes infinite sense and explains why I’m reading more male/male romance at this juncture in my life than science fiction. However, this is about writing Category Romance in all its wonderful flavors and variations, not solely one set sub-genre.


I recommend approaching ‘Crafting Category Romance: The Art of Fiction Haiku’ like a textbook, and really, this would be a perfect complement to a several-day writing workshop. About a quarter of the way into the book I was wishing I had printed this out. First, my six-year-old e-reader didn’t like some of the formatting and several of the tables and paragraphs were cut off.  Second, I really wanted to be able to scribble notes in the margins, highlight key points, and flip back and forth between chapters and exercises.


What?!?  Exercises? Yes! Writing exercises! Writing exercises that build on previous chapters, that help explain the writing process by putting ideas and concepts down on paper, which when combined help explain the backbone of writing a good category romance. These are the key elements a romance writer needs to have, period. 


I did most of the exercises: I found them approachable, engaging, interesting from a creative process, informative, and, yes, challenging. The lessons require some thought, understanding of the concept, and imagination. As I noted above, romance is not my initial or primary genre – there are different expectations to writing romance vs. science fiction. Which also explains why category romance is the way it is and why one should not deviate from those rules. I wanted to do the exercises as part of reviewing this book, what good is my review if I skipped a quarter of the book and the salient points? 


Whether interested in moving toward publishing in category romance, already published, or writing in the genre as a creative outlet for personal entertainment, I recommend this book.  





DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by Dreamspinner Press for the purpose of a review.

Additional Information

Format ebook and print
Length Novella, 181 pages/47384 words
Heat Level
Publication Date 08-September-2020
Price $6.99 ebook, $14.99 paperback
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