You have learned about immediate and engaging, two of the essential ingredients in serialized storytelling, and now the Wattpad Content team is here to talk to you about the third: Commercial. Commercial is all about writing for an audience that exists and already knows what it wants. This is not to say you can’t have any creativity in your writing, but rather that successful commercial stories fulfill certain expectations that the readers of that genre will have.
To help you understand how to best write commercially, we will be sharing the Dos and Do-Nots for each of our current priority genres. Does this mean you have to write in these genres in order to write commercially? Not at all. These represent some of the genres that Wattpad is prioritizing for monetization opportunities at this time, but the landscape is constantly evolving.
Have a pack structure
When writing a werewolf romance, it’s important to take the time to establish a defined pack structure. It doesn’t need to be super detailed at the beginning of your story, but it is essential that your readers have some understanding of the dynamics at play. The pack hierarchy will impact every part of your story, from conflict to character development, to how relationships progress—and understanding this ranking will help your readers to get fully engaged in your story.
Have one of the lead characters be a werewolf
This almost goes without saying, but in order for there to be a werewolf romance at least one of your lead characters needs to be a werewolf. You can still be creative with how you incorporate this in your story; perhaps your character is a werewolf from the start, maybe they unexpectedly become one during the story, or you can make their first transformation a key plot point. Regardless of how your lead character becomes a werewolf, it is necessary that they are one.
Forget about the romance
Keep in mind that you are writing a werewolf romance, not just a werewolf story. While it is important to establish the pack dynamics, and the potential violence that may come from that, it is also important to remember that your audience is eagerly anticipating the romantic and sexual tension that comes with a romance story. Make sure that while the action of a werewolf story is integrated, it does not overshadow the romance that the readers are looking for.
Forget to have protective characters
One of the biggest appeals of a werewolf romance story is envisioning at least one character who has an innate protective nature for their partner due to their animalistic nature. Your characters can of course be independent and strong individually, but this should not prevent them from still having their partners be protective over them.
Here are some of HQ’s favorite commercial werewolf romance stories:
Make the love interest a billionaire
It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that in a billionaire romance, your romantic lead needs to be a billionaire. Not just a millionaire, not just a random, wealthy person, but they need to be a capital-B Billionaire. They need to be at a level of richness that the vast majority of your readers can only dream of. Part of the appeal of a billionaire romance is a fantasy of the unimaginable, as most readers will never even meet a billionaire, let alone fall in love with them. That allure of the unknown is the biggest draw for this genre’s audience.
Have class differences between the lead characters
Readers of this genre want to fantasize about what a relationship with a billionaire would be like. It is easier to fantasize about this if at least one of the lead characters is not a billionaire and instead reflects the financial situation of the majority. Additionally, having class differences is the perfect opportunity to incorporate conflict into the story, which, as we already know, helps to get readers emotionally engaged in a story.
Get too preoccupied with brand names
While a large part of writing a billionaire romance is showing how lavish the love interest’s lifestyle is, there are better ways to do this than just listing brand names. While readers may recognize what Dior, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton are, it gets repetitive to describe the details of what the characters are wearing in every scene. Instead, you can show how their excessive wealth affects their relationships, how the non-rich characters react to their wealth, and how their class differences affect their relationship dynamic.
Forget the fantasy
We cannot reiterate this enough—do not forget the fantasy! Readers want to see the main character be splurged upon by the love interest; they want to imagine what it would be like to spend excessively without concern—they want and need the fantasy element. This is not a genre to be overly concerned about realism. In order to hold your readers’ interest, do not neglect to keep incorporating the fantasy as the story progresses.
Here are some of HQ’s favorite commercial billionaire romance stories:
Make the love interest near the top of the hierarchy
Part of the thrill of a mafia romance is the danger associated with the love interest’s lifestyle. It is easiest to establish this by having the love interest hold a position near the top of the mafia hierarchy. This will help the reader quickly understand that not only is the love interest very powerful, but they and their partner can become a target at any point. This will help increase the stakes of the story and make it more thrilling to read.
Incorporate conflict into the early stages of the romance
A mafia romance needs conflict early in the story. The easiest way to develop conflict is by having the main character be outside of the love interest’s mafia group. This way, the reader can imagine themselves in the main character’s position, which will help increase their engagement with the story. The early relationship conflicts will feel more real to them as they can imagine what they would do if they were ever in this situation.
Forget to have a high stakes plot that brings the lead characters together
A mafia romance needs to have high stakes and drama. By including a high stakes plot that brings the lead characters together, it quickly establishes the pace and expectations of the story for the reader. Additionally, a high stakes plot can help to illustrate how the mafia will play a large role in the romance as the story continues to progress.
Forget about power dynamics
Power dynamics are crucial in a mafia romance story. A high-ranking love interest in the mafia establishes them as someone with power and someone to be feared. Stories where the other lead character is not in the mafia introduces an immediate power dynamic in the relationship. Usepower dynamics to your advantage. They can help to easily create conflicts in the story and suggest or tease your characters’ relationship trajectory.
Here are some of HQ’s favorite commercial mafia romance stories:
Create your own rules
One of the best parts of writing a fantasy story is that you can create your own rules. In this fantasy world you have created, you have the opportunity to create social rules and conventions that are completely unique and different from what your readers are used to. Fantasy readers love to immerse themselves in a world that is unlike their own. Be as creative as possible when developing the social order of your fantasy world.
Fantasy stories need to have some sort of adventure. They need to have something that is intriguing and different from what your readers experience in their daily lives. The adventure in the story should not feel separate from the romance but instead should help advance the romantic development of the lead characters.
Forget to set in a secondary world
The key part of a fantasy story is that it takes place in a world that is unlike our own. As the writer, you have an opportunity to create a secondary world. Make sure to include a sufficient amount of world-building so your readers can completely immerse themselves. It is important that your readers are able to clearly imagine the world that these characters exist in and understand the unique circumstances that come with it.
While world-building is important, it does not need to happen all at once. Yes, there should be detail given at the start, but it should be done so in a digestible manner. Consider when the reader will need to know what, and plan when best to share important information. Remember, it’s an engaging experience for your reader to continuously learn about this secondary world, rather than reading a lengthy info dump in the beginning.
Here are some of HQ’s favorite commercial fantasy romance stories:
The final thing that you absolutely cannot forget for any of these genres is that they all need to have a Happily Ever After. No matter what happens in the plot or to the other characters, romance readers have an expectation that the lead character and their romantic interest will experience a happy ending together.
Learn more about how to write commercially in Story School Episode 02: Immediate, Engaging, Commercial.