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Cha-ching! How To Write a Billionaire Romance Novel

Christina Crampe

Published on
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With book to film adaptions of popular billionaire romance stories like Fifty Shades of Grey hitting the big screen, we've seen an explosion of the subgenre. Although it has existed for a long time, many writers are trying to get a piece of the action by writing their own take.

So what's so appealing about the premise? Perhaps it's the imbalance of power, the wealthy and powerful billionaire falling for an average worker. Perhaps it's because the genre is so unrealistic. After all, don't we all wish a wealthy businessman would fall in love with us, making us their kryptonite? It sure would be nice for all our troubles to disappear with the snap of another person's fingers.

What is a billionaire romance?

Billionaire romances occur between two people from different socioeconomic statuses. One protagonist is in a position of power, with wealth that has been accumulated from working in the corporate world or that has come from the person's status as a scion of a wealthy family. The other protagonist will come from a humbler background, working and living off a more typical wage. The billionaire is traditionally a man and the other protagonist is a young woman. Both characters feel like they are missing something, and they find that missing piece in each other. Conflict may arise when these protagonists have to adjust to each other's lifestyle. The couple must overcome their differences and make sacrifices to be happy together.

Odds are, younger people aren't reading too many billionaire romances. This may be because the genre can be too mature, or they may be unable to relate to characters because of age gaps. After all, it's not every day you come across a teenage billionaire, or even one in his 20s or 30s. Knowing your audience will inform things like setting, the level of maturity (sex, swearing, etc.), and types of conflict involved in the plot.

For example, your story is going to depart from the school settings that are common in young adult romance stories and be placed in a work setting, such as an office space. What's more interesting than a couple of employees working in cubicles? Oh yeah, one special employee, working away, oblivious to the CEO's stare.

How can you write a story that stands out amongst the hundreds of stories in this genre? It's all about knowing your audience and selecting your tropes. We'll help you identify the best tropes to follow and the best ones to divert from as you build your billionaire and protagonist, so you'll have a successful story that stands out from the crowd.

Tracking tropes

cubicles in an office space
Many billionaire romance stories take place in office environments where the billionaire is the CEO and the female protagonist is his employee. Photo by Brian.

Wait a minute, are we actually encouraging you to follow tropes instead of coming up with your own unique story? Well, yes and no. No, because it's never a bad idea to craft a unique storyline with specific characters. However, this is one of those subgenres that people actually enjoy because of its familiarity and predictability.

But we aren't saying you need to stick to the classic tale of a heterosexual couple, with a businessman billionaire and humble young woman. Instead, adopt particular characteristics from this subgenre, such as socioeconomic roles, and change other common themes. For instance, instead of writing your billionaire romance in a big city with a hotshot businessman as the billionaire, consider writing a love story between a countryside farmer and a billionaire who owns much of the acreage in that particular area. This provides a fun spin on a classic trope, setting you aside from your competition.

  • Humble young woman: She comes from a modest background and lives an average life. We'll dive more into the specifics of this character in a bit.
  • Rich businessman, often older: The billionaire is rich, successful, and intelligent. He's intimidating but irresistible thanks to his good looks and charisma. He's typically older than the female protagonist, but not by much. Keep the age gap small.
  • Rags to riches: This can apply to your billionaire. Perhaps he came from humble beginnings and worked his way to the top, or maybe he's a trust-fund baby. This trope will affect the female protagonist. She will find herself surrounded in a world of wealth, and she has to adapt to this new kind of environment. This trope is a great way to create conflict and tension between the two protagonists.
  • She's changing him: Other women have tried to do it before, but none have ever succeeded. Your billionaire's a bit jaded and hard to crack, and he needs a serious wake up call. Maybe he needs to learn to lighten up and have some fun, or maybe he needs to realize he's too harsh on others. Either way, your female protagonist isn't put off by his demeanor. Rather, she is the only one capable of changing the billionaire because she makes the billionaire want to change.
  • Setting: Setting is considered a trope in this genre because most stories within this genre include similar settings. Where will your characters meet? How do they meet? The setting and initial introduction of your protagonists will set the stage for the rest of your story. Here are some of the most popular setting tropes you may use as a means to introduce your characters and have them interact:
    • The office/work environment
    • A lavish party
    • At a café or restaurant
    • A meeting of mutual acquaintances

Billionaires are some of the most elusive figures in our world. This is because we very rarely recognize these figures. Unless you're Jeff Bezos status, we would struggle to pick a billionaire out of a lineup. That being said, we recommend researching lesser-known billionaires to get a feel for what kinds of activities they're involved in, such as philanthropy, sports, and hobbies.

This can also help you decipher things like clothing for your characters to wear and speech. Watching interviews of real billionaires can provide insight to speech patterns and commonly used language that may inform your own billionaire character and other worthwhile tropes to include in your story. After all, characterizing your characters well will lead to success.

Branding your billionaire

businessmen looking over files with the city landscape in the background
Your billionaire may be a workaholic, working well into the evenings and on weekends. Photo by peshkova.

As one of your two protagonists, your billionaire is one of the most important characters in your story. As such, it's absolutely vital to create a likeable, multi-dimensional billionaire that is both out of our personal grasp but close enough where we feel like we have a shot with him. Confusing, right? Let's discuss how to build a billionaire.

  • Give him a tragic backstory: Your billionaire is rough around the edges and does not trust easily. Why? There's got to be a reason why someone so wealthy, handsome, and intelligent is so lonely. What is their family history? Have they been burned by past lovers? What makes your female protagonist different from the others he's dated in the past?
  • Make him mysterious: Much of the appeal of the billionaire is the mysterious air surrounding him. As we mentioned previously, billionaires are elusive figures. They typically don't flaunt their wealth to the public, preferring to engage in quiet luxury. What's more enticing than a man who needn't speak to assert his power? Make your side characters, including the female protagonist, curious about him. Despite dozens of Google searches, they've only found surface-level information on him. The only way to figure out the man behind the suit? Get to know him on a personal level, but it takes a special person to break through his walls. Good thing you've got the perfect girl for the job!
  • In control, unless it involves your protagonist: As a man with wealth and power at his fingertips, your billionaire certainly doesn't lack resources. He can command an entire room with a single brooding stare. However, your protagonist manages to fluster this mighty man, making his heart skip a beat and his face turn red. Despite his best attempts to hide his emotions around her, he finds himself smiling more often than not, and he is a sucker for her. If she wants to do something or go somewhere, you can be assured that he'll make it happen, no questions asked.
  • They're human too: Although you're writing a super-wealthy character who may seem cold, detached, or unrelatable, you mustn't forget that they are a person too. Don't make him perfect. Perfect is boring and unrealistic. Now, you may be thinking, hey, a billionaire story is unrealistic by nature, which is true. So be realistic where you can by giving your billionaire flaws. Maybe he puts his foot in his mouth sometimes, especially when he is around his female love interest. Or, maybe he can be kind of oblivious despite his intelligence. This can be an endearing quality, but it can also be used to frustrate your female protagonist. We want to react to your billionaire like we would any other person, minus the ten-figure salary.

She's not like other girls

woman working on her laptop and looking out the window
Your female protagonist lives an average life separate from the wealth of the billionaire's life. Photo by Rh2010.

Your (traditionally) female protagonist is a bit of a rehash of the quirky girl next door. She's cool because she isn't like all those other girls who care about hair, makeup, clothes, and wealth. She may be of a lower socioeconomic status than the billionaire character, but she will be darned if she accepts help from the likes of her billionaire counterpart without putting up a fight.

  • Innocent, but not clueless: It's a common trope for the protagonist to be rather innocent. This may mean they don't acknowledge or realize their own beauty or intelligence, or it may allude to their lack of past relationships. While it's perfectly acceptable for your protagonist to be innocent, please do not make them completely naïve. There is nothing worse than a character who is easily led and influenced by others and who is incapable of thinking for themselves. She doesn't have to be the sharpest crayon in the box, but don't make her dull like so many other protagonists within this subgenre.
  • Resistant, but curious: Your female protagonist will often walk the line between two complete opposite ideas. She's innocent but not naïve, and she's resistant to the billionaire and his charms, but she can't help but be curious about him. She may be unaware of or put off by his advances at first, or she may be hesitant to engage with someone wealthier than her, especially if he is her superior. She's curious about where this man came from and what he's really like, so she's the perfect candidate to peel away at his layers.
  • Oblivious to her own power: You'd automatically think that the billionaire has more power. While this may be true, it is only true on the surface. What's more powerful than money? How about the power to bring a wealthy man to his knees, to make someone strong, powerful, and intelligent desperate to impress you and please you? Your protagonist should have that power, but she shouldn't realize she has it, at least early on in the story. This is something other characters may point out to her as her relationship with the billionaire develops.

Creating conflict

heterosexual couple having an argument
Your couple may have arguments about money, family, and the longevity of their relationship. Photo by zinkevych.

Now that you've crafted your lead characters, it's time to consider the types of conflict they will face as they navigate their relationship. It's essential to create a believable relationship between the billionaire and female protagonist, so the conflict needs to reflect their setting and dynamic.

  • They're not good enough: This is something most people worry about at one point in their romantic lives, regardless of socioeconomic status. What if we just don't meet our significant other's standards? It's a valid fear and a great one to capitalize on in your writing, especially given the difference in power between your two protagonists. It's likely that one character thinks they aren't good enough for the other and, despite multiple attempts by the other character to assuage those fears and reassure the worried partner, questions the relationship's longevity.
  • Family drama: This goes with not being good enough. The family, especially the billionaire's family, may be the one causing trouble by accusing the partner of not being good enough for their son or daughter. Family opinion matters to a lot of people, so this is a great way to create conflict between the characters. Nobody exists in a bubble, so it's impossible to completely ignore outside commentary.
  • Adjusting to each other's lifestyle: If you're used to living one way, it's hard to immediately adapt to living in a style completely different to your own. This may mean the female protagonist is struggling with accepting money, attending lavish parties, and being surrounded by luxury. Or, maybe your billionaire is struggling not to use his money for everything, having to rely on his emotions instead of his wealth. The protagonists may also have different long-term goals. These can be career-driven, family-driven, or something else entirely, but it's difficult to maintain a healthy, long-term relationship if your characters don't want the same things for their futures.
  • The other woman: Are you surprised we haven't talked about any antagonists yet? Well, here she is! The antagonist in a billionaire romance story is typically another woman fighting for the attention (and wealth) of the billionaire. They typically don't care about the billionaire's personality. Rather, they focus on the money in his pockets. This woman will also most likely be from a wealthy background, so she may make your female protagonist feel insecure. Remember the first suggestion above: What if I'm not good enough?

Writing round-up

Now that you've got the basics down, it's time for you to dive into writing your own billionaire romance story. With these tools and tropes, you'll have a foolproof model to follow as you draw up ideas for your characters, settings, and conflicts. We've been hoping for something new and fresh in this genre, and we hope your story will be as enticing as one billion dollars.

Header photo by Oneinchpunch.

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