10 ways to make your amnesia story unforgettable…!


Apologies for the ‘unforgettable’ pun, but we couldn’t resist… Romance, suspense, a bombshell revelation – what’s not to enjoy about an amnesia story?! If you adore Overboard and fancy writing your own amnesia story, then read on for the Harlequin editors’ top tips on how to handle this much-loved classic theme…

  1. Think about the best way to tie the amnesia into the story – what turning point (other than the advent of amnesia!) does the story start at? Has the hero just had one night with the heroine, which he now can’t remember…? Really go to town on the crucial bit of information the hero or heroine will be forgetting!
  2. Although amnesia is a medical condition, go easy on the likely medical realities (headaches, wooziness, blind panic…) so that reader feels your character is in a fit state to actually have a romance!
  3. It is a wonderful way to redeem a seemingly unredeemable character – they can be a different person (the person they really are, on the inside!) for a while.
  4. Suffering from amnesia makes a character incredible vulnerable. So make sure the amnesiac still has plenty of strong qualities to balance their vulnerability with, especially if it’s the hero! Love scenes can be the perfect place for an amnesiac hero to prove he might not have his memory, but he’s still got it 😉
  5. Remember – amnesia is a plot device, not an internal emotional conflict! So your characters still need to go on an emotional journey together.
  6. Including another plot factor that complicates the amnesia, adding a more emotional element (a pregnancy? A marriage reunited?), can often work well.
  7. Remember to keep characters empathetic and well-motivated when one of them is suffering from amnesia. For example, is your hero taking advantage of a vulnerable amnesiac heroine by his actions/behaviours? It is a fine line to tread…
  8. The joy of an amnesia story is the build-up to that moment when the hero/heroine gets their memory back. This is the pay-off so don’t let your reader down – this scene should have maximum emotional impact!
  9. Recovering their memory shouldn’t solve everything though – there should still be an emotional ‘black moment’ between your characters that stems from their intrinsic emotional issues, and gives readers that will-they-won’t-they anxiety!
  10. Amnesia stories can be fun, deeply emotional, angst-laden and everything in between, so make sure you make the most of this freedom and tailor your story to the series you’re targeting! One last word of caution though… Don’t be afraid to have fun with it, but beware any slapstick moments – keep it romantic!