Romance Novels, Romance Writing and the Romance Literature Genre
Poor, poor romance writing.
It gets such an entirely bad rap, much more so than women’s fiction. Destined to be the brunt of jokes, romance writing has so many unflattering nicknames attached to it that it’s hard to keep them all straight.
Yet, truth be told, the romance literature genre can be so much more than just the stereotypical “romance novel,” where pirates are wooing queen’s cousins, lords are lavishing love on servants – who they, of course, end up falling madly in love with and ultimately swearing undying allegiance to – and cads, bounders and all-around rakes are reduced to groveling at fair maidens’ feet, vowing to turn from their wicked ways.
Though, of course, that kind of romance writing definitely exists.
Back in college, my roommate and I would go on late-night excursions to the grocery store down the street, where we’d pick up romance novels – the racy ones – flip them over to their back jackets, and read the story descriptions out loud in the most melodramatic voices possible until we cracked up laughing hysterically.
(That’s how moderately rebellious English majors roll at Christian colleges, didn’t you know?)
With that said, here’s a new way of looking at the romance literature genre, courtesy of this week’s romance-writing-related Definition of the Week:
The romance genre comes complete with a whole kit and caboodle of connotations. But really, it’s simply set up of stories that bring two characters together for a happily-ever-after.
That’s the driving motivation of the plot. Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. They fight through dragons and evil stepmoms and wicked witches and whatever else they have to in order to come together in lovey-dovey commitment.
End of story.
The whole entire point of the romance literature genre is to promote the idea that there really can be romantic happy endings. That guys and girls do fall in love – and stay in love. That not every relationship starts out with hearts and flowers and sweet nothings whispered into ears, only to end in bickering, boredom and/or divorce.
The romance literature genre says, “No!” to the notion that “true love” can’t prevail. With romance writing, plot is everything: and the plot is always some form of boy + girl = love.
Sound cheesy and unrealistic? Like we already acknowledged, it most definitely can be. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Because love stories happen all the time in real life.
And, contrary to popular opinion, 50% of marriages don’t end in divorce. Look it up.
In fact, I’m currently editing a non-fiction manuscript involving an Italian-American couple who had 11 children and were still giggling over each other in their 70s. It’s too cute!
Yet it’s also realistic, acknowledging the fact that sometimes we forget what we have in front of us until we’re reminded of the blessings we’ve been bestowed.
So romance writing can be about a married couple who fell into a rut, only to remember what they had in front of them all along.
Or it can be about a single woman who gives up on love, turns the corner and finds that it does exist after all.
Or it can be about a little girl who grows up to realize the neighborhood boy she was never extremely nice to is actually the man of her dreams.
There are so many worthwhile plot lines in the romance literature genre to explore. And, okay, yeah, a few really ridiculous ones too. But isn't that true of every genre?