Hello and Happy New Year!
If you follow me over on Twitter, you will have seen that over the last few weeks there have been some “debates” (and I put that in inverted commas because it’s often more like men shouting about it) that romance is a cop out genre to write in, that’s it’s no more than soft porn, that we write to a formula and “churn them out”. Most of the comments are from people who have never read romance and certainly have never written it.
To them I say that I would like a 75,000 word first draft by Valentine’s day please, because that’s the sort of deadlines we have to write to!
Romance is one of the bestselling genres in the world and it is much loved and, arguably, much needed. It is the one genre often missing from “books of the year lists” in newspapers and magazines and the genre most likely to get abuse. My personal take on that is that much of this is internalised misogyny – romance is predominantly written by women for women (although I’m aware that is a generalisation) and heaven forbid that women get to have fun, be creative, be congratulated for their hard work eh?!
But enough of the negativity!
Instead here are the 4 main reasons that I love romance (both as a reader and a writer) more than any other genre.
- We know how the book will end – there is much comfort in knowing that the happy ever after/happy for now (HEA/HFN) is guaranteed (and sorry, I’m going out on a limb here but if it doesn’t have an HEA/HFN it’s not a romance – still a wonderful book but not a romance). In troubled times romance novels are a safety net – you know that whatever gets thrown at those two main characters they will get together in the end. When you’re anxious and burned out, when you’re tired or worried there is so much relief in that. From a writer’s perspective, your reader already knows how your book will end so you the journey you take your characters on is paramount because that’s where the story lies, where the originality lies. That’s not cop-out writing, that’s hard. Trust me (and my brilliant editor ha ha!).
- Characterisation – Your two main characters are so important. As a writer you have to know everything about them and as a reader you want to be able to fall in love with them. These characters need to spring off the page and be totally three-dimensional, to behave like people behave. Plus very often in romance the minor characters have spin-off books of their own so they need to be fully rounded as well. For me characterisation is the most important part of any book and romance does this so well.
- Dialogue – Whether it’s delicious bickering, heated argument, terrible misunderstanding or pillow talk, the dialogue in romance has to sound genuine (when I’m writing I spend hours reading it all out loud to myself as though I’m acting out a one-man production – my neighbours must think I’m crazy!). A lot of most romance novels is dialogue – it’s how the chemistry between the characters is created and when it’s done right it’s absolutely amazing.
- Tropes – According to google, a trope is “a significant or recurrent theme” and we have a few of these in romance. I’ve written four books and a first draft of a fifth and so far I’ve used friends to lovers (twice), reunited lovers, one-night stand, second chance and secret baby (twice). The point is there are only so many tropes BUT there are infinite ways of using these tropes and that is where the real genius of romance lies for me. Yes, we’ve read this trope before, but we’ve never read this story before. Every romance writer has their own unique voice and their own unique play on tropes and this is why I for one can read romance all year long and never get bored.
Books are hard to write, no matter what genre you write in, and everybody is different. Books that I love may be books that you hate (although if that is the case you might be on the wrong blog for you!!). Not everyone will love romance, not everyone will love my books and that’s absolutely fine. But let’s not get snobby about something that is so subjective.