It’s no secret that many, many people look down on romance authors and the people who read romance literature. As a genre, it’s pretty much below everything. And quite frankly, that depresses me a little bit.
First of all, there’s the old cliché (and they accuse us romance writers of using clichés!) that ‘all romance novels follow a formula‘. So if there’s a formula, writing romance is easy, isn’t it? Just take a girl, a boy, throw in some conflict, have them resolve everything satisfactorily and then they all live happily ever after. Simple, eh?
Well, if you substitute the word ‘structure’ for ‘formula’, then there is actually some truth in it. It’s true, most great romances pretty much follow this structure (just think of Jane Austen), but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to write, let alone easy to create something people would actually want to read. Let me put it another way: a sonnet consists of fourteen lines, each with ten syllables, following this rhyming structure: a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g. Simple, eh? Now go and write one like Shakespeare did. Go on – what are you waiting for? Not so simple now, huh?
There’s far more to writing romantic fiction than churning out a ‘formula’. It’s actually extremely difficult to write a successful romance. If you asked any writer of romance why they chose to go down this path, I’m sure they’d each have a different answer, but here’s mine.
I like telling stories, and the sort of stories that can be told through the medium of romance are positive, optimistic and have a compassionate and sympathetic outlook. I like to make my female characters self-reliant, hard-working, sensible and compassionate women – the sort of women you would be happy to present as a role model to a class full of teenagers (male or female).
But I’m not here to preach. I know romance stories are not generally used as a platform for social reform. In fact above all, my reasons for writing romance are to give readers – and myself – a break from the realities of the world. When I create a romantic story, I am in control of my characters and events in a way that’s just not possible in reality. And when I turn to romantic fiction as a reader, I can enjoy the delicious anticipation that everything is going to turn out just as it ought – the girl will get the boy and the bad guys will get whatever’s coming to them. People’s lives – my own included – are full of such personal tragedy that why not? Why not create an optimistic world for others so that they can get on the bus at the start of another dull day and just for a while escape. To use the words of my hero Prince, romantic fiction portrays ‘ a world where, whenever anything happens, you can always see the sun. Day, or night.’ And that, for me, is what’s so good about a successful romance, and why I like to write them.
So this is why I write romance. I’ve added a link here to an article on the subject that I enjoyed:
Romance Novels, The Last Great Bastion of Underground Writing , byMaria Bustillos
Any romance writers reading this, or anyone who enjoys reading romance novels, let me know what you think!