Romance novels have been my favorite books to read since I turned thirteen. While I've always read a variety of genres, I still love romance the best.
Since I have such affection for the genre, I still get surprised by the misconceptions others have about it. In many circles, romance novels are the wart-filled stepsister of other mass-market genres. Even though romance outsells every other fiction genre in the U.S. market--see Romance Literature Statistics here--the books and their authors continue to get snubbed.
In yesterday's On the Ether, Porter Anderson shared a fun article by Larry Brooks via StoryFix called "What I Just Learned from a Room Full of Romance Writers." (Full article is linked.) I loved Larry's open attitude and willingness to embrace the romance genre after he taught an advanced workshop for the Rose City Romance Writers of America. (I've been a member of RWA for five years, and I have nothing but great things to say about this organization.) Larry's piece brought back memories of all the odd things people have said to me about romance over the years.
Here are some of the misconceptions people have about the romance genre:
- The books are all about sex, sex, and more sex.
- Romance writers don't take the craft of writing seriously.
- Romance writers just pop words into a formula.
- Romance novels are less literary than other genres.
- The words Christian and romance don't belong together.
I try not to get offended by these ideas. People unfamiliar with the genre can't be expected to understand it. However, I do try to clear these false concepts up whenever possible.
- There are different levels of spice in romance novels. I write for the inspirational market which is the "sweetest" genre and quite strict about intimacy. You might find a few kisses but everything else will be after marriage and behind closed doors. Mainstream romances range from sweet to extra spicy, and the erotic genres still have a love story, but the emphasis is on the physical relationship.
- I've yet to meet a writer of romance who does not take the craft of writing seriously. We want to be good writers, put out excellent books, and we strive to get better with each book.
- There is no formula for a romance beyond the normal plot structure most novels adhere to. Our readers do have expectations--they want to see the hero and heroine together in the majority of scenes, the romance journey is the main arc, and there must be a happily ever after. That leaves a lot of room for ingenuity in between!
- The literary debate will probably never end. What makes one book more literary than another? Does a steamy cover cancel the literary value of the book? I say no, but many say yes.
- Christians do fall in love---shocking, I know! As I mentioned earlier, the inspirational market does not focus on the physical relationship. Readers of this genre want to see two people fall in love against a faith-based backdrop. While my books feature plenty of attraction, they never cross a line.
The bottom line? People read romances because they want to experience the rush of falling in love.
Have you ever read a romance novel? Do you like the genre? Have you come across any misconceptions about it?
The winner of Monday's giveaway--hosted by the amazing Jennifer Shirk--is SARAH FORGRAVE!! Congratulations, Sarah! You won a copy of Jennifer's new release Sunny Days for Sam and Teeccino!!
I also want to thank all of the new followers! I really appreciate you supporting my blog. :)
Have a terrific weekend!