Monday, October 20, 2014

What's the Big Deal About Romance Novels?

Hi everyone. I'm Amy Jarecki, and I'm the romance writer and a member of this blog. I'm so happy to be here among other authors who write in many interesting genres. Today I thought I'd chat about writing romance. Sometimes people make a sour face when I say I write romance, but after they've read one, I hear comments like: "...gee, I never would have picked up this book, but I really enjoyed the story."

And that's the bottom line. It's still a story. A romance novel can be historical, contemporary, paranormal, young adult, fantasy, suspense, inspirational, and more. It's almost like it has all the genres sub-categorized under the major genre, ROMANCE.

And yes, romance is the largest selling genre out there. Avid readers of romance can devour a book a day, and they are ever-hungry for high quality stories. Though I have dabbled in contemporary romance, I've hit the benchmark of being Amazon's #1 bestseller in Scottish historical romance. And like all authors in this genre, it makes my skin crawl when someone says...."Historical romance? Oh. You write bodice rippers," as if I couldn't possibly write a real story.

Just like any historical novel, I do a ton of research and plotting before I start typing. And my novels always have a strong element of action/adventure. But I digress. What makes a romance? The Romance Writers of America will say: a love story with a satisfying ending (a HEA...happily ever after...or, in the case of NA or YA, happy for now). In addition, a love story will have strong elements of other genres, just like a straight historical novel by Wilbur Smith will undoubtedly have romance (though it might not have a HEA).

Not all romances are sizzling hot with steam emitting from their pages. There are different heat levels and a number of reviewers will use guidelines, such as:
  1. Sweet
  2. Sensual
  3. Sizzling
  4. Erotic Romance (has a main story other than the sex).
  5. Erotica ( know...)
The other day I heard a romance author lecture about writing historical romance, and she said the hero and heroine must meet within the first five pages. I have to agree that's a pretty good rule...but I happen to break it all the time. I guess it depends on the other elements of the story that will determine when the H and H meet.

I've also read manuscripts from new authors that weren't romances at all (though they thought they were). So, if you're not sure, ask yourself if the love story is the most important part of the plot. If the answer is yes, then it's a good bet it's a romance.

Regardless of what genre you write, the most important thing is to do it!

~Write on! 


Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

You had me at Scottish. Scotland is one of my most favorite places in the world. One day, I'll go back. Personally, I need a dose of romance in all my genres.
Great post!

Unknown said...

I love this post, Amy. It's funny, I only found out about a year ago that I write romance too. I never knew that if the love story is the main point of the story than it's a romance. I write YA romance--and i LOVE it. I'm really hoping any negative stigma associated with romance novels fades out, or at least posts like this help to educate on what romance writing really is. As for when the MCs meet, that's something I worked so hard on with my on sub MS. Initially they met on like page 65--when I revised I had them meet on page 30 (which still seemed so late to me!) the NAish novel I'm working on now...ugh.... I think they're meeting like page 45ish as of now lol

Amy Jarecki said...

Me too, Kimberly. Romance is part of the human condition!

Amy Jarecki said...

That's so funny, Beth! I do try to have the HH meet in the first 30 pages. Often it's in the first chapter, but I have a book coming out in January where both parties learn that they will meet in the first chapters, but part of the build up is their fear of when they actually around page 30 do it's... Okay. I won't spoil it. :-)

Stephen Kozeniewski said...

Just remember: Nicholas Sparks doesn't write "romance." He writes "love stories."

Leandra Wallace said...

I am loving all these posts so far- learning new stuff, yay! And I'm like Kimberly, I need some romance in what I read. Love makes the world go 'round, right? :)

Carrie Beckort said...

Great post, Amy! I actually love reading romance novels, of many different sub-genres. That's funny about the '5 page meet rule' - I'm glad you break the rules! I think that's where novels can get stuck - following too many rules. As you say, let the story lead it!

theartofpuro said...

Great post :)

Kristin Smith said...

Great post! I write contemporary romance, and it used to bug me when people I told would raise an eyebrow. Then I would casually add, "sweet romance", as if I needed to clarify. Not sure why I felt the need to elaborate...

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