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Old 02-07-2013, 03:24 PM   #1
aixsponsa
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Recommendations for lean romance

Hi!

Can anyone recommend a romance that is written in a leaner style than most typical romances?

I'm a fan of Neil Gaiman and my own personal writing style is similar to his (or, I would hope, that is!). I'm writing a romance and can't really find any others that are written similarly to mine. Not as lean as Hemingway but essentially on the other end of the spectrum from purple prose.

For example, I don't like extraneous detail or exposition, and leave them out of my writing as much as I can. I'm also allergic to back story and info dumping, and prefer to leave a lot of things unexplained so that things are left to the reader's imagination.

Any romance books like this? Thanks for any recommendations!
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Old 02-07-2013, 03:34 PM   #2
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there are plenty of well-written, well-edited romances out there.

Don't assume that romance = purple prose.

Just sayin'
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Old 02-07-2013, 04:20 PM   #3
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I don't.
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Old 02-07-2013, 05:58 PM   #4
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I don't.
Really?

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Can anyone recommend a romance that is written in a leaner style than most typical romances?
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Old 02-07-2013, 06:46 PM   #5
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I guess I don't pay much attention to this quality when I read as I am not sure who I would suggest. None of the romances I have read recently (all written post-1990s) struck me as purple, imagery-heavy or anything like that/ They tended to be a mix of dialogue and pretty straightforward descriptions of stuff happening. It might help if you given an example or two of modern romance writers you consider to write in a relatively florid way.
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Old 02-07-2013, 06:46 PM   #6
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Category romance is pretty lean by default. If you look at a Harlequin Intrigue, for example, there's a mystery/thriller plot and a romance happening in about 55k. Not a lot of room for extra fat.
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Old 02-07-2013, 07:20 PM   #7
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For example, I don't like extraneous detail or exposition, and leave them out of my writing as much as I can. I'm also allergic to back story and info dumping...
But all you are saying there ("extraneous detail" and "info dumping") is that you don't like bad writing. Do you really have those problems with all the romance you read? Could you give us some examples? The majority of the romance novels and novellas I read don't have those issues. They may not have a super-lean writing style, but they don't have those issues.

When I think of florid writing in romance, the main author that comes to mind is Julie Anne Long. I want to take a red pen to the text whenever I read her. But her style is far from the norm.


As for your question:
I've never read a romance that I thought had a particularly bare-bones style. I haven't read Hemingway or Neil Gaiman, but I'm thinking of someone like Melissa Bank. I haven't seen that in romance, and I actually don't think it would work incredibly well.

I do like sparse prose, and that's how I write when I write women's fiction, but not romance. I don't think it works as well in a book that's focused on the characters' feelings for each other. Just my opinion.
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Old 02-07-2013, 07:25 PM   #8
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I guess I don't pay much attention to this quality when I read as I am not sure who I would suggest. None of the romances I have read recently (all written post-1990s) struck me as purple, imagery-heavy or anything like that/ They tended to be a mix of dialogue and pretty straightforward descriptions of stuff happening. It might help if you given an example or two of modern romance writers you consider to write in a relatively florid way.
I'm pretty new to this genre so I can't name any! But I'll keep an eye on publication dates. Thanks!

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Category romance is pretty lean by default. If you look at a Harlequin Intrigue, for example, there's a mystery/thriller plot and a romance happening in about 55k. Not a lot of room for extra fat.
I'll look up Harlequin works on the Kindle store and download some samples. Thanks for the input!
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Old 02-07-2013, 07:28 PM   #9
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But all you are saying there ("extraneous detail" and "info dumping") is that you don't like bad writing. Do you really have those problems with all the romance you read? Could you give us some examples? The majority of the romance novels and novellas I read don't have those issues. They may not have a super-lean writing style, but they don't have those issues.

When I think of florid writing in romance, the main author that comes to mind is Julie Anne Long. I want to take a red pen to the text whenever I read her. But her style is far from the norm.

As for your question:
I've never read a romance that I thought had a particularly bare-bones style. I haven't read Hemingway or Neil Gaiman, but I'm thinking of someone like Melissa Bank. I haven't seen that in romance, and I actually don't think it would work incredibly well.

I do like sparse prose, and that's how I write when I write women's fiction, but not romance. I don't think it works as well in a book that's focused on the characters' feelings for each other. Just my opinion.
I'll look up Melissa Bank. And it's kind of hard to put into words what I'm really looking for. I think I just want to see if it's been done, and how it's been done. But I agree that it might not work in romance! Thanks!
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Old 02-07-2013, 07:37 PM   #10
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Kind of tacky of me, I know, but you might find my novella, Blue Galaxy, to be an example of what you're looking for. It's lean, kind of plain/unadorned prose, stingy with back story, not much expo, not much internal thought/dialogue.

You might find more of what you're looking for in novella-length romances in general. Courtney Milan is a current favorite of mine. Not lean exactly, but I think her writing has a beautiful balance of elements.
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Old 02-07-2013, 07:44 PM   #11
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Many publishers won't even allow purple prose these days, especially on the spicier side of the romance genre. Twenty years ago, sure, there was lots of flowery description and excessive adverbs, but that's not the typical romance anymore. I write and read mostly paranormal romance and the writing is pretty lean in that category.
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Old 02-07-2013, 07:52 PM   #12
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Cool, thanks y'all! I'll look into both novella-length works and paranormal romance.
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:23 PM   #13
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Which romances did you read? Or rather, how many did you read? There's a lot of variation; it's a huge genre.
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:33 PM   #14
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Recently I read Tracey Garvis-Graves' On the Island, which I liked. The prose is pretty straightforward, clear, and lean. Not flowery. Fast read.

I'm not sure if it's a traditional romance (maybe women's fiction?), but Goodreads tags it as romance first.
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:50 PM   #15
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Many publishers won't even allow purple prose these days, especially on the spicier side of the romance genre.
Yep. I tend to write very lean. I have to go back in and add description in the second and third drafts.

Most of the contemporaries I read aren't heavy on flowery language, but I go for the quirky stuff, so YMMV.
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Old 02-07-2013, 10:09 PM   #16
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Recently I read Tracey Garvis-Graves' On the Island, which I liked. The prose is pretty straightforward, clear, and lean. Not flowery. Fast read.

I'm not sure if it's a traditional romance (maybe women's fiction?), but Goodreads tags it as romance first.
It's definitely a romance. Characters meet, fall in love, face conflict, Black moment, reconciliation, ends in HEA. Textbook romance.
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Old 02-07-2013, 10:30 PM   #17
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If I were looking for 'lean', straightforward prose and plotting, I'd maybe try the Urban Fiction / Paranormal side of the business.

Umm ... Ilona Andrews. Patricia Briggs. Gail Carriger.

And YA is all about straightforward prose.
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Old 02-08-2013, 02:17 AM   #18
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Thanks for suggestions! I downloaded several samples and free books from the Kindle store today, so maybe one of them will strike my fancy.
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Old 02-08-2013, 06:23 AM   #19
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I don't mean to sound anti-self-pub here, because I am not. But sometimes people who have their books available for free on Kindle are those who have uploaded them with little to no editing. I'd hate for you to judge the entire genre of romance based on the possibility you have downloaded some of those. I mean, I have been in crit groups with people who thought I was being too mean to them and they decided to put their work up for sale on their own, filled with typos, grammar and spelling mistakes, POV issues, plot holes, purple prose, anachronisms, unsympathetic characters, and you name it. No offense meant to anyone who has self-pubbed a book, obviously they're not all like that. But they might be.
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Old 02-08-2013, 06:35 AM   #20
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Here's a link to eHarlequin http://www.harlequin.com/store.html

You can read stories for free on their site and they have been edited for sure!
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Old 02-08-2013, 09:23 AM   #21
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Hi Karen--

If I were looking for good Romance genre prose -- and wanted to get it free -- I'd head for the library.
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Old 02-08-2013, 03:42 PM   #22
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I don't mean to sound anti-self-pub here, because I am not. But sometimes people who have their books available for free on Kindle are those who have uploaded them with little to no editing. I'd hate for you to judge the entire genre of romance based on the possibility you have downloaded some of those. I mean, I have been in crit groups with people who thought I was being too mean to them and they decided to put their work up for sale on their own, filled with typos, grammar and spelling mistakes, POV issues, plot holes, purple prose, anachronisms, unsympathetic characters, and you name it. No offense meant to anyone who has self-pubbed a book, obviously they're not all like that. But they might be.

Yes, this. Judging an entire genre by the free self-pubbed books available in it is like judging a particular novelist's work by the quality of their grocery lists.

As job said, head for the library. Or look at used books; some of them are very recent releases. Look at Goodreads and review blogs for books that have been well-received.


If you want to learn about a genre, learn from the best books in it.


(Note: I'm not saying there aren't great self-pubbed romances out there; there absolutely are. But I don't believe most of them are free, and I don't believe a random sampling of them will automatically get you one of the best.)
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Old 02-08-2013, 03:44 PM   #23
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Thanks for suggestions! I downloaded several samples and free books from the Kindle store today, so maybe one of them will strike my fancy.
I suspect that free books may more likely contain all the flaws you appear to associate with the genre.

As others have suggested, the local library is a good place to start.
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Old 02-08-2013, 06:49 PM   #24
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I agree with the above comments re: free books on Kindle.


I did think of one book (novella) which might be along the lines of what you're looking for: The Scandolous, Dissolute, No-Good Mr. Wright by Tessa Dare. I think Tessa Dare is a phenomenal writer, but this one is interesting because it takes place over several years, usually with several months between chapters. So there is a lot that is left out, although of what is shown, I don't think her writing style is super-lean. But she does write very well. And it's only 99 cents.

I do think becoming well-read in the genre is the most important thing at this point.
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Old 02-08-2013, 07:12 PM   #25
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It is a curious decision, to write a genre romance when you don't seem to have found any books in this genre that you enjoy (or at least not well enough to remember the author's name).
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