Venturing into romance

Marian Perera

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The criticisms of Romance are ludicrous. You don't want to read about people's road to HEA? Choose a different genre.
Exactly. In one of these discussions, I got so annoyed that I asked, "What's the point of coming to the romance forum to tell romance readers how much you dislike romance?" To which the reply was, "oh, I didn't realize this was the romance forum."
 

MMarquez

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I've thought about that a lot. It's just hard for me to wrap my head around that being the sole or even biggest reason for it.
It's largely written and consumed by women.
I also think it comes down to people hearing romance and automatically thinking paperback with a shirtless cowboy/duke. I've even read some of those and been thoroughly entertained :)
 
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lizmonster

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I've thought about that a lot. It's just hard for me to wrap my head around that being the sole or even biggest reason for it.

Sole? Probably not. But history has too many cases of things being culturally and financially devalued when women become involved.

Romance is the biggest financial driver of the publishing industry (although not the source of most bestsellers). Publishers are constantly trying to figure out how to tap into romance dollars, sometimes to the detriment of authors. It's an incredibly lucrative market, and yet somehow also some kind of third rail.
 

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So to all the romance authors: what do you love about writing romance? Is there anything you hate?

Do you have any advice for a newbie to the genre?
Yay - you're writing a romance!
What I love is creating characters that you love, then throwing so many obstacles at them that you make it nearly impossible for the relationship to succeed, but then guess what... drum roll... they do (surprise, surprise ;) )

Nothing new here, but what I hate is the self-doubt and filtering that comes from thinking that your writing may be taken offensively by some readers when none is intended. Which is one of the reason's SYW is so great because you have such a wide audience of readers to shake their finger at you :)

Advice: Also a newbie, and you are likely already aware of this, but there are a number of romance publishers you can submit to unagented. If that is the route you're thinking of going - you may want to check out their submission guidelines in advance to make sure your writing is on target with what they are looking for.
 

Fi Webster

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What I love is creating characters that you love, then throwing so many obstacles at them that you make it nearly impossible for the relationship to succeed, but then guess what... drum roll... they do (surprise, surprise ;) )

As a non-reader of the romance genre, I'm puzzled by repeated statements in this thread to the effect that fictional romances all have happy endings.

I'm confused. To me that would be like saying every horror story ends with the monster being defeated. Or with all the characters dead. Either way, there wouldn't be much of a story if you always knew how it would end.

Could someone explain? Is this an implied promise to the reader deal, a definition of the genre deal, or what? If you write a story about people in love and it ends badly, then presto chango it's not a romance?
 
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lizmonster

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Is this an implied promise to the reader deal, a definition of the genre deal, or what?

It's the definition of the genre, and therefore an implied promise to the reader.

It's less akin to "the monster gets defeated" than it is "the monster is included."

If you write a story about people in love and it ends badly, then presto chango it's not a romance?

Yes, it's not a romance. And if you try to sell it as one, you will be vilified.
 

CMBright

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It's the definition of the genre, and therefore an implied promise to the reader.

It's less akin to "the monster gets defeated" than it is "the monster is included."



Yes, it's not a romance. And if you try to sell it as one, you will be vilified.

So the enjoyment would be from the fact that the journey in each book is different, right?
 

Fi Webster

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It's less akin to "the monster gets defeated" than it is "the monster is included."

Nicely put. In real-life successful romances, there's always a combo of knowing already and learning along the way what the monster is, then including the monster going forward. Two people in a three-way with the monster. =grin=

And thanks for clarifying that the guarantee to the reader of a happy ending is built into the parameters of the genre. All these years my huband has been reading paranormal romances right next to me, and he never told me that part. He tells me, instead, about all the things going wrong for the characters. But I take it those are mid-book events, not the endings.
 

Brigid Barry

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Nicely put. In real-life successful romances, there's always a combo of knowing already and learning along the way what the monster is, then including the monster going forward. Two people in a three-way with the monster. =grin=

And thanks for clarifying that the guarantee to the reader of a happy ending is built into the parameters of the genre. All these years my huband has been reading paranormal romances right next to me, and he never told me that part. He tells me, instead, about all the things going wrong for the characters. But I take it those are mid-book events, not the endings.
Romance requires the HEA (happily ever after) or at least HFN (happily for now).

Cinema Sins (which sins movies not book, but I like it) calls it the third act conflict cliche. In the third act there is a will-they, won't-they conflict, whether it's internal or external. Maybe the party of the first part finds the second part's dirty socks are too much to bear and leaves. Maybe they're kidnapped. Or something. They're separated and their future is in peril. But then it's resolved through personal growth by someone or an external antagonist being vanquished and then there's the HEA/HFN.

First act begins with the meet. Are they instantly attracted? Enemies to lovers is a popular one at the moment, and I think would be difficult to write because they have to clash, but not so much that them getting together doesn't make sense.

The same things that I think would make it fun to write also make it hard to write well.
 

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Could someone explain? Is this an implied promise to the reader deal, a definition of the genre deal, or what? If you write a story about people in love and it ends badly, then presto chango it's not a romance
I wanted to add one more thought to this thread which i'm enjoying a lot!

There are also Love Stories, which are different from the Romance Genre because they may or may not have HFN HFE.
 

Fi Webster

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Enemies to lovers is a popular one at the moment, and I think would be difficult to write because they have to clash, but not so much that them getting together doesn't make sense.

They could clash an enormous amount if they're competing for high stakes—rivals in crime, politics, any other game resembling never-ending war.

One day they meet cute, like where one or both of them is disguised in some way. They fall in love. By the time they find out who they "really" are, it's too late to go back to hating each other's guts.

'Sounds like a Shakespeare play. Or a Bollywood movie.
 

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As a non-reader of the romance genre, I'm puzzled by repeated statements in this thread to the effect that fictional romances all have happy endings.

I'm confused. To me that would be like saying every horror story ends with the monster being defeated. Or with all the characters dead. Either way, there wouldn't be much of a story if you always knew how it would end.

Could someone explain? Is this an implied promise to the reader deal, a definition of the genre deal, or what? If you write a story about people in love and it ends badly, then presto chango it's not a romance?
A better comparison would be that at the end of every murder mystery, the MC must find out who did it, how, and why.

If I read a romance, I'm reading to know how the two leads will end up together, and I'm irritated if they don't. When I read a murder mystery, I'm reading to know what is the answer to the mystery, and I would be beyond pissed off if the novel didn't tell me at the end.

In both cases, it's only acceptable if there are several books planned, and the last book of the series delivers on the promise. In both cases, once it happens, the story is mostly over.
 

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I don't think this is true for romance.
Agreed.

"Other genre" with a romantic subplot can get away with carrying out the romance subplot over a series before the HEA arrives, but there's not a romance publisher in the world who will publish a book in the romance genre that doesn't have a HEA or a HFN ending.

Literary, love stories, women's fiction, fantasy, mystery, thriller, science fiction -- all of those can have a romantic relationship that doesn't end happily. But not romance.
 

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Fifty shades is a romance in several books. I don't know if it would have been trade published, but it did have success among romance readers.
 

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Fifty shades is a romance in several books. I don't know if it would have been trade published, but it did have success among romance readers.
I have to admit, I've not read it. Was it published/marketed as a romance, rather than erotica or something else?
 

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I have to admit, I've not read it. Was it published/marketed as a romance, rather than erotica or something else?
It used to be an alternate universe Twilight fanfiction in the romance category. Fanfic romances tend to be on the (very) steamy side, and this one isn't particularly steamy for a fanfic.

After its success, it was trade published and marketed as romance/erotica. But it really is mostly romance, the erotica is only a couple of scenes.
 

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After its success, it was trade published and marketed as romance/erotica. But it really is mostly romance, the erotica is only a couple of scenes.

50 Shades is indeed categorized as romance (at least on Amazon), but I do think it's an outlier. It's better not to look at outliers when deciding how to categorize your own stuff. :)

I'm pretty comfortable saying most romance readers will rip you a new one if you market something as a romance and break the couple up at the end. If you've got a book like that, I'd call it romantic suspense/erotica/women's fiction/anything other than genre romance.
 

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The first Fifty Shades ends with them breaking up. But the idea is that it's clear to the reader it's the end of the book, not the end of the story. It's a cliffhanger.

Of course, if you end with them breaking up with nothing else, readers will be upset. But if you have the first chapter of the next book or a preview or something, they know it's not the whole story, it's just the first part.

Lord of the White Hell is also classified as fantasy romance (in Amazon fr) and is split into two books with good ratings. The first book ends with the couple breaking up.

I honestly don't think it's that uncommon, it's just rare in trade published books because the first book doesn't work as a standalone.
 

lizmonster

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I honestly don't think it's that uncommon, it's just rare in trade published books because the first book doesn't work as a standalone.

My experience of trade was having my debut novel categorized as a Romance (against my better judgement) when the couple in question broke up at the end. It wrecked my career.

I fully believe/hope self-pub is more flexible, but for those looking to trade publish? Goodness, be careful.