What do you like about writing romance?

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Earthling

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I'm sure we've all experienced some kind of sneering about the genre we write, or at least seen general criticism of romance as 'easy to write' or 'porn for bored housewives' or 'not real literature' or whatever. We all know it's bollocks - especially the 'easy to write' part - but I thought it'd be nice to talk about all the positives of the genre.

I love:

- Knowing I have to have a happy ending. That's the kind of ending I like as a reader, but if I wrote in other genres I would have to at least consider whether it made a more powerful ending to kill off a character I'd grown to love, or tear apart a relationship. I think thriller writers have it really hard; I read a lot of those and it seems a shocking and unpredictable twist at the end is almost mandatory these days. While we have the opposite challenge - trying to hold a reader's interest when that reader knows from page 1 how it will end - it's a challenge I would prefer over having to come up with something totally unexpected yet believable.

- Romance fans. Does any genre have more fiercely protective fans? I love that romance readers know their own minds, are outspoken about what they like and don't like, and will buy as many books as we can produce for them. Which brings me on to...

- The massive market. Which probably accounts for some of the frustrated snobbery we can encounter from authors in other genres...

- The diversity in the genre. Not just in terms of #ownvoices kind of diversity, which is getting much better, but that you can have a romance that's set in 1850s London or a romance that's set on 3050 Planet Xor. A romance between a farmer and a shop assistant, a lord and a prostitute, or an alien and a shapeshifting zebra. It always boggles my mind when people say romance is too restrictive because it must have a happy ending, when the other 99% of the content can be anything you want it to be.

- That it's women-centric. I know some critics think it's an insult to say our books are escapism for women, or are fulfiling women's fantasies, that the men are too perfect and give women unrealistic expectations for relationships. To me, that's not an insult. I'm happy to provide a bit of fantasy. And if romance leads to a woman realising that she should hold out for a healthy relationship and not settle for some of the incredibly low standards that pass as normal, then great! Plus, if she wants to indulge in fantasies about unhealthy relationships then there's not exactly a dearth of those romances available, either.

- The romance. I'm not much of a my-writing-is-my-baby type of author but I do get very fond of my characters, and it gives me a little glow to be able to write them those happy moments. The first kiss, the first night, the HEA. And I'm okay with torturing them a little along the way because I know everything will work out fine.

What do you enjoy about writing romance?
 

Marian Perera

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I'm sure we've all experienced some kind of sneering about the genre we write, or at least seen general criticism of romance as 'easy to write' or 'porn for bored housewives' or 'not real literature' or whatever.

My favorite is that romance novels give people mistaken ideas about relationships that can lead to abusive situations.

It's not as though every other genre depicts real life faithfully. And I'll go out on a limb and say that most if not all romance readers are aware that they're reading escapist entertainment, rather than non-fiction about how relationships work.

- Knowing I have to have a happy ending.

Yes, this. Life can be incredibly unfair. Even in the rest of fiction, doing what's right doesn't mean things work out for you (that was the point of the first book in A Song of Ice and Fire).

But in romance, the scales balance. If my main characters struggle and suffer and make painful sacrifices, they'll end up happy. That is a guarantee neither real life nor any other genre can make.

While we have the opposite challenge - trying to hold a reader's interest when that reader knows from page 1 how it will end - it's a challenge I would prefer over having to come up with something totally unexpected yet believable.

I like tossing something totally unexpected yet believable into the pot anyway. The twist just doesn't have anything to do with "will they or will they not end up together". It's more like, who the villain is, or whether the other woman will end up happy.

It always boggles my mind when people say romance is too restrictive because it must have a happy ending, when the other 99% of the content can be anything you want it to be.

The people who say romance is too restrictive are usually the people who don't read it.

Once you start reading, the variety is overwhelming.

- The romance. I'm not much of a my-writing-is-my-baby type of author but I do get very fond of my characters, and it gives me a little glow to be able to write them those happy moments.

This too. My characters work for their HEAs. They overcome their problems, make amends for their mistakes, and get out of their comfort zones to meet challenges. It's wonderful to be able to give them happy moments as a reward.

What do you enjoy about writing romance?

Putting my own spin on the tropes of the genre that I don't like.

For instance, I hate it when a man pursues a woman who keeps telling him "no", and her friends chime in that he must love her, because he wouldn't keep persisting otherwise.

So I wrote a romance where this man is the antagonist, and when the heroine calls him on his behavior, he uses that excuse. He also tells her that she's beautiful when she's angry, rather than considering why she's angry and whether she wants to hear cliched compliments from him. The hero of the story is the man who respects the heroine's choices, rather than giving her none.

Likewise, I got so tired of virginity being equated with moral goodness, or with the story bending over backwards to keep the heroine a virgin for the hero (she was married before, but the man was away/ill/impotent/gay/all of the above) that I decided my heroines would not be virgins. That was no biggie when I was writing fantasy romance, because I could make up all the social rules of my world. But now I'm writing historicals, and it's been... interesting... to find ways my heroines could start with some level of sexual experience.

Great topic, Earthling. Thanks for starting it and sharing your thoughts.
 
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storywriter24

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its fun you can have the chacters have a happy ending if u want or make nthem brake up or suffer heart brake thats up to u
 

Maryn

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I truly enjoy creating characters who are flawed or downright damaged and find that after substantial friction, they complete one another in a way no one could have anticipated.

Maryn, all about character--and semicolons
 

MaryLennox

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In a weird way, if you're lucky, you only truly fall in love once. I've had other relationships where I thought I was in love, and maybe did love those people in some way, but the only time I felt like I was falling in love with my actual other half (and the only relationship I felt comfortable with using that term) was with my husband. Being able to find that person is amazing - but there's also the realization that you will never fall in love again. I mean, you can fall in love more with your partner, but it's not the same as the very first time you met them or realized you liked each other or had your first kiss, etc, etc. There will be more milestones, but all of those ones are done.

When you read/write romance you get to experience falling in love all over again, through the characters experiences. I don't know...no matter how many good romance books I read, it never gets old? And it always makes me happy. And we all need more happy in our lives.
 

readitnweep

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I just love the way I feel when I get into a good book - which for me is most often romance. It's a feeling for me, nothing more. But what a feeling!
 

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