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18.07.2011 15:34    Comments: 0    Categories: Fiction Writing  Writing a Novel  Writing Craft  Writing Romance  Writing Tips      Tags: romance writing  romance genre  novels  study  

Romances sell over one billion dollars worth of books a year and account for about one half of all paperback book sales. Romance novels are based on an enduring theme. A man and woman meet, fall in love, fall out of love, then ultimately fall back in love. Forever. The tale is usually told from the heroine's viewpoint and the brewing conflict looms large. A romance heroine is someone who readers can identify with and the hero is someone they can fall in love with. Emotion and romance will always pervade the plot. Sexual, sensual and emotional attraction provide the sizzle, with longing, confusion and misunderstandings providing the tension. A romance is tightly packed -- the first meeting of the hero and heroine lays the groundwork for their attraction and their complex personalities. Every scene advances the plot; every gesture matters. There is a range of subjects and sub-genres in this category and all require that you learn specifically what the publisher is looking for. Romances range from sweet to steamy, and it's your job to understand the nuance of the industry.

 

Another aspect of the romance genre is that it has changed dramatically in last 15 years. It's no longer confined to historical, Regency or modern settings. Today's romances range afar with themes that include the paranormal, werewolves, time travel and fantasy. While the genre is wide open these days, it still must deliver a romance with a focus on a relationship.

 

TIP: Avoid the flowery phrases of purple prose, cliches, modifier overkill and silly euphemisms for lovemaking. Use restraint and let your reader fill in the details with her imagination. Make the first meeting plausible, the chemistry tangible and the circumstances that tear the lovers apart realistic.

 

Romance Characteristics


Happy ending
Love story is the most important facet
Usually triangulation--romance is being challenged by person or problem
Told from point of view of both lovers
Miscommunication--characters hate each other, then love each other
Escapist reading
Emotional appeal
Fast read--less complex style
Strong female characters
May be read for other details: Historical setting, clothing, adventure, mystery
Participate in characters' lives--you're privy to their inner feelings and thoughts

 

Category Romances


Some genre-blending elements of intrigue for example, but not as well-developed as in longer books
Characters not as well-developed, especially secondary characters, in shorter categories; longer titles do more
Quality of writing (standards may not be as high)
Patron may read by author but others prefer series and look for a particular number
Readers may dislike entire categories because the elements required by the tip sheets for that category don't appeal to them
Mostly smaller books which can be read in a short time
Some mirror interests of readers/society: protected sex, more mature audience, etc.
Intrigue is not as well-developed as in Nora Robert's larger books.
Characters are also not as well-developed, especially secondary characters; but the author only has 170 pages to work with. However edition categories have more of a story and more pages.
There is a difference in the quality of writing among category romances as in any other type of literature.
While some patrons read particular favorite authors, other patrons read by series number.
A patron may dislike an entire category (ex. Silhouette Desire) because they don't like the elements required by the tip sheets for that category.
Readers do not have to concentrate on the story. The books are easy to put down and pick up again later.
Readers respond emotionally to these books; however, some of us it was a shallow programmed response. However, fans wouldn't agree.
These smaller books are less complex. They can probably be read in an hour.
Some of these books have minority protagonists, and some authors include social issues in their books
(main character has dyslexia or alcoholism as a theme).
Books mirror society. In the 1993 books, couples have protected sex. Series are also written for a mature audience (To Love Again and Second Chance at Love).


Category Romance Management


Some libraries order using standing order by particular series. Other libraries add donations. Downers Grove orders by reviews in Romantic Times buying items which receive 4 stars or more.
Books are usually weeded by age and condition. Some libraries shelve by author, while others shelve by series and series number. These books are not generally added to the permanent fiction collection. Libraries may identify the books using stickers with symbols like hearts.
Romance readers like to talk about their books. Many readers will come back and tell you whether or not they liked the books you suggested.

 

Historical Romance


Sense of humor, tongue-in-cheek many historicals (Quick, Deveraux, etc)
Some genre-blending with suspense, intrigue, mystery, adventure
History not as important as romance, although historical details important in many
Some titles have more violence, rougher sex, less enlightened heroes
Social problems addressed but different ones than in contemporary romances

Classic Regencies


Shorter books, less involved, more discreet than racy Regencies (which feature more sex and genre blending with elements of mystery, etc.)
Straight love story, with perhaps a little mystery or adventure
Women less obviously strong
More predictable, more likely to follow a set formula
Less sex, if there is sex, it occurs toward the end, between lovers "made for each other"
More domestic, family oriented (sometimes children are characters)
Humorous quality, liveliness; lighter tone
Regency/Ton trappings
Characters don't ponder events. They are always about finding a husband.
They have a lighter tone along with the requisite happy ending.
They are usually about the well-to-do classes.
Trickery is often present along with suspense, adventure or mystery.
They may have a dialect, and they accurately reflect the conventions of the time.
There is often a personality conflict; the main characters can't stand one another.
Readers may find it easier to accept romance conventions in historical romances than in contemporary romances.
Readers need to suspend judgement, and this is oftentimes easier with historicals.

 

Time Travel/Futuristic


Storyline features character who travels from past to present or present to past
Characters who travel from another time offer different perspective on time in which
Find themselves--this leads to different view of social issues and/or humorous situatons
Amount of historical detail varies; May provide insight into real conditions of the past
and make history more accessible
Reader must accept premise of time travel to enjoy this subgenre
Variations include futuristic, reincarnation, ghost stories

Romantic Suspense


Romantic suspense usually contain two possible romantic interests--one of whom is good, the other a villain.
Usually readers can spot the man the heroine will end up with.
There is a romantic tone to the books and usually no sex- more like the sweet romances.
The heroine may be her second marriage.
Innocence is not as important in these type of books; there is an emotional innocence, not necessarily a sexual innocence.
The heroine must be put in jeopardy without looking stupid.
The heroine does not have a support system.
The romantic suspense formula which readers expect make it difficult for the author to surprise the reader.
There is a sense of menace.
Often some event happened many years ago and is now coming back to haunt the next generation.
Settings play a big part in the story. (Mary Stewart develops particularly good settings).
The house where the action takes place often acts like one of the characters.
These books have a Gothic tone, and may contain supernatural elements that may or may not be explainable.
They are often great young adult books.
There is often something extra-information on antique, old roses.

 

Developing a Romance Genre Study


The following are suggestions to keep in mind when planning a romance genre study:
Brainstorm universal genre characteristics first.
Ease in with romantic suspense.
Read sure bets right away.
Read books you know are good: choose from Romantic Times reviews and award winners.
Look for books that have similarities, decide on the subgenres ( and which subgenres are the more important ones) and divide the books into subgenres.
List authors we are always being asked for, then divide these authors into subgenres.
Must read top authors; if these are best sellers there must be something that appeals to a lot of people. Who are benchmarks?
The leader should choose the books participants read in the various categories.
All read a number of the same titles and then read some on our own to broaden the number of titles read.
Look for read alikes.
Having a true fan and or/writer speak sells others on the genre.
Spend time with the category romances (how to enhance your collection, since these books are not often reviewed).
Doing category books was important because we don't know these as well.
Reading Dangerous Men and Adventurous Women is enlighting.
Know the reference sources and read journal articles.
Leader must like genre.
Identify the differences between women's fiction and romance?
Review romance characteristics at the end, are they any different?

 

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