As I’ve said in other blog posts, I’m a recent fan of romance novels after spending a good many years disparaging the genre. As I’ve read many, many romance novels over the last couple of years I have been fascinated by the genre not just as a reader but as a writer. Here five reasons why the romance genre is quite possibly the most bad-ass of them all.
- Romance Novels teach us a little bit about how to love and how to live
The same day I started reading the first romance novel that I would actually finish, I heard Virginia Kantra say that romance novels are feminist. Her words surprised me at the time, because I’d long thought the exact opposite. After having read many romance novels, I have to agree with her. Romance novels not only show women what to expect from a relationship, but I think it could be fairly argued that they teach women to be brave, to stand up for what they want and to say no to what they don’t, to know they are loveable no matter their body type or quirks, and to be bold and confident in their sexuality. There are a few bad apples out there, romance novels that suggest that controlling, possessive guys are the boyfriend goal, but they are few and far between.
- Romance novels are actually really hard to write
My writer friends and I used to joke that if we couldn’t get our work published, we’d just write a romance, because how hard could it be? The truth is that the very formula that makes romance novels appear so easy to write is what makes them so difficult. Romance novels are all essentially about the same thing and have the same ultimate result, which means your characters and their story have to be well-crafted and intriguing enough to keep the reader from getting bored. You can’t just throw in an alien invasion or a murder when the story gets slow. It is ALL about the characters and their interactions. And there are millions of romance novels already out there, so you have to dream up a way to make the story new and exciting.
- Romance novels give you all the good feels
One of the first things that fascinated me about the romance genre was how an ordinary story could give me butterflies and make my heart flip in that way that only crushes and romantic moments do in real life. I set out to study romances and figure out how my favorite authors did it. Two romances can have the exact same story, the same formula, but give you completely different feelings and it all comes down to nuance and solid, well-thought out writing.
- You can write a romance novel before you’ve found your voice as a writer, but it’s probably going to suck
There is no fall-back crutch in writing romance, a good plot twist is only going to get you so far. When you write a romance, your writing voice is going to shine through, in what your characters are like, in how much slang you use, in how purple or simple your prose is, and in how graphic your sex scenes are. If you gain a following, your readers are probably going to expect those things not to change. Even Penny Reid, who’s every book is different, has a distinctly humorous and recognizable writer’s voice.
- Romance is fun
One of the many reasons I write genre fiction and have no desire to write literature, even if I had a such a story in me, is because I love the way genre fiction can transport you so completely out of the moment in which you live. Some may find that literature can do the same for them and I say good for you, but even though I love literature, it has always been genre fiction that is my true escape. In a waiting room waiting to hear news about a loved one? Genre fiction can make you forget where you are. Having a bad day? Genre fiction, especially happy fiction, will make it better. I’ve always loved urban fantasy because reading about kick-ass women makes me feel more kick-ass. The romance genre is a world where happy endings reign and true love conquers all, it’s a pretty awesome place to live.