The Romance Novel

posted in: Various Musings | 0

Originally posted on April 26, 2012

Last weekend I read a really great romance novel. What made it so great was the characters. They were well-drawn and three-dimensional, particularly the hero and heroine. I loved the development of their relationship, the backstory, and how they finally got together, and while the first sex scene was a little tamer than I’m used to, I loved the book. I know I loved it because even though I read it in just a few hours, I continued thinking about it (especially the characters) for hours after I finished reading it.

But I had some complaints about it, and it’s the same complaint I have for most romance novels. The hero and heroine get together; things are hot and heavy, and they’ve clicked. And we’re so happy! But then “things” get in the way. If you’ve read enough romance novels, you know what I’m talking about. Something threatens to keep them apart. Now, sometimes the “something” (or, should I say, some things) is believable. Oftentimes, though, it’s not. Or maybe it’s not that one thing is unbelievable. It’s that there are too many things keeping them apart. Seriously…think about your own relationships. Would they have survived something a particular romance couple overcame? And does that really make you root for the couple?

Sorry, my cynicism is showing, and that’s probably why I don’t write romance.

I have a related/similar complaint. Sometimes it’s not so much that there are too many things keeping the couple apart, but rather that the obstacles are pretty incredulous. I’ve already written here how important realism in writing is to me. If I’m having a hard time believing what’s going on, it diminishes how much I enjoy the book.

So this particular book really had me. I loved the characters and so I kept reading, in spite of the multiple obstacles and in spite of the unbelievability of the situation. However, I would have loved it even more had it met my other criteria.

I don’t share these ideas in my blog to make myself seem superior to other writers, because I’m not. I know there’s a place for romance books, and I also know there’s a definite formula there, and this particular writer had it down pat. If she or any other writer had trampled all over the formula, readers would likely become upset with her and wouldn’t finish reading the book. Instead, this notion just affirms what I keep saying: I don’t write romance.

But I won’t deny I write of romantic entanglements. And I better get back to doing that right now because I know there are quite a few of you eagerly awaiting Innocent Bystander!


April 27, 2012 at 5:55 am

Ahhh…the morning after, and I feel the need to clarify. One thing that turns me off about a lot of romance stories is the ridiculous and fake barriers put up to keep the hero and heroine apart, and that’s my complaint with lots of romances. Many of them feel like they should be novellas, but instead more and more hurdles are put up just to drag the story out. I guess that’s my main complaint.

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