Wednesday, April 4, 2012

On Writing Romance

If you'd asked me ten years ago if I'd ever consider myself a romance writer, I would have laughed. Worse, I probably would have turned my nose up at the idea of it.

Me? A romance novelist? Ha! I wouldn't write that stuff in a million years.

But the more I read, in both the adult and the YA fiction markets, the more I started to realize just how much of a literary snob I'd been. Because even though I haven't authored any Avon or Harlequin romances (all hail the Avon Historical Romance!!!) I am still a romance writer.

OK, maybe Suzanna Snow hasn't found love's true flame just yet, but my YA stuff has all revolved around a strong romance theme. Why? I've realized a few things in the past decade:

-Love is important
-Characters will do crazy/amazing/stupid/risky things for love
-Love messes a lot of things up
-Love introduces gut-wrenching conflicts
-Readers love love
-I love love

Romance doesn't only have to mean this*:

That would be boxing romance in to a one-size-fits-all package. Romance can look like a lot of things. Stop for a moment and think about your favorite novel. Or maybe the last novel you read. Was there romance in it? Chances are, the answer is yes. Varying levels of romance, but it was there just the same. What did that romance look like?

Romance is about risk and tough decisions. It's about characters finding a balance between staying true to themselves and allowing themselves to be vulnerable. Romance is about how people deal with pain and loss, and even sometimes how they deal with getting exactly what they wanted. It's about characters finding their deepest faults and laying them bare for the person they love. I could go on and on.

True, many of the mass market romance novels I've read aren't realistic in the least. But what's wrong with that? Romance novels are just like any other novel out there: they're there for a reader to sit down and escape. They're a way to relax, have fun, and maybe learn a thing or two.** Seriously, have you read a historical romance? These writers know their history, down to the finest details. It's impressive!

I've discovered my books will probably always have lots of smooching in them, and I'm finally able to not feel self-conscious about admitting that. Love is good. Love is better than blood or war or shock factors. Oh, and in case you didn't know this yet, love sells books :-)

What does romance look like to you?

* This happens to be the romance I'm reading right now and it is fabulous!
** I don't mean anything naughty by this. Really, get your mind out of the gutter.

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