Thursday 18 August 2011

What is a romance?

I have to share with you my latest cover from Linford Romance – they do such beautiful covers, don't you think?
However, my post is actually about the topic "What is a romance?" We were having a lively debate about this on the RNA loop the other week and I thought I'd share with you some of the definitions that came up.
A romance novel is a love story that keeps the reader reading and rooting for the hero and heroine. The romance must be central and be 70% of the book.
A romantic novel must feature good and evil, idealisation, wish fulfilment, nostalgia and have a happily ever after ending.
A romance book can have a strong underlying theme but the main thrust of the book must be the romantic aspect – and it helps if the hero and heroine meet each other in the first few pages.
A true romance must have the hero and heroine together throughout the book – they can't meet halfway through.
There is a tendency to equate romance with light. There are romances that deal with profound subjects, also ones that are basically action adventure and of course the category romances that have no secondary plot and concentrate solely on the developing relationship between the main protagonists. All these are romances.
These are some of the views expressed in the discussion. My feelings on the subject are these.
Can a book be be called a romance when it is the love between siblings or parents and their children? Certainly the award for the best romantic novel has been given to books where a romance is peripheral to say the least. The books I write I would classify as Regency romantic adventures - there is a strong romance between the hero and heroine but also a linear plot and subsidiary characters.

I think the main difference is whether it is a love story or a romantic story. In the first, as in the Mills & Boon or Pocket Novel, the book is just about the hero and heroine and their relationship. A romantic story can be historical, paranormal, contemporary, young adult, it can have profound themes, be humorous, be action packed – in fact anything at all. This kind of book will have a strong romantic element but so much more as well.
Two things everyone agreed about were that there must be a "happily ever after" ending or at least a "happy for now" ending and that both main characters must embody all the characteristics one would expect to find in a hero or heroine.
What do you think?
best wishes
Fenella Miller

1 comment:

Elizabeth Moss said...

A romance is when the relationship between hero and heroine is the key focus of the story and the resolution of their joint story is the end of the line.

When other things intrude - underlying themes, political events, adventure or thriller aspects, other characters to a distracting degree etc - then it's a romantic novel.

That's what I think.