Romance, what is it anyway? By Sara York
Romance Writers of America or RWA, which in no way is the definitive authority on romance, defines romance as such.
Two basic elements comprise every romance novel: a central love story and an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.
A Central Love Story: The main plot centers around individuals falling in love and struggling to make the relationship work. A writer can include as many subplots as he/she wants as long as the love story is the main focus of the novel.
An Emotionally Satisfying and Optimistic Ending: In a romance, the lovers who risk and struggle for each other and their relationship are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.
Romance novels may have any tone or style, be set in any place or time, and have varying levels of sensuality—ranging from sweet to extremely hot. These settings and distinctions of plot create specific subgenres within romance fiction.
That’s nice, but what does the dictionary say?
- a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love.
“in search of romance”
- a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life
In recent weeks, I’ve seen posts on Facebook where people want different things from their romance stories. From the earlier medieval romances, to folk lore, to stories like Pamela, and on to Pride and Prejudice, romance may have some reality in them, but there is also the fantasy element that takes the reader out of the everyday and gives them something they can’t get or don’t see in their life. Then you have Sci-fi romances, which are really way out there. Books like Sedonia Guillone’s Fallon’s Jewel really do take you to a different world but still delivers a satisfying romance. JR Ward took vampires and made them sexy. Meg Cabot made ghosts hot. All these stories are romances but obviously unrealistic.
Under the romance umbrella there may be books that include elements some people don’t like. Stories some call insta-love may seem absolutely unrealistic to some. I know, it takes some people months and months to figure out if they are in love. For some people, it may take years. But there are a few people who for some reason don’t take years or even months to find love with another. I met my husband in mid October, we started dating by November, and we’re living together by Christmas. That was 27 years ago and we’re still together.
Other issues in romance may not seem realistic like people who are in open relationships before they meet “the one” or “the two” in a ménage story, but after meeting “the one” they stop dating other people. I know in real life open means open, but in a romance the goal is to make a relationship happen. Maybe it’s too simplistic for romance novels to make the assumption that people in open relationships can’t find emotional justice and unconditional love. Perhaps emotional justice is different for each person.
Is the goal of romance unrealistic? Maybe life isn’t as simple as canned definitions make it seem.
Not everyone will end up in a relationship in real life. Some people don’t want to be tied down. Some people are happy having one central partner who they may or may not live with, and though they love their partner, they still enjoy meeting new people and having sex with them. That type of life isn’t for everyone. And in the romance genre, that type of relationship may be frowned upon. Stories where the characters don’t limit themselves to a committed relationship may fall under the erotic or erotica heading but not romance. There isn’t anything wrong with open relationship stories and there isn’t anything wrong with romances, they are just different types of relationship stories.
In the romance genre, there are so many different types of books and the genre is growing and evolving. With growth comes pushing of boundaries. Maybe the boundary about open romance needs to be pushed. I’m not sure if readers are ready for that. What do you think? Is it okay for one or both people in the central romance to still have sex with other people? Would the main characters having sex with other people kill the story for you?
Sara York writes passionate stories full of real life and real people. She lives in the south with her family and dogs. Her blood type is Coffee+ and her muse is the beach. Sara hopes you enjoy the stories she’s created. For more information on Sara York visit her website at http://sarayork.com
Sara’s latest romance, Healing Love, is available at Amazon