Love is in the Air (Imagine Barry White singing…)
Romance is an age-old genre. In fact, none of us would be here without some form of romance. Though I did have a fellow suggest to me once that lust might be enough…
Wikipedia has a lot of info about romance, suggesting that the first romance novels began in ancient Greece. And the stories have been coming ever since. But romance takes many forms. There are YA romances about crushes. Remember your crush in middle school? You might be “going steady” but you never talked to your crush and he never talked to you. You told your best friend what you wanted him to know, and she told his best friend. Then there was high school— And romance at a “mature” age takes on a whole different spin. You compare medication lists and Medicare plans, wondering if he has a nursing home policy.
Suspense, thriller, horror, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy, all of these genres can have an element of romance, even if it’s just a hint. Other times, the romance can be a sub-plot.
There are Amish romances, historical romances, sweet romances, erotic romances, hotter than erotic romances. Even other species romance: Lady and the Tramp anyone?
Some reference works suggest there are 7 types of romance subgenres:
- Contemporary Romance.
- Historical Romance.
- Romantic Suspense.
- Erotic Romance.
- Religious/Spiritual Romance.
- Paranormal, Sci-Fi, or Fantasy Romance.
- Young Adult Romance.
Master Class suggests there are 6 subgenres: They rename the genres and leave out erotic romance. Harlequin also details the subgenres.
The Write Life posts a list of Don’ts for romance writing. All of them relate to not making the characters nuanced, flawed, vulnerable. Another don’t is Love at first sight. That only happens in Hallmark movies, and they spend an hour and 45 minutes fighting it.
Ingramspark provides a How to Write Love Scenes, emphasizing that, unless you are writing hardcore porn, it needs to be a LOVE scene, not just a sex scene. The reader should fall in love with the characters as they fall in love with each other. The reader should want to cheer when they work it out. And the love scenes, like every scene in your book, should move the story along. It needs to be essential to the story, not just a gratuitous scene.
Romance Writers of America, a group to promote the writing of romance, has lots of resources available.
But the thing to remember is that romance writing should also be GOOD writing. Make your characters nuanced, flawed, realistic. Give them backstory that comes out as needed. Go into deep POV. Make the plot realistic (even if it’s fantasy or sci-fi. Even Lady and the Tramp works on that level). Above all, create characters that you and your readers can care about, cheer for.
In my romantic suspense, More Than a Point of Honor, the heroine is attracted to the hero but has doubts fed by the antagonist. The hero is attracted to her, but fears she is in league with the antagonist. The hero’s goal/motivation/conflict is initially revenge, but as the attraction to the heroine grows, his GMC changes gradually, until revenge is replaced by the goal of protecting her at all costs.
In my police procedural in process, A Little Shame, hero Scott stumbles into a relationship, while confounded by a romance he witnesses between his mentor, who is Scott’s mother’s age, and a new flame. The romance is a subplot, but it does manage to complicate his getting to the bottom of the mystery.
From Kathy Pritchett