Recently in my writing group, the discussion started as to what makes something “romantic.” I got to thinking and made an interesting discovery. Romance incorporates all the other genres. In many ways, Romance can be thought of as a “super genre.” Let’s see how:
Will the hero meet his hero, the man of his dreams, or will he wander the earth alone and bereft? When he meets the hero, will he recognize the man? Worse, will the man of his dreams recognize our hero? Good romances leave this up in the air, so you don’t know right away. They create tension, so you root for our poor, lonely hero.
Once the hero figures out who his man is, will they get together? Will an ex-boyfriend intervene and threaten the budding relationship? Will the villain kill our hero’s dream lover before they get a chance to consummate their relationship? Will monsters destroy everything they hold dear? What happens next? Good romances have suspense so you keep turning pages.
Excitement adds spice to romances, just like it does to anything else. Why else do we ride roller coasters? If a romance has twists and turns and villains out to get our heroes, it makes us want to read more. Even contemporary romances like Dallas do this for us, as we root for one or another of the characters. Add in werewolves or aliens and the mix deepens.
Any fan of horror can tell you that there’s always a monster out to get the hero. This is true in romance, as well. There are a plethora of monsters out to end our hero’s relationship prospects and maybe even his life – vampires, succubi, zombies, oil tycoons, you name it.
As one of the members of my writing group pointed out, even fine literature is romantic – look at Doctor Zhivago! Love story. Romeo and Juliet. Love story! See? Romance is everywhere, if you just know how to look – as any good reader can tell you. So next time you read or write a romance, see if you can’t find the other elements in the story that make it that much more compelling. Maybe one day, bookstores will realize this and put “literary” stories in genre fiction and give the main literature space to romance, where it belongs!
A. Catherine Noon is an author and textile artist based in Chicago, Illinois. Rachel Wilder is an author and image consultant in Las Vegas, Nevada. Together, they love to write stories and create worlds for readers to explore and enjoy. To learn more about them, please visit their website.