Sunday, October 01, 2006

On Romance

The following comments were made on SmartBitches in the comments section. Nora Roberts defines, very clearly IMO, what romance as a genre is & why I continue to return to romances even if I have to step out from under the umbrella once in a while. Or often, as has been the case lately.

I deleted some of her comments to emphasize what resonated most strongly with me full text of her thoughts should be in the comments section on the link above.

Romance is a genre, and genres have constants and frameworks. If I'm writing a Mystery, I'm going to have a puzzle or crime, clues, suspects, and a resolution which solves the mystery.

If I'm writing a Romance, I'm going to have a love story, sex or sexual tension, internal, external conflict or both, emotional commitment and a happy ending. Which doesn't mean a wedding or a brood of babies. It means the lovers are together, in love, and commited to each other..

The genre doesn't have to deny itself its main structure in order to be creative--it's the writers who're responsible for making the story fresh, compelling and creative. And who must do so by understanding and appreciating the reader's expectations for the genre.

As for the reader who wants to a story without that structure, there are plenty of choices outside of Romance that offer it.

Posted by Nora Roberts on 09/28 at 12:47 PM

Genre=a category of artistic, musical or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form or content. Webster's.

If you want a romantic novel, that's different. If you want a Romance novel, you want one of a particular style, form or content--as it's a genre--and that includes the constant of a HEA.

Writers and readers are free to go outside the genre if the desire to create or to read outside the genre form is a factor.

I read lots outside the genre, and I wager the majority who post here do, too. But if I'm reading or writing Romance, I understand the framework, and the constants of the genre that comprise it.

It's such a fluid genre, easily accepting elements from every other area of fiction--as long as the constants are maintained. From the bodice rippers of the 70's, to the H/S early traditional categories, to romantic suspense, comedy, meledrama, paranormal, fantasy, sf, contemp, historical, futuristic, erotic romance. It flows and it absorbs--inside the genre framework.

If you're not satisfied by what's out there under the Romance umbrella, on any of its varied spokes, it may be the fault of the writers. We're not finding enough fresh ways to address those constants or creating characters compelling enough that you're pulled into their story.

Or it may be that you need to step out from under the umbrella for awhile.

Posted by Nora Roberts on 09/28 at 01:49 PM

.. I think many books in the genre challenge or have challenged the reader. But that reader, when selecting, specifically, a Romance novel, knows the framework, knows she will get a HEA. She doesn’t know how the writer, and the characters, will take her there.

And the HEA is, absolutely, a definitive constant of the genre. Whether it's subtle or overt, complex or by that point simple depends entirely on the writer--and always most importantly--the story.

You don't have to accept the HEA. You simply have to accept that in Romance, the genre of Romance, you're going to get it.

In the early 80's Silhouette opened, hoping to revolutionize category Romance. They did. But they did so by twisting the category framework--maintaining that framework--but Americanizing it. The constants remained constant.

If in my the first book of my current trilogy where I killed off a sympathetic character, I'd chosen to kill off the hero, I would have betrayed the genre and the reader expectation thereof. If I had needed to do so, story-wise, then I would, without question, have made it as clear as I could, in as many ways as I could, that this book was NOT Romance.

If you don't have the HEA, the story slides off that umbrella of Romance into another area. And that's fine.

I guess I don't understand why any reader, dissatisfied with the framework, the form, the constants of the genre feels the genre itself should adjust for her needs, rather than she seek her satisfaction in another area of fiction.

Posted by Nora Roberts on 09/28 at 02:33 PM

1 comment:

Tara Marie said...

I was too busy being annoyed at RTB to notice what was being posted on SB, thanks for posting this.