Lists are popular. Five ways to leave your lover. Ten great gift ideas for the boyfriend who has no clue. Three sure-fire kick-starters for your relationship. When you squizz through the lists you’re hoping there’s no bait-and-switch. For the gift ideas, you’d be pissed if there was a suggestion to help more around the house. Yes, it could be thoughtful but is it strictly a gift? That would be a negative, Houston.
So, how come I keep reading lists like, 2018’s top ten romance list, or the best sex scenes in romance novels ever, and finding books listed that are not romance. Sure, they may have romantic elements, but they’re not a romance.
I recently read a manuscript, submitted to a romance publisher (the hint is in their title), that had no romance whatsoever. None. Did I suggest they accept or R and R? Of course not. It was a solid do-not-pass-go decline. This writer could have the best writing style in the world, but it was not a romance.
And, just before Christmas, there was an argument on Romancelandia Twitter about a writer who thought that a romance novel didn’t need to have a HEA in order to be a romance novel. What’s wrong with that? Um, everything.
There seems to be some confusion…if there’s sex, it’s a romance, if there’s some sort of yearning between two people, it’s a romance. Yes. And no.
What makes a romance novel a romance novel? Simple: the novel must be around the love relationship between two people which must have an emotionally satisfying ending, either a Happily Ever After (HEA) or a Happy For Now (HFN). If it isn’t about the relationship and the ‘happy’ ending, then it’s not a romance.
What about ‘Me Before You’? Is that a happy ending for the couple? Not a romance.
What about ‘The Notebook’? Is that a happy ending for the couple? Not a romance.
What about ‘Lace’? Is that about the development of a love relationship between two people? No, it’s about someone looking for their mother. Not a romance. Yes, there are romantic relationships within the novel but that’s not what the novel’s about.
Much like you wouldn’t expect to get to the end of a detective story and not find out whodunnit, you wouldn’t expect to get to the end of a romance and not have your two characters in some sort of relationship happy space.
A little something to get you started on your writing journey:
Do you want to write a romance novel?
Everyone wants a HAPPILY EVER AFTER (HEA).