32. Genre: Romance
This week JJ and Kelly conclude their series on genres in publishing with ROMANCES. Also, we reveal the depth of our Harry Potter nerdery and our deep fandom past. TRIGGER WARNING: We discuss rape and consent in Old School romances.
Romance is the largest market of publishing in terms of sheer number of books being published, units being sold, as well as cash flow.
We discussed the hallmarks of other genres, but romance really only has the one: your main couple must end up in a relationship by the end of the book (the so-called HEA, or Happily Ever After, or the HFN, or Happily For Now).
Romance is a staple of publishing, and is a large part of what we now consider the literary “canon” but the modern romance novel as we knew it first came into existence in the 1970s. According to the Smart Bitches, the “first” modern romance novel is The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss.
Romance novels are divided into Old School and New School romance: Old School are the books published pre-1990s.
Old School romances may be partially responsible for the “trashy” reputation around romance novels because there were forceful, rapist male romantic leads, but for other reasons, not the least because the stories were centered around female leads and female pleasure.
Old School romances were also about awakening the female lead, sexually, emotionally, etc. so some hangups about “virginity” (actual or metaphorical) linger.
Romance publishing is divided into two segments: category and single-title.
Category romances are specific lines from a publisher focusing on specific tropes and storylines. As a romance writer, it may be easier to break into publishing by starting to write for categories.
Single-title romances are focused more on the author’s name than the tropes, e.g. Nora Roberts. The stories and tropes are created wholesale by the author and is more similar to other trade publishing genres.
In terms of content, romances can literally contain anything. Anything! That’s the greatest thing about romance; it’s like Mad Libs: put in what you want and you’ll pretty much guaranteed to find a romance novel that fits that criteria. Romances span every genre: mystery, thriller, science-fiction, fantasy, contemporary, et al. What constitutes a ROMANCE as opposed to another genre is the centrality of the love story.
Romances can have series, either where friends or different family members get their own romances in separate books, or else it’s one central couple throughout multiple books.
Books Discussed/What We’re Reading
Beyond Heaving Bosoms by Sarah Wendell and Candy Tan (AKA The Smart Bitches)
The Flame and the Flower by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
The Bridgertons series by Julia Quinn
The In Death series by J. D. Robb (AKA Nora Roberts)
The works of Courtney Milan
The works of Sherry Thomas
Lord of Scoundrels by Loretta Chase
Pregnesia by Carla Cassidy
The Raider by Jude Deveraux
Get in Trouble by Kelly Link
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen
Save the Cat by Blake Snyder
What We're Working On
Kelly is continuing to work on her WIP, not by writing words, but by journaling and thinking and creating.
Off Menu Recommendations
Quiz Up Harry Potter Trivia
That's all for this week! We will be on hiatus for the next two weeks as both JJ and Kelly will be on vacation (not together, alas!). When we return, we will be starting a new series, wherein we break down stories to see what makes them successful or not. As always, sound off in the comments if you have any questions and we'll see you in two weeks!