Friday, February 15, 2013

Is Romance Critical? (Answer and Win a Critique!)

I've got to give a shout-out to my new friend Lauren Denton, who asked me this question outright, right after I started thinking about it myself. *High fives Lauren* Great minds, my friend. Great minds.

Today I'm on the hunt for information. Opinions. First Person Points of View, if you will.

You see, for the past few months I've been literally burying myself in the romance genre. Late last year life got really heavy. I needed an escape at night. And I found it in returning to an old favorite: Regency era romance novels.

Now, before you go all "What?!" on me, hear me out. There are some very talented writers out there who serve up book after delicious book in this genre. I've bought, borrowed or gleaned something in the vicinity of 50 of them in the last six months.

Just lately, rather than spending more money on books, I've been returning to some of my favorites and re-reading. One week I devoured three. And it got me thinking:

Why do these books appeal to me so much? Why is it that I can re-read them with anticipation, rather than a vague sense of disappointment? Why can't I get enough of these?

Some honest self-analysis revealed: I love romance. I've always loved it. I adore books that focus on it. And as a writer, the romantic elements of the plot are my favorite to write.

I looked at my bookshelf and realized the books I've bought and chosen to keep over the years are all books with at least a love-interest-that-might-become-more subplot. At the minimum. Most have a very strong romantic component, some following more than one couple.

For me as a reader, love makes the world go around.

But is that true for everyone?

Definitely not. Yet, many writers (including my friend, Lauren) have come up against advice from critiquers and professionals regarding strengthening romantic ties in their books, giving greater focus to their romantic subplots, and / or creating romance where, perhaps, it hadn't existed before.

So here, my friends, are my questions for today. Tell me truly, what do you think? And do your romantic tastes as a reader influence your romantic developments as a writer?

Below are four brief questions. If you choose to answer them, put your name and twitter handle or email in the comments below. At the end of the week I'll choose a random commenter to win a query or first five pages critique.

I promise to share the results. And I'm going to find out what The Industry thinks too...

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.


  1. Great questions!

    I think I'm right there with you. For years I put myself in a certain category and then my publisher slid me into another one SFR. At first I balked and then I embraced it. I love romance too! It really does make the world go round and I think as humans we crave it in our daily lives.

    I did the survey.
    Charity Bradford

  2. Thought provoking post. I write YA fantasy, so the romantic elements are not as strong as they would be in, say, a contemporary. But I definitely have romantic plotlines that are essential to the sequel I'm planning.

    1. Oops! Survey completed. Here's my contact info.

      Michelle Roberts
      @michroberts90 (Twitter)

  3. I'm a die-hard romantic lady. I need my romance fix on books, or it's unlikely I'll like them. I do prefer books that are not solely romance, with action and drama too, BUT romance has to be there ...

    I answered the survey questions ;)

  4. Just weighed in via the poll! In addition, I feel that romance is somewhat of a universal element in which most people can relate. Even if a person hasn't had success in his/her own romance department, most have daydreamed and had crushes. I also agree with Juliana above - romance shouldn't the only facet of a story. I want action as well :)

    Leigh Michael

  5. Answered the questions as best I could! I am a die-hard romantic and even though I am happily married still like to read about character's struggles through love.

    Jessica Ward - @JAWardWrites

  6. I write fantasy. I used to think I would be too shy to include much romance in my books. Over the last year I have learned that my writing is better if I do include a strong romantic subplot, because I am not fighting what my subconscious wants me to do. I should have known better earlier; I like a good romantic subplot when I’m reading.

    Cat Langford @Langford_Cat

  7. For me romance needs to be balanced with action, otherwise I get bored as a writer and as a reader. I completed the survey! :)

    EM Castellan

  8. Good questions! I wasn't too sure about the answer to the third one, as I write romance (with fantasy or sci-fi subplots), so reducing or adding romance has never really been a question.

    For me, as a reader and writer, romance is the key to the plot. I mostly don't bother with books that don't have a strong romantic subplot at least. (Which is one of the reasons I'm just not that interested in Harry Potter.) All my books have strong romantic plots, usually with the action as a secondary.

    That said, I have a friend who isn't interested in reading romance at all, and prefers stories without romance in them.

  9. I submitted answers via the poll. If I couldn't include romance, I wouldn't be interested enough to either read or write the book at this point. I think you'd be hard-pressed to find top selling fiction without it. Just my opinion :-) Liz
    Lgoconnor1 on Twitter

  10. I answered the questions. I do like to read and write about romance but I'm not into heavy romance. My favorite stories have a strong adventure element as well.

  11. With the last question, I could have checked more than one answer. I'm writing a memoir that details childhood abuse, but also has romance (when I meet my husband). The readers in my critique group encouraged me to make sure I include all five senses in my writing. When I did that it deepened all the scenes - the good ones and the bad ones.

    I have started reading romance novels and am amazed at the emotions they evoke. Some pull me into the character's lives in a way that was surprising. I wonder what your favorite romances are.

  12. Yikes, I forgot to put my email.
    HM at HVC dot RR dot COM

  13. I write urban fantasy. I couldn't really answer these questions as some didn't really pertain to my situation. Once upon a time I had been trying to entice an editor who was definitely not going for what I had, but I had the feeling she wanted more romance in my books. I'm more of the last answer: the romance thread is plenty. Each book IS different and Sabrina doesn't always wind up with the same guy in every book. It's more of an adventure/fantasy story than romance. Not to say that there isn't romance and constant possibilities for something to happen. I don't usually follow a romance plot either, where you basically "know" who she might wind up with. I like to keep it a bit of a surprise. I don't read romance and try to avoid reading paranormal romance--for the same reason: It bores me. I want story, action and a twisting plot.

  14. readers or editors. good thought provoking questions.

    I like books about misfits coming of age in their lives and love is part of that. To me its a given.