Speaking of romance

raspberry roses

As it’s Valentine’s Day, it’s the perfect time to talk about romance writing.

Considering the statistics (romance sells more than science fiction, mystery and fantasy combined) it’s puzzling why so many people have such a poor view of the genre.

Any genre will have its own tropes and romance is no different – Alpha males, friends to lovers, the ‘working relationship’, a past that so damages one or other of the protagonists that they can’t love again, until…

And yes, I understand that tropes are both useful and time-saving and that without the key signifiers, readers may be irritated that their expectations of a romance are disappointed. But this is no less true of any other genre than it is for romance. Tropes don't make writing a book any easier - they just make it recognisable.

The stereotypes of romance readers are astounding in that they’re so outdated.  The idea of romance as ‘stupid books for stupid people’ (quoted on one website I visited) comes from the 18th and 19th centuries, when books for women couldn’t possibly be for education, but only ‘light entertainment’.  Times move on, people.

Thankfully, a much-quoted report from the Romance Writers of America also gives the lie to the idea that ONLY women read romance, and that they’re spinsters, poverty-stricken, and are reading for the vicarious pleasure they lack in their real lives.

And the variety! Paranormal, contemporary, historical, any heat from virginal to triple-X rated. Vampire, shape-shifter, magical, suspense - there’s even Amish romance.

So as a romance writer, the sky’s the limit.  I write for a HUGE audience (70 million in the US alone), where readers are repeat purchasers, where e-books make up 60 percent of the market. Even with the derisory and outdated comments, would I want to write in this genre, rather than another?

Too right I would.