Friday, October 22, 2010

The Stigma of Writing Romance

Mushy, unintelligent, clunky, cliche, whiny, contrived, lame, gross, clinical, predictable--these are just some of the terms I've heard about the romance genre over the years. When I was a mere reader, I didn't pay much attention to those opinions. I simply liked reading romance. Now that I write it, I often become conscious of those stigmas, and spend lots of time fussing over my stories, trying hard not to fall prey to the stigmas.

Then, I take a deep breath and remember that I must be realistic. Romance, as any other genre, will not be a favorite of everyone. We all have our biases. I know from my own reading experience that there are very good, and not-so-good, romance stories out there. Perhaps it's the not-so-good ones that generate the bad vibes.

So, my number one goal is to focus on the story itself. To keep it interesting, realistic (to a point--it is fantasy, right?), and suspenseful. When the story falls into place, the characters will come along with it, driving it in some areas, and the strong current of romance can run throughout.

Will I succeed? That is yet to be seen, but I'm sure as time goes on, I can improve. Practice makes perfect, don't ya know?

What are your own thoughts on romance as a genre? Do you read it? Roll your eyes at the thought of it? Have you read both "good" and "bad" romances? Feel free to comment...


  1. By stigma, do you mean something like cliches of the genre?

    One thing I learned a while ago: cliches are not bad, poorly implemented cliches are bad. This is often in the context of fantasy and thriller, but I'm sure it applies to romance as well!

    Then again, sometimes a genre just has certain characteristics. That's what readers expect. If I picked up a fantasy book and saw a spaceship, I'd be put off. Similarly, even though romance might have a stigma of being, for example, "mushy," romance readers are going to expect it.

    Personally, I don't read romance. I can't exactly put my finger on why not... I've never actually tried reading a romance book. I guess I'm just not drawn to the genre.

  2. Great comment! Yes, poorly implemented or overused cliches, I think, are what turn people off on one book or another.

  3. My first instinct was to say, no I don't read romance, but one of my favorite books of all time is Austin's Pride and Prejudice - and it's romance. So, yes, I do read romance.

    Cliches are cliches when the writer's not clever enough to add a new turn to them. You're aware of that and I know you'll work hard to avoid it.

    As Lancer said, genres follow certain rules of expectation. That's why they're genres. Again, twist and turn them, but certain rules have to adhere. That's why they're genres.

    Also, not every kind of writing appeals to everyone. Go with what's in your heart. Isn't that what's writing's all about?


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