Go back to The Magic Button 1: What is a Romance?
If you have the time, take a look at this study from the RWA (Romance Writers of America).
The survey states that in the U.S., the estimated annual total sales value of romance in 2013 was $1.08 billion. Romance is BIG. Nobody can deny that. The statistic I found most interesting was that 82% of romance book buyers in 2014 were women, which means that 18% were men. Everyone adores a great love story!
Why is romance so popular? My personal belief is that romance novels address the issues important to everyone: relationships, sex, family, children, and careers. They help us recapture those magical rites of passage some of us are hoping for, and many of us wish we could experience again—falling in love, getting married, and having our first child. They show courageous heroines and caring heroes working through important issues like looking after aging parents, dealing with illness, struggling to find the right career, and having (or not being able to have) children, things we can all associate with, while at the same time showing that finding a partner and having a happy relationship is an important part of our lives.
Most romance novels portray women as strong, independent people who, while having the ups and downs we all experience, are open, loving, and successful. They encourage us to believe we can have it all—a loving relationship, a family, and a successful career. And most romance novels are “feel good” stories that promise there is a happy ending for us all.
However. And it’s a big however. Those people who don’t read romance are often disparaging of the genre. You may have encountered this already! Critics mock the genre because of its formulaic approach, stating every romance novel is the same, and putting down those who read and write them, inferring (or even stating) that the genre is somehow the lowest of the low. Sexy romance is often called smut or mummy porn, derogatory terms that, again, infer the readers and writers of this type of fiction are to be derided for their choice, and that there’s something shameful about it.
If you read romance, and especially if you write it, I guarantee you will meet people who look down their nose at you for it. They might say you don’t write “real” books, and might make you feel embarrassed or ashamed about your choice of genre. They imply that it’s not proper literature. That the words you use to form your stories are somehow inferior to the words that other writers use. That your tales about love and emotions are less worthy than other more "serious" books.
Hopefully, these people won’t bother you. But if you’re anything like me, there might come a point where you question whether this is the genre for you.
We all want approval and admiration, and I have to admit to being embarrassed to tell anyone I wrote romance in the early days, because people would inevitably laugh or mock me because my stories are fairly racy. (“I never knew you had it in you!” “Where did you learn all those moves?” “Does hubby help you with your research?”) But after taking a short hiatus to write my epic fantasies, I realized something odd—I missed writing my romance stories. And after writing and publishing two 170,000-word fantasy novels, I returned to writing romance with great joy.
The thing is: I love writing romance. I love taking two people and watching them meet for the first time, observing that spark of excitement between the hero and heroine, the attraction they can’t fight. There’s nothing like it. And you know what? I like sex. And I like writing about it. It’s fun, and I see nothing wrong with women (and men) reading romance novels that are fun, racy, spicy, or hot enough to singe their eyebrows!
There is some evidence that playing violent video games or reading violent novels can lead to violent behavior. (I’m not saying that’s my view, by the way. I love playing computer games of all kinds, and blasting zombies into oblivion is a great way to relax.) But the way I see it, the worst a reader is likely to do after reading one of my novels is to either drag their partner off to the bedroom for some nookie, or to indulge in a little lone action. And I’m happy with that. Sex is good. It lowers stress levels, and it heightens intimacy. But we’re often made to feel ashamed of it, and of our bodies, and, frankly, that sucks. There’s nothing demeaning or dirty (unless it’s done right!) or disgusting or sleazy about reading or writing sexy romance. And there’s nothing shameful or pathetic or sad about writing about relationships, families, and children. If someone makes you feel this way, tell yourself they’re probably not getting any. That’s what I do, anyway.
Love makes the world go round. Love lifts us up. Love, love, love. Don’t listen to anyone else.
I’ll talk a lot more about this later, about how to stop worrying your Aunt Mabel is looking over your shoulder as you write that juicy sex scene, and how to limber up those sexy writing muscles. But for now, I give you permission to feel good about writing romance, and about writing sex. Be proud of it. Fall in love with your hero, and be there when he first kisses your heroine. Be brave and stand up for your genre. Love is all you need.
Tip 2: Be proud of your genre! And that will shine through your writing.
The romance genre is the most popular in the world. Enjoy what you write, and be proud of it.
Next, we’ll start talking about what type of romance you want to write. The first place we’ll start is the length of your story.
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