The romance fiction genre is perhaps the biggest slice of
the fiction-buying pie available on the market today.
With more than 50% of paperback fiction sales being
attributed to romance novels, it's no wonder so many new
romance authors are popping up on the scene.
So what constitutes a romance novel?
Most romance novels should contain two basic elements to
be considered "romantic":
1) A central love
story - the central plot and a large portion of the
conflict are focused on two people falling in love and
then struggling to maintain and justify that love.
An emotionally satisfying, 'happy' ending -
Romance fans read romance for the 'feel good' factor.
After such intense conflict, trying to establish and
maintain the relationship, readers want to see the good
guys come together at last in a 'happy ending'.
Note that these basic elements do not focus on sex. A
romance novel is focused on the romance - the love story
between two people - and not necessarily on the act of
getting together physically. It is true that some
romantic authors will integrate sex scenes into the
central love story, but the main aim of a romance novel
is to tell a tale of an unfolding romance. Erotica is a
completely different genre - one we are not focusing on
during this article.
Once the two basic elements above are fulfilled, a
romance novel can contain any amount of extraneous
setting or plotting details the author desires. These
distinctions in plot and setting (or even time period)
give us the basis for most romantic sub-genres.
Remember - Sub-Genres are classifications used to help
categorize a novel in the marketplace, or to assist
readers in finding similar books in styles they already
enjoy. However, many authors will happily combine two or
more sub-genre styles within the one plot. As these cross-genre
books become more popular, this creates sub-categories
Romance tales set mostly in the present time, but can be
categorized as taking place after the World Wars. Can (and
often does) contain elements of suspense, humor, drama -
or any mix thereof.
Although still centered on a romantic tale, Fantasy
Romances take place on other worlds and contain elemens
of magic. They can also sometimes incorporate mystical
creatures, like fairies or dragons, or horrific
creatures, like vampires and werewolves. Some authors
blend elements of mythology into fantasy romances.
Obviously, romance stories set in the far future and
containing some science fictional or fantastical elements.
Mostly classified in the "paranormal" sub-genre,
Futuristic Romances are gaining in popularity and thus
some publishers may classify this sub-category as its own
Romance stories set in the past and generally before the
World Wars. Unfortunately "before the World Wars"
is a broad classification and can be stretched so far
back into our history to include: American West, American
Colonial, American Civil War, American Revolution,
American Reconstruction, Native American, Australian
Colonial, European Dark Ages, Early European Rennaisance,
French Revolution, Celtic, Medieval England, Middle Ages
England, Victorian England and Regency England. The odd
Pirate tale also shows up every now and then under this
Romance tales containing "other-worldly"
elements such as ghosts or spectres. Can also be extended
to include spirits, devils, demons or angels. In some
cases, the characters may posses certain paranormal
Romance stories set in England in the early 1800s - even
though they are not the same as a "Historical
Romance". They generally have a stronger focus on
the surrounding society and the interplay between
characters. This sub-category of the original Historical
sub-genre became popular enough to warrant its own
Romance containing an element of mystery and intrigue.
Sub-categories include: Espionage, Forensics, Homocide,
drug-dealing, smugglers. Generally contain a more
dramatic tone and are most frequently set in a
Romance tales set across two different time periods, with
one or more characters "time-traveling" between
Often categorized under 'Historical' romance, these tales
are of romances set in the American 'old west'.
Copyright Lee Masterson. All rights reserved.
With thanks to:
Romance Writers of America - http://www.rwanational.com
All Romance Writers - http://www.allromancewriters.com/subjects.cfm