ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

IWSG post - Do you consider romance writers purveyors of 'Mummy Porn' or do you consider us serious writers?

Hello everyone! 

Where do the months go? Already time for the August IWSG and to take our writer's temperature. What are we secure/insecure about this month? What can we share with each other in the common goal of improving our writing experience?

Thanks to the many who joined the discussion re blogging. I've determined to aim for more interesting posts and to keep my writing craft posts to a minimum. And I'm posting more photos which Deniz Bevan reminded me about. Ironically, I've had several requests to participate in book launches since posting, and some I have agreed to, but I will be trying my hardest not to be posting generic information and making sure I've read/enjoyed the book the author is selling.


This is my own edited photo of arriving on the Fijian island
 I chose (and renamed) as a setting for my romance novel

Most of my writing for the past few months has been plugging away at an editor's suggested re-writes on my Fijian Princess novel to fit the Harlequin Desire category. I feel like I  have to justify my choice to write romance when the corner of the blogosphere I move in seems to be peopled with sci-fi, fantasy, YA and MG authors. 

I've never understood why it was acceptable to have the James Bond fantasy for the 'boys', but the mainly female authors of Harleqin Mills and Boon et al are often considered a pre-conceived stereotype. Well, they're laughing all the way to the bank. Attending a Romance Writer's Conference is a Happily Ever After experience! The BIGGIE is in Sydney this coming weekend. No, I'm not attending, but Nas Dean is, and afterwards she is coming to stay with me, as she's a presenter at the River City Writer's Conference here in Brisbane which I am helping with.


Some Interesting Facts About the Romance Genre:


  • There are more romance novels sold than any other genre, even though there's a perception that it's not a genre for serious authors - there's Romance Writers Versus Everyone Else. 
  • There were an estimated $1.35 billion in global sales last year.
  • Over half of all books sold globally are romance.
  • Modern romance novels embrace reality, fantasy, paranormal--everything that 'other' fiction does.
  • This genre continually morphs to satisfy their huge readership. There are all sexual persuasions (authors choose what category they wish to write in), there are teen stories, there are all ethnicities, ages, economic backgrounds, issues. Every sub-genre you can think of is represented - rural, historical, suspense, medical, erotic,...you name it, Harlequin et al has it. Even sci-fi!! There you go!
  • The heroine must be feisty, intelligent, no one's victim--a kick-ass heroine in other words. 
  • The hero doesn't have to be a billionaire, but it helps, as long as he turns out to be a fabulous guy under that aura of entitlement.
  • There must be a Happily-Ever-After (HEA), but the story doesn't have to end with marriage.
                                                                            

Sipping kava in Fiji in the interests of authenticity for the kava party in my novel. My reaction is the same as my hero's.




So what do you think? Do you consider romance writers purveyors of 'Mummy Porn'?, formulaic storylines, the boring HEA ending, or do you consider romance writers serious writers? 

If you're interested in this topic, my post was inspired by reading an article by Kate Belle, romance author. You can read it here. 
Click on the badge to access other IWSG posts.
Thank you Alex and this month's hosts.




50 comments:

  1. Isn't PRIDE AND PREJUDICE a romance novel? Of course, if I remember my university classes correctly, it received a few negative zings by contemporaries.

    I would consider Romance as Mommy Porn if it is explicit -- which nowadays folks would ask for that term's definition.

    For as long as I can remember HARLEQUIN romances have been popular with the women. I don't think any of their novels are remembered after a year's passing.

    But then, I remember reading one particular Harlequin romance to an elderly friend month after month -- not because of any memory lapse but because it moved her in some deep way. I wrote the company, telling them of that and asking the letter be sent to the author, thinking the woman would like to know. I never received an answer.

    Write what will get your name recognized. If it becomes too attached to romance genres then you may be trapped into writing only them. But there are worse fates, right?

    I wish you the best in editing which can prove tedious! Always an interesting post from you. :-)

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    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment Roland. Yes, many of the classics are romances, or have a strong romantic element. Gone With the Wind has the romantic element running through it. What would that story be without Rhett and Scarlett. AND they did not necessarily live happily ever after - which is why it is not a pure romance.

      I think the editing proves I'm a serious writer, lol! :))

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    2. Oh, and forgot to say Roland. Harlequin authors are very receptive to letters from fans. This particular author may not have been still writing--but usually they love hearing such happy stories from readers.

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  2. oh my gosh, we have one mind. I wrote a post on this topic as well, but not specifically romance writers. I went for all genre writers.

    I've read some beautifully written romances and some crappy ones too--but that's the same with all books/genres ever written. I say write what you love and forget what other people think.

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    1. Thanks Lyn. I'm coming over to see what you have to say! I think it depends which romances you have read. Some drive me crazy and I toss them away after the first few pages, but others can hook you in. I hope mine is like that.

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  3. In my opinion, there are many different types of romance I can enjoy - they don't have to be anywhere near porn, though I do tend to prefer that the character get some kind of good action :P But I don't feel the need to read about it in great detail, every single time I read a romance book.

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    1. Me either Trisha. That's why I don't read the erotica romances or too many of the extremely sexy ones. But we have to remember, they are often a fantasy.

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  4. Populated by science fiction writers? Where? I think I know five of us.
    Why would anyone think it is less real than any other genre? You guys are laughing all the way to the bank, so there.
    Definitely read Lynda's post for today. She nailed it.
    And erotica and romance are two totally different things to me. And yes, I have read a romance book.

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    1. Hey ho Alex, I'm not going to count, but there's a lot more than 5 in my orbit. That's fine. I learn a lot from them--a story is a story. I've read Lyn's post and it was more encompassing than mine, but spot on with the same sort of message--respect all genres.

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  5. Well, doesn't look like my post took. Anyway, I have to say what little I've read of romance books could make a sailor blush. But beauty is in the eye of the beholder and if they are willing to pay money for it, then it's a legit genre.

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    1. Thanks for popping by Stephen. Oh, there's another sci-fi author. Like all genres, there's all types of sub genres. I don't read/write the ones that'd make a sailor blush, lol!

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  6. Yep, it's the romance writers who are selling all the books. I wish I could write it, but my romantic side is a bit too numb. I do read it on occasion though. In fact, I'm currently reading a Tessa Dare novel. :)

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    1. It's no easier to write than any other genre. Hard to find a novel of any genre without an element of romance in it.

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  7. I love romance novels and am an unpublished romance writer. I think we are real (serious) writers. Though I have found that many people cringe when I say I like and write romance. But I don't care. I love romance.

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  8. Fascinating post, Denise. First off, I detest the term 'mummy porn." It's not only derogatory to mums, it's exclusionary. Plenty of non-mums read romance, and romance doesn't automatically mean sex. It's wrong to categorize all writers within a genre, throw them in a box and label them this or that. Are there formulaic storylines and formulaic writers within romance? Yes, but the same can be said of every genre.

    I personally read little romance because I'm not a fan of the fixed HEA. Not that I mind a happy ending, but I don't want to know it's coming. That's not to say my taste is more sophisticated than that of romance readers. It means I read for different reasons. The need to judge and label makes no sense to me.

    While I'm not one to cry sexism, there seems to be a particular need in our culture to group all female-penned work under some disparaging epithet like "mummy porn." In my genre, psychological thrillers penned by women are now being tagged as "chick noir," which I also find offensive.

    VR Barkowski

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    1. Yes, these labels are annoying to say the least -'chick lit', 'mummy porn', 'chick noir'....

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  9. The so called "serious" writers can just go stick it, while they aren't selling books the romance authors are.

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  10. I only call it porn if it involves porn, aka explicit situations. I feel like that often cheapens the story's value because it tends to be geared around those moments as opposed to building solid relationships. Regardless, I do still read romance, and skip a number of scenes.

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    1. Skipping scenes is quite common, while some relish every scene...

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  11. HI, Denise,

    What a question! Of course they're serious writers. Love is the most important human emotion.... so writing about it is a MUST. There is a romantic element to some degree in almost every story, so why would anyone think it's not serious writing. Classic novels like Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Gone with the Wind, etc. all have romance at the core.

    It's all about the writing... if the writing is clean, exciting, and keeps the reader captivated then you are a success! Genre does't matter.

    Some of the most beautiful writing is done in quote un quote "Romance" novels. Romance is emotion, emotion is part of everyone human being's life...

    Need I say more?

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    1. There's a big difference between 'romance' and 'romantic elements' which is what a lot of the classic stories contained. Many did not have that HEA which a 'romance' demands. But Harlequin's guidelines are --- emotion, emotion, emotion...

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  12. Denise, there have definitely been times when I've felt inferior about writing romance. However, I like the freedom I have to write exactly what I want, knowing there's a market for what I write. Yes, romance has quietly been making its mark over the years as successful writers in the genre know.

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    1. I don't know about 'quietly' Joy. In Oz, the romance writers are a noisy, cheerful bunch who LOVE their day job and mostly make their money from it. They're all gathering in Sydney as we speak. I hope to join them next year!!

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  13. Denise, this was a GREAT post! Go you! I think romance is sadly overlooked by the rest of the population and wish my books were in that category. I like romance in my novels, just not sure I'd really write a good with the thing I seem to write about. I read romance as well as all the other stuff so I'm on your side!

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    1. I'm glad you read romance Lisa. A pity we have to take sides, but it really is hard to be taken seriously.

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  14. I'm so afraid I'd ruin the romance writers' good record if I ever tried my hand at writing it. I'm just not good at some things and I'm willing to admit it. One is writing romance. The other is writing picture books. I'll leave both of those to people who know what they're doing.

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    1. Picture books...MG books...I'll leave alone, but I'll happily try my hand at most other genres. I do enjoy writing YA too and NA, now that it is a category.

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  15. Romance is hard. Most books have a romance element and IT'S SO HARD! I admire you all.

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    1. Writing pure romance is excruciating until you get it right. I'm still trying to get it right.

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  16. Anyone who's read 'Flowers in the Storm' knows romance can go to chilling places. Its by Laura Kinsale. The weird thing about my old copy is that the cover artist obviously hadn't read it, and it has the 'normal' picture of the time of a muscular man half-dressed, which it most certainly isn't about .

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    1. I thought I'd better check my info on this book, which I read years ago. I've discovered it's called 'Flowers From the Storm'.
      I looked on Amazon and read the ridiculously inappropriate blurb, but I'm glad to see the reviewers agree with my assertion that this is a book that deals with a frightening topic (the hero suffers a stroke, and is confined to a madhouse because he can't communicate). When I read it, someone in my family had suffered a similar stroke, so perhaps that explains the tremendous effect the story had on me.
      Since the romance story arc promises a happy ending, I was able to continue through the parts that were harrowing for me. That's why I read romance - I'd like to believe there are happy endings, even though I know through reading the daily news that often this is not true.

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    2. This sounds like a book, once read, never forgotten. You've convinced me to try it. Covers have come a long way.

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  17. Romance writers can be serious writers, and yet as a non-romance fan I'm dismayed at how the genre dominates. Also not thrilled with the risque stuff. I wonder why other women feel the need to read things that focus so exclusively on a tiny part of life--- the part of first meeting and falling in love/lust. But then again, I like it when the characters in a non-romance novel fall in love. Just so long as the book doesn't focus on primarily the love/lust stuff.

    But if a writer is serious about writing the best quality romance, that's a good thing.

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    1. Yes it does dominate, so it must be delivering what readers want...an escape from the everyday grind.

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  18. I love the facts you listed. I definitely think romance writers are serious writers. And it aggravates me when people think otherwise. There are so many different kinds of romance books out there, one size doesn't fit all, and romance is actually really tough to get right.

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  19. Hi Denise
    I think romance is just as difficult as any other genre. Plus, many writers of other genres rely on formulas to base their plots on. If you read one particular author enough you can figure out his/her formula. I do think it is easier for a romance author to find a publisher though. Probably because the demand for these stories is so high.

    So jealous that you get to host Nas. Have a good time.

    And the romance I was referring to is Romancing Wisteria. One critique partner loved it the other said I had no plot. Couldn't figure out what she meant. So, I will just keep writing and not worry. Definitely get that chart.
    Thanks Nancy

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  20. There is a nicht for every writer; and the awesome sales for Romance makes it a serious genre. Even I won't read a novel unless it has some form of romance (just not romance as the main plot).

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    1. Yep. Gotta have a romantic element.

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  21. Hi Denise,

    Your posts are always thought provoking. Interesting facts about the genre. The short answer to your question is no, there is all kinds of romance, and I'd classify only the explicit ones as porn. A little sorry to hear that you want to cut back on your writing craft posts though, why? Or is that only for the ISWG ones?
    Good luck with the editing!
    Nila.

    Will have to go offline sometime soon, so scheduling a post for WEP Aug.

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    1. Thanks for coming by Nila. Not sure about the craft posts.

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  22. Hi Denise - I can't read it ... except terribly occasionally ... and am really not interested - I read them as a 'kid' .. Angelique, and the Victoria Holt's etc Georgian romances .. but today's writers - not up my street ... however I am happy to give bloggers a thumbs up and support them .. as someone else said a story is a story ...

    cheers Hilary

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    1. To each his own Hilary. We can't all like everything.

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  23. The vast majority of my time spent as an aspiring romance novelist was spent writing sweet romances. Not a single sex scene in most of the books I wrote. Yet everyone I spoke to instantly mentioned sex scenes when I said I wrote romance. I don't think the two necessarily go hand in hand because there are quite a few romance novels that aren't explicit, even if they DO have sex scenes. Many of the negative comments made toward romance are made toward people who haven't read extensively in the genre (if at all).

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    1. You're right. i tried to point out the vastness of the genre, but I think many have a preconceived idea...and not interested enough to find out.

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  24. I had a friend say to me once, when I mentioned I was writing a romance, 'will there be heaving bosoms'?
    Sigh.
    It's a shame when an entire genre gets denigrated like that, especially by people who haven't explored any books in that genre...

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