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

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Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Romance Vs Romantic Writing...spot the difference!



Any story that contains love could be said to be romantic fiction. But some are more romance-heavy than others.

ROMANCE

A story of a love affair developing between a man and a woman from the moment they experience that first frisson of chemistry right through to overcoming obstacles to the culmination of their love.

Other issues are a secondary to the romance. The real stakes are with the hero and heroine – when they are going to get together after all the obstacles to their love are overcome.

A romance novel/story describes the progress of the love story, from the meeting to that moment of commitment. All hoping for that Happily Ever After (HEA).

Image result for barbara cartland images
Barbara Cartland - what a doll!
Love, mysterious, exciting, sentimental – often scenes remote from ordinary life – I’ve never knowingly met a billionaire, have you? Yet he is commonplace in many of the latest HM&B titles which have a massive, loyal readership. Some stats say nearly 50% of all books sold are romance.

EXAMPLES:

Visions of pink chiffon à la Barbara Cartland, Historical romance, Romance fantasy, Harlequin Mills & Boon. And the stories - Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Fifty Shades of Grey, Twilight – any story, any era, where romance rules and it's all about the characters finding love and fulfillment!

ROMANTIC

Characterised by the subordination of form to theme, and by imagination and passion. Real characters live real lives with a plot that may be simplicity itself or as complex as War and Peace.

A much wider-ranging story and more ‘realistic’ than the ‘romance’.  A romantic story takes in the seamier side of life – grief, toughness, unfairness, the tribulations and hardships. Issues much broader than the hero and heroine. Modern romantic stories demand feisty characters with tons of plot twists to keep the reader spellbound.

Even if the story is bleak, there is usually a thread of hope and optimism running through it. Characters suffer, but the heroes and heroines come up smiling…some of the time. The romantic story/novel does not necessarily have a HEA.

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EXAMPLES:

Gone With the Wind comes to mind, novels by Nicolas Sparks, Anita Shreve, Paullina Symons, some Jodi Picoult and many more – writers who write stories that resonate in your head for years, not usually because of the romantic element, but because of the way the issues, the background were cleverly intertwined with the hero/heroine’s romance. If you think about your stories you'll probably find a romantic element there. 

So, is one better than the other? Of course not!

Both ROMANCE and ROMANTIC writing have their place. Myself, I think of pure romance as belonging to the fantasy genre. This is why romance attracts criticism from those who don’t understand it, while the James Bond type of fantasy is admired for all that gung ho testosterone-fuelled action. Casual sex and violence is seen as more commendable somehow than the boy-meets-girl story which is the basis of romance. But isn’t romance more likely to be the experience of most people? Ah, well, I don’t mind a bit of JB shaken and stirred, but I also go for the romance hero being shaken and stirred by the heroine. Nothing wrong with that, is there?

I read both ROMANCE and ROMANTIC novels. ROMANCE for pure entertainment and escapism – it’s my preferred style of fantasy and I love a book where I can smile and giggle most of the time. Helps get me through a rough patch. I read more ROMANTIC novels these days, as this is more my style of writing. I mightn’t smile and giggle, maybe I’ll cry more, but they are stories I can’t put down and think about long after I’ve sadly read the last page.

I wrote this post with the two up-coming 'romantic' blogfests...the Lost & Found and the WEP Valentine's Day blogfest in mind. Neither blogfest is particularly looking for a hearts and flowers story (but that would be nice too!) There are just so many ways to tackle these challenges. In any case, I hope I explained the difference between romance and romantic to a point.

If you'd like to help promote the Lost & Found blogfest, tweet this:



We don't have our tweets ready for the WEP 'fest. We post our linky on Feb 1. Please spread the word! 

Over at the WEP website, Francine Howarth is talking about collaboration in anthology writing.


Thanks for coming by! I appreciate it.







45 comments:

  1. I liked that description of the difference between romance and romantic writing. I do have some romance brewing in the background of my scifi novel. I'd be more likely to read the romantic writing rather than true romance. . .however if you toss Paris in there, that ups the ante.

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    1. Yes, give us Paris in any form, eh D.G.?

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  2. Now I know the difference. Haven't written in either, but I have included romantic elements in a couple stories. As you said, it's something most people can relate to.

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    1. Yes, and something people are usually looking for, even subconsciously.

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  3. I didn't know about romance and romantic. But is 50 Shades a romance? I admit I didn't read it, but my boyfriend told me what it's about. He said S&M.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. Shades is categorised as romance as the whole story centres on the central couple--Christopher and Ana. The S&M is part of their story.

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  4. Great information. A romantic entanglement figures in almost all genres. You're right it's something we can all relate too. I love romance novels too. Pure fantasy is a great escape!

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    1. We all need our escapes don't we? What better way than to immerse ourselves in romance, even if vicarously. It works for the great romance publishers...:-)

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  5. As usual, you explain the difference so well. So agree on your assessment of JB :)

    I tended to read pure Romances more as a ya (so long ago! sigh), now it's more Romantic, though I still love historical/period romances and reread some of my old faves religiously every time I go back on home leave.

    Looking forward to both the blogfests...am going to sidestep the whole issue with poetry posts :-)

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    1. We always look forward to those poetry posts of yours, Nila. Keep them coming. Love the old romances and historicals a la Georgette Heyer etc...

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    2. Oh, forgot to say - love the new look blog banner!

      and Georgette Heyer is exactly the one I meant, reread a couple of her books every monsoon season...the smell and the sound of rain + a Heyer romance = paradise :-)

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    3. I don't know about the monsoon, Nila, but rain and a great book are a marriage made in heaven!!

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  6. Hi Denise .. yes I can see the difference you've described .. I'd definitely prefer romantic to romance ... we all live our lives and can't escape either genres as we journey through life ... we see it often enough in films and on tv ... I shall 'watch' the blogfests - cheers Hilary

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    1. Yes, most films have some sort of romance as the central theme, some more than others.

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  7. Great information and you explain it so well and the blogfests look great.

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  8. Lovely distinction. Your definition of a romantic story took me to a musical place, thinking of the romantic music trend and how it differs from other forms.

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    1. Yes, Crystal, cue the music. There is certainly a difference.

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    2. Too much free flow in Classical Romantic music for my tastes though. Thus the preference of romantic writing vs romance.

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  9. From your description, I tend to lean more towards romantic. Most stories do have an element of romance to them though.

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    1. Yes, they do. A story lacks something if there's no romantic element I think.

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  10. Good point about pure romance being in the fantasy genre. I know I view romance books as fantasy as they never happen like that in real life. I liked that you added examples. I can see romantic as Nicholas Sparks and a lot of Nora Roberts' books as romance...because they gave me false expectations. LOL

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    1. I get your point Chrys. There's a point where fact and fiction don't exactly mean the same thing! But romance plays on our desires to have that perfect romance!

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  11. Great points on the differences between romance and romantic writing! And, thank you for the examples! :)

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  12. Well said. You made thing so much clearer for me. I recently added my book (paranormal romance) to the fantasy genre, because I think it is more a story with romantic elements than a love story. Also, that is what most people suggested that read my book. I also like reading romance novels. Nothing wrong with the writing at all:)

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    1. Yes I think they're all enmeshed -- romance, fantasy, magic -- all used together they can be powerful.

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  13. I write both, and I have to say, writing a romance is much harder than people tend to think.

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    1. You're right there Misha. People think romance is easy to write, but no, no, no...

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  14. Good post Denise. As you know, romance is a secondary plot in my fantasy. This will hold true in the sequel as well. Looking forward to our February challenge.
    Nancy

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    1. I'm looking forward to our Feb challenge too Nancy.

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  15. Good post Denise. As you know, romance is a secondary plot in my fantasy. This will hold true in the sequel as well. Looking forward to our February challenge.
    Nancy

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  16. Most books have a little romance or romantic elements. I think it's just something we all need in our lives. (ya know?)

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  17. Well said. I believe most books have elements of each in them, although I never considered a difference before.

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  18. I agree with Southpaw. The elements of romance or any kind of love are always appealing, and I like it when I'm left without that HEA.

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    1. Yes, Lee, not everyone likes the HEA. Hard to write that way if you love your happy endings!

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  19. Great examples! I always felt the big difference between Nicolas Sparks and romance writers is that he always feels the need to kill someone off in the end. There's no HEA. Of course, I'm sure he might have had happy ever afters in some of his books, but after I figured out his thing was to have a couple fall in love, then kill one of them off, it all became too predictable for me and I stopped reading his books.

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    1. Nicholas Sparkes' The House at Rodanthe was the most disappointing. We invested so much in those characters, then whammy! What a horrible ending! But I guess you never forget it.

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  20. Such a timely post! In all my must-get-back-to-editing plans, I've been thinking about tweaking one of my stories, which is the longest one, out of pure romance into romantic territory, since it never quite fit the mould in the first place...

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    1. I hear you Deniz. If a romance doesn't fit exactly what the publishers consider a true romance there'll be no acceptances. Romantic allows more leeway..and more realism.

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  21. Good post! I enjoy both romantic writing and pure romance! I'm one of those who enjoy the HEA - real life can be tough and I love to know the characters in the book will have more of a guarantee than the rest of us!

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    1. Me too Jemi. We need more love and less hate in our world.

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  22. I've never thought much about this delineation but it makes sense. I have more of an inclination to be interested in the genre of the "romantic", but a good romance certainly has its time and place.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

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    1. Yet yes Arlee, good writing in any genre has its place.

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