Thursday, July 23, 2009

Testing Romantic Conventions

I’m currently editing a multi-genre story that can be woman’s fiction, suspense and noir but also a romance because it has an HEA. But the path to getting there is about a woman’s journey back to herself and to the man she loves rather than the hero and heroine fighting odds to be together. The hero is coming up more in this draft than he has in the past but the story is very much the heroine’s. I think it may shift into a “dark romance” if anything.

It got me thinking about some things regarding the romance genre. Lately there has been a lot of genre bending with the new paranormals dancing between suspense, romance, fantasy, detective and even a little bit of sci-fi that makes bookstore placement even more confusing. But as we move into the digital age with unlimited shelf space and numerous genre handles it’s becoming less limiting.

But what about the audience who is looking for a certain type of story? Will they be willing to stretch their idea of what a romance is to, say, darker romances that still end in HEA? A fellow writer friend of mine sent me some Anne Stuart titles to check out and her stories, based on what I’ve read from the blurbs, are what I have in mind as an example. I'm currently looking for more like hers where the heroes are sort of anti-heroes in a way in high octane jobs like assassin, spies, etc. Something like The Replacement Killers which I love and wish we got that kiss in the deleted scenes.

According to the recent RWA coverage roundup at DA, editors eagerly looking for something new to release and readers are even more so willing to look for twists on old themes, new voices and styles and new stories to indulge in.

Will strict genres be a thing of the past and the focus more so on larger definitions of romantic fiction, mainstream fiction or perhaps literary love stories? I love the idea of the former which is a staple of Black Lyon Publishing. But I wonder how the next generation of romance readers will accept it.

How about you guys? How stringent are you on the types of romance books you read?


Danielle said...

I love stories that test the boundaries of what we consider a typical romance. For some reason, anti-heroes really appeal to me. Some of my favorite romance novel heroes are antiheroes and are men that are on the dark and dangerous side. This is why Anne Stuart is my favorite author (I call her the Queen of Dark Romance). To me, the gritty journey to the happy end, makes it all the more sweeter. So I definitely would like to see more noir romance. I have some big no-nos in romance (mainly kinky, emotionless, abusive sex), but you can write a great noir romance without delving into those territories. So to those writers out there who want to tell this kind of story but are afraid no one wants to read it, here's one girl who does want to read them.

Sandra Sookoo said...

Well considering I just finished a historical novel/paranormal and I will be releasing a mystery next year with paranormal elements, I'd say I like blending genres :-)

I've read Anne's stuff too and no one rocks romantic suspense like her.

So, my point? As long as it has a happy ending, I'll read it :-)

Annie Nicholas said...

I hate cookie cutter stories. If the story starts to follow a pattern that I can guess I toss it. I'm sooo picky. If I critique something original I try to make sure the writer knows because it's so rare and I'm so hard to please.

Rae Lori said...

Danielle, you hit exactly what I was thinking. Noir romance would be awesome. My next book will be an Anne Stuart and I can't wait to read her style. Thanks for introducing me to her!

Thanks Sandi! That's indeed blending genres. I think that makes things more interesting to write and definitely to read!

Annie, I definitely know what you mean! I'm with you, I like when I don't know where the stories are headed and they take me for a great ride. Thanks for being a great critiquer btw. :-)

Chiron said...

I love romances that step out of the box. I remember one between a dragon/woman and dragon-slayer. *laughs* Humor is good. Adventure is good. I do like Susan Wiggs and Luanne Rice books, which have elements of women's fiction too.

Hmmm... Now I'm thinking!! Good post!

--Chiron O'Keefe
The Write Soul:

Z(Aasiyah/Nolwynn) said...

I look for a whole experience when I read a book. I admit I won't pick Ludlum or Clancy, because I need that element of romance in there to prod me forward. I want some emotional attachment/link between the protagonists. It being completely platonic does not cut it for me.

While I also admit I'll readily fall on HQ or typical romance, I will consider whatever blurb that tickles me. That's how I discovered Judith McNaught a few weeks ago. Her story Night Whispers sounded more like an infiltration by the heroine, a cop, into her estranged father's family to find out if he was a criminal, like the FBI wanted her to find out. But there she meets this very dangerous man who's her father's associate and there's this attraction between them. Then murder takes place, and it becomes a mystery/thriller but the tension and attraction is still there, and you keep reading and turning the page to get to the end, wondering if these two will make it and who committed the murder too.

That story merged thriller, mystery, romance and elements of women's fiction too through the heroine's POV, and it was, and remains, one of the best stories I've ever read.

So, yeah, I do like blending the genres. I like starting with something and being surprised along the way. But do give me some tension and attraction too!

Best of luck with your story, Rae. I'm sure it'll be a smash!