Friday, July 12, 2019

romances in stories

By Rain Trueax 

Guessing that most here read romances. It has many readers, more than most others, and yet is not as respected as like mysteries/thrillers/etc. Why are romances held up to ridicule to the point that some don't want to admit they read them or want to hide covers? It's not like a mystery necessarily feels like-- oh yeah, that's how it'd be.

Stories of romantic love have been with us as long as stories have been recorded. Native American legends, Greek mythology, Chinese parables, many of them have at least a bit of a romantic theme-- not that they ended up with a happy ending (a requirement in today's romantic fiction). Many fiction writers, like say Hemingway, while not regarded as writing romances, they often have some strong romances in their books. Again with no guarantee of a happily ever after.

Some believe that passionate love, such as is often in romances today, would have been unknown in historic times. Well, it was in the Bible in books like Song of Solomon, "My beloved is mine and I am his; he browses among the lilies. Until the day breaks and the shadows flee." Sexuality, whether euphemisms or not is not required in a romance novel, which is about a type of relationship that goes beyond logical explanations. Closed door or open, the options romances have no rules for that.

It is true that romantic reasons for mating are a bit of a luxury. If you are struggling to put food on the table, have land you must protect, need the proper progeny, you might have fewer reasons to wait for the perfect love. Marriages have often been about cementing families or gaining power. In the most primitive times, the best hunter, the woman with the most fertile body, tribal connection and bartering likely led to the most marriages

Whether putting romance in a contemporary or historical period, there are cultural things to consider-- rules that must be obeyed if the romance is to be believable. Writers research the practices of other times and try to stay with what could be true today. Age though is no barrier to romance.

Some would argue that to think of romantic love is unrealistic. Concentrate instead on more practical values; but to what exactly would they find to replace it? Money, fertility, family, education? And would those values last any longer or give any more satisfaction? 

Studies have shown that many who read romances are working in stressful careers, have good marriages, but the romance is a moment of escape, as well as a way to get their own juices flowing after a stressful day of dealing with a sometimes harsh reality. Nothing wrong with some lovely escape, and I personally feel proud of writing romances, while making them feel as realistic as possible-- but always with what life does not guarantee-- a HEA. 

For anyone at Facebook, interested in discussing more like this, I have a group that is open to the readers and writers where ideas can be explored. Check it out; and if it looks interesting, join--


  1. I think romances got a bad name because so many were sexy... In the early 1950's I know they had some very hot books, but I really don't know how hot, and the heat levels seem to vary according to social standards of the time. I grew up thinking romances were bad literature. But then I had mom who told me I only had to do IT to get pregnant. And I needed to be able to tell my husband no because he will want to do IT all the time. So her saying romances were bad makes perfect sense from her standpoint when she couldn't use the word sex or any words related to it. Then there are the covers. Clothes missing or partially missing or at least draped from the body and women swooning... It's no wonder romances had gotten such a bad rep over the years.

    Yet I still refuse to write a traditional romance. Mainly because I think there is much more to a relationship. I want the whole story, not a fragment of a story. I write what I know I want to read.

    Romances seem to work their way into most stories and especially into movies. Can you imagine a James Bond film without a love interest? All the great stories have at least a dash of romance. Romance is what makes the world go around. If romance came to an end, where would we be? We'd be very unhappy people - we thrive on love.

  2. Good thoughts, E. Ayers. One of the things I like most about romances is knowing there is a happy ending ahead. Life gives us so much that isn't that way. I think they also can teach about healthy sexuality, where so many, especially of my mother's generation, didn't want to talk about it at all.

    1. :-)
      Teaching is another good reason to write romance with a full story. HEA goes beyond sex. Yet sex is very much a part of a loving relationship . We walk a tightrope as we write.

  3. We sure do but it's really about the relationship and the trust that develops that is behind all the rest.


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