WRITING ROMANCE NOVELS – WHICH SUBGENRE?

The different types of romance (subgenre) are as varied as the people who read romances. Even young adult romance has its place. These stories are light on intimacy, usually nothing heavier than a few kisses and holding hands. They deal with topics like problems with teachers, sports, weight, and shyness, but sometimes the themes move into more serious areas—bullying, death, parental divorce or even abuse.

A short step above the young adult romance is the sweet romance—books like Harlequin or Silhouette Romance. Graphic sex is a no-no here. Story lines are simple and usually revolve around issues of courtship.

From there, books gradually become longer with themes that are more complex. They contain love scenes that are more explicit and can range from a simple love story to the leave-nothing-to-the-imagination XXX-rated mental romp.

In addition to these basic rules, romance has branched out to encompass other genres.

Contemporary romance indicates stories set in the here and now, books about the sort of people we see every day. They can range from the sweet, discussed above, to varying degrees of sensuality.
Inspirational romance, as the name implies, are books aimed at the Christian market. Usually light on the love scenes, they are stories of faith and how it helps couples through difficult periods in their lives.
Fantasy romance is a subgenre that has become popular over the past few years. These are stories of dragons and wizards, castles and magic kingdoms. They often require the creation of an entire fantasy world.
Futuristic romance is much like the fantasies, only they’re set in this world, hundreds or thousands of years in the future. These books take things in this world—travel, weapons, government, environment etc., and imagine what they will be like in a future world.
Multicultural romance is another new subgenre. These are “romances of color” and have heroes and heroines of a Latino, African American or Asian culture. Most have their own trade name, like Kensington’s Arabesque and Genesis.
Time travel romance has several variations. Sometimes a character from the past or future ends up in the present, or a character from the present goes back to the past or into the future. To take this to the extreme, theoretically, someone from the future could travel into the past.

While we are talking about writing romance, I want to mention “Regency Romance.” The Regency was a brief period of English history that was characterized by elegance and upheaval. Named for the Prince Regent, who ruled the country from 1811-1820 after his father, George III, went insane, the era saw much political, social, and military change, including the beginnings of the industrial revolution, agricultural reform, the movement of population from country to city, and the beginnings of a social conscience and women’s rights.Much of the aristocracy took its cue from the Regent, a fat, fashion-conscious, fun-loving man whose interests encompassed art, architecture, food, music, clothes, and women. In many ways, the scandals surrounding the royal family today mirror those associated with their Regency ancestors.

Notable figures of the period include:

• Napoleon—the megalomaniac who tried to take over Europe
• Wellington—the man who prevented him from doing it
• Jane Austen—the first Regency romance author
• Beau Brummel—the dandy who dictated fashion
• Lady Jersey, the Countess Lieven, Princess Esterhazy, Mrs. Drummond-Burrell, Lady Sefton, and other Almack’s patronesses—the women who determined everyone’s social standing
• Writers—Sir Walter Scott, Byron, Shelley, Keats, Wordsworth, Mary Shelley, and others
• Musicians—Beethoven, Schubert, Paganini, Rossini and others
• Artists—Blake, Turner, Constable, and others

When we add an amusing collection of bucks, blades, dandies, rogues, rakes, rapscallions, and dowagers with jewels, we begin to taste the flavor of Regency Romance. Bright, witty, light-hearted, and usually chaste, Regency Romances are comedies of manners and mores that capture the opulence, glitter and elegance of a fleeting but romantic moment in history.

If you think you want to write romance and are just starting out, read several books from each genre to get a feel for what interests you most. Once you determine that, do your research for the story you are writing and make sure you are accurate. Your story might be fiction, but your research must be authentic. That is true no matter what kind of book you write. Most of all, enjoy the process. Have fun!

Thank you for stopping by. Next time I will talk to you about writing science fiction.

Barbara