Convention of Statesmen


Understanding the Romance Fiction Genre

Chick Lit, romance, womens fiction . . . the terms go on and on, usually stated with great amounts of scorn and disdain. I thought I might explain a little about why romance outsells any other genre in the world. Yes, my Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson fans, even fantasy.

The reason the romance genre appeals so much to people is simple. There is a formula in romance. But the key, the thing that brings hundreds of millions of people across the world to libraries and bookstores to obtain copies of a variety of romances and their sub-genres is this one simple fact: in a romance the ending must be good. It is formulaic, but it works and speaks to the human psyche. Regardless of what happens in the book, if it is to be clearly identified as a romance, the couple must have overcome the obstacles in their paths, whether emotional, psychological or physical (often all three), and have made a commitment to one another by the end of the book.

In a world so torn with war and terror, and where bankruptcies and foreclosures are climbing to dangerous heights and beyond. In a world where life can beat you down, press you down or make you feel like society is a lost cause, there are a few hours of enjoyment for those who read romance. A few hours free of a chaotic world being fought over between the forces of good and evil. Put simply, there is a sense of completion, happiness, and relief at the end of a romance novel. This is why they are so popular.

There are the light romances, there are the relationship romances, there is romantic suspense . . . whatever the genre or sub-genre, it is something to be reckoned with, no doubt. It sells more than any other genre, worldwide, every year. Depending on the author, romances do indeed have plenty of meat to them. But it is the substantial kind, or the fantastical kind, with plenty of raw emotion, real obstacles, and real danger that appeals to me. I do not much care for the light romances unless they are written in a humorous manner. But romance does go across the board from light to heavy.

Different authors speak to different people as do different styles. I have my favorites and rarely, unless it is highly recommended, purchase authors I don't know. That is, unless I have a little free time, which is rare, I need a book, and none of my favorites are releasing a book that month . . . then I'll look for a new author.

There are people who go into a library and check the romances out, A to Z, because they just want to read something with a happy ending. And, if they are checking A to Z out they are not particularly concerned with quality, but merely quantity. It is just the way some people are. Life is not the busy merry-go-round for all people as it is for so many. They don't have hobbies such as gardening, crafts, scrapbooking, cross stitch or sports. Their hobby is reading.

Reading is one of my hobbies. I own thousands of books and in fact, have an actual room in my house designated as a library. My husband very kindly built shelves, put in a desk, and I write every day surrounded by books, wall to ceiling in nice shelves. The books in my library range from biographical, autobiographical, reference, religious, historical, suspense, romantic suspense, romance, western, fantasy, science fiction, modern fiction . . . if the story is good and the writing is good then I'm going to buy the book. And yes, I read books over and over and still, I am constantly buying new ones. But if there's a good romantic suspense on the store shelf, I'll grab for that one first, every single time. I need good to overcome evil. I need the bad guys to pay in the end. I need the hero and heroine to be happy, in a committed relationship, and have a certain degree of control over their environment by the time I turn the last page. That's why I read romance. Life follows that pattern less and less these days, that's why the fictional world, colored with romance, is so popular.

Well-written romance is a boon to a woman's soul, and sometimes a man. Yes, real men do, on occasion, read a romance. You might have to hold something precious ransom, like the television remote, to get them to do it, but it happens. I promise. Here's what I feel when I finish a well-written romantic suspense:
  • Good beat evil, again;
  • Love can conquer all, at a great price often, but it can conquer;
  • Love is worth fighting for;
  • Recognized mutual weaknesses in a fictional character are highlighted and rectified in my own personality;
  • Family first. Family Strong. Family Together. Always.
  • And yes, we can win.
Let's narrow this down to the LDS Market. Christian fiction came into being because people were tired of having to skip pages in the national romance novels. In the LDS Market we have romance powerhouses such as Anita Stansfield, Rachel Ann Nunes, Jennie Hansen and more, who have thousands upon tens of thousands of fans because they write clean romance, and, yet, the formula remains. Woman meets Man. Man and Woman have trouble, whether of their own making or an outside source. Man and Woman overcome trouble and commit. Yet, the same feelings arise in the hearts of the readers of Christian romance as they do with national romance.

We need to know that somewhere, even in a fictional world, that there is still a happy ending.

Whether the Christian market (of which the LDS Market is a part) or the national market, romance continues to outsell everything else, and always will.

Return to the Neighborhood.
Understanding the Romance Fiction Genre Understanding the Romance Fiction Genre Reviewed by Candace Salima on Friday, April 11, 2008 Rating: 5