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Sex, Romance and Relationships in Books that Aren't Romances
Posted: Friday, June 24, 2011 2:48 PM
Joined: 5/12/2011
Posts: 241

I don't know where this topic best falls, but I'm going to say "plot" is closest.

What I want to know is where you draw a line between a romance and a book with romance and/or sex and/or relationship building as a major focus that is not a romance.

I am not familiar with the genre conventions of romance, but I often write stories that include a love plot which is not the only plot.

What's your experience of this and how do you decide when you've written a romance versus something else that includes romance?

Posted: Sunday, June 26, 2011 1:51 AM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 157

For a novel to sell in the Romance category, the main focus of the book will usually revolve around the couple falling in love and their relationship. There may be a secondary plot - romantic suspense also involves solving a mystery or other suspense element, but the romance focus still has to be there.

Also, a romance novel is generally written primarily from the female MC's point of view. The male MC can be included but generally doesn't dominate when it comes to POVs. This means the FMC is going to be in on the main action.
Posted: Sunday, June 26, 2011 8:09 PM
Joined: 5/12/2011
Posts: 241

I guess I'm torn between the difference between Romance with interesting background plot versus Interesting Plot with romance.

In all my writing the MCs are all women (at least the ones involved in romances are) so that's kinds different. But otherwise, hmmm... thanks for your thoughts.
Posted: Sunday, June 26, 2011 10:30 PM
Joined: 3/16/2011
Posts: 216

Marie's a pro at describing these.

All I can say is that I know a romance when I read one. In the "Romance" forum, we talked about what differentiates a romance from a love story (e.g. Nick Sparks, Robert James Waller). It was very intriguing, to say the least.

I would suspect that "Interesting Plot" might be something like fantasy/sci-fi, suspense, etc. "with romantic elements," if the actionable portion of the novel focuses more on resolution of something external to the romance.

IMHO, a lot of romance novels and (Insert Genre Here) with romantic elements seem to walk a tightrope between the two. I've noticed this particularly in romantic suspense novels.
L R Waterbury
Posted: Thursday, June 30, 2011 1:49 AM
Joined: 4/28/2011
Posts: 60

There's a similar discussion that was recently introduce over in the SF panel, except it seems to be mostly guys discussing it. Same issue: when does something cross the line into romance?
Posted: Thursday, June 30, 2011 12:40 PM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 157

"When does something cross the line into romance?"

Well, I have to admit that for me it was right after a publisher told me "if you want to get published, write romance."
Posted: Thursday, June 30, 2011 4:55 PM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 157

Paranormal romance is actually considered a sub-genre of the larger Romance genre. So a paranormal romance is a romance novel and needs to follow the basic requirements for a romance novel.

- the story would be told mostly from the heroine's POV (exception for M/M).
- the romance story would drive the plot.
- there is an HEA or Happily Ever After ending.

If you're writing novels with romance sub-plots it's probably a good idea to get some background reading done in the romance field to understand if your novel might easily fall in that category. Because that gives you a much broader chance of selling the novel.

Posted: Thursday, June 30, 2011 5:20 PM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 157

My first mystery novel is here -

The publisher released it as a paranormal mystery then sent it out to romance sites for reviews since they considered it a good cross over. Being able to sell to a romance audience helped boost sales. When I tried to pitch the series at a conference, I was told to turn it into Romantic Suspense if I wanted it to sell. So, yep, if you can make it Romantic Suspense or Paranormal Romance, you have a broader base of people interested.

My problem was that it is a series and there isn't a new romance relationship for each book, though I do play around with existing romances. So, I simply wrote some romance novels from scratch. So I'm currently working both in romance and mystery. Mundania Press has acquired the mystery series and the next two in the series will probably be released as paranormal mystery. But first I have to finish them.
Posted: Thursday, June 30, 2011 5:43 PM
Joined: 5/12/2011
Posts: 241

This is really interesting from the marketing angle.

I wonder how little romance you can get away with and still shop a book around to romance fans for reviews etc.?

My current story doesn't have so much a happy ending as an ambivalent one, so I guess that's not Romance officially. But all my historical fiction has happy endings, so maybe that stuff will sort of cross over.

I have a general sense that the market for M/M romance is growing right now because there's cross over interest in it from straight women. But I haven't heard much about F/F romance having a similar uptick.

In which case, I wonder if writing/marketing mine as more Genre+romance is better than Romance+genre...?
Posted: Thursday, June 30, 2011 7:17 PM
Joined: 3/11/2011
Posts: 157

M/M is easier to sell to publisher right now, but that doesn't mean they aren't also looking for good F/F. I was a guest author for the literary festival part of Orlando Gay Days early this month and the best selling title during the festival was "Lesbian Cowboys." Over all, the women bought more books than the men. (Unfortunately, young gay males seem to feel that the world of fiction has left them behind. There's actually a need for more YA gay fiction.)

Nevena Georgieva
Posted: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 3:27 PM
Joined: 2/9/2012
Posts: 438

I'm officially re-kindling this discussion!

LilySea, you asked a really good question. I think a couple of posts that Danielle wrote a while back might be really helpful: one is about what romance readers want and the other one is about ways romance writers can use Book Country ( Both do a pretty good job of giving an overview of the genre and explaining recent publishing trends. 

I hope this is helpful!