Thursday, April 21, 2011

R is for Romance

Of course, Romance is one of the leading literary genres. According to Romance Writers of America (RWA) (which I'll come back to in a minute), Romance Literature Statistics remain strong:
  • Romance fiction generated $1.36 billion in sales in 2009.
  • 9,089 new romance titles were released in 2009.
  • In 2009, romance was the second top-performing category on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly best-seller lists, beat only by the movie tie-in category.
  • Romance fiction sales are estimated at $1.358 billion for 2010.

In fact, there's a very interesting article by Jessica DiVisconte "The Recession and Its Effect on the Romance Genre" over at digital commons. Suffice to say, "The immense, ever-changing romance genre ... has not faltered..." and in fact, "In tough times, people [are] looking to be stimulated by something else: tall tales of lusty love. Even as the markets ares suffering, the market for romance is growing..."

I could give some common misconceptions about romance, but I think the sales figures trump those!

What does a romance need? The same things as any other novel:

  • a unified and interesting plot
  • strong characters a reader can feel for and relate to
  • a well-realized setting
  • a competent story-telling style
  • a strong beginning that hooks the reader

Romance novels do have some special needs as well:
  • a central love story
  • a sympathetic heroine
  • a sexy hero
  • emotion, emotion, emotion
  • morality
  • An Emotionally-Satisfying and Optimistic Ending
Romance novels may have any tone or style, be set in any place or time, and have varying levels of sensuality—ranging from sweet to extremely hot. These settings and distinctions of plot create specific subgenres within romance fiction. Check out the specific subgenres over at RWA.

Speaking of RWA, its mission is to advance the professional interests of career-focused romance writers through networking and advocacy. And unlike some of the other professional genre writing organizations, anyone can join RWA! They also have an awesome Annual Conference. This year it will be in New York from June 28 - July 1. Check it out!

Good luck with your Romance! :)

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