When I started writing on a more serious level, which meant having my eye on publishing my work instead of writing and shredding the pages, I foolishly thought I was writing romantic drama. Why? Well, I used Nicholas Sparks as my go to guy for the types of books I wanted to create. His characters achieve personal growth, find love, and, oftentimes, survive to have a happy ending. Sometimes they don’t but I figured I would skip the death part and shoot for HEA (that’s writing lingo for ‘happily ever after’. I performed a Google search for Mr. Sparks’ and the result came back ‘romantic fiction, romantic drama.’
Who knew I was so far in left field I wasn’t even part of the game? Well, actually, other writers knew. I was just a little slow on the uptake. Whenever I told an author ‘I write romantic drama,’ she (or he) would look at me like I had just sprouted three heads. It wasn’t until a fellow member of my RWA group explained that I needed to get a handle on this and pronto before I got lost in the jungle of improperly-categorized books.
Allow me to straighten out the difference between romance and women’s fiction. If you already know this, skip ahead to the part where I promote my contemporary women’s fiction novel, The Summer of Annah: A Midsummer’s Wish.
Ahem: A romance novel involves a love story between two individuals. Either a man and a woman; a woman and a woman; a man and a man; a man and a mermaid; a woman and an ape-man; a woman and a demi-god; a dog and a cat–pick your two individuals. The bottom line there must be a central romantic relationship. Also, and this is big–there has to be a happy ending. They can’t die, explode, part ways but vow to love each other until eternity. The lovers must ride off into the sunset, high on the bliss that comes with vanquishing whatever they vanquished to reach their HEA.
In closing, a pure romance love is the central theme, the defining thread that runs from the first page to the last and is the reason the two people (or dog and cat) are held together. A great romance will show conflict. There must be conflict to make the story interesting. But the conflict brings the individuals closer to that ahhhh moment.
The reason people tend to confuse romance with women’s fiction is that WF typically contains an element of love and might even offer a happy ending. However, neither is required. Love is not the binding that joins the story’s elements together. It’s the personal growth the heroine undergoes. Nicholas Sparks tends to write women’s fiction. His characters travel through intense growth arcs. Sometimes there’s a happy ending and sometimes not. But the growth is there.
In WF, the heroine’s journey can involve a relationship with a non-romantic character. For example, two sisters, a mother and a child, co-workers. There doesn’t have to an element of romance but, and this must be stressed, the main character must grow emotionally.
For me, I’m a hopeful romantic who writes contemporary women’s fiction. Thus far my books focus on romantic relationships between the main character and a man. I prefer happy endings but I’m not against shaking things up a bit. However, the heroine’s personal growth is prominent, along with a spark of true love.
What about you? What do you read? What do you write? Let’s chat. Leave a comment.
Blessed be. :}
Here she is!!!!! My contemporary women’s fiction novel that has a romantic element. Phew.