WELCOME to Carnivalesque: The Travelling Blog Show! Five writers (Jana, Hayley, Joanne, Janet and myself) are creating a travelling blog show. See yesterday’s post for a more in depth introduction of sorts. You’re invited to join us every Thursday as we pack up our opinions and travel to that week’s host blog. Each Thursday we’ll pick a topic for discussion.
Yay! This week I’m going to start things off with:
It’s called the romance genre, but what’s romantic about it?
Jana: What makes a novel romantic for me is emotion. It’s all about the feelings the couple experiences as they fall in love. One minute they’re on top of the world and the next they’re totally dejected because they believe their love can never be. I want to feel everything this couple is feeling, and experience all their highs and lows on their journey to love. I want to feel like I’m the one falling in love. A romance novel falls flat for me if I can’t feel those emotions.
Hayley: I’m probably in the minority about this, but my first thought goes to consent. Both partners expressed a desire to sleep with each other in the sex scene? Their attachments formed through natural circumstances, rather than coercion or pressure? Score! That’s so romantic!
So many romance plots (in any medium) seem to rely on the assumption that we, the reader/audience, know those two are going to get together in the end, so even if they’re reluctant in the moment, we know what’s best *nod*. This creates an alarming number of stories involving stalking, one-sided relationships where one partner is just the prize, and sex where one person says “No,” but it’s okay because we know they both secretly want it. Not cool.
In the middle of all this, if I find two people forming a loving, respectful, and consensual relationship, that makes me swoon every time!
Janet: Back in the day (I swore I’d never use that phrase and, yet, here I am), when you went into the bookstore and zipped to the romance section you were sure to get, well, a romantic read. Virile heroes saving the damsel in distress. Romantic gestures to woo said damsel in distress. And you were always guaranteed a happily-ever-after! Now, I don’t think you can count on that! Some of the recent novels read under the romance genre umbrella lack romantic gestures. Sure, there’s a romance between the hero and heroine, but the sub-plot (because I firmly believe the main plot in a romance story should be the romance), steals the show! So, should some of these books being shelved under Romance, not be better described as, for example, Women’s Fiction with romantic elements? Romance genre = the story of two people falling in love = romantic = my take on the topic!
Joanne: If I was to really think about the word romance, what comes to mind for me is the emotional connection between two people. Wikipedia defines it as: Romance or romantic usually refers to Romance (love), love emphasizing emotion over libido. The books I enjoy the most always emphasizes the emotional connection rather than the hot, steamy sex. Although having both is fine, as long as sex isn’t the focus.
I find human relationships fascinating. Communication within those relationships is even more interesting; the nuances in pitch and volume, facial expressions, and word choice between romantic partners. The meta-communication that tells you the most about the relationship is often so subtle it would be difficult to pick up as an outsider. Those are the things I enjoy reading and writing about. The complexity of emotional connections.
Karyn: For me romance novels (and I’m not sure that’s an apt term anymore) are about the growing relationship between the main characters in the book. There’s no surprise ending. The heart of the story is in the developing connection leading to a commitment of sorts. But where’s the romance? Because I keep getting stuck on that word.
By far the majority of the books I read have alpha heroes (romantic suspense or paranormal). I love them. If we’re talking fantasies here? Then I want commanding, and I want confident, and damn it, I want big…brains. We’re often talking life or death here. But more than that I want to read about an intelligent and mutually respectful relationship. In and out of bed.
In the end, maybe it’s more about me, as the reader, being romanced by the heart wrenching emotional journey of finding the right partner.
We’re moving the party to the comment section! Please, weigh in with your thoughts and opinions. We’d love to hear from you.