Why Romance Novels Are Not Porn For Women

February 18, 2015

WARNING: Jessie is climbing onto her soapbox as we write this.  If you don’t want to hear it, bugger off now.

This month on Romancing a Blog we’re talking about the craft of writing romance novels, and today, I’m going to expound on a topic that has made me want to pull my hair out more times than I can count.

And no, this will not be a rant against what 50 Shades of Grey has done for the industry, because I quite admire what E.L. James has done as a writer and congratulate her for her success.

This is about every time someone asks me when I’m going to write a real book.

Shake Down Your Ashes Cover_edited-1I have a short and a long answer.

My short answer: When are you going to write a real book?

My long answer:

When are you going to write a real book?

Seriously.

Writing any sort of literature is hard.  Very hard.  Sometimes I think shorter works are harder than longer works.  Sometimes I think a scene is the hardest thing I’ve written in my entire life.  And sometimes I write 10,000 words before lunch and have a Snoopy happy dance party in my office.

But my point is this: writing is hard.

Whatever the end product is the writer has sat in solitary confinement, chained to a keyboard, bleeding a story.  So when a reviewer leaves a remark on Amazon or Goodreads or whatever that says “don’t waste your time” or  my personal favorite: “sucks like a shop vac”, I just want to punch that person in the face for their obvious and blatant disrespect and ignorance.

Let’s talk specifically about romance, because that is really at the heart of my pet peeve.

When are you going to write a real book.

Real.

Funny, I thought I’ve been writing real books since I was sixteen years old.  I didn’t know I had it wrong this whole time.  I wish someone would have told me because I could have spent that time doing more useful things like playing Candy Crush or updating my MySpace profile.

Romance novels are real books.

There is nothing more complex and critical than the relationship between two people who are attracted to and eventually fall in love with one another.  It’s a delicate arc between different characters that a writer must balance across 20,000, 30,000, 60,000, 90,000 words.  And while you’re making sure these two fall in love, you’re analyzing personal development and growth, and whether or not your characters have changed enough, and if the ending satisfies your promise to the reader, and was the inciting event earlier enough or should it come later, and was the key event clear, and….

And romance novels are real books, and I don’t care if you like my books or anyone else’s books.  When it comes to talking about the story and the craft, show some respect.

Because remember my long and short answers: when are you going to write a real book?

In case you missed earlier episodes of this month’s theme (in which Jessie does not get on her soapbox):

Week 1 we talked about why I hate writing love scenes.

Week 2 we talked about why throbbing members are not allowed.

Next week, we wrap up this series with a look at why I’m proud to write bodice rippers. (I promise not to bring my soapbox.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *