Wednesday, June 2, 2010

NEWSFLASH - In a romance, the romance must be the central story!

I know this comes as a surprise to many of you, but romance novels do have romance in them. What's more shocking, is that the romance actually takes the central focus on of the story. Weird, huh?

I figured I would bring up that interesting fact since I am back open to submissions here at Greyhaus and since this is what I am looking for, I might want to remind some of you.

I know there are all of these sub-genres out there, paranormal, romantic suspense, historical and the like, but if you are are writing a romance, it is that relationship that has to take the central stage. The romance is not a sub-plot to the bigger picture, but it should be the reverse. It is that sub-genre that is the stage for the romance.

Along the same lines, remember that we are talking about romance novels, not stories simply with sex. The key element we are looking for in the story is to see the growth of the relationship through the story toward that ultimate "happily ever after." Just watching the characters hop into bed time and time again, waking up in the morning with the conflict of "we shouldn't have done that" is far from a relationship.

Romance is a specific genre with specific demands, and don't get me wrong, it is tough to write. I mean, consider the fact that keeping a real relationship in a normal world is tough, adding in all of the other plot elements writers add to their stories makes this a huge task.

So, if you are sending something to me, or for that matter, any other agent that represents romance, ask yourself what is the central story you are telling. As for me, if your answer isn't the romance, then don't send it.



  1. I love how opinions vary on the subject. At a recent writer's conference session I described my current futuristic/dystopian WIP and had everyone in the room say it's "paranormal romance" simply because it has a passionate kiss in it, the main character is a woman, and a secondary character has ESP. "It's sci-fi, people!" But they didn't get it. I do have a few starts of romance stories, so I do know the difference, but these people were so dense.

    OK just my 2 cents.

    One day when I do finish my other stories, those being the real romances, I will send you a query!

  2. I've read novels classified as romance, but lacking in the romance department. A book like that can land in my "did not finished" pile. This is not to say the writing is bad, but rather the presentation just wasn't what I expected. For me, it takes too much effort to shift gears and get into a misclassified book.

    Authors really should know their genre. And I admit, I'm one of the ones who's received the comment "In a romance, the romance must be the central story!"

    I'm curious though to your opinion as an agent. Do agents look beyond the mislabel?

    For example, the story is queried as romance, but it's really a suspense with romantic elements or perhaps women's fiction (a love story maybe). In general, if the genre is one an agent represent, do you think he/she forgives the writer for screwing up and considers the work for what it is?

  3. The publisher usually determines how a novel is classified/promoted, not the author.
    So there may be varying degrees of romance in a novel described as a paranormal romance or romantic suspense/mystery.