Monday, October 21, 2013

Understanding Sub-Genres in Romance

In recent weeks, I have heard two different groups of comments about romance that have inspired today's post. The first group are those authors who are discussing and trying to figure out the idea of "cross-genre writing." The second is a group that will frequently say something like this: "You represent romance but I write fantasy that has romance in it." In both of these cases, what authors are really dealing with (in most of the cases) is the issue of sub-genres in romance.

First of all, to understand the idea of romance, (you may want to visit my earlier posts on romance) the central story arc is the romance and the building of the relationship. We are seeing the relationship start from pretty much nothing (yes they can know each other prior to this) to the point of the happily ever after. Obviously this is a pretty basic idea, but for purposes of today, this should be fine.

When we enter into the idea of sub-genres, we are still keeping the idea of the building romance as the central storyline, but now, we move it into different contexts:

  • Historical romance is a story obviously set in a historical time period (I have heard WWII back but that can be argued) but we are watching these people fall in love.
  • Paranormal romance is involving paranormal beings (ie. vampires, werewolves, ghosts, etc.) but they are the ones involved in the romance.
  • Inspirational romance now adds a layer of the relationship forming in the context of a faith based transformation of one or both of the characters.
I think you get the idea with some of these examples.

When we move into the area of cross-genre writing, it is when we see things such as historical based paranormal romances, or fantasy-historical romances. I think a great example of this is Kathryne Kennedy one of my prior authors and her Relics of Merlin series. In this case, when I first sold the series to Dorchester, we marketed it with that cross-genre approach. Set in a historical setting, the story uses fantasy and magic to explain the world of the ton.

I should also add that when we speak of romance in any of the sub-genre formats, we are talking about fictional stories. Memoirs and biographies fall into a category of non-fiction so, regardless of how romantic the story is, it would not be considered a romance for the publishing market.

The key to figuring this out is whether or not the central storyline is the romance or everything else going on around it.

When authors pitch to me, this is one of the reasons why I do not allow notes or reading of pitches. I want to hear what the author tells me in casual conversation what is most important. This tells me a lot.

Hope that helps!

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