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    Understanding the Different Genres of Romance

    At first glance, romance writing seems to be simple enough. You just sit down and put two people together, throw in a little sex, and you've got a story. Nothing complex, right?

    Romance writing may have been this way even twenty years ago. But it's big business now and you'd better be sharp and know what you're talking about if you want to make any money or ever get published. The competition is fierce and editors aren't going to wait for you to learn the game.

    I'm going to start with the basics. The romance genre is divided into sub-genres of various kinds. Don't feel too bad if you didn't know this. Some readers don't know about it. But you can bet that the industry knows!

    These are the sub-genres:

    Contemporary - Romances written today with realistic dialogue and modern settings. These can vary as to the degree of sexuality.

    Sweet - Romances written without harsh language or actions. Dialogue is tailored to fit. There is no sexual contact beyond a kiss and hug and even that is restrained.

    Historical - Romances written in the past, usually before 1900. Dialogue is usually not modern and historical accuracy is important. The degree of sexuality varies according to the publisher.

    Paranormal - Romances that have science fiction overtones, psychic overtones or elements of supernatural or time travel. The language isn't always modern and can be alien. Sexuality varies according to the publisher but most are heavily sexual and explicit.

    Suspense/Woman-in-Jeopardy - Romances that contain an element of danger or mystery. The heroine is usually in peril although she may only be in danger because of the hero. Sexuality varies according to the publisher.

    Young Adult - Romances written for and about teenagers through twenties. Sexuality is usually minimal but lately, the books have become more realistic in dealing with drugs and sex in young people's lives.

    Inspirational - Romances that include overtones of spirituality either in a specific faith or through the power of love to redeem a person. These stories have to contain a crisis and turn-around. Sexuality varies according to the publisher but most aren't sexual.

    Regency - Romances set in a particular historical period between 1800-1820, usually in England. These books contain mostly witty, quick dialogue and hand-holding rather than sexuality.

    You can occasionally cross the genres, although a lot of publishers are sticklers on not putting them together. You could have a suspense/paranormal or a sweet/inspirational. The choice is yours. The important thing is to understand where your book fits into the field so that you can send to the right publisher and avoid an obvious and stupid rejection.

    In the past, most romance novelists stayed in one genre, at one publishing house. Today, most writers are writing in more than one genre and with more than one publisher.

    Next time: Crossing into Mystery.

    Links to learning more about genres and writing romance:

    Copyright © 2001 Joyce Lavene

    Joyce Lavene , who writes with her husband/partner Jim, is the author of 40 novels including an award winning mystery series and a romance nominated for the Frankfurt EBook Award for 2000. She's also been published in sci-fi, fantasy, and non-fiction. When she isn't writing, Joyce paints in watercolors and is a practicing herbalist. She and her husband are graphic artists who have created many book covers and professional photographers. They are currently working on five separate series of novels, each for a different publishing house! Joyce is active with RWA and The Mystery Writers of America. She lives and works in North Carolina, USA, with her three children and two grandchildren. She and her husband welcome their readers to their homepage: http://www.joyceandjimlavene.com.

    The Authentic Self: Journaling Your Joys, Griefs and Everything in Between by Shery Russ



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