Perhaps it’s time to stop using “romance” as an insult.

I recently had the opportunity to attend an event for writers. As in the case of any event for writers I’ve attended, I was excited to be there.

Until the inevitable happened.

Someone used “romance” as an insult.

The event catered to writers of every genre, beginners as well as some vets. In discussing a piece of work, one of the participants said, “It was well written. I expected it to be more like a romance. Or even a Harlequin.”

When it came time to introduce ourselves, I looked that person in the eye and let him know I was a romance author. I glimpsed a bit of shame there, I’m happy to report.

Come on, fellow writers. It’s bad enough romance authors get dissed on a constant basis by fans of other genres. Do we really need to get these slaps in the face from other writers, people who understand our struggle? Of all people, you know what goes into writing a book. You understand the pain and sacrifice and sweat. You know how we bleed. You know how we cry when our characters do exactly what we need them to do.

You get it.

And yet some of you still insist on badmouthing an entire genre.  Why? “Oh, I read a romance back in the 1970s and it was pure rubbish.” Perhaps it’s time for an update, fella.

Oh, and by the way, some of you take issue with romance as a whole, but have no problem asking romance authors for favors. It happens to me all the time. I’ve been asked for favors by several wannabe authors who have no interest in my work or in my genre. They were just looking to cash in on a potential contact in the industry.

“You’re published? Well, romance really isn’t my bag but would you be willing to critique my manuscript? You know, seeing as you’re a published author. By the way…do you know any published non-fiction authors? Could you introduce me?”

Talk to the hand, as they say.

I don’t mean to sound bitter but I’m growing tired of hearing the same recording over and over. Romance isn’t “real” writing. It’s fluff. It’s easy to write. It’s formulaic.

I’ve never followed a “formula” in my entire writing career. The only hard and fast rule I follow is providing a happy ending. If you don’t, you’re not writing romance and romance readers will let you know it.

I’ve always found the writing community to be an inviting and supportive one. Not everyone resorts to this bad behavior. Have an opinion, by all means, but if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all. And certainly don’t say it at an event attended by writers of every genre.

As for the romance authors out there, we won’t waste our time badmouthing you.

Why? Because, darling, we’re too busy writing the stories the world is reading. Have you heard we’re one of the highest selling genres out there? No? Well, now you know.

Happy writing.

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23 thoughts on “Perhaps it’s time to stop using “romance” as an insult.

  1. I’m not usually a romance writer, but I’ve written it before. A few times. It’s not easy. Hell, writing in general isn’t as easy as people think. I wouldn’t bash a genre I’m not a fan of, but I know how people are.

    It’s easier to write in sci-fi or horror with made up scenarios than making real characters with real feelings.

    The reason most stay away from this is because they’re unfamiliar with the emotion itself, slapping sex into their stories like it’s a key party. Get the fuck out of your comfort zone and try something different.

    Okay… This was a bit of a rant, but I felt your annoyance there. Haha

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When people learn I’ve published a book the first thing they ask is the name (Santa Baby). When I tell them, they me puzzled look and ask what kind of book it is and I cheerfully tell them it’s a paranormal romance and then step back and watch their eyes glaze over before I get a mostly polite, “oh, that’s nice.” I just have smile at that and shake my head. And I’m betting that some of these people (esp the women) are closet romance readers.

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  3. Excellent post. As a 35 year veteran romance writer, I have lost count of the number of times I’ve endured the “romance” insult from other writers, directors of writers’ conferences, relatives, neighbors, so-called friends, and even booksellers. The dismissive and insulting attitude always amazes me, especially since the romance genre accounts for half of the book sales across the globe and finances the publication of various fiction genres and niche literary fiction. Thank you! LT

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for commenting, Laura! It’s astounding, isn’t it? I don’t know why I continue to be surprised. At least it’s comforting knowing we are in the same boat, at the very least.

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  4. Hear, hear! Writing excellent romance is an art – especially as you have to overcome the HUGE obstacle of the fact of a given, HEA ending. I’d like to see a crime writer who manages to maintain the tension throughout when the reader knows from the beginning who was murdered and why…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well said, Anna! You are absolutely right. We do have givens in our work and still have to make those stories exciting and new every time. Thanks for commenting.

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  5. Good for you!

    This happens so often and it is mind boggling when I hear things like – “romance novels are not realistic.” Really? What is more realistic than love? Love is universal, and it is what unites every single person on the planet, only it is not recognized as such.

    I say write and read what you want, and if it’s not your cuppa, then that’s okay, every type of story has a reader for it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly, Selena! I don’t understand what people get by slagging of a genre. I think it’s just a way of making oneself feel high and mighty.

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  6. I learned everything I know about reaching out to readers and marketing a book — internationally — in 19 different languages — from those gracious romance authors who took me under their wings and taught me the business. My writing may be closer to ‘Game of Thrones’ than ‘Love’s Labor Lost,’ but at the end of the day, we are all in the business of entertaining our readers.

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    • Absolutely! We’re all in this, more or less, together. I have felt such support in the romance community as well and am very thankful.

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