Today we have a guest blogger at A History.
Stephanie Beck is a full time mom, part time writer and amateur speller. She loves knitting, reading, writing and baking when she isn’t busy with her two girls and husband. Her debut novel is a ménage romance about three naughty brothers and the woman they love. Poppy’s Passions is available April 19th, 2010 though Lyrical Press. Contact Steph at firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome Stephanie Beck.
When I started on the writing expedition, my family asked what I liked to write and what I hoped to have published. They did the smile and nod thing when I said I wrote romance novels. When I got my first contract and they realized the amount of work and business involved, the smiling and nodding changed to more interest and questions. Then one day one of my mom’s friends and I were visiting and she commented about how exciting it was that I was following my dream to write fiction.
But I don’t, and never have written straight fiction. Fiction is pretty universally defined as a work of imagination, a creation not based on fact. That sort of fiction can be anything and though fiction can have elements of romance, it often lacks the cardinal requirements of romance. Now some people put it together and say “romantic fiction” but I don’t. I’ve read romantic fiction that was, well, fiction. What I write and what I love is romance, but it takes a little extra for it to get that name.
First and foremost a romance story must have…romance. In every romance there has to be a relationship. It is the driving force of the story. There might be explosions or puppy dogs playing back up, but the relationship must be at the center. The players in these relationships are changing every year as the number of partners, genders, scenarios, etc. are expanded and delved into. It’s an exciting time in romance. More people and lifestyles are being celebrated and welcomed into the genre.
The other main part of romance is the ‘happily ever after’ factor. No matter which subgenre of romance the story fits, it must end happily. There can be heartbreak and trials along the way. Tears can certainly be shed as long as they draw the characters closer together. The newer trend now is at least a ‘happily for now’ sort of end and that works too, though, personally I prefer the ‘this is going to last forever’ ending.
A good romance novel makes us all cheerleaders. We want the characters to get together. We want affection and love to grow (though sex is optional) on every page. Fiction can be touching and humorous and have a lot of the same elements, but unless it has the two main ones, romance as its steam engine and a happy ending that leaves the reader smiling, then it stays fiction.
So I corrected my mom’s friend when she made the honest mistake of calling my work ‘fiction’. I gave her a few details, she thought it was wonderful and exciting and later I called my mom and explained the difference. She laughed and said she should have known the difference would matter to me.
Of course it does. The difference in being a fiction writer and a romance writer is very distinct for me. As a romance writer, I am an official smile bringer and deep, happy sigh inducer. I take people who might not ordinarily get together in real life and turn their story into something enviable and sweet. Now, why, when I can do those things, would I settle for writing fiction?