Monday, 14 January 2019

Suicide for authors in the Romance genre!



Unusual hero for a Georgian era novel? 

I suppose he is, and no, he's not some romantic Bedouin tribesman who rides to the rescue of a fair maid or abducts her for his personal pleasure, nor is he a Barbary pirate. He's a young man of honour who swears fealty to a man who saved his life from one fate, though the greater fate prior awaiting him was, in part, more dire than death. And what transpires is not your average romance... errr, love story between two couples. 



Ooops! I must categorise my writing in correct terminology. I pray you heard not my whispered curse at that juncture...

Hence, writing out of the box for me is a passion in how far I can stretch the ubiquitous rules for historical romance novels, which have long since warn thin for me as a reader and writer. The standard boy meets girl, contention arises to keep H/H apart (you know the formula) and all is finally resolved for the HEA (happy ever after). I do read them but find myself often waiting for a riveting scene, something out of the ordinary, and it may be but a few words, and those words are insightful, memorable, and if written well they later vindicate suspicion of foreshadowing: that sense of evil this way comes, or sense of a presence watching. waiting...       





That's the kind of writing I admire and what I strive for, because if you don't read every word, a clue or nuance of other can be missed and the whole utterly misconstrued. After all, reading is all in the words, one can't fast-forward in the visual context and hope nothing of importance was said or enacted.  High stake problems, social restraints and failure motivate desire for change, and such can and will drive a novel forward, whether in narrative or dialogue. 
Stop for a moment and consider desires that transcend sage mind, where emotions spin out of control, where envy steals forth in all its ugliness, where a heroine or hero will take risks to achieve her or his aim for the life they want. Imagine a heroine who believes she cannot have that of which she desires and will literally take herself off to a nunnery rather than do as others would have her abide to. A young hero who vanishes to live a differing experience and learns more than he bargained for en route. In the great scheme of writing I do break the rules of romance from time to time, because too often stories are so alike I feel I've travelled on the same road, seen the same sights and nothing exciting or heart-wrenching happened along the way.

How dangerous is it to break romance rules and gallop off on wild and exciting trails of discovery, or break with tradition? Answer: It can be suicide for an author to go off the beaten romance track and indulge a Romance train wreck in which a sub hero dies, or the hero is killed! But sometimes events conspire against the author, characters determine their own destiny, and here is where the same old argument arises in what constitutes a "Romance Novel" as opposed to "Love Story".

The former Romance Novel is strictly romance all the way with little irritating asides, a touch of fear, abduction, murder, mystery, damn near rape, or forced sex in marriage, forced marriage, widowhood, and angst of one sort or another, plus friction, envy, rivalry, hot hot sex with a ghost, or no sex at all and all must have a fairy tale end. And Lo and Behold, the HEA supersedes the shocking elements, or how base the sex was, whatever... 

With a Love Story one can do almost any damn thing listed above one likes, and even kill the hero or heroine in the last scene shot. That's the most memorable end, is it not - remember Harry's Game the TV drama, or Heathcliff's haunting in Wuthering Heights?  But whoa, that's the suicide bid, the end bite where a reader can turn against the author. And even if the novel has a secondary HEA, that may not pacify the reader, and it does not classify it as a Romance novel, not  even a teeny weeny or grand Romantic ending. Oh, no, no, it's merely a Love Story as die-hard romancers will ram down your throat on social media until you wish you could puke all over their over zealous pomposity!



And another thing: What is an author to do in the marketing scene, for there is no category for Love Story, only Romance. So where in the devil is a Love Story to fit in at Amazon or at other on-line bookstores? 

At one time LOVE STORIES had labels on the end of bookshelves in libraries and old bookstores, and Mills and Boon were listed as Romance. That way fans of M&B didn't stand about mooning over a sloppy fairy tale and thus get in the way of the more discerning reader of Love and or Romantic Adventure Stories - Lady Chatterley's Lover - Angelique series -Frenchman's Creek, et al.    

And it gets worse: Why does the historical romance category leap from Vikings, to Mediaeval to the Regency (9 yrs) and then to Victorian. And yet the Stuart era inclusive Scots, and the Georgian era in its entirety stretched across three centuries. Anything in between Mediaeval and the Regency is frozen out, uncategorised, and becomes General Historical Romance (basically Mission Impossible) thus the Regency genre, the most popular historical era in history (9yrs in total) is oversubscribed with anything from Mediaeval to Victorian as authors maximise marketing placement resulting in CHAOS. 

But back to the hero, the unusual, and the penning of risque love affairs... ah, do I have your attention? Some authors are more daring than others, and scarred heroes and spies returned from the Peninsular Wars, "Wellington and Napoleonic" era, have been the rage for several years now, and it would be great to see more modern-day authors risking all for love with unusual historical heroes! 

Damn it, research history, seek out the unusual and run or ride with it, and to hell with boring formula romance, Be daring, beguile, and write out of the box, Discard the sweet twee novel, and go for full-on cinematic glory where God forbid another author has gone before...