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Just what is "romance" fiction
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damfino



Joined: 11 Nov 2007
Posts: 32

PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 1:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To me it's pretty simple- it's all ratio. If the smooching (and smooching, nudgenudge) outweighs the other plot elements 2-1 then it's a romance to me.
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Linda in sw va



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 4708

PostPosted: Mon Oct 06, 2008 5:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
The value of a $10 is objective. (Well, unless you're the Central Bank! Laughing ) On the other hand, what any woman thinks is romantic is subjective. So it's not just apples and oranges which we have here, but apples and . . . hand painted Easter eggs.


Schola wrote:
Marriage Bed debate will clearly end in a draw, but we can't completely do away with definitions.


Which is why I think the RWA's definition serves the genre very well by including the core elements of romance fiction and leaving the rest up to ...well how each author and/or reader may chose to decorate their egg.
*G*

Linda
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Gail K.



Joined: 19 May 2007
Posts: 1292

PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 7:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

See my favorite resource for contextual background on the "sonnet"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonnet

This literary form derives it's categorization from its structure. Romance novels do not, since the intent here seems to exclude certain stories based on content.

The Romance genre has only been in existence since the 1980's, post-Kathleen Woodiwiss, Rosemary Rogers, etc. with their globe-trotting, man-eating, bodice rippers. Not to mention the chauvinistic Harlequin Presents of old.

If, decades from now, Romance is still in existence as a separate genre, then I may consider conceding this argument. Not before.
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dick



Joined: 22 Mar 2007
Posts: 2498

PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 10:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

to gailK: I don't think it's quite that easy to separate content from structure; the sonnet, for example, does not lend itself to just any subejct. But even if it were, anything that has a recipe (formula) i.e. romance fiction, has structure. That may be exactly what this argument is all about, in fact. If the HEA is the indispensable element in the recipe for romance ficton, then everything in it, every part of its structure, must accord with that indispensable part.

to linda in sw va: Well, in all fairness, I think you ought to allow the question to include rape/forced seduction/infidelity. If, for example, I were to ask 25 randomly selected women whether a relationship including one of those things were a part of a romantic relationship, I think most would answer no, even amongst readers of romance. And were the question solely about what is "romantic," I think very few of the respondents would include infidelity or rape as an acceptable part of it.

I've read pretty widely in the genre, and I would estimate that 98% of romance authors intuitively know that some actions just shouldn't appear in romance fiction.

So Elizabeth Rolls, Karen Templeton, et al, jump in here.
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Linda in sw va



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 4708

PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[
Quote:
b]to linda in sw va[/b]: Well, in all fairness, I think you ought to allow the question to include rape/forced seduction/infidelity.


Dick, I thought my question was pretty open ended – What do you consider romantic...or not? I think you’d find the answers pretty varied. That was the point I was making in response to our discussion regarding definitions and that romance is not easily defined, you seemed to feel that the definition of a $10 may be in peril at such a notion.

Quote:
If, for example, I were to ask 25 randomly selected women whether a relationship including one of those things were a part of a romantic relationship, I think most would answer no, even amongst readers of romance. And were the question solely about what is "romantic," I think very few of the respondents would include infidelity or rape as an acceptable part of it.


I agree, and probably not forced seductions, kidnappings, arranged marriages and other manipulations as well. And yet at the same time this does not mean that a romance novel cannot be a romance novel if any of the above are included and that they should be excluded from the genre all together. If you were to exclude one, such as infidelity, what’s not to say an argument couldn’t be made for excluding each and every one of them, and more? And who would get to decide what stays and what goes? I have to say, some of those kidnapping scenarios are a guilty pleasure of mine and I would miss them dearly were they to disappear all together. : )

Don’t get me wrong, I doubt there is going to be a run on infidelity books such as the likes as we’ve seen with Navy Seals or vampires, however, sometimes a little variety goes a long way. With all due respect to your own opinion, I’d rather make up my own mind what works and does not work for me than to have the choice taken away from me all together by limitations or exclusions.

Linda
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Gail K.



Joined: 19 May 2007
Posts: 1292

PostPosted: Tue Oct 07, 2008 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

dick wrote:
to gailK: I don't think it's quite that easy to separate content from structure; the sonnet, for example, does not lend itself to just any subejct. But even if it were, anything that has a recipe (formula) i.e. romance fiction, has structure. That may be exactly what this argument is all about, in fact. If the HEA is the indispensable element in the recipe for romance ficton, then everything in it, every part of its structure, must accord with that indispensable part.


Fine. Even if I were to wholeheartedly subscribe to the recipe-mandate of romance fiction, THE MARRIAGE BED, imo, flows true to form.

-Guy meets girl
-Guy pisses off girl
-Girl pisses off guy
-Guy and girl realize their mistakes & reconcile
-HEA.

Just because a certain % of TMB's readers refuse to accept the viability of the HEA does NOT disqualify it as a romance novel -- by either the "rules" of content or structure.

This is the first disagreement regarding a book in which I've taken part in which one side attempts to discredit the other side by throwing the entire book out of the genre! More gall, then hubris, imo. Hubris implies a basis for pride.
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Schola



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1867

PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 1:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Linda in sw va wrote:
dick wrote:
If, for example, I were to ask 25 randomly selected women whether a relationship including one of those things were a part of a romantic relationship, I think most would answer no, even amongst readers of romance. And were the question solely about what is "romantic," I think very few of the respondents would include infidelity or rape as an acceptable part of it.


I agree, and probably not forced seductions, kidnappings, arranged marriages and other manipulations as well. And yet at the same time this does not mean that a romance novel cannot be a romance novel if any of the above are included and that they should be excluded from the genre all together. If you were to exclude one, such as infidelity, what’s not to say an argument couldn’t be made for excluding each and every one of them, and more? And who would get to decide what stays and what goes? I have to say, some of those kidnapping scenarios are a guilty pleasure of mine and I would miss them dearly were they to disappear all together. : )


And just when I had promised myself I wouldn't jump back in . . . Rolling Eyes Laughing

There's something about forced seduction, kidnappings, et al that tap into the fantasy element of sex. Yet I don't think any woman, among the millions of women in the world, secretly fantasise about having their husbands or boyfriends cheating on them and breaking their hearts. Well, at least not without a grovel of epic proportions--which, incidentally, we don't get here. (However, if Viola had died a sudden death, I think he would have chased Emma to America and groveled before her.)

Gail K wrote:
This is the first disagreement regarding a book in which I've taken part in which one side attempts to discredit the other side by throwing the entire book out of the genre! More gall, then hubris, imo. Hubris implies a basis for pride.


Oh, dear. Is that what you're thinking? Confused This isn't a personal attack, Gail, so I'm sorry if you've seen it that way. I was an English major in uni and used to standing by unpopular interpretations of a text. I once went head to head with my Shakespeare professor--some real hubris there, if you want some--and there wasn't anything personal about it at all. So I honestly didn't see how my saying, "The Marriage Bed doesn't fit the conventions of the Romance genre" was equivalent to discrediting those who like it. If the tone I've taken wasn't the right one for a message board like this (which, ironically enough, brings me back full circle to what's appropriate for a genre and what isn't), then I'm sorry.
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Linda in sw va



Joined: 27 Mar 2007
Posts: 4708

PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 5:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Schola wrote:
[There's something about forced seduction, kidnappings, et al that tap into the fantasy element of sex. Yet I don't think any woman, among the millions of women in the world, secretly fantasise about having their husbands or boyfriends cheating on them and breaking their hearts. Well, at least not without a grovel of epic proportions--which, incidentally, we don't get here. (However, if Viola had died a sudden death, I think he would have chased Emma to America and groveled before her.)


Ah but forced seductions and kidnappings would not be a fantasy for all readers, in fact there are many that find it deeply offensive. And yet, should we ban them from the romance genre based on these preferences that may not hold true for everyone? If we were to set up a list of exclusions I could throw in secret baby plots, I find nothing even remotely enjoyable about them - neither romantic nor the thing made of any fantasy of mine.

Taking the issue of infidelity, a woman many not fantasize that her husband will be unfaithful to her but she may enjoy stories about hope when all seems lost or for a marriage. For the couple to get their HEA seemingly against all odds may be quite romantic. She may not want the events in the book to happen to her (to fantasize about them) but that doesn't mean she can't enjoy them in a romance novel. For example; I can totally see a set up where a marriage is arranged, one or both in the party not being happy about it or using it as a means to an end and unwilling at the time to give up their previous life - such as a mistress. Hmmm, how would an author bring these two together and eventually give them their HEA? That is intriguing to me....I'd like to see an author try this.

So obviously for me as a reader infidelity is not a dealbreaker, there are worse things within the romance genre. In fact I'd take that over the secret baby plot any day - which I will not touch with a ten foot pole.

Linda
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Gail K.



Joined: 19 May 2007
Posts: 1292

PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Schola wrote:

Oh, dear. Is that what you're thinking? Confused This isn't a personal attack, Gail, so I'm sorry if you've seen it that way. I was an English major in uni and used to standing by unpopular interpretations of a text. I once went head to head with my Shakespeare professor--some real hubris there, if you want some--and there wasn't anything personal about it at all. So I honestly didn't see how my saying, "The Marriage Bed doesn't fit the conventions of the Romance genre" was equivalent to discrediting those who like it. If the tone I've taken wasn't the right one for a message board like this (which, ironically enough, brings me back full circle to what's appropriate for a genre and what isn't), then I'm sorry.


Maybe I should not have used the word discrediting. But to use your analogy, Schola, your line of argument isn't really a difference of interpretation over a book. It's as if you signed up for an English class in the Romantics, then went and told off the entire class that in your opinion, really, John Keats should be thrown off the syllabus. After getting few bites using more conventional arguments. I've gone toe-to-toe with learned English professors and snooty Ph.D students, face-to-face, in my day, so believe me, that isn't what I'm objecting to.
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Schola



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1867

PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 8:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To refine the analogy some more, it's as if I signed up for a class on the Romantics and said that Ode to a Nightingale should not be on the syllabus. My issue isn't with Guhrke as a Romance writer but on The Marriage Bed as a Romance novel.

And what's wrong with signing up for a class on the Romantics and sharing my opinion--after having read Ode to a Nightingale twice--that it does not belong on the syllabus? Laughing

Well, seriously now . . . I've actually had classmates who argued with professors over what should and should not be on the syllabus. (I remember pretty much the entire class freaking out about a D.H. Lawrence novel being part of a course on The Novel. Rolling Eyes Ah, good times. Laughing )

Is it just because I am a "lowly" Romance reader (the equivalent of a student signing up for a course) that my opinion on The Marriage Bed as a Romance is full of hubris? If I were a Romance writer with ten best sellers under my best and, say, President of the RWA (thereby the equivalent of a professor), would you say my opinion carried more weight?

I mean, I think it would, were that the case. Even I know that an entire class opposed to studying Lawrence does not outweigh a single professor who wants to teach Lawrence. So I'm wondering if it's just me or if it's the opinion on its own merits. If someone with real credentials in the Romance industry said the same or thought the same, would it then carry more weight?
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Gail K.



Joined: 19 May 2007
Posts: 1292

PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 9:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Schola wrote:

Is it just because I am a "lowly" Romance reader (the equivalent of a student signing up for a course) that my opinion on The Marriage Bed as a Romance is full of hubris?....So I'm wondering if it's just me or if it's the opinion on its own merits.)


It's your opinion on its own merits, Schola. Anybody who's used to me online knows that I would go after bloggers, authors, publishers, etc. with the same fire. So rest assured being a "lowly" romance reader has nothing to do with my observation that you are full of gall, not hubris. But there is no rule, thank goodness, that you can't be galling on a mb. Good for me and you.
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Elizabeth Rolls



Joined: 26 Mar 2007
Posts: 1076
Location: Australia

PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 9:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

<<Splash!>> That would be the sound of me jumping in. To be honest, and I'll probably offend a few people here, I'd be hesitant to state categorically that there is anything that should be banned or not included in any genre. That's not to say that I don't have my pet peeves. I do. But the thing is that I have learnt that not only do things that I find infuriating/offensive ring someone else's bell, but that things I thought I loathed can, on occasion and in the hands of the right (for me) author, work. Let's take a few nicely controversial examples . . . adultery; not one of my favourite subjects and if my husband cheated on me there would probably be blood spilt. However, I really enjoyed Jo Beverley's An Arranged Marriage, because I could see how torn up about it Nicholas was. And yes, I know Schola loathes this one and thinks Nicholas the cad to end all cads. Different strokes. Similarly I enjoyed The Marriage Bed and in the end came to believe that John had reformed, not just because of his commitment to Viola, but because he had seen and understood the pain his behaviour had caused other women as well. My point is that if you had asked me before I read these books what my reaction would be to an adulterous hero I'd have queried the sanity of the authors. But they worked for me. I accept that they do not work for everyone.

Another controversial one is Gaffney's To Have And To Hold. This one has always got a love/hate reaction from readers. On the face of it this should not be a book I enjoy, but it is. I loved it. Yes, Sebastian is a complete pig in the opening and for much of the book, but the key word here is redemption. He doesn't just reform in relation to Rachel, but his whole life turns around. By the end of the book he is a different man. Therefore, since I believe redemption and forgiveness is possible, I can believe in his reform and their HEA. Again this book does not work for all readers, but as I said somewhere else, often the measure of a book's power is how much different readers love AND hate it.

There are plenty of things in these books which are not in and of themselves romantic, but that does not mean that they cannot, as part of the whole, be included in a romance novel. Not everything that happens in a romance novel has to be construed as "romantic". The point is not that everything should be "romantic" but that romantic love should triumph absolutely. And for us to believe that it has really triumphed against all the odds there needs to be an inclusion of darkness as well as light. Otherwise what has it triumphed over? There are of course wonderful romances that tend far more to the lighter side, what I believe Dick would call the fairytale element. But even in those stories there must be conflict and an element of darkness. How much we want and enjoy is a matter of personal taste and mood.

In the end authors have to decide for themselves what to include in their books, and readers have to decide what to include on their TBR piles and keeper shelves. This is one area where I think market forces and editors are a good thing - we probably don't need to worry about psychopathic, child molesting heroes.
The only thing I consider non-negotiable in a romance is the HEA. If the romance does not end happily with the couple safely together then I would argue that it may be a wonderful and uplifting love story, but it is not in the romance genre. And even this has been hotly debated here at AAR with quite a few people saying that they wouldn't mind a romance that ended sadly. I don't mind a good tragedy myself; I just don't call it a romance.

Do we all need to agree on what we like in a romance? I hope not. Even if I don't personally find an HEA convincing, that does not mean that the book is not a romance. It means that I didn't like the book. Someone else will love it and we can have a fabulous time discussing it.

Elizabeth - who will now hop out and towel off.
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Schola



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1867

PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 9:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gail K. wrote:
Schola wrote:

Is it just because I am a "lowly" Romance reader (the equivalent of a student signing up for a course) that my opinion on The Marriage Bed as a Romance is full of hubris?....So I'm wondering if it's just me or if it's the opinion on its own merits.)


It's your opinion on its own merits, Schola. Anybody who's used to me online knows that I would go after bloggers, authors, publishers, etc. with the same fire. So rest assured being a "lowly" romance reader has nothing to do with my observation that you are full of gall, not hubris. But there is no rule, thank goodness, that you can't be galling on a mb. Good for me and you.


Okay, so the person (me) is full of gall to have stated the opinion, but the opinion itself is . . . ?
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Gail K.



Joined: 19 May 2007
Posts: 1292

PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 9:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Schola wrote:

Okay, so the person (me) is full of gall to have stated the opinion, but the opinion itself is . . . ?



The opinion itself is flabbergasting.
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Schola



Joined: 10 Jun 2007
Posts: 1867

PostPosted: Wed Oct 08, 2008 9:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gail K. wrote:
Schola wrote:

Okay, so the person (me) is full of gall to have stated the opinion, but the opinion itself is . . . ?



The opinion itself is flabbergasting.


Okay. Got it! Very Happy
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