Tag s | Romance

Happily Ever After

Some people wonder why genre readers want to read the same thing over and over. Well, they don’t read the same thing all the time, and they have expectations. A primary expectation?

A Happily Ever After ending.

If you enjoy perusing book reviews on Amazon, you’ll find that many readers (primarily outside of genres, though genre fiction can have the first three faults as well), express similar complaints:

  • The book was boring and they didn’t finish it.
  • The plot was too convoluted.
  • They didn’t like any of the characters.
  • They didn’t like the ending.

When you’re not writing genre fiction (romance, mystery, etc.) you aren’t confined to leaving your main characters happy. In fact, I recently read a book where one of the two main characters was fatally shot near the end of the story. I found this shocking since nothing, to my mind, led the reader to think the author planned to kill a protagonist. But on the other hand, the author hadn’t done much to make me like the protagonist, so I really didn’t care when he died, although I didn’t think he deserved to die. Mission accomplished?

In contrast, the genre reader wants the ending to be happy for everyone, with the possible exception of a clear villain. Even then, they may want to see the villain reform and experience his own happy ending.

In keeping with the expectation of a happy ending, the author needs to make the reader love the characters. On or near page one, the heroine especially needs to touch the reader’s feelings. The reader wants the hero and heroine to deserve their happy ending. Readers won’t root for a hateful, deceitful, conniving protagonist. And therein lies the connection between characterization and a happy ending.

What about plot? Yes, plot matters. The plot must live up to the confines of the genre, but be fresh. This is a tall order, but not impossible for the creative writer. Writers uncertain about genre rules should read as many books in the genre as needed until an “Aha!” moment strikes. Only then can the author understand the genre reader’s expectations about plot well enough to write a marketable book.

And of course, you’re never boring!

Your turn:

What is your favorite genre and why?

What is your favorite book in any genre?


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The Joy of the Love Story

Sometimes readers will tell me they don’t understand why anyone would enjoy genre romance novels. Sometimes they’ll even grimace and shudder. I can tell you a couple of reasons why these are such great books: They Make Sense Some books don’t make sense. If you read book reviews, you’ll see …

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Where is the Romance?

When I talk with authors about their stories, sometimes they’ll say. “Yes, there’s romance. But it doesn’t happen until chapter five.” That’s when I look at the story and try to give advice on how they can change that. Granted, not every novel is a genre romance, nor should it …

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Heartsong’s Publishing Legacy

Last week, as mentioned in Tamela’s wonderful tribute, Harlequin announced that the Heartsong Presents imprint is going to be shuttered. Heartsong Presents has been primarily a “direct-to-consumer” book club which published romance titles with a specifically Christian message. {And last week I joked about how things can change on Tuesday… This announcement came …

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Why I Read Romance Novels

Valentine’s Day is on its way, and that got me to thinking about that four-letter word we all use with impunity:


What a powerful word, one so full of meaning I could write a dozen blogs about it and still not exhaust the depth and breadth of all it entails. I’m grateful for love. For God’s love. For my hubby’s love. For my family’s love. For my doggies’ love. Love has blessed me more than I could ever deserve. But then, isn’t that the very nature of love—that it comes to us regardless of our so-called “worth.” And one area where I most enjoy the blessing of love is in writing. Whether poetry or novels, nonfiction or essays, I’m not afraid to admit that I love reading about love. And I especially enjoy–get ready for it–romance novels!

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A Little Less Shade, A Little More Light

by Steve Laube

There could not be a better argument for the need for good Christian romantic fiction than the recent sales phenomenon of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. In case you aren’t aware, this trilogy has sold ten million copies in the last three months. Ten million copies. The content of these novels should be x-rated and yet sit atop every bestseller list in the country. The media labeled the novels “mommy-porn” which is an apt description considering the book’s advocacy for aberrant sexual behavior. It has sold over one million e-book copies for the Kindle suggesting that some buy it for their e-reader because they can hide what they are reading by not showing the cover.

Of course there has always been salacious fiction on the market, so this is nothing new. Many saucy and erotic novels are readily available with the click of a mouse. But none, with such unapologetic deviance, have achieved such extraordinary success in such a short time.

Christian novelists? You were born for such a time as this. The message of love and romance in the confines of a loving God-centered relationship is diametrically opposed to that found in these bestsellers. Write stories that show relationships with all their ethos, anguish, strife, redemption, honesty, and romance. Therefore, let this phenomenon be a clarion call for you to dig deep and improve your storytelling, hone your craft, and shout it from the mountaintops that there are great novels that can be read as an alternative to what the general market offers.

If you aren’t aware of what is available, go to Fiction Finder and search by genre. Our agency represents over 110  of those great novelists.

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Romancing the Readers

I had a conversation with a writer friend a few weeks ago. She was telling me that the book she’s writing is, at the core, a romance, and no one was more surprised than she. “I don’t know a thing about writing romances,” she confessed. “Any tips?” I sent her an email with my thoughts, and that was that. Then she emailed me a few days ago:

“I just re-read this [email] as I’m still struggling through the end of my ms. This is an unbelievably beautiful note! It would make a great blog post on how to write romance….”

Well! I took a look at it, and I think she’s got something there. It does lend itself well to a blog. So I did a little editing, and here you go. If you find yourself writing a romance and you’re not quite sure about it, here are some things to keep in mind about the hero and heroine:

* The reader needs to see their attraction as believable. In other words, Not just because he’s handsome and she’s beautiful. As with real romance, let their feelings surprise them, then show those feelings growing as an organic part of the story. That’s not to say they can’t be immediately attracted to one another, or that one can’t be immediately attracted to the other. That instant spark does happen. But make sure readers see good reasons for romance—and love–to grow between them. Think about it. What’s more romantic than a man who treats women and children with respect? What’s more appealing to a man than a woman who honors and respects him? It’s not about Tarzan meets Jane, it’s about character and integrity and true strength and beauty.

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Fresh Formulas

Some have a hard time appreciating the talent involved in writing genre fiction. By genre fiction, I mean novels that fall into a defined category such as contemporary romance, historical romance, romantic suspense, or cozy mystery. Many of these novels are published by mass market publishers (like Harlequin) and fit in lines they have formed for the sole purpose of selling the genre.

These are distinguished from Trade fiction where there isn’t necessarily a specific line that has been formed to sell a genre, although there are exceptions to that “rule” like the “Love Finds You” series from Summerside Press. In publisher’s lingo “trade” means a 5 1/2″ by 8 1/2″ trim size and is probably between 80,000 and 100,000 words in length. “Genre” or “category” fiction can mean the 4″ by 6″ trim size (also known as mass market) and between 50,000 words and 70,000 words.

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The Superiority of Christian Romance Novels

A dedicated reader of the blog (Thank you!) posed an excellent question in response to a recent post:

 Recently, I heard a female Christian marriage counselor/speaker say that women should avoid Christian romance books. She stated there was no such thing as Christian romance. Since she was speaking on the topic of pornography, I assumed she was referring to fiction that leads the reader’s mind where it ought not to go. In my opinion, most romantic Christian fiction does not fall into that category.

My question for you: How would you respond if someone told you Christian romance was sinful, or that there was no such thing? Has that happened to you before?

Last week I responded to the idea that there is no such thing as Christian romance. “Christian Romance – Fact or Fiction?

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Christian Romance — Fact or Fiction?

In response to a recent blog post, “A Matter of Taste,”  a reader asked what I would say if someone claimed there is no such thing as Christian romance.

In fact, I have been confronted with this question before. At a Christian writers’ conference a few years ago, a woman told me in a snide manner that romance is a “fantasy” and walked away before I could respond. I felt especially sad that the woman was no doubt a fellow Christian, but it sounded like it had come from a jaded secularist. I believe this woman’s attitude reflects her own experience rather than the state of Christian publishing. True, not all real life endings are happy, and Christian romance novels traditionally end with the premise that the couple will enjoy a bright future. That is the hope and promise these books offer. Indeed, isn’t that the hope and promise of weddings in real life?

The Lord never promised Christians perfect unions. My heart aches for anyone in a miserable marriage. Hurt people hurt people, so no amount of convincing will change some minds about romance. But God is bigger than any situation, and He heals willing hearts.

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