Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dre the Champion of Romance!!

Have you ever read an article and paper/ anything that states an opinion and while reading it you are formulating the counter argument?

this is an assigned reading I had for my Storytelling class this week. let me tell you--the first article "Explorations and Formulas" was too much for me to not write about. The weekly discussion topic had nothing (and I mean NOTHING) to do with this essay--rather it was the role of the women in the two following stories. However, this essay was too much for me to NOT mention something.

My mom runs a blog that reviews various romance novels so--I would say that while I am no expert I feel experienced enough to look at this and want to argue against it--

so here's what I wrote--

"Before I delve into the women characters that were portrayed in both stories .I’d wanted to talk about this formula fiction essay; specifically the formula fiction that was portrayed for romance novels. As someone who reads both classics and the romance novels published today—what I feel the writer of “Explorations and Formulas” did not realize is that there are always exceptions to the rules that the tip sheet formulated. My mother is a part of a romance novel community as a reviewer for various authors—the “Do not interject murder, extortion, international intrigue, horror or the supernatural elements in the plot” was the most shocking “rule” that I saw. Especially because some of the best sellers of romance are in fact ones that have the murder, or intrigue…so on and so forth—It is what keeps the book moving. While I understand that, yes,—some women are looking for the quick read (boy meets girl, girl leaves boy to sacrifice herself, boy saves girl, and they live happily ever after) however a lot of the authors that are popular or seen as “classics” or “must reads” in the romance fandom are actually stories that do have a plot that drives the romance forward. There are whole series of romance novels solely dedicated into creating a fantastical universe of political intrigue and great action scenes.

I’ll use one of my favorites for an example, J.R Ward has written multiple books based of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, these are books that you will find in the romance section, one of her most recent books ended with the heroine actually dying. It was with the hero’s mother’s great sacrifice that the heroine still exists as a mere ghost/projection. This is not the “and everyone lives happily ever after” ending—even in following books the guilt that the hero feels in failing his “beloved” is an ongoing theme in the next few books. Or another is the Historical romances Diana Gibaldon spends 3-4 books where everything is not “hunky dory-press-the-female-character-against-studly-scots-chest”. There is sacrifice, death and even some really great historical facts.

True there are many authors of books that do follow the formula to satisfy their readers—however on the flip side, I feel that there is an equal amount of authors who don’t care what their readers want—they are going to write whatever they feel is best for their characters or their story lines. As a writer I don’t want to take into account what someone else wants in my stories—I’m writing as an art form. No one ever told Picasso—“hey, why don’t you make Guernica look a bit more realistic.”

Katie MacAlister, a romance best seller, writes as Katie Maxwell for her Young Adult books and as Katie Marsh when writing mysteries—something that many romance authors have to do since being a “romance author” has become synonymous with poor literature.

Now that I’ve proclaimed myself the champion of Romance novels—let’s move on to the actual stories that we covered."

(from here I talked about the actual assignment--I totally had to get this off my chest and post it on my classes discussion board.)


Brenda said...

>>“hunky dory-press-the-female-character-against-studly-scots-chest”<< This is my favorite kind of romance; AKA "Quilter's porn", LOL!
On another note, I must agree that if there is no plot the rubbing bodies gets a little old. I prefer the mystery "foreplay" myself, hee-hee!

Strlady said...

That's my girl! You tell 'em!!
Funny thing is that reading the assignment, I realized that the book they used as an example of the Cover of Romance, is a book I have on my shelf. yeah, it might not surprise anyone that has seen the amount of books I had on that shelf. But it also illustrates that the article is VERY old.
It's not easy finding romance novels with such cheesy covers anymore. Oh, you can still find them but THEY have become the exception to the rule and not vice versa.
You mentioned that the exceptions are found in the books that break out of the mold the article defines but in truth they are not. Just like cheesy covers, you can still find fluff books on the shelf but most Romance now a days go beyond the formula. They explore strong issues (bigotry, physical and sexual abuse, health issues, abandonment, etc), but wrap it around a layer of romance to promise the reader a HEA in one form or another. That is something to be said about the genre, there has to be a HEA, either in the form of a ghostly beloved or just a personal triumph, there has to be a sense of satisfaction at the end. It's been that way since Austin and Bronte (Jane Eyre finally gets her HEA but her hero has become physically disabled at the end). I think the class needs to update their resources because it promotes a prejudice to this genre.

Susan in SC said...

Dre - what a well written explanantion of your viewpoint! Thank you for visiting my blog yesterday. I hope you will come visit again!


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