Wednesday, September 7, 2016

IWSG Blog - September 7, 2016 - What's Love Got To Do With It?

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I write romance and, as any publisher will tell you, romance is a big seller. But what is it in the wonderful world of romance that gets readers all excited and flipping pages like crazy? Is it the love and emotion the characters feel for one another, is it the sex, or is it simply the right combination of the two?

When I was a teenager, I remember there were books with the odd sentence or reference my older sister referred to as the “mucky bits”. And, of course, we younger ones all wanted to get our hot little hands on said book and find out for ourselves exactly how mucky those bits were. We didn’t care about mushy stuff like falling in love and happily ever after. We wanted to know about the good stuff, a.k.a. SEX. Once we’d read and savored those few titillating items, the whispering and giggling would begin: “Did you read that bit on page nineteen? Well, if you thought that was wicked just wait until you get to the end of chapter five. I couldn’t believe it, it actually says…ooh, I daren’t say it because if my mom found out…”

Despite the delicious chills and thrills those steamy excerpts produced in our young minds, they were never enough. We always wanted more. We wanted the excerpt to be a little longer, a little more explicit; we wanted the hero to be even better endowed physically; we wanted to know what happens next, what happens after that, and so on and so on. Of course what we really wanted was to believe that some day this could happen to us. That we'd find our own Mr. Right and live life as described in our favorite romance novel.

          Over the years, romance stories have changed dramatically. Bedroom doors have been thrown open and the filmy curtains blowing in the soft summer breeze have disappeared as readers gradually demanded more and more. Emotions and feelings have given way to sex and more sex. In response to reader demand, books have gone from sweet to sexy to a little explicit to tell it all like it really is. They include fetishes and spankings, domination and submission, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender, as well as les ménages à trois and even orgies. The stories are told through the medium of werewolves, dragons, witches and warlocks, faeries, space aliens, shapeshifters, vampires, ghosts, steampunk and scifi, along with contemporary stories about the people who make up our current, everyday lives. But what is it that we love most about these stories we devour like peanuts? Is it the attraction between the characters and the emotions they feel for one another or is it the thrill of sharing those intimate moments?

          Despite the bigger selection of everything including the heat factor, I doubt things have changed since those days when we borrowed books in brown paper wrappers and rushed to read the few well-thumbed pages in the privacy of our bedroom or behind a locked bathroom door. There are still those readers who want more. They want more thrills, more shocks, and most of all they want something different. Readers are constantly pushing the envelope because the demand for more never stops.

          So I have to wonder where will it all end. Must writers invent more and more bizarre worlds and strange characters with even stranger behavior and weirder appetites?  Or will we go full circle, back to the time when nice girls kept their ankles covered, and had sex in the dark with all (well, almost all) their clothes on?

          Like everything else, romance stories go through phases—one day vampires are all the rage, the next it could be dragon shifters or werewolves, then it’s the real way out stuff—like plain Mary Jane who dresses like a frump, works at some mindless, boring job by day and has a secret life as a dominatrix in her leisure time. (I think perhaps I smell a new plot here).

          Whatever old trends fade away and new ones arrive to take their place, there’s something for everyone in what’s being published today. And with that being said, if you've written something you feel is maybe too different and are reluctant to submit it anywhere, I say go for it. Whatever else may happen, I don't see romance stories losing their appeal any time soon.

Cool mysteries and hot romance -
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1 comment:

  1. I think romance is a great genre because it really does reflect reality. I mean, don't we all want to love and be loved? Even if we're werewolves and what not.