As an author, I think it’s important to read books that aren’t perfect so we can perform more effectively in our own stories. That said, there are a few things that will make me put a book down.
I cannot say I’ve ever read a romance novel where the heroine sat around twiddling her thumbs waiting for a two-dimensional character with no name, (looking you, Prince Charming... ) to give her a new life.
If romance makes the changes that should have been made centuries ago, if romance opens its publishing houses and agencies and offers the same opportunity to authors of color as it does to white authors right now, we take away the excuse that it won’t work.
Whether there are only seven stories to honestly be told or a vast amount more, the reality is that when you—or any other author—puts those stories to the page, it is the very first time they have been done that way.
External conflict on its own rarely stands up as being big enough, emotional enough or important enough. Yes, external factors are important in keeping a story moving, but internal factors are the driving force behind character arc and development, and our pathways to making two-dimensional, imaginary characters human. Real.
Why aren’t these books marketed as romance novels and why do so many stories have love-story plots or subplots but scoff at the ones that do so intentionally?
Sometimes I write about important things. This isn’t one of those times. This is one of those times where I stomp my feet and beat my chest and demand that our alpha He-Men are also capable polyglots with an eye for Baroque art and a surprisingly vast knowledge of the erotic language in the Decameron.
When I write strong female characters, I think of it more with the emphasis on strong character, creating heroines and female main characters that are strongly written, fleshed out and three dimensional. The character isn’t strong, necessarily, because of her physical abilities or emotional capacity. She is strong because the characterization is strong and complete.
Over the course of my evolving love for the romance genre, and my need to read more to write more, I have discovered many genres that I would never have known I loved, had it not been by chance or happy accident. Here are just a few:
When I tell people I write romance novels, I get myriad responses. By far, the ones I find most offensive are those people who ask, Do you ever want to write real books? Yeah. I do want to write real books. That’s why I write romance novels.