Romance Writers are Not Serious Writers? Really, Now???????

Romantic CoupleIn a discussion currently going on in LinkedIn I had the misfortune to read a post from another writer who is of the misconception that romance writers are not serious writers! Really? This person (whose name I will be good enough to omit) is also of the opinion that romance writers are not quality writers. Really? Mind you, I love romance and it is my writing genre of choice, and yes, I am a serious writer, and who is this person to judge the writing abilities of those who  choose romance, probably the highest selling genre available.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no problem with those who choose not to read romance: after all, I don’t like science fiction or horror. I’ve said many times when the subject of Stephen King came up in discussions that while I don’t like WHAT he writes, I will not say he isn’t a good writer. Having never read his work, how would I know that anyway? He must be doing something right though, to make the amount of money he does and continue being on the NYT Best Seller’s List. My complaint is not with people who don’t like romance but who attempt to degrade it into a lower style of writing.

Do you prefer literary fiction? There is nothing wrong with this type of fiction, either–if one can even put a definition on it in the 21st century. What used to be called “literary fiction” may no longer exist, and even love stories from centuries gone by may not exist as they once did. For instance, Romeo & Juliet would not be called a romance in today’s market because it ends with a tragedy instead of Happy Ever After or even Happy for Now, especially elements in today’s romance genre.

Where does this leave those of us who enjoy reading and writing romance? We should be free to do both as we feel the mood. It is not up to other writers to say we are not serious writers and do not write well but the buying public. They are the most important elements, after all. If you can’t present a good plot along with a great romance you won’t retain readers. What should you do with naysayers? Do as I do and don’t pay attention to them or tell them to read the statistics and then get back to working on that wonderful romance novel.


12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tannera Kane
    Aug 02, 2012 @ 02:20:23

    I agree. I don’t read cop novels or romance, but I won’t judge the writers. They’re two genres I’m not interested in reading. The lack of civility in America is spreading. I understand why social media company stocks are plummeting (LinkedIn included). Business owners large and small cannot advertise, publicize, and market without someone stating a crude or vulgar remark. Many writers do, but they shouldn’t judge others and make snide remarks. Ten to one odds are the person who stated the comment mark published a book no one’s buying, so that person is angry and bashing other writers.


    • Brenda Coxe
      Aug 02, 2012 @ 15:01:06

      That’s my point, Tannera. While I do read and enjoy both police novels and romance, it unfair for someone to judge those novels simply because they do not read or enjoy them. We each have our own preferences and others should respect that, readers and writers alike.


  2. The Gray Monk
    Aug 02, 2012 @ 03:02:00

    Whoever this ‘mystery’ person is, obviously has never read Georgette Heyer with her magnificent characterisations and the window she provides on the societies she set her work in. Just to name one ‘romance’ writer I would class as a ‘serious’ writer. At least, unlike some modern writers I won’t name, she didn’t twist history or assign rather nasty motives to the organisations she mentions, which seems to be the motive behind a lot of writing now.


    • Brenda Coxe
      Aug 02, 2012 @ 14:59:23

      I’ve not seen this type of writing in the romance novels I’ve read. I would be interested in knowing to whom you refer. When I read romance it is usually Danielle Steel, Nora Roberts and a few others. Perhaps I am not family with the work of the romance author you mention.


  3. The Gray Monk
    Aug 03, 2012 @ 03:45:22

    My apologies, I should have been clearer. I find the majority of “Romance” writers, including those you mention, usually reflect the societies in which their stories are set accurately. My real swipe here, was at the authors of some “best sellers” who twist historical facts and use conspiracy theories (giving them credibility) in order to create what some consider “relevant social commentary” in “literature.”

    Romance is not, generally, my chosen genre, though I do enjoy a well crafted story. I do enjoy historical novels (which often include a ‘romantic’ element) and realistic ‘future’ and ‘possible alternative present day’ writing. I think this is where a comment like the one you refer to in your post originates, from someone who may prefer the sort of book produced to feed into preconceived prejudices in the manner of the Da Vinci Code and it’s follow ons to name just one example.


  4. Brenda Coxe
    Aug 03, 2012 @ 16:34:56

    I agree with you on that. There is nothing worse than a fiction novel in which you cannot believe. This is why when I write I make up places I have not visited. In my novel it begins in New York, a made up urban neighborhood outside of NYC, but when the heroine goes to London with the hero to meet his family, I am able to use some reality since I have been there on 3 separate occasions.


  5. Paul Callaghan
    Aug 06, 2012 @ 05:34:47

    I have to agree with you Brenda. I am neither a romance reader nor a romance writer. I’ve read a few romance novels and have decided that they are simply not for me. That’s all. It doesn’t mean that the genre is poorly written or that certain genres of writing are somehow less. I don’t know if it is incivility or simply snobbishness that causes some writers to look down on other forms. It reminds me of when I was a young buck who thought that the only worthwhile forms of music were heavy metal or punk. My fourteen year old self would cringe in horror at the variety of music that I enjoy these days. Those who disparage other genres may well be stuck in that adolescent attitude where “I know far more than anyone could possibly tell me.” Ignore the sniping and just keep on doing what you do- even if you do have have to work hard at it 🙂


  6. Brenda Coxe
    Aug 06, 2012 @ 17:13:25

    That’s my point, Paul. You have people who don’t like a genre just condemning it on that basis alone. In fact, this person seems to think anything that isn’t a classic is poorly written when even some of those are not all that. Besides, not everyone likes to read the classics–I take it spells. The fact that I read contemporary literature and romance doesn’t mean I am uneducated or unable to understand more sophisticated work; it means that is my choice, and I personally read romance to delve into a world where I wish I was. That is also the case with most romance readers–at least us women.


  7. Chuck McConvey
    Sep 12, 2012 @ 11:22:09

    Brenda – anyone that spends the time and effort on a piece is a serious writer IMHO. I’ve had numerous conversations with serious mystery fiction writers and they are all very serious. James Lee Burke – a serious, excellent writer had a novel rejected 111 times. Of course classic literature lovers would never consider mystery fiction serious but I’d simply suggest that good fiction writers like Burke and Dana Stabenow – another fave of mine – are as good at chronicling the human condition today as were Twain and Dickens in their time. So keep it up.


    • Brenda Coxe
      Sep 12, 2012 @ 14:33:40

      Thanks for the positive reinforcement, Chuck. I feel the same way. Just because a person writes romance does not mean they aren’t serious writers. After all, romance is one of the most popular genres in today’s market. As you said, anyone who spends time and effort writing a piece is a serious writer, especially if they are paid to do so.


  8. Jackie Weger
    Dec 16, 2013 @ 01:28:58

    I just have to weigh in here. I write romance novels. Moreover I write sweet romance novels, good girls with families. Want to know what I’m told by some some of my sister authors of erotica and even by a couple of my editors who just happen to also write erotica? Sex sells. Sweet romance is dead. Those comments annoyed me beyond measure. So. I dusted off a few of my out-of-print romance novels, brutally edited them for the ebook market and learned a bit about indie publishing. I made some missteps, but managed to find the right road, cover artists, formatting services and proofreader. I studied free and paid promotion and in November 2013 launched a title with a free promotion. Over 75,000 readers downloaded the title. In less than three weeks the book garnered above 100 reviews–more than 65 are five star reviews. Sweet romance is not dead. The only career I’ve had since 1980 is writing–when I felt the pull to do it. My day job.

    As you mentioned, romance writers too often do not get respect from writers in other genres, or academics, or the woman standing in line at the grocery store, and sometimes not even family members. Fine with me. My banker respects me. My CPA respects me, as well as the myriad of tech people I hire. Moreover, I respect myself.

    Right this minute I have a colleague whose book I read. I liked it. I asked her to join a small group of indie authors. We help one another and we pay it forward. She declined because she is literary and her book is literary and she does not want to associate with a romance author because she is concerned with her branding. She ‘prefers’ to associate with her ‘peers’. Her hubris is in the way of her book reaching readers. It is languishing in Cyberspace. As it happens, she is the only person labeling her book literary. She has written one book. She snubbed a group of authors who have roughly 65 or more books in print or ebooks, one of whom is a USA Today best-selling author. Some folks just don’t have good sense. Paul Callaghan nailed it. Pure snobbishness; except I name it an inflated sense of self.


    • Brenda Coxe
      Dec 16, 2013 @ 01:38:07

      Unfortunately it seems so many authors in other genres have an inflated ego and think others, especially romance authors, are beneath their respect. Some think romance writers lack creativity because they equate romance with erotica and erotic romance when nothing could be farther from the truth. In order to sell romance there still has to be something the couple are working toward that is also either hampering their relationship or helping them build on it. There must still be obstacles to overcome along the pathway to romance, but many don’t see that.


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