In any case, one of the gazillion “mini” discussions going on is the HEA in the Romance genre and whether readers want it or not. Now, I’m sorry but, WHAT THE FUCK?
“I’m willing to accept the HEA if I can only have some more ambiguity, thoughtfulness, provocative themes and characters and issues, complexity, moral contemplation, and subversion in my Romance.”
This is the sentiment expressed by some romance readers in the argument and I have to say that what you, personally, are willing to accept *snort* and what the genre, by definition, entails are two completely different things! Also, as Harlot pointed out to me, what the hell does that mean; that only well written novels deserve a HEA and the rest should be punished with no HEA because they’re bad? I have to say I’ve read many a stupid thing, but this one... well... this one is pretty stupid LOL.
A romance novel is a novel from the genre currently known as romance. The genre has two strict criteria: the story must focus on the relationship and romantic love; the end of the story must be positive, leaving the reader believing that the protagonists’ love and relationship will endure for the rest of their lives.
To be considered of the romance genre, a novel should adhere to the following criteria:
HEA - an abbreviation of “[and they lived] happily ever after,” the phrase which traditionally ends fairy tales; it refers to the happy ending that romance novels MUST have.
- the story must focus on the relationship and romantic love between two people.
- the story must have an emotionally satisfying and optimistic ending.
Now, I believe I have been very vocal about what displeases me** about the romance genre (if not, do let me know and I’ll do my best to bitch some more LOL). And yet, despite all these things, I read them. Why? Because every once in a while I find a romance novel that is so wonderful, so poetic, so perfect that it makes up for all the previous bad ones.
And between the one hundred bad ones and the ever eluding good one? Well, I’ll usually read other genres. I love historical fiction and biblical conspiracy theories. I also love mythology and children’s books. So does that mean the romance industry has to have books to cater to my every mood and whim? Must they publish a category that includes heroes that are mythological gods falling in love with biblical secret hunters who act like twelve-year-olds? NO, it fucking means that *I* have to go read something else!
I loved Nora Roberts answer to these “romance doesn’t need a HEA by definition” claims. It’s classy and tasteful in a way that mine could never be, so I thought I’d share. (Could you guys pretend I wrote it? LOL I mean, that’s exactly what I was trying to say, and mostly the same thing minus all the “fucks” I used. :P)
“If you’re not satisfied by what’s out there under the Romance umbrella, on any of its varied spokes, it may be the fault of the writers. We’re not finding enough fresh ways to address those constants or creating characters compelling enough that you’re pulled into their story.
Or it may be that you need to step out from under the umbrella for awhile.
If you don’t have the HEA, the story slides off that umbrella of Romance into another area. And that’s fine.
I guess I don’t understand why any reader, dissatisfied with the framework, the form, the constants of the genre feels the genre itself should adjust for her needs, rather than she seek her satisfaction in another area of fiction.”
I’ll leave you with a quote that I love by J. Crusie on the topic of HEAs, and two questions:
“... best romance novels always show a woman coming to her strength and fullness as a human being, and part of the reward for the fulfillment of that quest is a strong, equal life partner. The old “I can’t live without you” always seemed so weak to me; I like the more modern “I can make it without you, but just by existing you enrich my life so much I’ll never want to.”
Do you consider a book without a HEA part of the romance genre?
If authors decided to start writing books where the H/H don’t end up together for whatever reason (hate, adultery, death, etc) would you still read romance novels?
**Summarizing: I find that a lot of it is repetitive and badly written, not to mention my huge pet-peeve about stupid characters that I swear are part of 99% of the books I read.