Forums Forums Editing the Romance Novel Discussion questions for Week 1 Reply To: Discussion questions for Week 1

Shelley Egan

1. What are some of the things you expect when you read a romance? Why do you/readers read romance?

I expect a plausible plot, realistic conflict and tension, interesting characters that are developed just enough, dialogue that sounds authentic, and decisions that make sense. I expect the story to move along at a good pace throughout (no “muddy middles”) and to have the usual peaks and valleys: e.g., from “things are going well” to “oops, now they’re not” to the happily ever after. Readers read romance because they can be sure they’ll feel happy and satisfied at the end of the story. For me, especially now, romance novels represent escapism and entertainment.

2. What sub-genres of romance have you read (e.g., paranormal, romantic suspense)? What are some similarities that you’ve noticed among the various novels in the sub-genres you’ve read?

I have read contemporary romance, historical romance, and romantic suspense. Similarities I have noticed are the reader expectations that we looked at in week one: the framework, the emotional payoff, the focus on the love relationship, seeing the relationship develop from both viewpoints, and so on.

3. Which common storylines do you most enjoy and why?

Friends to lovers: I like the idea that characters know and like each other before beginning a romantic relationship, despite the risk that their friendship could be ruined because the romance doesn’t work out.

Secret royal/billionaire: Who doesn’t want to win the lottery? I don’t read fantasy, science fiction, or paranormal romance, so this is as close as it gets to the supernatural, to living in a different world.

Forbidden love (separated by distance, age): It’s fun to read stories about love that prevails. (Forbidden love that has to overcome cultural differences doesn’t appeal to me as much. I lived abroad for a couple of years and saw some of the difficulties encountered by people in cross-cultural relationships.)

“Everyday women” finding love and community in the country/on a ranch: I like western romance stories because I grew up in a city surrounded by farms and ranches and competed on horseback. These stories take me back.

4. How can writers find new twists for old classics?

What immediately came to mind was subverting tropes, which begins with being thoroughly acquainted with the original trope. For example, instead of a woman falling in love with a man her own age who turns out to be a prince or a billionaire (secret billionaire or royal), a young man falls for an older woman who is a princess or a billionaire (secret billionaire or royal; older woman, young man). Using technology (e.g., characters who live thousands of miles apart meet on Reddit [forbidden love; separated by distance]) or characters’ specific interests (e.g., competing orchid growers meet at a show [enemies to lovers]) could also liven up old classics.

Here is a brand-new trope: quarantine love stories! The COVID-19 romance trope reflects current events: roommates who must self-isolate during a pandemic fall in love (roommates with crushes). (Sorry, I had trouble adding a link.)

(I’m also having a bit of trouble with terminology, with the difference between categories and subgenres and between tropes and storylines. Thanks!)