The Romance Writers of America are so proud of their bold new initiative to define what qualifies as a romance novel that they’ve issued a press release about it straight from Romance HQ in Houston, Texas. It reads, in part:
Romance Writers of America has outlined two elements — a central love story and an emotionally satisfying ending — as the crux of their association’s official definition of a romance novel.
no doubt about it, when you call a book a ‘romance’ it gets attention,"
says RWA President Tara Taylor Quinn. "But there are so many books
promoted as ‘romances’ or ‘love stories,’ readers, writers and
reporters who are considering our industry statistics are confused as
to what we mean. We see new titles released every month — from
non-fiction how-to manuals to women’s fiction — that are being touted
as ‘a new romance’ or a ‘timeless love story.’ Only a percentage are
actually romances. Many ‘relationship’ novels come close to being a
romance in our sense of the word, but in the end they don’t meet the
expectations our readers hold about the genre of romance. They are not
the same, and it’s confusing.
"In short, we found ourselves needing to officially define what a romance novel really is," Quinn says.
to RWA’s official definition, a romance is a book wherein the love
story is the main focus of the novel, and the end of the book is
I’m so glad they did this. I don’t know about you, but I’ve seen many people shuffling through the aisles at B&N, mumbling to themselves in a confused stupor… "is this a romance or chick-lit or fiction or what? Somebody PLEEESE help me!" Thank God the RWA has finally ended the mass confusion and, dare I say, hysteria. I know I’m seeing things a whole lot clearer now. The press release goes on to say:
This part of the definition excludes the type of novels that are most often incorrectly
considered to be romances: love stories with unhappy endings.
Bittersweet endings, like the conclusion to the love story in the film Titanic, for example, or the end of the novel Bridges of Madison County, prevent otherwise love-story focused books from being true romances.
established a simple and straight forward acid test for classifying a
book as a popular romance novel. Our
central-love-story/emotionally-satisfying-ending criteria will allow
writers, readers, and other interested parties to fully understand what
RWA means when it discusses ‘the romance novel,’ and all the statistics
and demographics that refer to it," Quinn says.
Good thing the RWA did this, because we wouldn’t want someone mistaking TITANIC or BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY for romances. That’s simply unthinkable and confusing.
Now…is a book still a romance if it includes the words cock,
cocksucker, cunt, fuck, motherfucker, shit, and tit? And what about all those pesky communists in the organization?