Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Why We Love Romance

I found the following comment posted on Linnea Sinclair's Oct 20th post THE FUTURE IS NOW.

I found another reason why "alien" romances are good. It's the same reason fantasy/future worlds are such good settings for stories in general .

With books set in today's world, cultural/race/national differences immediately, trap and restrict the plot and the characters, eg, the cliched Nazi German "baddie" or the Arab "terrorist".

It is so refreshing to read books where the antagonists have no relation to today's world so there are no reflections or restrictions to limit them.


The comment goes on to detail why Linnea's books are so good. Read the entire comment (with which I agree) here:


Since I posted that huge long Part 3 to Astrology Just For Writers about why people shy away from reading Romance genre, why people sneer at Romance Genre (and those who read it) at
I think I should point out what's so good about Romance -- only this comment nailed it first.

One of the uniquely gripping things about SF, Fantasy or genres in which the author has to build an entire world against which to tell a story is that ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN, at any moment.

Romance falls into that category because of the mental and emotional state of the two people falling in love -- their perceptions of reality are altered consciousness. And as I noted in my post, miracles happen in the vicinity of true love.

The reader can be led on an exploration of our own world via questions posed with the composition of the fictional world.

For example, in our own world, science works, logical thinking yields results which, once proved, can be relied upon. We risk our lives on that every day -- flu shots come to mind. (BTW I highly recommend getting the current flu shot!)

But WHY does science work? Why did we practice superstition and magic for thousands of years and only change to science a couple hundred years ago? Why was the change to science so radical and so abrupt? (yeah, we all know the real history - but that's only what's written in history books. Do you really, really believe it?)

Of course, even today, there are cultural circles and places in the world where many of the results of science are scoffed at. Why is that?

Well, let's go on an adventure into a world where science doesn't work, but magic does. Find out why. Readers can be led to ask questions about belief systems, anthropology, psychology -- consensus science (after all, science proved conclusively that the Earth is stationary and the Sun revolves around it).

Politics drives what is accepted as science. So can Religion.

Once you've grasped that principle, you can begin to ask questions about how a person who doesn't know, who isn't educated or smart enough to understand a huge subject, can rely upon "expert opinion" for anything.

With "expert opinion" brought into doubt -- aha, now you are in a world where indeed anything can happen!

When the very assumptions about reality are in question, the writer has no problem keeping the reader in a state of suspense.

The only difficulty is directing the suspense in an artistically satisfying direction.

The writer has to make the reader suspect, hope, fear or expect certain developments, and then deliver something almost like that, but with a different twist.

It's easier and more effective to build that kind of suspense into the universe premise, the worldbuilding, than to try to force it into the plot.

People remember novels which pose questions they don't know the answer to -- and postulate answers that they have never considered.

It isn't so much Answers that produce that great AHA! moment we all love, but rather New Questions!

Romance genre -- especially with an SF or Fantasy element to the worldbuilding -- can bring out new questions better than any other genre because of the state of mind of the protagonists of a Romance, which I discussed at some length in last week's post.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg


  1. Thanks for such a greatly articulated piece. Loved the last bit especially. Can't wait to mull on it further--I'm already feeling synapses firing as your words inspire a post of my own. I'll definitely link back to this post, huzzah!

  2. Thank you! That's exactly the effect I was aiming for.

    Jacqueline Lichtenberg