Years ago when I started trying to write I romance, I confess that I thought it would be easy. In fact, I had heard so much about “the formula” that I spent a lot of time trying to find it, thinking that there had to be some “fill in the blanks” template somewhere I could use to make a living writing these simple little stories.
Fast forward over twenty some years, three published novels (only one a strict romance), hundreds of workshops, conferences, meetings, RWRs read, Writer’s Digests read, etc., etc., etc. and I see how naive I was. Obviously, romance writing isn’t any easier than any other kind of fiction writing and neither is it any more “formulaic” than science fiction, fantasy, mystery or western novels.
Yet, no one goes on Jay Leno with a science fiction book, picks out a random passage and reads it to the delight and laughter of the audience.
No one picks up a mystery novel and mocks the author’s name on Letterman.
No one writes a romance where a character states that she has made millions of dollars writing fantasy by just “filling in the blanks like Mad Libs.”
Yet, change the genre to romance and all those things have happened.
The last one is from a book called the Goliath Stone by Larry Niven and Matthew Joseph Harrington which my husband just finished and wrote a review on Goodreads. When he read me his review, including lambasting the authors for using the “Mad Libs/fill in the blank” trope for romance writing, I jumped up from the sofa and said, “Please tell me you are making this up.”
No, he assured me that this is directly from the book.
Please, romance writers of the world, let’s let Mr. Niven and Mr. Harrington know that we work just as hard as they do and deserve as much respect.