By Iola GoultonThe biggest genre is romance: biggest both in terms of the number of books published, and the number of books sold. Romance novels, according to Romance Writers of America, have two defining qualities: they have a love story that is central to the plot, and they have an “emotionally-satisfying and optimistic ending”—the Happy Ever After, or HEA. If it only has one of the two, it’s probably be Women’s Fiction, not romance. There are several major sub-genres within romance:
Chick-litChick-lit isn’t really romance, as the heroine’s relationships with family and friends are often as important as her romantic relationships. The origin of the phrase is chick (young woman) lit (literature). It’s not chic lit. Classic (!) examples include Bridget Jones’s Diary, and these exemplify my issue with Chick-lit: they often feature and glorify infidelity and promiscuity.
Chick-lit has a slightly different meaning within the Christian market: it refers to novels that are humorous or ‘light in tone’ with a colloquial voice. Examples include Sandra Bricker and Lisa Wingate. This was popular in the 1990’s, but has now fallen from favour.
Bonnet RomanceAmish romance is a genre quirk: it’s a hugely popular sub-genre of Christian fiction, but not in the general market. It is usually contemporary, set in one of the various Old Order Amish communities in the United States, and often features a teenager falling in love for the first time as she struggles to come to terms with the rules of her faith.
Do you write romance? How do you describe what you write? What do you feel are the essential ingredients in a romance novel?
Next week we will discuss some more common genres: mysteries, suspense and thrillers. I hope to see you then.
I am a freelance editor specialising in Christian fiction, and you can find out more about my services at my website, or follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. I love reading, and read and review around 150 Christian books each year on my blog.