Our Romance Manifesto (aka, Romanifesto)

 

KEEP YOUR FOCUS ON THE SUMMIT

We (Elinor and Lola) don’t agree on everything.  For instance, Elinor drinks cocktails; Lola prefers wine.  Elinor wears mostly black; Lola likes color.  Elinor sometimes likes sad endings; Lola frowns at those.

One thing we do agree on, though, is romantic fiction.  We love it.  If you’re reading this blog, you probably love it, too.  Sadly, this affair with the genre we all share is one that’s often looked down upon by the literary establishment.  We thought it fitting, then, that one of our very first blog posts should be an act of defiance against those high-brow haters.  Thus, we offer you what we’ve decided to call our Romanifesto: a manifesto on the unadulterated awesomeness that is romantic fiction.  So, grab a glass of wine (or a cocktail!) and let us tell you why we love romance.

1: Because it’s literature.

To romance readers, this is a no brainer.  Of course romance is literature!  But if we’re talking to writers and readers outside the genre, this statement requires a medieval battle’s worth of defense.  “It’s formulaic!,” they say.  “It’s so predictable!”  We’re familiar with these criticisms and more.  It’s true that romance novels share a common plot structure, but that’s one aspect of romance that almost all readers love.  They’re reliable. In the same way that mystery novels are predictable—there’s a crime or a puzzle, someone has to solve it, there will be clues and obstacles and suspense—romance novels offer readers a familiar framework with unique details.  We know that the couple will get that HEA (happily ever after).  And we know that, whoever the author, the prose will be fantastic and the characters will be people we want to have as real life friends.  What we don’t know, and where each romance unique, is how they’ll get there, and what will get in their way, and how the precise chemistry of these two people will produce a lifetime of love.

Historically, romantic fiction has been dismissed by the literary establishment.  It’s “trash” or “smut” or “sentiment” (the latter criticism once leveled at the now classic works of the incomparable Jane Austen).  We can point to 100 different reasons for this, but at the top of the list: dudes hating on ladies.  Or, more accurately, a patriarchal literary elite decreeing that fiction by and about women isn’t real writing.  To that we say, “Shut your mouth, dummies!”  And we keep reading.  And writing. Til death do us part.

2: Because it’s feminist.

Romance novels are written by women, about women, for women.[1]  They focus on the rich landscape of women’s lives, from their emotions and their intellect to their professional successes and family commitments.

In romance novels, women are powerful, able characters whose actions and decisions drive the plot, shaping the entire story from beginning to end.  They aren’t accessories or metaphors or canvases for the more important experiences or ideas of male characters—and neither are their bodies.

And speaking of bodies…romantic fiction offers more than just sexual titillation (though there’s definitely some of that, too!).  It offers an opportunity for women to healthily engage the full range of their sexual and emotional desires, regardless of what those are.  And these days, as American culture (and other cultures, too) slowly opens its eyes to more than just a few types of physical beauty, women of all sizes, shapes, and abilities can find characters whose bodies look like theirs and are adored, even worshiped, by their partners.

3: Because it’s a healthy escape.

We can’t count the number of times we’ve lost track of the rest of the world when reading a romance.  You all know what we mean: you were just going to read a few pages and then, before you knew it, hours have passed and you’ve finished an entire book (and not the laundry or those emails or, well, anything else).  Romance is a calm, happy escape from a world that is sometimes light years from calm and happy.  It’s a place where readers can disappear for a time and return to their everyday lives full of renewed hope and excitement.

4: Because it’s about real life.

Wait, didn’t we just say that romance is an escape from real life?  We did, but that escape is into very real, very human humans (though sometimes, admittedly, with some embellishment in the abs and bank accounts departments).  Romance offers its readers access to the full range of human emotions, from grief and terror to joy, attraction, and consuming love, and it does so through characters we admire and wish we could invite over for a drink (or two…or ten).  What’s more real, more fundamentally human, than someone looking for love? Nada.

5: Because it’s intelligent.

As nerds of the first order (hello, grad school!), we’re more than a little proud of the intellectual endeavor that is writing and reading a romance novel.  Whether it’s a historical about blockade runners in the American Revolution or a steamy contemporary about a sociologist and a fisherman, romance novels are full of incredible detail about the worlds in which they’re set and the characters who inhabit them.  Reading and writing a romance requires painstaking attention to detail (looking at you, Outlander!) and an ear for clever dialogue and elegant prose that draws us in again and again.  Without a doubt, the thrill of learning something new is one of the biggest parts of what we love about the romantic fiction genre.

6: Because it’s the origin of this community.

When we first started exploring the idea of writing our own novels and of starting this blog, we were overwhelmed with support and enthusiasm.  Not just from our real life friends and family (though most of them think it’s great), but from other readers and writers of romance.  Romance novels are at the center of an incredible group of exciting, hilarious, brilliant women who have already welcomed us into their world.  We couldn’t be happier to be here.

 

[1] This excludes those very few—and very awesome!—male romance writers and the stories that focus on male to male romance.  We don’t think those are irrelevant, but they’re still often writing/written with a female audience in mind, which we think is great!

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