Thursday, August 27, 2015

Time Out Thursday - Discussing the Romance

Pink Heart Society editor, Ali Williams, is talking about talking about romances...

I've been looking to join a book club recently - we moved to a town in Sussex about six months ago, and I've been finding it hard to meet people - and I discovered that our local Waterstones is starting a book club that'll meet once a month.  So naturally, I signed up.

But it got me thinking.

When we talk about romance novels, what are the questions that we're asking?  What are the themes and tropes and topics that we're looking to talk about?

Romance is such a broad genre that I find myself splitting discussion questions into two rather distinct categories:  discussion questions for those who regularly read romance; and discussion questions for those who read.  Either way, there are groups of questions that I always end up discussing:

Sub-Genre Questions

There are so many sub-genres of romance, that I like to try and contextualise the book being discussed - either to ask about the sub-genre if it's not one I read regularly, or to ask how this book compares to other books within the same sub-genre.  This is my chance to really understand where this author's coming from, and where this book fits within the wider romance writing narrative.

Trope Questions

One accusation often leveled at romance novels, is that they're all the same.  I think this is where the trope questions come in handy.  Have the writer taken a typical trope (whether that's a reunion story, or amnesia plot, or a secretary heroine) and done something a bit different with it?  Is the secretary the hero?  Or the reunion something high school sweethearts said they'd do if they were 30 and still unmarried?

I love the way that romance authors manage to keep their stories fresh and exciting, and discussing how they do that is always fun!

Intersectionality Questions

I'm a big fan of intersectional romances, whether it's the inclusion of LGBTQ characters, more POCs or heroines and heroes breaking away from the usual stereotypes.

that's not to say I don't enjoy novels that don't do this, but there are more and more intersectional romances that I believe challenge the stereotypes that the public domain has of romance, and that can only be a good thing.

Emotion Questions

And one of the best things about romances, is the way that they manage to capture a broad spectrum of emotions - from elation to devastation; from mistrust to openness - and there's nothing better than discussing how the book in question managed to capture your heart.

What are the questions that you ask of romance novels?  And are there any questions that regularly pop up when you discuss them with others?  Join our very own discussion in the comments!!

Ali Williams grew up in Croydon and spent her teenage years in a convent girls’ school. She then fled to university where she discovered champagne cocktails, a capella singing and erotica.

These days she blogs about perceptions of romance, chick lit and women in society and spends the rest of her time promoting #StrongRomanceHeroines on Twitter, and cracking on with her first novel, Breakfast in Tunford.

Editor for the Pink Heart Society, guest blogger for Mills & Boon and Harper Impulse, and occasional columnist for For Books' Sake, she defies you to slam romance novels within her hearing!

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