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No, romance novels are not all the same, but thanks for offering your uneducated, unsolicited opinion.

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 “But a romance novel isn’t exactly ‘ Infinite Jest.’ though some bodice-rippers are dirtier than others, there is a formula — at some point, the wealthy heiress or the lady-in-waiting hooks up with the horse wrangler or the errant knight, and jeans come off or, well, bodices get ripped.”   —Justin Wm. Moyer,  The Washington Post

If you’ve heard the term “bodice-ripper” lately, ten to one it’s because some clueless journalist is writing a story about romance novels. This week, the stories have been about Laura Harner and her plagiarism of Becky McGraw and Opal Carew. The story has gone somewhat viral in the news media, showing up not only at The Washington Post, but at The Guardian, Jezebel, and the Daily Mail. Despite the seriousness of the allegations, commenters on several of the sites appear to agree with Moyer’s blanket assessment of all romance novels.

Detractors come up with the same tired excuses to hate the genre time and again. It’s criticized for being formulaic; in his Washington Post article, Moyer goes on to accuse romance novels of having a “fill in the blanks quality”. This is particularly rich coming from a journalist who largely copied and pasted his entire story from The Guardian.  If Moyer had bothered to contact  McGraw, or any other romance author or reader, before writing his article (as Allison  Flood, author of the Guardian article did), he may have found someone willing to  clear up his misconceptions and help him save face. Of course, that would have required actually communicating with silly people who are clearly below him.

Echoing Moyer’s asinine position, some commenters on the Guardian article felt that Harner’s plagiarism was a  non-issue, since the formulaic qualities of these novels rendered them all exactly alike.

Let’s examine this allegation, shall we? Why don’t we compare The Liar, by Nora Roberts, in which a widow learns that her late husband was a con-man and falls for a small-town contractor, all while raising her three-year-old daughter and living  in the dangerous shadow of her husband’s lies, with Virgin River, by Robyn Carr, in which a widowed nurse moves to a small mountain town, where she rescues an abandoned baby and falls in love with a former Marine. “Wow,” you might be saying. “Those books both have  widows! They both have children! They both have small towns! How can you possibly tell them apart?”

Well, one is a romantic suspense with danger and murder, and the other is a feel-good romance about learning to love again. Sure, they have things in common, but so do many high fantasy books. You can find plenty of superficial similarities between Tolkien’s  Lord of the Rings saga and Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series (an all-powerful dark villain, an ancient horn, shadowy black wraiths), but does that mean they’re the same story? Does it mean either series is less worthy of praise, or that one doesn’t have value? What if we throw fan boy favorite A Song of Ice and Fire, by George R. R. Martin, into the mix? After all, that series also has a chosen one named after a dragon,  so it’s practically indistinguishable from The Wheel of Time,  and therefore not any good.

To say that all romance is the same because they all share genre conventions is like saying all sports are the same because at the end of the game, someone’s going to win. Yes, in a romance novel there will always be  a character who meets another character and falls in love, but that’s hardly a “fill-in the blank” template. One of the characters can be anyone; a reporter. A cowboy. A vampire. The other could easily be a fairy, or a detective, or a billionaire. And the obstacles to true love are not going to be the same for a sheik and a hotelier as they would be for a werewolf and a DEA agent. Setting, too, influences the plot as much as the characters; a Regency heiress simply can’t have the same life experience, motivations, and dreams as a space explorer in the year 2309, unless we’re talking in the extreme abstract.

In the mainstream press, romance novels are a joke. Despite raking in $1.08 billion in 2013, the industry is still derided as worthless. Maybe it’s because 84% of all romance readers are women, and romance writers are mostly women, as well.

No, wait. There is no “maybe”. That’s exactly why.

If misogyny didn’t come into play, why aren’t people like Moyer roundly mocking Nicholas Sparks for his formulaic novels?  If future civilizations unearthed Nicholas Sparks’s catalog, they would likely believe that the entire Earth was made up solely of North Carolina. The same with the frequent New England settings of the novels of Stephen King, who has also written numerous stories in which something spooky happens to a white male writer.

To take a broader look,  how many men have written novels in which unlikely groups of heroes from vastly different personal backgrounds band together to win the day? And what about superheroes? Men and women with various powers and themed outfits, all bearing the burden of a super villain arch nemesis and the dangers of their own hubris. It’s a largely male-dominated genre, defended to the death by a largely male-dominated audience who are just as passionate in pointing out the differences between their favorite heroes as romance readers are in pointing out the abundant variances in their genre. Yet, only the former has reached a place of pop-culture relevance that earns it respect. Even if that respect is given somewhat grudgingly to comics, romance readers and authors can only expect to find derision and snide hostility from people who refuse to read the books, but who are all too willing to offer their uneducated, unsolicited opinions.

All romance novels are not the same. All romance readers are not the same. A quick perusal of the romance category on Amazon could prove that in three clicks. But if detractors educated themselves, how can they make their snide, wholly unfounded remarks? How can they display their superior taste, if they can’t put millions of women down?

If a journalist were writing an article about heart surgery, we would assume that they would consult an actual cardiac surgeon. Simply editorializing on the subject and calling it reporting would never fly. So why do we accept that writers who display open distaste for the romance genre, and who clearly have no working knowledge of it, have the authority to report on it? Unless a journalist is willing to reach out to authors and readers of romance, or at least research the genre before denouncing it entirely, then they — and we — would be better off if they didn’t write about it at all.

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93 Comments

  1. Stormy
    Stormy

    Saw that article, facepalmed.

    There’s always that derisive tone about silly love stories when major news outlets are forced to cover something related to romance novels, as though they’re afraid they’ll be mocked if they take the issue at hand – plagiarism – seriously. Romance novels are indeed troperrific, but a) not all tropes are bad and b) so what? “Sharing similar themes” isn’t remotely the same as “sharing walls of nearly unedited text”, and to hear a journalist shrug off plagiarism, which can very deeply affect his work and career, is depressing. Just because it happened in a genre this guy doesn’t read doesn’t make it okay.

    October 30, 2015
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    • Right?! My first thought when I read his formula comment was, “I CANNOT wait for someone to plagiarize his articles and say they were just following a formula.”

      October 31, 2015
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      • No one will plagiarize his articles because there’s better writing to steal out there than the bull crap he put out.

        November 3, 2015
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  2. Linsey Hall
    Linsey Hall

    Thank you for the insightful rebuttal to this asinine article by Moyer (and by association, the hundreds that preceded it and will likely follow). I can always count on you to write something intelligent and amazing while I’m still busy sputtering in rage. Just like I can count on you to write intelligent, awesomely entertaining romance – The Boss series was killer!

    October 30, 2015
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  3. Lieke
    Lieke

    I wholeheartedly agree with everything you’ve written here. Plus, I really enjoyed that line about Stephen King you threw in there and I love his works.

    October 30, 2015
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  4. But was I the only one who felt like Moyer’s article was almost completely lifted from the Guardian article, except the parts with his editorializing? Like it was barely more than a summary of someone else’s work.

    October 30, 2015
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    • Lieke
      Lieke

      Maybe that was a meta-comment about Moyer’s own work?

      ‘You shouldn’t worry about plagiarised romance novels or this article of mine I totally stole, because both are crap. Also, I know nothing about romance novels or plagiarism and I suck.’

      October 30, 2015
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    • Zweisatz
      Zweisatz

      Jenny wrote that directly in the article?

      October 31, 2015
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  5. Manna Francis
    Manna Francis

    I generally find that the same lit fic fanboy critics who shit all over romance novels will shit all over pretty much any genre novel. Romance, fantasy, sci fi, horror, crime, chick lit — as far as they’re concerned, those are all cookie-cutter trivial crap. Whereas there can be any number of books about middle aged intellectuals living in [insert current trendy locale] and having a mid-life crisis, and those are all special and unique and valuable.

    And there’s nothing wrong with being a fan, and having a fandom! There’s nothing wrong with loving to read a particular genre. I just wish the lit fic fanboys would acknowledge that that’s what they’re doing, too.

    October 30, 2015
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    • Elisabeth
      Elisabeth

      “I generally find that the same lit fic fanboy critics who shit all over romance novels will shit all over pretty much any genre novel. Romance, fantasy, sci fi, horror, crime, chick lit — as far as they’re concerned, those are all cookie-cutter trivial crap. Whereas there can be any number of books about middle aged intellectuals living in [insert current trendy locale] and having a mid-life crisis, and those are all special and unique and valuable.”

      True. Literary snobs might sneer at romance more than other genres, but they also tend to dump on other genre fiction. I read YA books as an adult, which is one of the worst things you can admit to a literary snob. They know nothing of the genre beyond Twilight and The Hunger Games, maybe Divergent, but they still blanket the entire genre as childish escapist crap and make insulting personal generalizations about adult readers. Obviously, we’re all spoiled, immature millennials with Peter-Pan syndrome and no interest in adult reading.

      The general audience (whether it’s a book-reading or movie-watching audience) does tend to be harder on works aimed at women, don’t they? I thought that Transformers was as shitty as Twilight, but the series didn’t get as much hatred. The Marvel Universe movies are as cookie-cutter as you can get, but you can’t say that without a hundred fanboys jumping down your throat for daring to have a differing opinion.

      October 30, 2015
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      • The last time I signed up for a college writing class, I got up and walked out when the instructor made it very clear that genre fic is crap and would not be allowed in her classroom. No Frankenstein, no Harry Potter, no Lord of the Rings. And she meant it. She said genre fiction was all low-brow and didn’t care about characterization, and so only lit fic would be used and written.

        Transformers has explosions and sex-appeal, which keeps male fans going back. They found a couple things to hook their target audience into coming back, and so who cares about the story. Just blow things up! There wasn’t really much to keep Twilight from getting boring. But at least I’ve made it through all five Twilight movies.

        A lot of Marvel fanboys fantasize about themselves doing grander things than they ever could in real life, and the characters are vehicles for their fantasies of saving the day. I linked this down below: https://alysbcohen.wordpress.com/2015/10/30/super-heros-vs-romance/ There are a lot of differences between the genres that have very, very little to do with what is “for boys” or “for girls.”

        October 30, 2015
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        • Elisabeth
          Elisabeth

          The main sticking point for me with Transformers was the use of Megan Fox as eye candy. I don’t have any objection to beautiful women in movies, but it rankles me that the only role for beautiful women in the Transformers series is sex appeal. Women in action movies have been playing active roles for decades now.

          I enjoyed the first Twilight movie for its ridiculous camp appeal – it was so bad it was funny – but I’d rather chew my own arm off than watch the rest of the series. I turned New Moon off halfway through, and I have no interest in the others.

          I actually do like some of the Marvel movies. The movies have mostly been male-dominated, but the Captain Marvel movie will have a female lead, which is good.

          I hadn’t really thought of the franchising and merchandising potential of superhero movies versus romance movies. You make a good point. Apart from Twilight, I can’t think of any romance movies that were turned into a whole series.

          October 30, 2015
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          • Elisabeth
            Elisabeth

            Still, I think it’s a shame that movie studios are hesitant to put out anything but blockbusters.

            October 31, 2015
        • A. Noyd
          A. Noyd

          I was fortunate to have the opposite experience with a writing class. The teacher was very in favor of genre fiction. One quarter, she was on the lookout for new textbooks to use in class but didn’t have much time, so she offered extra credit to students who would read a potential text and review it.

          The one I picked ended up being completely dismissive of genre fiction, referring to it something you do for the money until you get your literary manuscript accepted somewhere. The teacher disqualified the book for use in her class after hearing that.

          (Looking back, it doesn’t seem realistic, even 15+ years ago, to act like any genre market would—in general—offer easy money to someone not genuinely interested in writing that genre.)

          October 31, 2015
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    • eselle28
      eselle28

      I almost fell out of my chair laughing. This is exactly why I don’t read a lot of lit fic. It’s not all the same, but it does tend toward certain themes and tropes, and I don’t personally enjoy those themes and tropes.

      I wish people who weren’t interested in romance or mystery novels or science fiction could do the same, rather than labeling all “genre” as repetitive and cliche while treating everything the enjoy reading as purely unique. Most literature is a blend of both.

      October 30, 2015
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  6. iheartbusterk
    iheartbusterk

    What has really irritated me about the comments I’ve seen regarding this story are the ones that quote a snippet of text and then say something along the lines of “well, it’s not Shakeapeare is it?” as if writing quality somehow excuses plagiarism. Never mind that I hate when people dismiss a book because it’s not Shakespeare, Dickens, or Austen. No one reads just a diet of Literautre. If you do, then you’ve read mostly just dead white dudes, missing out on the perspectives of so many other people and probably have gotten bored.

    Also, I’ve been writing a romance that is almost 100% certain to never be read by someone other than my friend and me. Guess what snarky journalists and armchair critics, it’s a goddamn slog and what I’m writing is a few steps above James (although hopefully nowhere near as problematic). So stop acting like it isn’t hard work to write romance novels and go off and read whatever it is that you do enjoy because no one is holding a gun to your head making you read romance or any other genre for that matter.

    October 30, 2015
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    • Wendy
      Wendy

      Not to mention, you could take a random snippet of Shakespeare and still say “It’s not Shakespeare, is it?” – because for every brilliant line in there, there’s the other 99% of the play which consists of Getting Plot Over With. All the really enduring romances DO have at least a few lines which really shine – but of course those aren’t the ones the quoters bother finding.

      October 30, 2015
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      • Jane
        Jane

        No, no. Shakespeare is 1% brilliant lines, 50% Getting Plot Shit Done, and 49% Dick Jokes.

        October 30, 2015
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        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          Oh, God, you are so right there. I’ve done Shakespeare on stage for years, and there are so many dick jokes, you can’t even vary the blocking sometimes–it’s all Michael-Jackson-grabbing-his-crotch.

          November 1, 2015
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      • Lindsay
        Lindsay

        Well, you shouldn’t be reading Shakespeare anyway, since a lot of his famous plays (Midsummer, Romeo and Juliet, The Tempest), is pure genre fiction. Shit, even Hamlet is a ghost story.

        November 1, 2015
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        • ViolettaD
          ViolettaD

          Why, that HACK! “Much Ado,” “Shrew,” and “As You Like It” are ALL about snotty women finding the right guy. And the history plays–whoa, they’re almost all about Plantagenets killing each other. I never noticed what a formula-fuck he is: five Acts, major plot twist comes in Act III, if it’s a comedy, there is at least one marriage at the end, and if it’s a tragedy, half the cast is dead. Dead space while somebody’s doing a set change behind the curtain? Throw on a few clowns and have them tell dick jokes. Read one, you’ve read ’em all.

          November 1, 2015
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    • eselle28
      eselle28

      Aside from everything else, those are kind of hilarious examples of Literature, because all of those writers had a lot of mass appeal and were surrounded by people doing similar things, just not as well. Shakespeare’s audience included boisterous audiences in the cheap seats, Dickens was the most popular writer of his time and was kind of famously a favorite of people who didn’t otherwise read much, and Austen’s books were popular among fashionable society women.

      There’s good writing in all genres and at all levels of popularity. I suspect people who really try to read only Literature, as apart from works of whatever sort that interest them, probably miss a few things that will be considered gems in the future. They also, like the rest of us who read with any regularity, spend a lot of time reading things that no one will remember in a decade or two.

      October 30, 2015
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  7. That was the most well-written article I’ve seen, Jenny. BRAVO! Maybe Moyer should contact you for some lessons in journalism now that you’ve schooled him on what isn’t journalism.

    October 30, 2015
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  8. Tracy
    Tracy

    Oh, I knew this was going to happen. A journalist mocking romances and the women who read them and write them.

    October 30, 2015
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  9. blanche
    blanche

    um, sign me up for the werewolf + DEA agent romance!

    the double standards in media are depressing. stories about [insert deviation from white, hetero, able-bodied, cis male here] aren’t “universal” enough, but stories about totally a normal guy realizing his GREATNESS (and probably saving the world and getting the girl in the process) are just sooo different that you think you can come out here and accuse others of being formulaic? nope. nope-ity nope NOPE.

    jenny– thanks, once again, for eloquently shutting down the idiots. 🙂

    October 30, 2015
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    • drmaggiemoreau
      drmaggiemoreau

      Oh, but all werewolves are Jacob Black and all DEA agents are Hank from Breaking Bad;). Brb, I have to write something WONDERFUL.

      November 5, 2015
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  10. Thank you for writing this. Everything I wanted to say but was too angry to think clearly enough to say.

    October 30, 2015
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  11. Thank you so much for this intelligent post. Damn, if romance was fill-in-the-blanks, it would take me a lot less time to write my books!

    Bless you! Keep up the good work.

    October 30, 2015
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  12. Beatrice
    Beatrice

    Why yes, books of the same genre have some basic things in common. That’s rather what makes them belong to one genre or another.

    It took me years to realize that my hate of romance novels had little to do with the average quality of romance novels and much more with me trying to distance myself from “girly”, stereotypically feminine things.

    October 30, 2015
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  13. falalala
    falalala

    I am always perplexed by how we as a society have decided certain genres are “good” and others are “bad,” whether in books or in music or in any other form of media. Well…not really perplexed, because it’s generally pretty straightforward: if the genre is popular with upper-class, straight, middle-aged white men, it’s good. If, instead, the genre attracts lots of women (e.g. romance novels), working-class people (e.g. country music), people of color (e.g. rap), young people (e.g. comic books), or anyone else who isn’t an upper-class, straight, middle-aged white man, it’s dumb and formulaic and any idiot could do it, and no, we don’t actually have to learn anything about it to know that, it’s just obvious.

    (Similarly, things that are popular with people who are demographically closer to the most privileged people are “better” than things that are popular with those farther away. So, for example, video games as a whole are less important as an art form than books or movies, because they’re more popular with people who are not yet middle-aged, but Call of Duty is obviously better than The Sims, because the former’s audience is mostly male while the latter attracts lots of women and girls. If there were a genre that mostly attracted poor black teenage lesbians, it would be the WORST GENRE EVER, and no one would ever need to read/watch/listen to/play it to determine that. Sigh.)

    October 30, 2015
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  14. Marilyn
    Marilyn

    PLEASE tell me where I can find or buy that fill-in-the-blank template for romance novels because NaNoWriMo is coming up and I’m planning to finish my WIP in November . A template where I fill in blanks would make it so much easier and I could get the manuscript to my publisher way ahead of schedule. Oh yeah. There’s no template. There’s no fill in the blanks. If it was that easy everyone would be a published romance writer.

    Thanks for a great article, but who wants to bet Mr. Know-it-All won’t bother to read it because, after all, it was written by a woman. We have to try twice as hard to be considered half as good. Fortunately, it isn’t difficult. 😉

    October 30, 2015
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  15. Angi Morgan
    Angi Morgan

    I hope your article goes viral !

    October 30, 2015
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  16. […] started this post as a reply to Jenny Trout’s article No, romance novels are not all the same, but thanks for offering your uneducated, unsolicited opinio…, and then brought it here to expand into a full article.  While I agree with the gist of the […]

    October 30, 2015
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  17. Where is this mystical fill-in-the-blanks template? Let’s see him try to write a romance that women will want to read. Yeah, not holding my breath for that to happen.

    Until then, let’s keep writing those “bodice rippers” until there are no more love stories to tell. Fabulous article!

    October 30, 2015
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  18. mmmmm, I wounder how Hugh Grant would feel about his work being derided in the mainstream, given his career is built upon putting romance novels on the big screen?

    October 30, 2015
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  19. Tammy Faris
    Tammy Faris

    Outstanding post! Thank goodness authors have you on their team!

    October 30, 2015
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  20. I kind of want to write about the obstacles to true love between a werewolf and a DEA agent now.

    I’ve read enough romance that at least within the Regency subgenre I can comment on its conventions knowledgeably. I can comment less knowledgeably on Western ones, and will rant at length about how hard it is to find good Highland romance. (I think I’ve managed to find, like, two that I’ve liked, and it’s not for lack of trying.) I read them less often now, but even within Regency– two of my favorites are Stephanie Laurens and Victoria Alexander. Stephanie Laurens novels are very tightly written, well-plotted, always have a mystery for the characters to solve (or Napoleonic wars spying!), and awful at consent even by the standards of Regency. Victoria Alexander writes wacky comedy and generally the plot is entirely of the couple’s making. (She’s also doing surprisingly well for the genre at portraying consent.) They are *nothing* alike, even though both the Cynster books and the Effington books are Regencies about members of a family that prizes strong-willed women and marriage for true love.

    I can go on in that vein comparing every series on my truly impressive shelf of romance novels (all sorted by subgenre and author, with series in chronological order) for quite a while and in much more detail. Some *authors* are formulaic to themselves, but the genre as a whole actually isn’t.

    October 30, 2015
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    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      There actually are some sites with advice for Filling in some Blanks–this one gives advice on physical descriptions, but if you surf a bit, many of the the phrases it endorses seem just as strained as the cliches it warns against:

      http://www.obsidianbookshelf.com/html/descriptioncliches.html

      There have been different versions of Robin Hood, King Arthur, Sherlock Holmes, Superman, etc. As Seanna posted on another thread, it’s what you DO with them that matters. Margaret Mitchell was clearly influenced by the Brontes, the Brontes were clearly influenced by Byron, Byron was influenced by Milton’s Satan, and Milton was influenced by the Vice in the medieval plays–but they didn’t steal each other’s WORDS, and they all had different stories to tell.

      October 30, 2015
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  21. I started to address “Yet, only the former has reached a place of pop-culture relevance that earns it respect,” then turned it into a blog article.

    https://alysbcohen.wordpress.com/2015/10/30/super-heros-vs-romance/

    The romance genre has a lot of filler, and it always has. A tremendous amount, and that filler is indeed formulaic. The path is the same, though the dance from start to end might be a well-rehearsed Viennese waltz on one book, and a clumsy fox trot in the next. Romance books with much more substance exist, but are going to be a needle in a haystack. It can be easy to start thinking that the typical reader spends a lot of time in the book world in some sense, but outside of our spheres, which include more writers and “serious” readers, quite a few readers pick up what they see at the checkstand or on the clearance table at Barnes & Noble, and since those books are far more likely to be romance-mill books, this will leave a lot of readers thinking that romance is low-brow. Doesn’t mean readers don’t still enjoy them. McDonald’s is terrible, but I’ll be damned if I’m not craving chicken nuggets right now. We don’t need the cream of the crop to still enjoy something, and we can still admit that our little pleasures and guilty pleasures are really pretty terrible at the end of the day, and have a lot of problems.

    And, as much as I hate to say it, when looking for pointers on writing straight romance, I found quite a few sites and blogs that had instructions very much like “fill in the blanks,” down to how this part should be this many pages, then this, then that, all with how many pages to use. The number of books put out quickly by mills, combined with instructions literally including how many page numbers for everything, help give the genre that “fill in the blanks quality.” The problem isn’t so much reviewers as it is with how many books in the genre are poorly written (funny enough, those are some of the most fun, in my experience, especially the ones with Fabio on the cover). Right now, this is a genre undergoing a rehab of sort. Harry Potter did a lot for turning young adult books into something acceptable and respectable for adults to read (I was teased pretty badly when I bought the first three books because why is an adult reading kids’ books, and then it took off like a rocket, and now adults are encouraged to return to the YA genre).

    There really are a lot of bad romances still being published, and it’s still seen as something of an easy genre because of the formula. Two friends of mine are in this genre for the “easy” money without dong much work. Write a draft, push it to Createspace.

    Today’s romance-writers who want to put out something more substantial have to overcome what romance used to be, and the quickly-pushed, just plain crappy mass-market things available at the typical grocery store in the periodicals section. It’s not going to be easy to rehab the genre, and it’s a fluke that JK Rowling did it on her own so quickly for YA, and it’s not helping that Twilight and Fifty Shades are still the biggest books shoved into the genre. It can be done, is starting to be done, and still needs more time.

    I’ll be throwing my own chips into the genre next year. I’m working on some series outlines. I’m going to take the common perceptions about the genre, such as the belief that most are bodice-rippers (by number, they are), and try to turn that around. Put out something different, something better, try to smother down the old and, frankly, rapetastic romances with something that doesn’t go the usual course.

    October 30, 2015
    |Reply
    • JennyTrout
      JennyTrout

      Alys, let me be perfectly frank with you here. I am a romance novelist. You know this, because you come to my blog often, and we’ve interacted on Twitter. I’ve hosted numerous authors here who produce quality books that don’t buy into harmful tropes…so I have no idea why you’d assume that the rehabbing of the romance genre from the bodice rippers of old hasn’t already happened.

      Further, when you disparage the genre, reference Fabio (who hasn’t been on a cover in probably twenty years), then announce your plan to “put out something different, something better, try to smother down the old and, frankly, rapetastic romances with something that doesn’t go the usual course,” it suggests that you’re very out of touch with the genre as a whole. Or that you simply feel that your contribution will single-handedly revolutionize romance, despite the fact that what you’re describing is something that isn’t at all uncommon in romance today.

      To be honest, your comment is basically as insulting to romance authors and readers as Moyer’s article was.

      October 30, 2015
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    • I’m wondering about the romances you’ve read lately.

      While it may have been difficult, in the 1980s, to find romance novels that involved things like consent, female sexual agency, and characters who genuinely like and respect one another, there are plenty of romance novelists publishing today whose novels meet all those criteria and more. (You may not have noticed, but this blog belongs to one such novelist.)

      Again, I’m not sure about the romances you’ve been reading or the writing sites you’ve been visiting, but your description sounds more like an unfortunate game of Mad Libs than actual writing advice. Romance storylines are as widely varied as their audiences, and suggesting that there is a fill in the blank process to writing is as insulting to authors as it is to the readers who enjoy the genre.

      As a writer and reader of romance, I can assure you, the genre was “rehabbed” quite some time ago. I encourage you to actually read these stories as opposed to making gross generalizations that haven’t applied to the genre, as a whole, in years. And best of luck with your contribution to romance.

      October 30, 2015
      |Reply
    • The idea that romance authors write with little effort for easy money, with fill-in-the-blank stories, is hugely insulting to those of us who work hard at what we do.

      Going online and looking up how to write a romance novel, I would expect you would find how-to’s that utilize a very formulaic model. The same would be true if you were to look up how to write a mystery novel or any other type of fiction. How-to’s aren’t going to be helpful if you don’t know your market and audience. And the only effective way to do that is to read. Read what is out there and available and what readers are buying. And the market is vast and varied and offers much more than simple formulaic stories that bored housewives read. And that is a prevailing generalization that is almost as insulting and untrue as everything else. Romance readership is just as diverse as offerings in genre fiction.

      The romance genre has greatly changed over the years. Are there still problematic books out there? Sure. But to paint the entire genre with that biased brush is an insult and disservice to those who write romance as well as those who read it.

      October 30, 2015
      |Reply
    • Lillian
      Lillian

      I hate to say it but if you really need to go to sites to get ‘pointers for writing straight romance’ then you probably shouldn’t even attempt to write a romance novel because yours will be one of those formula jobs that you keep deriding.
      Writing good romance comes with heart, hard work, and a huge dose of empathy. None of these things can be found on websites.
      Also if your friends are only in it to churn books out and make easy money then they are adding to the problem, don’t you think?
      Before you write your ‘ground breaking’ romance novel I suggest you expand your reading.
      And FYI your comment insulted me more than the original article that prompt this blog post because you ‘claim’ to know what you’re talking about.

      October 31, 2015
      |Reply
  22. Squirrel
    Squirrel

    You’re fucking awesome Jenny!! And as always, eloquently sum up the fury in our hearts.

    Its so infuriating that people do this. Romance was the first genre I ever wrote stories in (way back in middle school) and its largely what got my best friend and I into writing. And yet, when I talk to people other than her about my writing and the word ‘romance’ is used as an adjective, even if what I’m writing isn’t a romance novel, its met with derision or treated like its not serious writing. Because everyone knows a story written by a woman with even the smallest amount of romance means it’s some anti-feminist, 50 Shades type bull-fuckery. In addition to this, I think its messed up that for the longest time, I was ashamed to be seen buying or owning romance novels. I would actually hide them in my room or put them on my bookshelf with the spines facing the wall. And my best friend and I smuggled these books to each other like drugs.

    October 30, 2015
    |Reply
  23. Tenko
    Tenko

    This made my day. IDE like romance novels and I know they’re not all the same. I can’t help, but be reminded by how most everyone thinks every Mon and Magical Girl series are Pokemon and Sailor Moon ripoffs, even though the only similarities they have are from being the same genre.

    October 30, 2015
    |Reply
  24. Stephanie Scott
    Stephanie Scott

    *mic drop*

    Adding to my bookmarked list to copy + paste in for future dumbass articles headlined with bodice rippers and/or Fabio pics. February is coming, people!

    October 30, 2015
    |Reply
  25. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    What Moyer is missing is not that there might be some overlapping of plot or iconic characters, but that Harner ripped off PROSE. Word-for-word. Maybe occasionally using a thesaurus.
    That’s like doing this:
    *********************************
    Pansy dYssiton was not stunning, but males rarely become conscious of it when snared by her allure as the Cassafieres boys were. In her face were too harshly intermingled the fine features of her mother, a patrician from Toulouse, and the coarse ones of her Welsh father. But it was a fascinating face, sharp of chin, blunt of cheek. Her eyes were baby blue, feathered with thick dark lashes. Her brows sloped high, slashing a surprising diagonal line in her lily-white complexion — that complexion so valued by noblewomen and so vigilantly protected with chip hats, nets, and muffs from Languedoc weather.
    *********************************
    Hey, how do you like the start of my romance about the lead-up to the St. Bartholomew Day’s Massacre? You don’t? But–but–I didn’t borrow anybody’s plot or or setting. What could POSSIBLY be the problem?

    Nobody–but NOBODY steals line after line of text by accident.

    October 30, 2015
    |Reply
  26. Of course they are all the same. I mean, interstellar bounty hunters are just like 18th century pirates who are exactly like an architect and English prof who happen to be werewolves.

    The only formula for a romance is “people fall in love” and a happy/hopeful ending.
    Within that, you can write gay werewolves, lesbian giant-slayers, a PTSD Iraq vet and a leg less phone psychic or anything else.

    It isn’t all meet-cute, shag like bunnies, HEA with white people almost kissing on the cover.

    October 30, 2015
    |Reply
  27. Simone Beaudelaire
    Simone Beaudelaire

    I’m doing scholarly research on the romance novel right now. Don’t worry, as a lifelong reader of the genre, ‘formulaic’ will not be one of my arguments. Quite the opposite. I believe romance novels provide rhetorical access to women, both as writers and readers.

    October 30, 2015
    |Reply
  28. While I haven’t read the article, I am aware of the situation that Becky faces. Bravo to you for going to bat for us readers/authors of romance. I’ve seen time and time again where a journalist has bashed the romance industry. All we can hope is that one day these people will get a grip.

    October 30, 2015
    |Reply
  29. Amber Rose
    Amber Rose

    I have read some bodice rippers.

    Only wait no, I haven’t. I have read some older books set in a previous time period in which the ladies probably were wearing bodices (I almost never see that word come up), and the covers certainly had those painfully ridiculous pictures on the front, which I pretty much solely blame for the term “bodice ripper” anyway.

    But I read GOOD books in which people have a healthy respect for the laws of physics, which state that it’s really fucking hard to tear clothes off a person’s body and trying would not only be really disrespectful, it would almost certainly fail and make you look stupid in the attempt.

    The only book i’ve read in my collection of hundreds of various romances where any clothes are “ripped” was The Windflower, and it’s the girl who does it to the guy with, I believe, a nearby pair of scissors. Possibly a knife. I don’t really remember. Oh, and a wedding where a wedding dress was blasted off with magic in frustration, but that’s truth in advertising as far as i’m concerned, because after 20 minutes fighting knots, my dearest’s first act as husband was to literally cut me free with some borrowed scissors.

    There is a lot of bad romance out there, but let’s be real here. There’s a lot of bad writing in every genre.

    October 30, 2015
    |Reply
  30. You’re officially my hero.

    This is the best article I’ve ever read in defense of romance novels.

    Has the word BURN been retired yet?

    October 30, 2015
    |Reply
  31. Barbarella
    Barbarella

    THANK YOU.

    I’ve been saying this forever now. I don’t read much romance, but I’m super into paranormal/urban fantasy type books. And that entire genre gets SO MUCH CRAP. I’ve read GoT, I’ve read LotR and many many more ‘respected’ books and honestly the only difference I see is who wrote it and who the fans are. It’s always women’s work being ridiculed, always women’s entertainment seen as ‘junk.’

    I wish you’d review something by Nicholas Sparks or some other ‘big name’ male writer, tbh.

    October 30, 2015
    |Reply
    • drmaggiemoreau
      drmaggiemoreau

      Oh, yes, please. Nicholas Sparks + Jenny Reads= Everthything Awesome

      October 31, 2015
      |Reply
  32. Carolina West
    Carolina West

    I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a romance fan, (I’ve read maybe three I actually like, and one of those is a manga series), but even I find it insulting when people say it’s a C&P genre. Yeah, it has a formula, but what genre doesn’t? It also pisses me off that most people dismiss it simply because most of its creators/audience are female. Why is it that, if something doesn’t draw in a big male audience, its considered inferior? Seriously, what moron came up with that?
    I guess a lot of the same can be said for YA novels, though to be honest I don’t read many of those, either. Mainly because there’s usually some big part of the story that rubs me the wrong way. But I think the main problem with them is now it seems almost every best seller is just a fanfiction of the one that came before it. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but I can’t be the only one who feels like its getting a little obvious.
    The ones that are a little more original, at least in some cases, seem to rely more on starting a controversy to get people interested, or they cover a topic a lot of writers tend to avoid. Either because they’re afraid of said controversy, society has deemed it “too depressing” or the topic is considered taboo. It amazes me what our society endorses, while at the same time condemning many aspects of those same topics.
    Now, these are just my opinions, and I know my little rant doesn’t really have much to do with the post, but all in all, I think the root of Moryer’s problem, as with most people who don’t follow this genre, is that they don’t understand it. They would rather copy what other romance ney-sayers are saying, instead of taking a look for themselves and running the risk of being looked down upon because they read something from a “women’s genre”.

    October 31, 2015
    |Reply
    • Elisabeth
      Elisabeth

      The only romances I’ve read have been historical ones (Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre, Gone with the Wind, etc.). So, I don’t think I’m qualified to speak about romance as a genre, because I don’t know anything about it. Disparaging a genre he obviously knows nothing about doesn’t make the Post author look like he has good taste, it just makes him look ignorant.

      “I guess a lot of the same can be said for YA novels, though to be honest I don’t read many of those, either. Mainly because there’s usually some big part of the story that rubs me the wrong way. But I think the main problem with them is now it seems almost every best seller is just a fanfiction of the one that came before it. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, but I can’t be the only one who feels like its getting a little obvious.”

      I dislike or am indifferent to a lot of the best-selling YA series and a lot of the science-fiction and fantasy. Some YA books are good for guilty-pleasure reads, some YA books are genuinely well-written, and a few I would rank among my favorite books. I find that the best YA books I’ve read have tended to be realistic fiction and mid-sellers, not too popular. And many of my favorites are sad stories, but that’s just a personal preference.

      October 31, 2015
      |Reply
  33. Infinite Jest is my favorite book of all time.
    It really chaps my hide that he used it to make such a dumbass remark.

    October 31, 2015
    |Reply
  34. Dor
    Dor

    Dude needs to watch (the always brilliant) Dr Lucy Worsley’s recent BBC series, A Very British Romance. She covers the romance novel from Samuel Richardson’s Pamela through to Dame Babara Cartland, talking about their social and cultural impact.

    All three episode are on the iplayer for Brits: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06h1fys

    October 31, 2015
    |Reply
    • ViolettaD
      ViolettaD

      Here’s another point: some romance writers follow a formula, some don’t.
      Most of Heyer’s romances were Regency (with a few early Georgians), but she had a wide variety of characters and plot twists, from a spendthrift young wife hiding her debts from her husband, to an irate young debutante who pretends to be a haughty heiress just to be snotty to the eligible peer who assumes her carriage accident near his home was not an accident, to the ordinary-looking nouveau riche’s daughter forced into a marriage with a cash-strapped man whose former fiancee was a dazzling beauty with whom she can never hope to compete.
      Barbara Cartland, on the other hand, had a wide variety of historical settings, from Sisi’s Austrian Court to turn-of-the century Egyptian explorers to some fictional kingdoms involving arranged marriages, but she usually had at least three stock characters: the elegant but bored peer, his sophisticated mistress, and the innocent young virgin he comes to prefer to his mistress.
      Some readers WANT a formula (I was friends with someone who collected Cartlands, organized by number, and even the illustrations all looked like the same people with varying costumes: wide-eyed maiden and chisel-faced peer). Some don’t. You tend to gravitate to authors who either surprise you or have a comforting pattern, whichever you prefer.
      And once again–NONE of this excuses stealing someone’s words and even sentence structure. If you can’t write your OWN VERSION of her glamorous ballgown drawing the eyes of everyone at Almack’s, or YOUR OWN dialogue when Chisel-Featured Creature finally reveals he loves Vapidia, not Lady Petri-Dish–or your own version of what happens after the bodice or the jeans come off, come to that– don’t write at all.

      November 1, 2015
      |Reply
    • tessany
      tessany

      I LOVE Dr. Lucy Worsley! Caught a few of her documentaries on youtube and just looked up the one you recommended. (Canadian so unfortunately I can’t watch stuff from GB thru other means… plus I’m anti apple but anyways…). Here’s the link to the Youtube search if anybody else wants to check out this docu but can’t because they’re in another country! Thanks for the recommendation Dor!
      https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2uj-70PQyzwWDhgovvo40w

      November 1, 2015
      |Reply
  35. Standing ovation. Well said. 🙂

    October 31, 2015
    |Reply
  36. I believe this blatant sexism against romance has to with the terror many males have of showing emotion and therefore perhaps being seen as less of a man.It’s OK to blow people up but care about them? Oh, heck, no!

    Romance books are about life, and hope. Emotions. Plots that draw readers in to find joy, sadness, or to experience on a page what they cannot believe could happen to them. That is the magic of romance.

    By reading our work, readers may begin to believe it could be possible to find the courage to trust again and, though never easy, to find a Happily Ever After.

    Perhaps men fear if women read about strong women standing up for themselves their own women may expect, even demand, their own needs be met.

    And that scares the heck out of so many men.

    October 31, 2015
    |Reply
    • Thea
      Thea

      OMG
      Is THAT why American movies and TV normalize drugs, alcohol, violence, blood, and law-breaking? Sex and nudity has to be dealt with very carefully, as emotion might be involved? The studios and networks can’t do ‘porn’ and alienate the women$ (Magic Mike and FSOG were experimental – a bad experiment in one case). They cannot risk their profits and feature emotional, romantic, or caring relationships without losing the male$ and be labelled a ‘chick-flick’, generating a Hallmark ‘quality’ movie or Lifetime movie of the week.

      Maybe throw some sexual tension in the middle of a car chase, but let’s not get crazy with the love story part, just sneak it in there to pacify the girlfriends in the audience.

      November 3, 2015
      |Reply
      • ViolettaD
        ViolettaD

        And yet we have so many emotional classics. I like Fitzgerald, but he definitely has a formula: boy meets irresistible girl, and whether he gets her (“The Beautiful and the Damned”) or doesn’t “”Gatsby”), he is destroyed. HOW this scenario is developed and played out is what makes his work interesting, to me anyway–the fact that obsession never has a happy ending.

        Over the pond, look at Tolkien–just as with medieval quest literature (with which he was of course thoroughly familiar), the journey is more important than the eventual goal (finding the grail, rescuing the maiden). During the journey, one learns about one’s self and one’s companions, and many of those lessons are intensely emotional, to the point that some readers (and film viewers) thought they must also be erotic. Again, it’s a formula I like, depending on HOW it is developed.

        I guess that’s the problem with Harner–she didn’t develop anything. No alternate views of characters, no devoted but confused Criseyde (Chaucer) as compared to shallow, fickle Cressida (Shakespeare); no dark brooding Batman (Miller) as opposed to the tongue-in-cheek ’60s series.
        In true fanfic, you can wonder what would change if your characters were futuristic inter-stellar explorers instead of Cowboys, but with Harner, NOTHING changes except the names and surface setting. Not the dialogue, not the underlying motivations: nothing.
        Not only no re-imagining–no imagining. No imagination. How can anyone write with no imagination?

        November 3, 2015
        |Reply
  37. A. Noyd
    A. Noyd

    I honestly don’t care for romance because I’m aromantic. It’s not generally the sort of plot I relate to or feel invested in. But I don’t disdain the genre.* Being aromantic, it’s quite obvious how many literary stories are just romances that ignore or sneer at women’s emotional needs while going on at length about those of men.

    In fact, genre romance seems, on the whole, a good deal more egalitarian in that regard, and if traditional masculinity weren’t built around the denial and negation of femininity, maybe more guys could get something out of it.

    ……….
    * These days, anyways. If only I could have a word with my younger self about that.

    October 31, 2015
    |Reply
  38. M
    M

    I am not a fan of the romance genre. I’ve tried, and I still try when someone I respect suggests that I’ll like a certain book (most recently Outlander… it was not for me). I’ve bought five of Jenny’s books as a thank you for the blog, and I read them, and while I could recognize them as good, they were not for me. Here’s the thing: just because they were not for me does not mean there was anything wrong with them, nor does it mean that I’m some kind of snob (if I were, I wouldn’t have deigned to read them). I do have a literature degree, but for that degree, in addition to the lit that is expected, I studied YA, sci-fi, and crime and detective fiction. In my schools, at least, we shared a love for reading, and we were never ashamed of what we loved to read. We also never forced ourselves to pretend to like what we “should” like. I very openly hated John Updike, a professor’s favorite, for example.

    I don’t know why I don’t like romance any more than I know why my husband doesn’t like musicals (he goes with me when we know the performers, but I go with friends for most of my musical-watching needs). It’s just a quirk of my personality. Because I’ve exclusively read romance that was recommended to me (or, in the case of Jenny, by someone I already knew could write), I have not read the bad romance that is getting all the flak. I’m sure it’s out there, just like bad sci-fi, bad mystery, bad fantasy, and, well, John Updike, but I haven’t been exposed to it. I’ve read talented authors with developed characters, representations of enthusiastic consent, good writing, and all the trimmings of something I should enjoy… but it just isn’t my genre. Maybe someday I’ll read one that makes me excited to read another; I certainly haven’t written the possibility off or I wouldn’t still be giving it a chance. I simply haven’t yet. I was never terribly interested in romance in my real life, either, so that could be part of the issue. It was rather a shock to everyone I knew (and me!) when I found someone I wanted to marry.

    I’m not sure about the argument that romance gets more derision from males; I usually hear dismissive comments from women. The men I know don’t pay attention to it at all (which could be equally dismissive, but is not actively disparaging). I see my adolescent students reading the same books regardless of sex or gender. It’s a phenomenon I’ve found rather refreshing; there seems to be less of a divide between “girl” books and “boy” books, whereas when I was growing up, I recall boys only reading boy books and girls being free to read whatever the heck they wanted to. Maybe the adults writing these articles haven’t noticed the trend. When I taught a class for low readers a few years back, the class overwhelmingly voted on a “class read” book called Someone to Love Me that had a clearly sad girl on the cover and a hint on the back that the book was about relationships. There were about 15 books to choose from, and more than half were marketed towards boys and dealt with stereotypically “boy” issues. That particular class was 85% boys, and the entire class loved the “girl” book they had chosen (no one — not me nor any of the students — referred to it that way). It ended up dealing with the pattern of abusive relationships — the mother was in one, and then the main character found herself in one. It was written to be accessible for struggling teen readers, and it was clearly marketed towards girls. It ended up providing deep, rich discussion that the boys were equally involved in and enthusiastic about. Maybe today’s journalists have the hangups being talked about, but I have hope that tomorrow’s won’t. By the way — that class went on to read most of those books on their own, then moved to middle grade and young adult fiction, and then wrote their own (very short — 25 pages or so) “novels” at the end of class. They went from students who had failed every class in middle school and who acted out to hide that they couldn’t read beyond a second grade level, to actively literate ninth graders. I just had to throw that in there — we have the power and responsibility to help young people become readers.

    Back to the point of this thread, though — even if I DID actively hate the romance genre, I still wouldn’t use my bias to downplay how horrible it is to be plagiarized. That is just low, especially coming from a writer.

    October 31, 2015
    |Reply
  39. Jessica
    Jessica

    Jenny, I’m not sure if you’ve ever done this on your blog in the past, but can you post a list of your favorite Romance/Erotica novels (or point out a post where you’ve done this)? I’ve been getting into the genre recently, and with all reading, I tend to rely on suggestions from others for my next read. I’d love to hear your suggestions.

    (I know this is a bit of a sidetrack from your post, but it got me thinking about what good romances I’ve read that I wouldn’t consider formulaic at all, and wanting more suggestions of other good books to read.)

    October 31, 2015
    |Reply
  40. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    Moyer has no business trying to side-track this case into the supposed value of the genre. Once again, in what is now considered classic literature, Boccaccio, Chaucer, and Shakespeare all retold the story of Troilus and Criseyde, but they did not use each other’s words. The WHOLE POINT was to see what each writer could do with a well-known story. There have been many versions of Sherlock Holmes, Batman, and Superman since the originals, but it is up to every writer to use these iconic characters in new situations, or put new perspective on known situations (“Wide Sargasso Sea” and “Jane Eyre,” for instance), create new plot twists, and include new dialogue (outside of the occasional “Elementary” for Sherlock, etc.)
    The literary value or lack thereof is no more relevant here than if Harner had plagiarized someone’s research for a biology textbook without citing it or included the lyrics to a song without getting the rights. Plagiarism is plagiarism. It is both wrong and illegal. I hope Harner pays through the porthole.

    October 31, 2015
    |Reply
  41. “To say that all romance is the same because they all share genre conventions is like saying all sports are the same because at the end of the game, someone’s going to win.”

    When I read that, I think I fell in love.

    Human beings want structure to a degree, but especially so with their relaxation time. When they crack open a book after their crap day/week, they want to have some sort of idea of what they’re about to get in to. Not everything, mind you, but if they want an uplifting book and end up reading an angsty, rip-your-heart-out book with a depressing ending, they’re less likely to crack a book again. And then readers get angry.

    So yes, genre fic does fly off the shelf while literary fiction sits there trying to get someone to notice it… errr read past the first 30 pages. In our downtime, we want to know the good guys win, the guy will fall in love with the guy, the woman well be reunited with her children, or the teen will grow into a better person after their crisis. Because, God knows, we have enough unpredictability in our real lives. Give me HEA and HFN any day!

    October 31, 2015
    |Reply
  42. Lieke
    Lieke

    Oh, I love this idea. As someone who normally doesn’t read a whole lot of romance novels, I’d love to get some recommendations from someone who knows what she’s talking about. I’m always ready to give something a try.

    October 31, 2015
    |Reply
    • Lieke
      Lieke

      Dammit, I was trying to reply to Jessica, who suggested that it would be cool if Jenny could post a list of her favourite romance/erotica novels.

      October 31, 2015
      |Reply
  43. Maybe the reason why men deride romance novels is the same reason women deride pornography.

    Most real men can’t live up to the fantasy of romance heroes just like most real women can’t live up to the fantasy of porn stars.

    October 31, 2015
    |Reply
  44. Candy Apple
    Candy Apple

    I challenge anyone to read Diana Gabaldon’s romance novels and still claim they are “formulaic,” lol.

    October 31, 2015
    |Reply
  45. Tee
    Tee

    No, they are not all the same, I agree. Why would we want to read the same thing over and over. This person needs to get educated.

    October 31, 2015
    |Reply
  46. I have argued this very point (although nowhere near as articulatly as you have) for Avery long time.if you go with the concept that the guy gets the girl and there is always an HEA, The Bourne Identity must be a romance novel. Oh wait, it was written by a man, therefore it’s action/suspense. One of my biggest peeves.

    Thanks for a wonderful well thought out post.

    November 1, 2015
    |Reply
  47. […] Author Jenny Trout recently wrote a scathing rebuttal to the Washington Post article. Both the WP article and Jenny’s rebuttal are worth the read, as are the comments in both articles. […]

    November 2, 2015
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  48. Jon
    Jon

    I think all genres could be reduced to a ‘genre formula’ if you tried hard enough. And surely most ‘classics’ are simply old examples of a particular genre.

    November 2, 2015
    |Reply
  49. I am, admittedly, someone who did not understand the appeal of romance until I came here for what I expected to be shallow snarks of the whole genre which would re-enforce my preconceived notions. but, of course, i found nuanced and sex-positive discussions of romance and erotic, and realized that the same novel could both provide some primo material for TMI times, but also inspire me to enroll in ASL continuing ed classes at work (everyone read Silent Surrender, seriously; Honora is a fucking badass).

    anyway, i used to be one of those people, but i got over it.

    November 2, 2015
    |Reply
  50. Erin Lale
    Erin Lale

    I’m the acquisitions editor at a genre novel publisher. I’ve read so many romances of various kinds, and so many manuscripts of other genres that include a romance subplot (very common in mystery, thriller, fantasy, and science fiction) and all the plots, characters, writing styles, etc. can be as different in the romance genre as within any other type of writing. Formula writing is boring and boring gets rejected.

    The attitude that literary writing is better than genre writing is something I wrote about in this essay: The Politics of Story Structure in Science Fiction
    http://www.perihelionsf.com/permalinks/lale003.htm

    November 3, 2015
    |Reply
  51. Michelle H
    Michelle H

    My first time visiting this blog, the link to which I accessed on Facebook from a romance writer I follow. And I love it.

    I’ve read all the comments and have found many of my own thoughts already expressed, surely better than I could myself. Not sure I can add much, but I so want to! As with the comments I’ve related to the most, the writing I relate to the most is written with intelligence and wit, and based on an emotional connection to the subject and an educated experience.

    I have to confess I used to disparage the romance genre, but thankfully got over it. I came to it in a round about way, but won’t bore anyone with that story. Since I started reading the romance genre (and I like several sub-genres) just like every kind of literature I’ve read over my many years as a reader, I’ve read some turkeys and some–I’ll reread this book every so often till my dying day– stories. Even among the turkeys I’ve still managed to find an author who is trying. Whether that is because the author is just starting out and does not have the benefit of an editor (obviously a new ebook phenomena) or, sorry to say, the author is reaching their senior years and is struggling to finish their own series, the story arc. Obviously it frustrates me to read an ebook with tons of spelling and grammar mistakes, however, you often see the evidence she loves the genre, and has something she wants to say. It makes me sad when the second example of turkeydom happens, but I see no reason to trash the author who has given me hours of enthralling Calgon-take-me-away escape. I imagine if I did my research I could find Conan Doyle’s fans unhappy with his later works after he brought Sherlock back, resentfully.

    Can we not imagine sitting around the fire and hearing the same stories elaborated on skillfully and imaginatively by one storyteller, and not so skillfully by another one. But our desire for a story both new and old tolerated the storytellers who didn’t do such a fantastic job because we loved and honored the very young or very old, or drunk and unhappy, etc., author. There are books and stories for every taste, age and stage of life, many many that yes, follow a formula within a genre. But how many truly unique-original-never-done-before books have you read in your life? Moyer’s article looked more like a quick dispensing of an assignment. In my opinion equally dishonorable as Harner’s plagiarism.

    Interesting that a quick search reveals that the word plagiarize was first used in 1716.

    However this most recent case turns out, we’ve all been taught it is wrong and has been scorned for a long many years. Harner must surely have a downfall coming in her future. I haven’t read any of her works, but she openly admits to copying other authors as well. I don’t exactly want to exact revenge necessarily, but come on! I hope readers will stop buying her books. I guess that is revenge. (I doubt this will happen.) I believe Harner must be crying all the way to the publicity bank with this hoopla. Positive or negative I am sure she and Moyer will revel in the reaction generated. In their own perverse situation they are both giving their readers what they think they want.

    Well, after years of reading ‘serious literature,’ dark and depressing stories of social commentary whether midlife crisis infidelity cautionary (?) tales or dark and depressing police/lawyer/pathologist procedural, or countless seriously dark and depressing holocaust survival (barely) I just don’t want to read these anymore. None of them have solved the world’s problems and definitely not MY problems. I want to escape my problems but still read intelligently AND have a HEA. I can do that with historical romance.

    November 4, 2015
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  52. ViolettaD
    ViolettaD

    Has anyone greeted Moyer’s comment that “a romance novel isn’t exactly ‘ Infinite Jest’” with the obvious response, “Well, thank GOD”?
    Sorry, but to me, David Foster Wallace is just this week’s John Barth. You’re supposed to like it, but I’ve decided I don’t. Feel free to disagree: you don’t have to like Boccaccio just because I do.

    November 4, 2015
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  53. Pandora
    Pandora

    Until a few months ago, I read only fantasy and non-fiction books. I used to despise romance but one day I was bored and I try an excerpt, I liked it so I bought the book and so on. Like all genre, some authors/books rare good, others not so.

    And since I’am vegan and feminist, I wanted to thanks you Abigail/Jenny for S and E.

    November 5, 2015
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  54. Zelphia Vinci
    Zelphia Vinci

    Greetings! (Long time reader first time post-er) (Forgive the many typo errors, please)

    First of all, Jenny Trout – your posts and work have been so encouraging on those days I just don’t want to persevere in finding an agent and/or publisher or go to the job that pays the bills. (Ten years at three different colleges and I have found more insight about editing and not taking oneself so seriously but still caring than I ever did at those expensive schools). So, many, many thank yous!

    Thanks to all of the other people posting also, wow, this feels like such a safe and sacred, awesome space to vent and inform and share on many things about the writing world, that I have personally had to suffer in silence with – but here the opinions are so refreshing and similar to my own – just such a relief!

    Thus, to the point – I have long suspected that FSOG was written by a computer. I am joking of course – but only half joking. And coming across this gizmodo article:

    http://gizmodo.com/it-was-inevitable-someone-taught-a-neural-network-to-t-1740989017

    -is scary to me, because I think it is horrendous enough that flesh and blood people are cut/pasting, blatantly copying others work and not having to atone for it, but also that in the very near future, programs could “craft” and mimic people’s voices through words.

    It may be humorous now, to see a computer dip into the 14 million passages from romance novels it was fed and burp out a silly dialogue about a photo (see article on gizmodo) but I shudder to think that art will become artificial entirely – or the object or escape and knowledge that people could crave more than actual human genius and creative, idiosyncratic behaviors that give the spice to this life we know as this existence on this planet.

    November 6, 2015
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  55. Zelphia Vinci
    Zelphia Vinci

    Just wow – a Hunger Games Theme Park??!!

    I thought theme parks were suppose to be like going to a pseudo slice of heaven for a day, not hell…not psychological and/or physical torture…nor killing for survival.

    November 6, 2015
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  56. […] No, romance novels are not all the same, but thanks for offering your uneducated, unsolicited opinio… Jenny Trout on some of the fallout from the Harner Plagiarism case and how it’s being used to bash the whole romance genre. […]

    November 14, 2015
    |Reply

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