This blog follows how a romance novel set in the Borders of medieval Scotland is researched, written and hopefully *hopefully* published.

Join me on the writing journey and get inspired to try writing a little romance into your own life!

Saturday, March 17, 2007

"Girly" Romance Novels

Thought for the Day...

I just noticed in another blogger's profile her obvious aversion to what she calls "girly" romance novels, saying she doesn't "read that crap."

So I was wondering, what makes a romance "girly?" Is it mentions of lace or the heroine twisting her ankle at a key moment? Is it her inability to function without love? I'm a woman (used to be a girl ;-) funny how that often is the way of it) but I'm stumped at the moment.

Where do you draw the line at reading romances (or other things)?

Just wondering...


RomanceWriter said...

I don't know that any romance novel is too girly for me. Perhaps that person means too tame. That is all I can think of, too old fashioned. I look for good writing and then the story. Just like with music. I enjoy good songs, despite their genre.

I haven't found a romance novel that I deemed too girly yet.

Saoirse Redgrave said...

I know what you mean. I don't differentiate between "girly" and "not" in romances (guess it's partially because I expect they're mainly written for women, so I think they're instantly girly ;-).

I guess I could take her meaning to be that a "girly" romance is one where the female is weak, utterly naive and needs protection or seeks an alpha male in a traditional setting... If that's the case, I tend to agree--I don't need much of that.

I want my heroine to have a spine (it's okay if it takes a chapter or three for her to find it--that's character development).

Speaking to a fellow writer today (she just got her advance check on her second book)I was explaining my novel and my heroine. I said something like, "It's based on the old Tam Lin ballads, but my Jennet doesn't just suffer and whine--she kicks butt throughout."

She said, "I'd expect so." Then she asked me about collaborating on a book, but that's a story for another day...

I like heroines who (even if they start out frilly) grow into strong and confident women through the course of the story's conflict. I don't mind "princesses" (in small doses)as long as I see them develop into something greater (and relatively quickly).

If the blogger was equating "girly" to an unevolving princess mentality, I'd agree with her--Why read a novel about what could very well be one of my relatives when I can just make a phone call and hear her complaints and detailed descriptions of the mall?

But I digress.

I agree, if the writing is good (witty, twisty and inventive) I'll try anything once.

"Girly" or not.

The music point is well taken here, too-- I taught school a while and kids always asked me what music I listened to (like they could pigeonhole my personality). Inevitably they were freaked out when they discovered I enjoyed some of their stuff (rap, hip hop, country), rock, classical and Celtic/Renaissance.

If it "strikes a chord" with me, I like it. I'm not too quick to judge things anymore. I relish all sorts of things.


The Wandering Author said...

Saoirse, as a guy, I'm not "supposed" to like romances, but there are some I enjoy, indeed a few that have permanent spots on my bookshelves.

What I won't read, in any genre (won't read if I know that's what I'm getting into, of course) are the following: books that are badly written, books with dull stories or absurd plots, and books that simply don't resonate with me. And I walk away from any book that wallows in gore for no good reason.

Specifically, in the romance genre, two things spoil a book for me. One, a dull, whiny, helpless "heroine" who just sits around and waits for the hero to rescue her. What guy in his right mind would fall in love with someone like that? The other is the stereotypical hero who is all muscle and no brains. I had trouble with enough guys like that in high school - why would I want to read about them?

Saoirse Redgrave said...

I agree, Ray, the story must make some sort of connection with me (in any genre, and drama, art and music, too). I've never read a romance where the guy was dumb enough to fall in love with a helpless (and hopeless) gal--wait, I take that back. I've never read a romance COMPLETELY where the guy was that dumb/shallow.

I mean, I know it happens (I have friends with such a "knight-in-shining-armor streak that it seems they are constantly attracted to chicks they try to "save"--it's always disastrous). I just haven't found an author yet who handles a similar situation in a worthwhile way.

Also, I think alpha males have their place (it seems they're making a comeback in some publishihng companies dealing more with aspects of dominance), but I seldom care to read about them (and rarely found alphas any more attractive outside of books than the occasional times they sounded interesting in a book).

My crushes were always on the tortured artist types (only one alpha ever made my list and he was actually very bright--though not so literary). I married a white knight who has a strong artsy streak, too. He reads, he creates, he occasionally screws up and doesn't always understand me--he's the type I'd read about because he's literally the type I love.

I also agree with the "wallowing in gore" point. Ick. Some violence is okay (depending) but it has to be well-placed and necessary. At movies I prefer a "thriller" to "horror." Make me jump in my seat--cool. Drown me in blood or guts and I become bitter and wonder how much money the producer allotted to corn syrup and red dye and black dye. In writing, violence MUST progress the plot and develop the characters if it's going to be used.

Same deal with the sex in a story. Gratuitous--ick. Why waste my time? But if there's a reason or it lends insight to a character--it's just another vehicle (a racier one, though ;-).


liz fenwick said...

I love romance in all its's the use of the word 'girly' I find interesting because it's so wide open. Perhaps she's refering to the the heronies one most wants to hit??? I can think of a few of those.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I'll read anything, pretty much, except macabre/horror/grotesque (because I don't want to spend time in that headspace). I've read romances of all kinds from classics like Jane Eyre through modern-day Bridget Jones and Marian Keyes to Mills & Boon. I too think that romances are girly by definition, so maybe the blogger in question simply doesn't enjoy the romance headspace in the way that I don't enjoy the horror etc one.

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

I posted a longish comment here last week, did you get it? Hope you're OK...

writerwoman said...

Stopping in to say hi. How is the writing going?


writerwoman said...

Just stopping in to say hi and that I hope your writing is going well.

writerwoman said...

Just stopping in to say hi. Hope all is well with you.

RomanceWriter said...

Stopping in again to say hi. What is going on with your novel? Is the novel racing helping you to get more written?

Hope all is great in your writing world,


Saoirse Redgrave said...

Hey gang! Thanks so much for dropping me a line here and there to check on me (and my novel's progress). I did a little work on "Hollow Hearts and Hollow Hills" between trips to the hospital to see my Mom but I didn't update my counter yet.

Liz, I agree--there are gobs of heroines that just make me nuts--I've put down probably as many romance novels as I've read because of just that!

Zinnia, that's an interesting point about the author of the comment's reasoning. There are some genres of reading (and television/movies) I definitely avoid because they make me too uncomfortable--I turned off one of my favorite crime shows last night because it was just too much. Why have that sort of imagery in my life? Intriguing defense of her comment, Zinnia. Thanks.


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